Many of us have heard that the United States’ form of government was influenced by the practices and beliefs of Presbyterians who crossed the ocean to find religious freedom. Even today, our local municipal meetings and sessions of Congress mirror what takes place in church meeting rooms around the country as elected ruling elders seek to lead each congregation. While we may understand how the church influenced the form of government, we may not always know how traditional Reformed theology has influenced the beliefs that are the bedrock of the Constitution.
In late October 1517, an obscure Augustinian monk teaching in a minor German university offered a set of propositions, inviting an academic debate. Many Presbyterians can picture Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, but we are hard-pressed to say what the theses were about, and why they sparked a movement that both reformed and divided the church.
Dear mother wearing the hijab in the children’s museum: As-salamu alaykum. Peace be upon you. When I have traveled to distant lands, hearing just one word in my cradle language has felt like having a familiar coat wrapped around me. So I speak peace to you.
It took many years for the Rev. Kris Schondelmeyer to acknowledge and seek treatment for the sexual assault he suffered as a teenager at the hands of a trusted pastor. He did not imagine that it would also take many years for leaders in his denomination to accept responsibility for what happened to him and take decisive steps to protect children in the church.