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Sojourners Fellowship (1970-) | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Sojourners Fellowship (1970-)

Historical Note:

In 1970 a group of students at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL began meeting to discuss the relationship between their Christian faith and troubling social and political issues, particularly the Vietnam War and the decay of ethics and values within American society. In 1971, the group created a publication entitled The Post-American: Voice of the People’s Christian Coalition, dedicated to their cause of radical Christian commitment and social justice. The editorial on the first page began with the assessment, “[W]e find ourselves in the midst of a radical awakening, among people who are raising basic questions about the quality of life in the world we inherit … [w]e are characterized by our protest and our frustrated search for counter-cultural alternatives more amendable to justice, peace, human values, and spiritual meaning.”

From the beginning, the Post-American posited the “revolutionary nature” of Christian faith, a faith that requires total commitment to Christ, as the cure to the ills of contemporary society. However, the group not only criticized the “status-quo” of society and politics, but also the American church for its non-confrontational silence on many social issues. For the People’s Christian Coalition, there was no place for social complacency in Christianity. Their mission is “to build a movement of people who seek to demonstrate the vital biblical connection between spiritual renewal and social justice."

In 1975 the group continued its mission by moving operations to Washington, D.C., starting an outreach ministry in the inner-city neighborhood of Columbia Heights. There, the group adopted the name “Sojourners,” reflecting their status as Christian pilgrims “present in the world but committed to a different order.” The Sojourners lived in a communal setting and continued to publish their social action periodical, also re-named Sojourners, as well as organizing and participating in peace events and similar demonstrations.

In the decades since the founding of their small community, Sojourners has developed into an international organization, still dedicated to a common “rule of life” and emphasizing Christian community and social action in the name of Christ. The group still publishes the bi-monthly Sojourners magazine, and partners its devotion to social justice with a devotion to witnessing the Good News of Christ to a distressed world. Sojourners represent the radical nature of Christian faith, a set of values not well understood by an individualistic, competitive society.

Note Author: Wheaton College Archives & Special Collection staff

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