As a progressive Christian leader in a polarized world, I am always hoping to find ways to share a more inclusive, historically accurate and tangible Jesus — an image that is significantly distant from the Jesus that has been politicized over the past few years.
It was a breath of fresh air to know that the series of ads “He Gets Us” was attempting at first glance to offer just this possibility. However, the funders of this invitation are the same folks who promote anti-LGBT legislation, a denial of women’s rights to their own bodies, the campaigns of clear white supremacists, and the evangelical church.
At best, these ads – which could bring hope – seem to be an age-old bait and switch tactic. A person is lured in with the possibility of unconditional love to only find out there is a laundry list of rules, regulations and hoops. The reality is, in this model, who God created you to be is usually inherently wrong but the connection with the “right” church can remedy the problem.
This approach to sharing faith can lead folks to feel violated, abused, and most of all can cause irreparable harm and even death. Instead, I would rather these ads promote a gospel of radical inclusion, a path that says no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you are welcome here.
This is a mantra you can hear in one of the over 600 congregational churches I have the honor of serving. I serve as the first openly gay, Black executive conference minister of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.
This fall we purchased the website www.findhopenow.org. It is the beginning of an attempt to help people find authentic hope in a world that can sometimes feel hopeless. It may not be a flashy ad on the Super Bowl but it’s an invitation that isn’t funded by right-wing propaganda or a false attempt to love. It’s funded by small contributions from 100,000 people across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut who support their local churches in their communities so that there will be hope centers all over New England awaiting you with open arms.
The Rev. Darrell Goodwin of Bloomfield is the Executive Conference Minister for over 600 congregational churches in New England.