25 traits of ‘The Beloved Community’

BRATTLEBORO — The United Methodist Church's Religion & Race website lists how “the Beloved Community” manifests and protects agape love as its guiding principle and is expressed in the following ways:

1. Offers radical hospitality to everyone; an inclusive family rather than exclusive club;

2. Recognizes and honors the image of God in every human being;

3. Exhibits personal authenticity, true respect, and validation of others;

4. Recognition and affirmation, not eradication, of differences;

5. Listens emotionally (i.e., with the heart) - fosters empathy and compassion for others;

6. Tolerates ambiguity - realizes that sometimes a clear-cut answer is not readily available;

7. Builds increasing levels of trust and works to avoid fear of difference and others;

8. Acknowledges limitations, lack of knowledge, or understanding - and seeks to learn;

9. Acknowledges conflict or pain in order to work on difficult issues;

10. Speaks truth in love, always considering ways to be compassionate with one another;

11. Avoids physical aggression and verbal abuse;

12. Resolves conflicts peacefully, without violence, recognizing that “peacefully” doesn't always mean comfortably for everybody;

13. Releases resentment and bitterness through self-purification (i.e., avoidance of internal violence through spiritual, physical, and psychological care);

14. Focuses energy on removing evil forces (unjust systems), not destroying persons;

15. Unyielding persistence and unwavering commitment to justice;

16. Achieves friendship and understanding through negotiation, compromise, or consensus - considering each circumstance to discern which will be most helpful;

17. Righteously opposes and takes direct action against poverty, hunger, and homelessness;

18. Advocates thoroughgoing, extensive neighborhood revitalization without displacement (this also applies to the Church - working toward responsible and equitable growth, discipleship, and worship);

19. Blends faith and action to generate a commitment to defeating injustice (not forgetting that injustice can also be found within the Church);

20. Encourages and embraces artistic expressions of faith from diverse perspectives;

21. Fosters dynamic and active spirituality - recognizes that we serve a dynamic God who is not left behind by a changing world or people, and that a passive approach will not work;

22. Gathers together regularly for table fellowship, and meets the needs of everyone in the community;

23. Relies on scripture reading, prayer, and corporate worship for inner strength;

24. Promotes human rights and works to create a non-racist society;

25. Shares power and acknowledges the inescapable network of mutuality among the human family.

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