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Author Jim Kelsey

Jim Kelsey is executive minister of the American Baptist Churches-New York State.

Many of us born in the United States are in a position of privilege. Perhaps it would be healthy for us to look through a locked gate from the wrong side – with neither privilege nor claim. […] Read More

They were seeking a “biblical form of church government.” This congregation seemed to think that they could achieve this by severing all formal ties with other churches and becoming an independent church. As a Baptist, I am a high-trust, low-control person. I trust local congregations to follow the Spirit and would defend them from outside control. […] Read More

We are nicer when we journey together. In writing about civility, Gil Rendle (“Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences”) cites the work of Yale professor Stephen Carter, who argues that riding in a subway, bus or train full of strangers requires us to understand our obligations to treat one another with due […] Read More

The powerful strategize; the powerless engage in tactics. So writes Emmanuel Katongole in his book, “Mirror in the Church – Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda.” People in power plan the way they want things to be. They do research and analyze from a distance. They employ technology and expertise. They are pragmatic and lay […] Read More

We learned it as children: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I assume it is to be a comfort to children when someone speaks unkind words to them. It occurs to me that it also could be a taunt that dares actual physical violence. In either case, it […] Read More

Malcolm X’s Chicago house had been firebombed that morning. Both Malcolm and Martin Luther King Jr. were in New York for speaking engagements. Malcolm had requested a secret meeting with King. King had agreed. It is a fictional account by Jeff Stetson titled “The Meeting.” In this play, Stetson speculates what these two influential, yet […] Read More

We have all seen it. You probably saw it in the last few weeks. A child is coaxed onto Santa’s lap, and then the child begins screaming and frantically trying to escape. Truth is, some children find a strange loud man in a bright red suit and long white beard frightening. The angels in Luke’s […] Read More

When I was young, I knew things were about to get boring when someone around me began a sentence with “remember when.” Now I have become one of those people of a certain stage of life who begins their sentences with “remember when.” My sons, in the patience that comes with young adulthood, no longer […] Read More

We live in a time when people seem to have a lot to say and say it with great conviction. This is good; we need to care about things. We sometimes, however, confuse having a reaction to something with really caring about it, caring to the point where we are willing to make a sacrifice. […] Read More

The song “Ebony and Ivory” laments that, when played on the instrument of our lives, diversity is not easy. “Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony / Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don’t we?” the song’s refrain asks. We must work at it, and our first attempts often are […] Read More