The congregation I serve — Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church — sits on the campus of Warren Wilson College, a progressive-leaning liberal arts college located just outside of Asheville, NC.
Like so many progressive-minded young people today, the students at Wilson are deeply suspicious of institutional faith. So much so, in fact, I sometimes wonder if the phrase “spiritual but not religious” might have been coined on this campus.
And I get that. Every day the students here (along with the rest of us) read stories about how people who identify as Christian engage in acts of discrimination and exclusion, and sometimes even violence–practices and behaviors that are fundamentally at odds with this community’s deepest values.
What the students here tend not to know is that these practice and behaviors are also fundamentally at odds with the core moral and ethical teachings of Jesus.
And because church is not their thing, these students — our closest neighbors — also don’t know that, while many of the members of this congregation may be a lot older than they are, these same people, the mainstays of Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church, have been welcoming the stranger and advocating for the interests of marginalized communities since before most of them were born.
So as a congregation we are always asking ourselves how we can make what we believe on the inside of the sanctuary visible on the outside of the building, to let the campus community know that, though we are a faith-based bunch who gladly identify as Christian, we share their values.
Which is why we were so pleased to mount David’s wonderful Let’s Be Neighbors banner on the front of our beautiful Chapel.
Because it is the perfect answer to that question.