"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."
a note about gospel justice
The work of justice for Spark is grounded in our commitment to The Way of Jesus as expressed in our core values. This means that in all these efforts, we are first seeking love, the reputation of God, and reconciliation in and through our efforts to bring rescue to this world because of the resurrection. We hope this approach sparks a curiosity to understand more. We invite you to contact us with any questions you may have about these, or any other topics. We are delighted that you asked, and look forward to engaging in conversation.
The refugee crisis continues to be the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. Displaced Syrian families lack adequate shelter, clothing, food, and basic supplies. In 2016, we hosted Dr. Curt Rhodes of Questscope to share his reflections and exhortations. That summer, two Sparkers (one high schooler, and one board member) spent five weeks investigating the refugee crisis in Greece. We campaigned and raised over $46k for World Vision for a six times matching grant from USAID. All this, and more, you can find below as Spark's continued efforts on this issue.
Spark's Teachings on the Refugee Crisis:
2015.09.13 | #RefugeesWelcome (39:15)
2015.11.15 | Some Thoughts On The Attacks (40:01)
2015.11.15 | Living Out Of Abundance (49:46)
2016.02.28 | The Boats Are Coming (24:10)
2016.07.24 | A Report From Greece (39:15)
"1.7 Million Syrian Refugees To Lose Their Main Source of Food Aid", by Tim Molloy [PBS Frontline, December 1, 2014]
"The Refugee crisis: 9 questions you were too embarrassed to ask", by Max Fisher and Amanda Taub [Vox, September 9, 2015]
"Compassion for Refugees Isn't Enough", by Nicholas Kristof [New York Times, September 10, 2015].
"10,000 Syrian Refugees Headed for the United States", by Timothy C. Morgan [Christianity Today, September 14, 2015]
"Stretching Facts on Syrian Refugees", by Lori Robertson [FactCheck.org, September 15, 2015]
"The Flood of Syrian Refugees Puts ISIS On The Defensive", by Deborah Amos [NPR, September 22, 2015]
"'Are we going to die today?' The questions Syrian children ask their parents", by Kulsoom Rizvi [Medium, December 17, 2015]
"How do Syrian refugees get into the U.S.? Explaining the process", by Laura Koran [CNN, November 17, 2015]
"Inside the Fight To Help Refugees in Lesbos, Ground Zero For Europe's Migrant Crisis", by Micah Garen & Marie-Hélène Carleton [Vanity Fair, March 14, 2016]
"Where the Children Sleep: A photo exhibit about refugee children in Europe and Middle East", by Magnus Wennman [UNHCR, June, 2016]
Empathize & Cast Out Fear and Xenophobia:
Jordan: The Syrian Toymaker Grandfather
The Boy Who Stood up to ISIS
Inside Aleppo: the boy who dreams of rebuilding his city
"Home" by Warsan Shire
Support & Engage:
The darkness and evil of prejudice and racism is sadly still very much alive. In 2016, our church hosted a book club on "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander. We followed up those discussions with a "Crucial Conversations" group that met regularly to share openly and vulnerably about our own personal journeys. While Spark celebrates and embraces our racial and ethnic diversity, we ultimately desire to see the goodness of the Gospel of Jesus breakthrough the darkness of racial injustice.
"13th" explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. (Read Pastor Kevin's Reflections & Loose Transcript here. Watch Ava DuVernay's conversation with Oprah here). "Policing The Police" chronicles the challenges of reform in law enforcement.
Spark has from the very beginning been involved in conversations and relationships across religious identity markers. Spark meets in a synagogue, we hosted a Christian/Jewish tour of Israel in partnership with Rabbi Ari, the Rabbi Emeritus of Etz Chayim, we participated in the 9/11 Peace Walk here in Palo Alto, and had the privilege of having both Jews and Muslims share in our Christian community. Below are some teachings and resources that exemplify this ethic.
What Jews and Christians Can Learn From One Another's Texts
Our very first event as a church was hosting our good friend Rabbi Moshe Silberschein of Hebrew University and Jerusalem University College, Israel.
Holy Envy 1: What are our sacred narratives? An introduction to why we are teaching/taking this class and what books we are teaching from.
Pastor Danielle and Rabbi Ari hosted a conversation called "Holy Envy," a phrase coined by Krister Stendahl from his three rules of religious understanding: 1) To understand another religion, ask adherents of that religion, not its enemies, 2) Don't compare your best to their worst, 3) Leave room for "holy envy." That is, be willing to recognize elements in the other religious tradition that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own.
In this series of events, Rabbi Ari and Pastor Danielle lead an exploration of Judaism and Christianity through open conversation,
Holy Envy 2: Incarnation, Resurrection & Afterlives in Judaisms and Christianities.
Holy Envy 3: The evolution of the concept of Mashiach/Messiah/Christ.
Holy Envy 4: Question and Answer from the previous three weeks (joined by Pastor Kevin).
The subject of sexual identity continues to be the most challenging, divisive, hurtful, and damaging issue of our day for the Church. To be clear, Spark continues to welcome everyone, regardless of your beliefs, or sexual identity. You are welcome, and we will work hard to continually create the kind of environment where all people can worship together as one. If you are curious, truly wanting to understand more (rather than gathering ammunition for "your side,") below are some teachings and resources we hope are helpful for that journey.
All four of these talks where given consecutively on May 8, 2016.
Part 1, The Talk Before The Talk (25:38)
Part 2, To Interpret Is To Be Human (24:17)
Part 3, Storytime (38:56)
Part 4, How Would Jesus Love? (21:56)
Read Pastor Kevin's thoughts and reflections on attending the Gay Christian Network Conference in 2015, here.
Read Pastor Kevin's critical assessment of the Nashville Statement, published August 29, 2017, here.
Watch & Read
Below are a variety of books and documentaries to consider, in addition to some critical thoughts on InterVarsity's published statement, Kevin DeYoung's "40 Questions," and the landmark Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges decided in 2015. Click on the images below to be taken to Pastor Kevin's blog posts for each entry.
If you're wondering where to start, begin with Torn, then watch for the BIBLE tells me so.