Acting with ethical courage has consequences, an often unfortunate and unintentional one being loneliness. As Jesus alluded to when he preached how the broad, well-traveled road that leads to destruction and the narrow road that leads to life, those who act with ethical courage are the rare exception to the rule. (See Matthew 7:13-14)
The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute is regularly contacted by pastors, denominational leaders, academics, and others working in the religious arena who have embarked on lonely paths of dissent from their community’s orthodoxy. For some it is dogmatic difference, and for others, cultural, or political. As part of our mission, we work to connect these courageous actors. Sometimes simply connecting them strengthens their resolve, enhances their work through shared knowledge and resources, and comforts them in the wake of often significant loss, including personal relationships, professional standing, and even gainful employment. Other times, mentorship, coaching, and encouragement help support them to take further action in their communities.
Connecting advocates and activists increases the effect of their work and often leads to them joining in a common cause, which multiplies their impact and successes. TDBI helps facilitate connection when we organize or co-sponsor convenings and colloquies. One such gathering this year has resulted in the formation of Faith Leaders for Ending Gun Violence. This fall, we brought together an array of influential religious leaders, private and public sector advocates, and prospective funders to examine the increasing threat of Christian nationalism, many of whom will gather again at our convening at Oxford University in March.
All of our work at TDBI is predicated by and built upon meaningful relationships – friendships, partnerships, and collaboration. Bonhoeffer’s own propensity for connecting people can be seen throughout his life, from his youth through his time in prison, and even along his final path to execution.
While TDBI’s work in bringing people together happens behind the scenes, our podcast, Schenck Talks Bonhoeffer, and our seven-part video series, You Welcomed Me, are other examples of how our mission comes to life when we connect courageous leaders across differences to find concrete solutions to the ethical crises of our time.