The American religious landscape is evolving and transforming in unprecedented ways. As affiliation declines and new models of community emerge, religious leaders face tensions between improving existing institutions, and investing in new, creative initiatives. Christian, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist leaders gathered to explore this tension in January 2017. Among them was Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President of RRC/JRC.
A visionary report released this week, Faithful, expands on the discussions begun there. The report challenges religious leaders to focus not only on improving their institutions for their existing audiences, but also on nurturing the emergence of new kinds of communities to serve those who are as yet unreached. The report features the recent restructuring of the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities as one example of a faithful approach to change.
Reconstructionist Judaism has been described by Rabbi Deborah Waxman as “the research and development arm of the Jewish community.” Evolving continuously since its inception, Reconstructionist Judaism combines progressive theology with a pragmatic approach to Jewish practice. The recent merger of our rabbinic college with our congregational arm embodied this approach, breaking down existing institutional boundaries in order to foster creative collaboration between students, congregations, and religious leaders.
Faithful was written by Casper ter Kuile and Angie Thurston (fellows at the Harvard Divinity School), Rev. Sue Phillips of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and Rev. Lisa Greenwood and Rev. Gil Rendle of the Texas Methodist Foundation. The project was supported by the Fetzer Institute, the Texas Methodist Foundation, and Harvard Divinity School. The report and other related work can be found at http://www.howwegather.org.