2017 Illumination Award Winner in the Ministry/Mission category
In From Classism to Community, author Jini Kilgore Cockroft examines the biblical truths that all persons are made in the image of God, and persons who are transformed through faith in Jesus Christ become members of equal standing in the Christian church. With these two truths as a foundation, she proclaims that Christians should accept one another as equal inheritors of God's grace, and should relate to one another as peers regardless of any differences in socioeconomic backgrounds. Though central to the gospel message, these assertions often are not in sync with societal realities.
Cockroft offers a historical analysis of the origin of "classism" in the church and its influence in the development of denominations, specifically in the African American church. Referencing the works of scholars, Christian writers, and pastors from a broad spectrum of evangelical witness, alongside of her own, and those on the margins, she urges the church to exercise its power to restore, empower, and include the poor and forgotten by prayerfully finding ways to deemphasize social class distinctions while learning instead to affirm and embrace the concept of the imago dei, the belief that all humans have been made in the image of God.
"In Galatians 3:28 the apostle Paul identified three major divisions that have haunted the human family for three millennia: gender, ethnicity, and class. These same divisions have impacted the life of the church from its beginnings, although in recent years attempts have been made to acknowledge and address two of those dividing lines: gender and ethnicity. What Jini Kilgore Cockroft has done in her new book is force the church to address its unfinished business and focus on the one remaining dividing line, which is class. The United States is increasingly becoming a nation divided by class barriers and boundaries, and sadly this fact is true inside most of our churches. Dr. Cockroft will not let us forget it or get away with it. Even African American churches, which have lived for centuries with the burden of racism and that are painfully slow in responding to the issues of sexism, are far too comfortable and content with the classism that is visible within their own congregations and present in African American communities across this country. This book reminds us that you cannot have true community without tearing down the dividing wall of class distinction. It takes someone like Jini Kilgore Cockroft, who is herself a product of the black middle class, to remind churches everywhere that everyone should be welcome in the church no matter what may be their level of income or education. That is the heart of the message of Jesus." Marvin A. McMickle, Author, Be My Witness: The Great Commission for Preachers, and President, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
"Dr. Jini Cockroft has a long history of Christian involvement on behalf of the poor, going back to the time she met Martin Luther King Jr. She has continuously ministered on behalf of those who have suffered inequities based upon socioeconomic status. From Classism to Community offers Cockroft's wealth of experience, biblical principles, and practical strategies to include, restore, and empower those who have been too often forgotten by the church as well as society."Donald Thorsen, Ph.D., Professor of Theology, Azusa Pacific University Seminary
Jini Kilgore Cockroft, M.Div., DMin., is an ordained American Baptist Churches USA (ABC) minister. In 2008, she and her husband Pastor Willie Cockroft founded HighWay Ministries, an urban mission in South Los Angeles that offers spiritual and practical nurture to people with low incomes. She has contributed to several Judson Press books including: Sister to Sister: Devotions for and from African American Women Vol 1 (1995) & Vol 2 (1999), A Servant's Journey: The Life and Work of Thomas Kilgore (1998), Those Preaching Women, Vol. 2 (1985), and No Other Help I Know: Sermons on Prayer and Spirituality (1996). As a teacher, preacher, writer, editor, administrator, and missionary, Jini has devoted her life to Christian spiritual formation, justice and inclusion. Go to www.hwmin.org to learn more about Highway Ministries.
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