An engaging primer on the Christian life

July 3, 2014

Sharon FrontSharon Watkins is the first woman to lead an American mainline denomination, having served for nine years as General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She also was the first woman to preach at the National Prayer Service, delivering the sermon on the day after President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

Early in her administration as her church’s presiding minister, a visioning team developed an identity statement that expresses the central character of this church as it understands itself in this tumultuous era of history.

We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the Body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.

In a new book, Watkins interprets this statement in a highly personal way. The book, writes Robert Welsh, “begins and ends with personal stories and vignettes centered upon the key concepts that give us [Disciples] our identity as a faith community.”

Although I have read the book, both in earlier drafts and in its published version, I do not plan to review the book. As father of the author, I would not be able to offer a sufficiently “objective” evaluation. Instead, I am transmitting statements that are published as part of the front matter of this slender volume.

“Sharon Watkins is one of America’s great reconcilers. In my time in the White House, I saw firsthand how Sharon’s witness for Christ in the wider world knit both her own denomination and the country closer together, and helped us focus on the issues that matter most. Now with Whole, we have a powerful blueprint for unity that each of us can apply in our own areas of influence. This book is a gift; it will change organizations, and lives.” —Joshua DuBois, Author of The President’s Devotional, and former head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“There are leaders within the church that everyone should be listening to and engaging. Sharon Watkins…is always near the top of my list. Her deep passion for helping Christians live out their faith in ways large and small, the great wisdom she offers from decades of ministry, and the powerful vision she paints of what it means to be one of Christ’s disciples in the kind of world we live in—whether or not you belong to her denomination—makes this book a must read. Watkins brings people together, articulates a direction we need, and is one of the best voices we have for bringing faith into public life.”—Jim Wallis, President and Founder of Sojourners.

“Come and feast at the banquet prepared for you from the beginning of the world. ‘You’ means everyone, no exceptions. Turn in here and join the feast, and bring your neighbor with you. Sharon Watkins has prepared a veritable banquet—come and taste—and a tender invitation to come and feast.”—Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church.

The book is published by Chalice Press and is also is available in electronic versions.