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The PC(USA)’s New Way podcast explores how church and home can be courageous spaces

The Rev. Mamisoa Rakotomalala listens for new ideas to face global social violence

by Beth Waltemath | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Mamisoa Rakotomalala

“Home is tied to people, family, friends. It can be church, community, places where one belongs and feel welcome,” said the Rev. Mamisoa Rakotomalala in an episode of The New Way podcast called “Where We Call Home.”

Since its beginning in 2019, the New Way podcast, produced by the Rev. Marthame Sanders and hosted by the Rev. Sara Hayden, associate for Apprenticeships and Residences for the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement, has sought to lift up new voices and new ideas among leaders of spiritual communities across diverse contexts.

As a pastor from Madagascar who has experienced patriarchal church structures and as a scholar currently researching in the United States, Rakotomalala understands how home is both a place of belonging and an experience of estrangement.

“My own sense as a person with experiences in traveling around the globe is that people feel more disconnected from the world around them than ever” said Rakotomalala, whose research focuses on how people marginalized by gender or other identities can open up the spaces of church and home by challenging the prevailing narrative and unconscious social norms. “The conversation women and all people should have around the table is to uncover the story and to test how a singular story most often oppresses one side.”

As a pastor who has led more than 10 parishes in Madagascar and as a leader in churches in Atlanta and in the Bay Area during her research, Rakotomalala understands the transformative power of diverse connection.

“I value diversity more than ever. The most important thing in the spaces I’ve been in is to listen and to value every voice,” she said.

In her new worshiping community, Rakotomalala has embraced the ethic of listening as a pastor and worship leader. In a follow-up episode of the New Way podcast, titled “Even Silence is Embraced,” Rakotomalala tells Hayden: “I still feel that as a pastor, one may see us always having the solutions … able to fix everything. But I think switching from that position to be able to listen … to be co-learner in the space, not like that I always have the solution for everything.”

Rakotomalala hopes that when leaders and people switch from the need to fix everything and reduce the complexity of other human experience embrace their vulnerability and uncertainty that courageous spaces are created that “enable new ideas to face personal, but also global social violence that we all are encountering in one way or another.”

New episodes of the New Way podcast drop on Thursdays.

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