“The church has a mandate to lead the discourse” on building the Beloved Community, according to Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin, conference director of Connectional and Justice Ministries, “and not to follow the social and political rhetoric that has been so divisive in our communities and culture.
"Building the Beloved Community takes its life and meaning from the foundations of Jesus Christ,” she added. “It is the expressed Christian model and teaching that we read about in the life of Christ and that we are committed to practicing as His disciples.”
Many clergy and congregations in the Florida Conference are leading the way to make a difference, Austin said. They are “building relationships founded on respect so that communities become places of enhanced quality of life for all its citizens.”
With this occasional series on churches’ hard work of reconciliation and redemption, the conference will feature stories about interfaith community dialogues and activities, ecumenical initiatives to build bridges among us, “Reclaim the Common Good” conversations, church efforts to address immigration issues, churches growing the beloved community dialogue beyond the walls of the church, etc.
The series aims to share ideas about how churches can build their beloved communities and offer inspiration to those doing the work of reconciliation and redemption.
“It does make a difference when we reach out to our nearest neighbor to ask what we can do better together for our communities’ education, health, safety, poverty and other challenges,” Austin said. “We have the unique opportunity to become collaborators instead of adversaries.”
The Greatest Commandment
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”