Radical Welcome

Embracing God, The Other, and the Spirit of Transformation

Stephanie Spellers

Nov/2021, 208 Pages, Paperback, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9781640654686



For the fifteenth anniversary of its publication, this revised edition features a new introduction from the author on the state of the church and its “radical welcome” today, along with new reflections on how it continues to reshape the church.

This book is at once a theological, inspirational, and practical guide for congregations that want to move beyond diversity and inclusion to present a vision for the church of the future: one where the gifts, voices, and power of marginalized groups bring new life to the mainline church. Based on two years of work and over 200 interviews with people in congregations all around the United States—in urban, suburban, and rural settings—it asks the question: How do we face our fears and welcome transformation in order to become God’s radically welcoming people?

Each chapter introduces a particular congregation and the challenges it faced, and lays out the theological underpinnings of tackling fears head-on to embrace change as a welcome part of community life. This new edition features essays from Michael B. Curry, Mark Bozzuti-Jones, Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, and Mark Richardson.

Stephanie Spellers serves as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Canon for Evangelism and Reconciliation. The author of The Church Cracked Open, and The Episcopal Way (with Eric Law), she has directed mission and evangelism work at General Theological Seminary and in the Diocese of Long Island. A native of Kentucky and a graduate of both Episcopal Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School, she lives in Harlem, New York.

“This is not a ‘feel good’ book. It is not about how we should all be nice to strangers at coffee hour. This is a book about the very hard challenges that face any of us when we decide to step outside of our isolation for the sake of the gospel. . . . [T]his book is that rare combination of deep spirituality and pragmatism. . . . The call to take on the challenges of ‘radical welcome’ is for the growth of the community, not only in numbers, but in spirit, imagination, and strength. This is a book about the future envisioned by the gospel, a future that extends the love of Christ in all directions.”—From the foreword by Stephen Charleston, author of The Four Vision Quests of Jesus and former Bishop of Alaska and Dean of Episcopal Divinity School

“The beautiful thing about re-revisiting Radical Welcome fifteen years on is discovering that it has a timelessness and relevance that we critically need today. . . . The vision of who we can be, truly reflecting the image of God, is stunningly beautiful and more than worth the effort.”—The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis

“When I read Radical Welcome fifteen years ago, I knew that it was deeply thoughtful and theologically grounded. I didn’t—couldn’t have—known that it was also futuristic, even prophetic. Today, a much wider audience is seeking to embrace diversity in ways that are authentically faithful rather than simply socially tasteful, ‘woke,’ and de rigueur. I am grateful to have this resource to read again, with its new essays and updates, and to commend it to those who are becoming aware of the intentionality building a truly welcoming community requires.”—Sarah B. Drummond, Founding Dean, Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School

Praise from the first edition:

“More than a primer, more than a handbook, Spellers offers us a thoughtful, in-depth look at what ‘radical welcome’ really entails—discernment, openness and willingness to change, along with intentional "holy boldness." A must-read for any who dare entertain the idea of authentic Christian inclusivity.” —The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, Bishop Suffragan (Ret.), Diocese of Massachusetts

“This a book about renewal. About growth. About intelligent change. I believe that any person who cares for authentic ministry in open and affirming ways will find a home in radical welcome. This is a resource many of us have been waiting for. It is a message whose time has come.” —The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Dean and President, Episcopal Divinity School Bishop of Alaska (Ret.)

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