taking the words of Jesus seriously

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

My name is Bruce Reyes-Chow and I too am a Christian. I am also a Presbyterian minister, a husband, a father and a Democrat.  Identifiers claimed, I write to you today because I am frustrated with the singular version of Christianity that is dominating today’s public and political discourse.

Like many of you from across the theological and political spectrum, I am disturbed by the religious rhetoric that is defining Christianity in the United States today: one that employs inflammatory rhetoric over civil discourse, favors easy-answers over nuanced thought and seeks political victory over the common good. This is not the Christianity that I live. I believe that faithful Christians – from “liberal” to “conservative” – can vigorously disagree on significant social and political issues like abortion, marriage equality, health care, etc. without tearing down the dignity of the other, giving up the complexities of faith or inflicting pain upon another member of the Body of Christ.

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”Matthew 22

The Christianity that I embrace compels me to follow God’s calling into the world, and to do so with vigor, discipline and love.

I am generally against unity based on a negative, but we are at a time when remaining silent is a luxury that we can no longer afford.  For if the current dominant version of the Christian faith continues to be cast as the one true version, the great diversity of our collective thought and theology will further cease building up the body as a whole. At some point our participation in the abdication of the Christian voice in the United States to the version of Christianity that politicians,  pundits and the media would like it to be can no longer be tolerated. Unless we want our Christian faith to continue to be defined for us, we must seize this time,  join our voices and reclaim the diversity of Christianity in the United States that we all know exists.

All together now . . . We are Christianity!

Because there is a broad expression of Christianity in the United States and lifting up a singular alternative would only perpetuate the idea of one “right” Christianity, taking a pledge or signing a contract would be silly.  Instead, if this letter resonates with you – Blue Dog Roman Catholic Democrat or a Log Cabin Episcopal Republican – you are invited to publicly claim your spot in the larger Christian family by adding your name to the “We are Christianity!” petition and/or liking and uploading a photo to the Facebook Page .

Other than that, I hope that you will take every opportunity to model graciousness, extend respect and shower dignity as you passionately,  publicly and faithfully live and express your Christian faith.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Bruce Reyes-Chow, Christian

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Bruce is a native Northern Californian and third generation Chinese/Filipino who has been living in San Francisco since 1998.  Until May, 2011 he was the founding pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, a church of 20/30-somethings in San Francisco, CA and from 2008-2010 was Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is currently one of those “consultant” types who makes his way, writing, speaking, teaching and drinking coffee. His social networks of choice are  Twitter,  Facebook and his Blog

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About The Author

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A 3rd Generation Chinese/Filipino, armchair sociologist, and technology enthusiast Bruce speaks and teaches on faith, race, parenting, and technology in a variety contexts from seminaries to conferences to congregations to pre-schools. While he speaks to both religious and secular audiences, he is committed to living and expressing a Christian faith that is beautifully complex, unimaginably just, and excruciatingly gracious.

Bruce is the part-time Transitional Pastor at Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley, CA, and is a Coach and Senior Consultant with the Center of Progressive Renewal. He is the author of four books: “The Definitive-ish Guide for Using Social Media in the Church” (Shookfoil Books, 2012); “But I Don’t See You as Asian: Curating Conversations about Race” (2013); “40 Days, 40, Prayers, 40 Words: Lenten Reflections for Everyday Life” (WJK Press, 2016); and “Rule #2: Don’t be an Asshat: An Official Handbook for Raising Parents and Children” (Bacosa Books, 2016). He currently blogs for The Huffington Post, The Working Preacher, and Red Letter Christians.

Bruce has been a Presbyterian pastor for nearly 20 years and founded Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco, a church of young, multicultural and progressive Presbyterians. In 2008 he was the youngest person ever elected as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the highest elected office of the 1.8 million member denomination. Bruce received his B.A. in Asian American Studies, Philosophy and Sociology from San Francisco State University (1991), M.A. from San Francisco Theological Seminary (1995), and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Austin College (2010).

Bruce currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, three daughters, and two canines.

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