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January Series: Our Picks

Have you seen the line-up for this year’s January Series from Calvin College yet? Every year, the college puts on a free series of talks on various issues of the day, presented at their campus in Grand Rapids and streamed online, as well as at remote sites across the continent. (Each address begins at 12:30 PM EST.) We commend Calvin for a diverse, high-quality line-up of speakers with important things to say, especially about justice and diversity. Here are our staff picks for this year.  

Here’s Calvin’s January Series website. Be sure to check it for instructions for tuning in and participating! You can also follow along with Think Christian's coverage of the series. 

Monday, January 11:

Eboo Patel (Interfaith Leadership: Engaging Religious and Philosophical Diversity in the 21st Century)

“During this time of divisive rhetoric surrounding religious extremism, and religion in general, I highly recommend Eboo Patel’s talk on interfaith leadership. Eboo has focused much of his work around the belief that religion can bring cooperation rather than division. He is the founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and has written two books on the subject of interfaith cooperation. Eboo also brings an important perspective as a Muslim American with Indian heritage. If you are interested in engaging with diverse beliefs in an effort to create solutions and build bridges, this talk will offer relevant ways to use and think about your faith as a ‘bridge of cooperation.’ I feel that Eboo’s talk is especially crucial during a time when religious groups, such as Muslims, are being scapegoated; I look forward to seeing how his talk will help me reflect further on ways to use my faith to create unity and foster love, rather than fear and animosity.”

-Sophia Henager, Policy Analyst and Advocacy Fellow


Monday, January 18:

Leroy Barber (Race, Stories and Justice: A Call for Diversity in Christian Missions)

“Leroy Barber has one of the most powerful voices in missions today, a voice that we must hear. We all know that missions must be contextualized to the particular culture in which we go. But, as Barber aptly points out, in spite of the fact that we live in racialized communities, we are failing to talk about how this racialized reality plays out in our missions. To understand and serve people we need to understand and honor their cultures. Race may be a biological myth, but it is also a social reality that has divided communities and created barriers to many who want to serve in missions. As Christians, our call is to break these barriers in order to preach the gospel without hypocrisy. As Barber himself writes, ‘Jesus was not proclaiming the truths of Jewish culture; instead, he was using the culture, context and language of the people to help them understand the kingdom of God.’”

-Shannon  Jammal-Hollemans, Collaborative Program Developer


Thursday, January 21:

Rev. Gabriel and Rev. Jeanette Salguero (How Latino Churches Are Changing America)

“I am really looking forward to hearing Rev. Jeanette and Rev. Gabriel Salguero speak at the January series and highly recommend that you tune in. More than half of evangelicals believe that immigrants threaten American values. At the OSJ, we believe that most immigrants reflect the best of American values: ingenuity, community pride, strong families, hard work, and deep faith. I am excited to hear how this dynamite couple recognizes the United States’ evolving demographics, while calling us to embrace the gift of diversity and the blessings that immigrants bring. Approaching justice as a spiritual discipline, the Salguero’s challenge us to not separate our going to church from prayer from doing justice. It is all part of our worship.”

-Kelsey Herbert, Immigration Mobilizer


Friday, January 22:

Kurt VerBeek (Reframing Justice: Models from Honduras)

“Some of the most exciting justice work in the world is happening right now in Honduras. Through the work of brave Honduran Christians, the Association for a More Just Society (AJS) has exposed corruption, held leaders accountable, and achieved unprecedented transparency there. It's gained the attention of big donors and large NGOs like Transparency International, and lots of organizations are taking their cues now from what's worked for AJS. Kurt's talk will inspire anyone who's interested in development and transparency—what’s happening in Honduras is evidence of a God who is at work in the world through creative, courageous, and faithful people who are committed to the flourishing of all people.”

-Kate, Immigration and Restorative Justice Organizer


Tuesday, January 26:

Mitri Raheb (A Tough Calling: The Joys and Struggles of Pastoring in Palestine)

“I met Mitri Raheb in 2007 on my first trip to the West Bank. His realism, lived historical knowledge of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and especially his ability to apply his faith and theological insights to Palestinian lives lived under oppressive occupation riveted me. Mitri Raheb is without a doubt the oldest and strongest Protestant voice for justice and peace in Palestine. (Read his credentials in the January Series materials.) But what really sets Mitri apart in my view is his ability to do compelling biblical interpretation and theology in a context that most of us can barely imagine. If it is true that living, powerful theology comes most reliably from communities in pain and under stress, then we need to listen to Raheb. His most recent book, Faith in the Face of Empire is the most thought provoking re-thinking of biblical truths that I have read in many years. Give yourself a break from the old grind. Be surprised—and maybe even awakened!”

-Peter, Office of Social Justice Coordinator


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

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