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Decolonizing Christianity, Encountering Jesus

Christianity is more than just a tool of white supremacy. In this sermon series from 2021, we explore what it means to decolonize our faith and encounter Jesus in a new, liberating way. Each sermon also comes with a recommendation for deeper learning.

Click here to navigate directly to the first sermon in the series, or keep reading to learn more about why we’ve done this work.

The Story Behind the Series

In the wake of contentious election cycles in 2016 and 2020, the insurrection in January 2021, and the ongoing culture wars around education, abortion, race, and more, our nation has been forced to grapple with Christianity’s connections to white supremacy, nationalism, and violence. It is an uncomfortable fact that Christian churches are often breeding grounds for harmful and dangerous ideas that ultimately result in violence and even death for the most vulnerable members of our society.

As we planned our preaching series for the spring semester of 2021, we knew we needed to talk about these sobering truths. Conversations and sermons about such issues are not rare at Pres House, but we felt we needed to do something more focused and explicit; something that not only named the dangers of “colonial Christianity” — the kind of Christianity that is rooted in a desire for power and control — but also named how a different, more liberating kind of faith might be possible when we intentionally seek to “decolonize” our faith. We also knew this kind of work takes a long time (a lifetime, in fact); we couldn’t do it in a sermon or two.

Thankfully, there are also resources within Christianity to do this kind of spiritual housekeeping. Lent — the liturgical season between Ash Wednesday and Easter — is a time of intentional reflection, prayer, and discipline for many Christians. We realized these seven weeks in the spring were the perfect opportunity for sustained reflection on what it means to decolonize our faith.  And with that, our Lenten series, “Decolonizing Christianity, Encountering Jesus” was born.

Throughout the series, we covered topics like the infallibility of Scripture, spiritual trauma, Christian supremacy, and salvation. Each sermon came with a recommended resource for deeper learning, and Natalie, our music director, selected music from a wide variety of traditions beyond the traditional (and typically white) hymnody of the church in the United States. We also shared spiritual disciplines every week for students to engage with, such as lectio divina and Sabbath.

Below, you’ll find each of the videos from the series along with our recommended resources for deeper learning. We know decolonizing Christianity takes much more than a seven-week sermon series, but we are proud of this work and believe that it can help you develop a deeper and more mature faith. Watch, listen, read, and wrestle at your own pace, and reach out to us if you have questions.

With love and grace,

Nii Addo and Erica

Luke 4:16-21 (Rev. Erica Liu)
Audio Version

Book Recommendation ~ Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God by Kaitlin Curtice

John 7:53 – 8:11 (Rev. Erica Liu)
Audio Version

Podcast Recommendation ~ The Confessional Podcast with Nadia Bolz-Weber
* “Did Gandhi Go to Hell?” (Landfill Harmonic video) ~ Fall 2019

Luke 10:25-37 (Rev. Erica Liu)
Audio Version

Book Recommendation ~ Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others by Barbara Brown Taylor

Matthew 21:1-11 (Nii Addo Abrahams)
Audio Version

Reading Recommendations ~ “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr.; The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

Matthew 28:1-10 (Rev. Erica Liu)
Audio Version

Book Recommendation ~ Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence by Diana Butler Bass

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