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Progressive Voices of Faith: Hope for the New Year

In the United States, much of the conversation around faith is dominated by conservative voices, voices that often argue for policies that restrict the rights of people in our communities. Through Progressive Voices of Faith, Pacific School of Religion (PSR) seeks to amplify the faith-based perspectives of progressives on politically and culturally relevant issues.   

With multiple wars raging across the globe, and what’s sure to be a contentious U.S. Presidential election among many other pressing issues, it is understandable to approach 2024 with a sense of apprehension. However, to continue to do the work of creating a world where all can thrive, we must embrace hope! In this edition of Progressive Voices of Faith, the PSR community shares what gives them hope, and how they plan to spread hope in the new year. 

Despite the larger climate, two-thirds of people who responded to our survey said they were either somewhat optimistic or very optimistic going into 2024. Only 16% described themselves as very worried.  

“Ongoing movements for social justice and equity inspire hope for me for the future,” said PSR Director of Development Michelle Estrellado. “The increased recognition of diverse voices, the fight against discrimination, and the promotion of inclusivity are crucial steps toward creating a more just and compassionate society.” 

Alumnx council member Rev. Tino Cordova agreed, saying, “People from the margins are realizing that their voices matter and make a difference.”  

A rise in youth activism was mentioned by multiple respondents as a reason for hope for the future. Alumnx Perry Y. Asher was especially impressed by youth movements on gun control and climate action.  

Many, like VP of enrollment and marketing Murry Evans, find hope in their belief in God: “My faith reminds me that regardless of political landscapes, divine providence offers strength and resilience. It grants the courage to navigate through apprehensions and fears, assuring me that with steadfast faith, determination, and collective action we can overcome any trials that may emerge.” 

Rev. Ann Jefferson, director of community life and spiritual care, is most inspired by the students she works with at PSR: “I love to collaborate in their formation and learn from their leadership among their peers.” 

The PSR community shared a wide range of hopes for 2024, from specific election results and the protection of voter rights to an end to gun violence, stronger political action on the climate crisis, and world peace. Multiple people shared a hope that we could begin breaking down the barriers that have kept Americans in discord for so many years. One board member said she hopes to see “accessible opportunities for constructive dialogue and engagement with respect, openness, and intentional learning.”  

Current student Phoebe DeMund hopes we can move forward from our resignation and that “division, discord, and greed are more powerful than love, peace, and service to each other.” 

To help spread hope to others, alumnx Rev. Dr. John H. Vaughn said he’d spend 2024 helping to build a stronger and more impactful congregation at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where he’s Executive Pastor.  

One current student reminds us of the opportunities we all have to spread hope, saying, “If faith communities help people in need and meet people outside their communities, then society will see it as a good model and follow.” 

Staff member Breana Trejo-Quibelan said that in the new year, she’s “trying to be more observant to what God is doing around me and have a listening ear in hard conversations.” 

PSR President Rev. David Vásquez-Levy finds continual renewal in the remarkable stories of the individuals who come to PSR to prepare to answer their life’s calling. Speaking about the way the entire PSR community works together from recruitment to graduation he said, “By actively recruiting students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, we aim to create a vibrant and inclusive learning environment where identities, perspectives, and ideas intersect to address global challenges. We strive not only to educate but also to empower individuals to become catalysts for hope and positive transformation, truly creating a world where all can thrive.” 

 

Fortify your hope for the new year with these scripture passages, shared by the PSR community 

All references from the New Revised Standard Version 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) 

“He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:10) 

“He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in the right path for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:2-3) 

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” (Psalm 42:11) 

“But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) 

“’The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” (Lamentations 3:24) 

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) 

 “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain.” (Hebrews 6:19) 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) 

“Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 33:18) 

“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18) 

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) 

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19) 

 

Other Resources to inspire hope from the PSR community 

Books 

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together — Heather McGhee 

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities — Rebecca Solnit 

Practicing New Worlds: Abolition and Emergent Strategies — Andrea J. Ritchie 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants 

— Robin Wall Kimmerer 

The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World — Dave Zirin 

The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline, and New Hope for Beloved Community — Stephanie Spellers 

Black Liturgies: Prayers, Poems and Meditations for Staying Human — Cole Arthur Riley 

The Black Trans Prayer Book — Co-edited by J Mase III, Lady Dane, Figueroa Edidi 

 

Websites, Articles, Newsletters and more 

Comfort, not keynote: Nadia Bolz-Weber speaks to General Synod about hope amid ‘fear, anxiety, worry and regret’ — UCC.org 

The Crucial Years — Bill McKibben’s newsletter 

The Source of Creativity — Ted Radio Hour 

Enfleshed: Spiritual nourishment for collective liberation 

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