The following values shape how and why we do the work of place-based vocational discernment in the public square for the common good. We name these as both descriptive of our work in many ways AND aspirational in others. They describe the soil we are working to root our work in, to contribute to the growth, health and healing of our places and neighbors.
Humble engagement with bad news and hopeful expectation of good news
We are aware of brokenness in our world and we find hope in God’s promises and acts of new life. We do not ignore the harsh realities experienced in neighborhoods near and far, nor the ways we might contribute to them. We remain open to the hard things, hope and advocate for the healing things and work to root ourselves in our shared humanity.
Critical theological imagination
Because we engage the bad news while expecting the good news, we must rely on a generative imagination for what’s possible. This imagination is shaped by 1) an interrogation of what’s not serving the world well (critique) and 2) a reliance on beliefs that align with mutual thriving, love and healing (theology) – or in other words – the things we believe to be true about God.
Intentional centering of the neighbor
Christianity is centered around Jesus, but Jesus’ whole life and message is one that reorients us to center our neighbor. The good news of Jesus is about relationship and should be confused with ideology. Therefore, centering Jesus, in fact, decenters us so we can center and prioritize each neighbor. Following Jesus’ lead of centering our neighbor does not come from obligation but liberation. God’s free gift of generous love – for all of us – liberates us to live this way.
Faithfully rooted in local places
Centering our neighbor happens when we show up in particular places and invest in real relationships. A “neighbor” is not an idea or an issue to be solved and therefore to know about our neighbors is not the same as knowing our neighbors. We want to know our neighbors – next door neighbors, local school neighbors, watershed district neighbors, pollinator neighbors. This is because change on the large scale can only happen if it is first nurtured in small, local places, one person – or pollinator – at a time.
Embodied presence & practice
Centering our neighbor happens when we show up in those particular places in our bodies and fully aware of how our bodies are sometimes vehicles of good news and sometimes vehicles of bad news. Centering our neighbor happens when we respond to the materiality of what healing, restoration, and connection may be required here and now, in the bodies and daily lives of us and our neighbors.
Gratefully embracing the gift of diversity
Centering our neighbor means we will encounter diversity and therefore must learn to honor that diversity and center those who are often marginalized. Systems and ideologies of our world have taught us to fear difference and so we must work diligently to replace that fear with curiosity and gratitude for how our differences are one of humankind’s greatest gifts.
Mutual learning and collaboration
When we do this, all of this, God’s spirit opens us all to the gift of mutual hope and healing. All of creation amplifies the truth that we are generously connected to one another. We all do better when we live and learn our way into this truth.