At a recent meeting with fellow pastors, we were asked what we would do if the new administration keeps its campaign promise to require all Muslims to identify themselves by registering with the government. We were asked if we would challenge our churches to register as Muslims also.
I knew that I could ask my congregation to do it, and I was pretty confident that many would. Without hesitation, I knew our community of faith would relish the opportunity to explore a new way to “do justice.” No one would suggest that we need to vote on it because the congregation already has. They made Micah 6:8 the basis of Virginia-Highland Church’s vision statement, and they never looked back. There was no debate, nor even conversation, about whether we would participate in the Women’s March on Saturday; that debate already had taken place. We believe God requires us to do justice, and our attitude is if you disagree with the march then you don’t have to go.
I suspect most of our congregation would line up to register as a Muslim, but not everyone. The great thing is everyone would be fine with that. We would support those who did and accept those who did not. Having inclusion as a core value means we don’t all need to agree on our specific strategies for doing justice, but no one who joins us is surprised that this is a community who is committed to working for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. We are clear about our vision and also clear that this is not how everyone understands church, or following Jesus.
The great gift in this stage of my ministry is I get to be part of a community of faith that spends its energy fighting for justice, not fighting one another; working to get people to vote, not meeting to hold meaningless votes; feeding the poor, not stakeholder’s egos; and walking humbly with God, not pretending they have all the answers and everyone needs to believe as we do. We don’t always get it right, but I love the congregation’s vision of what it looks like when we do.
Rev. Michael Piazza