How do you roast and honor Ron Sider all at the same time?

— Tom Sine —

Ron SiderOn Friday, July 12, Christine and I had the delight of participating with a number of others In Philadelphia both Honoring and Roasting Ron Sider. Tony Campolo was the entertaining MC for the evening.

A stream of us who had the pleasure of working with Ron in other days shared both our commendations and are humorous reflections. Some of the other respondents included Jim Wallis, From Sojourners Magazine, Wesley Grandberg Michaelson, who used to direct Reformed Church in America, and Heidi Unruh, a communication specialist from the Mennonite Church.

The earlier presenters tended to focus more on Ron’s past. I shared an important new revelation regarding Ron’s future. If you go to the MSA website you can hear my revelation of Ron’s new online thrift store… Ron’s Reversible’s.

We all shared our deep love and gratitude to Ron for all that he is brought to the church and the larger society through his writing and leadership of Evangelicals for Social Action.

On Saturday we enjoyed plenary speakers and workshops. By far the most stimulating plenary speaker for me was Dr. Michael Lindsay, President of Gordon College. Dr. Lindsay presented a particularly insightful social history of those involved in the progressive evangelical movement in America over several decades.

As a follow-up on this session I purchased an timely book entitled, Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism, by David R Swartz.  In this important book Dr. Swartz provides a thoughtful analysis of the early years Of Evangelicals for Social Action, Sojourners, and the Other Side Magazine. Speaking of books, we met one of our good friends Byron Borger, who runs the Hearts and Minds Bookstore. If you would like to support one of the best remaining independent booksellers in the US please get in touch with Byron.

I had a great time engaging with both younger and older participants in a workshop I offered entitled, “Reimagining Life in Mission in Turbulent Times”. In the session I tried to explain why the call to a radical whole-life faith that Ron Sider called us to in, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, is more important than ever because of the turbulent times and which were headed.

The highlight of the day was Ron handing off leadership To Evangelicals for Social Action to Al Tizon and Paul Alexander as the new co-presidents of ESA. We’ve known and appreciated Al for years and we are grateful to God to see the way his gifts are being used. Clearly Paul is an outstanding young leader as well and a new generation will take ESA and its unique call to justice and peace into a very challenging future.

Please keep them all in your prayers.

What is your response to not only the honoring and roasting of Ron, but of a new generation of leaders guiding the cause of justice and peace into the second decade of this new millennium? Let us hear from you this week.