• Sunday , 24 September 2017

Spiritual Formation: Key to Justice and Reconciliation

FA525 Practicing Compassion

The events and protests in Ferguson, New York City, and other major cities across the United States have begun a dialogue that crosses racial, cultural, and socioeconomic lines. In the midst of this growing conversation, we want to invite you to join us on our journey toward healing and wholeness. Upper Room Ministries believes that spiritual formation is key to justice and reconciliation.

We invite you to join us as we seek God in the midst of our collective suffering. Pray with us as you pray with your loved ones. Talk with us as you talk with your loved ones. To help initiate and guide conversation, we have suggestions for resources that may help you on your journey. Please consider them as you foster dialogue in your own communities. And please see this an open invitation. Walk with us. Grow with us. Talk with us about what you hear, what you see, and what you feel. Spiritual formation begins with an invitation. We humbly invite you.

Click here for information on RESOURCES from The Upper Room for your conversations about justice and reconciliation.


  1. Jeremy Bakker
    December 12, 2014 at 3:22 pm Reply

    If spiritual formation is key to justice and reconciliation, what does that look like? Spiritual formation, broadly conceived, is an inward, personal endeavor. How does one turn from the inward to the outward, the individual to the corporate? Must spiritual formation begin as a personal, inward journey? Why or why not?

  2. Claire
    December 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm Reply

    Great questions, Jeremy!

    I try to think of the personal, inward journey as directly related to the public/outward one. What I do in my private prayer time each morning is what directly shapes what I preach and how I act. But if I don’t have the quiet prayer time each day, then my sermons, my protests, my marches feel unsupported, shallow.

    For me, spiritual formation and justice/reconciliation are only possible when I am daily connecting with the Holy, the source of all my being, thinking and doing. So I get up early, I read scripture, I sit quietly, I write and pray. These actions are not more important than the marching, protesting, preaching, speaking; they are partners with it.

    • Jeremy Bakker
      December 12, 2014 at 4:41 pm Reply

      Must it function in this way? Does the energy only flow from reflection to action? You describe private acts of spiritual formation as partners with public acts of justice. Are the two forms truly partners? Does the influence flow both ways?

  3. Jenn Bryant
    December 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm Reply

    I don’t know that I believe spiritual formation is the key to justice and reconciliation. Why would it be? I do think spiritual formation without justice is phony. I think a church that does not participate in justice is no church at all. Spiritual formation begins several different ways. Begins. Of course, personal growth in that journey is a different story.

    • Jeremy Bakker
      December 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm Reply

      I am not sure that spiritual formation is “the” key, either. It is a key. You say “spiritual formation without justice is phony.” Can you define justice in this context? And how does it authenticate spiritual formation?

      • Jenn Bryant
        December 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm Reply

        Ok, I see what happened there. Agreed. I mean you can’t be all reading your spiritual book of choice and then not be doing something to show mercy to the marginalized. I don’t understand you having different meanings for justice? Justice is simple…to me. I have a question for you: Compassion vs Mercy?

        • Jeremy Bakker
          December 18, 2014 at 9:46 pm Reply

          I hear you. And I should probably clarify my question. I don’t have different meanings for justice. There is one standard: God. Justice between humans means acting in a way that acknowledges the other as a bearer of the image of God. Actively speaking, it is an individual’s manifestation of the image of God as liberator.

          With respect to compassion and mercy, you’re going to have to explain the difference to me.

  4. Jeannie
    December 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm Reply

    I do not agree that “spiritual formation, broadly conceived, is an inward, personal endeavor.” As Walter Brueggeman says, “Spiritual formation for individuals never happens in a vacuum, but it happens in a social context.” Yes, spiritual formation requires self-examination and opening oneself to the Spirit; quiet time is helpful, but one’s interaction with LIFE and PEOPLE are components of spiritual formation. In relation to the initial question here—the racial unrest and racism exposed in recent events, “spiritual formation” requires all of us to examine our assumptions about people and institutions and how we are relating to one another, how we are relating to the divine in each and every person. How very far it is from “Kingdom living.” Now what? Conversations. Listening. Praying. Acting.

    • Jeremy Bakker
      December 18, 2014 at 7:12 pm Reply

      I appreciate this clarification you offer here. I spoke too flippantly above, especially in the second sentence. And I think we ultimately agree. Spiritual formation is a deeply personal endeavor. But the individual work of spiritual formation cannot neglect the need to live and work in community. And it all hinges on finding the divine in self and others.

  5. Jeannie
    December 17, 2014 at 7:26 pm Reply

    We’re having a hard time communicating. Interesting example in the midst of Advent:

    • Jeremy Bakker
      December 18, 2014 at 7:32 pm Reply

      I think a lot about justice during Advent. And I often wonder how much longer we must wait until it rolls down like waters and righteousness runs like an ever-flowing stream. And the blog you cite points to the difficulty many feel living in the tension of the already/not yet. Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God had come near. But I often fail to see it. For me, the author’s work is a particularly poignant example of the disruptive narrative of the Christian faith. From its very beginnings, Christianity has manifest the unexpected. And I think we in the West often lose sight of that. Christianity, for the most part, remains normative in our culture. And I wonder whether Christianity loses its ability to transform individuals and institutions when it follows cultural norms with respect to power.

Leave A Comment