Fortress Press

Resurrecting Church: Where Justice and Diversity Meet Radical Welcome and Healing Hope

Resurrecting Church

Where Justice and Diversity Meet Radical Welcome and Healing Hope

John Cleghorn (Author), Rodney S. Sadler Jr. (Foreword by)


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Resurrecting Church interweaves three strands. First, it is the remarkable turnaround story of Caldwell Presbyterian Church, which was on the edge of extinction when author John Cleghorn filled the role of pastor. Second, Cleghorn tells the story of his own growth and liberation from the myopia of privilege. Cleghorn traded his position as senior vice president of the nation's largest bank for ministry and the dusty and dated church office at Caldwell Presbyterian. The third strand includes the stories of several diverse congregations researched by the author. These congregations are examples of faith communities that have taken risks, deepening empathy and seeking justice. Through these stories, the book updates the "same old" conversation about church vitality in timely and surprising ways.

Cleghorn raises these important questions: Can churches survive, even be resurrected, at the intersections of race, sexuality, class, and faith background? Can congregations be liberated by rebuilding around those on the margins who have been wounded by church? As more US cities become majority-minority, the "mainline" church remains stubbornly white and homogeneous. Church leaders and thinkers are seeking ways to build more racial diversity and radical welcome. This book provides hope and practical examples of how this can happen.

Cleghorn declares, "God is doing what Isaiah calls 'a new thing'" in congregations where multiple types of diversity intersect, erecting spiritual hospitals for the wounded and marginalized. For the church, these intersections provide both a current lens of self-examination and avenues to growth in faith. With stories, people profiles, and insights from their leaders and members, this book breaks new ground with practical learning and lessons drawn from original research and the lived experience of intersectional churches across the US.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506464848
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464855
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 224
  • Publication Date March 2, 2021


"Make no mistake. Though it describes the intersectional church, this is a book about resurrection. Not just in some incalculable future, but resurrection in the quantifiable, realized present. In the communal flesh. And the focus is just as squarely on the church's role in realizing, through spiritual encounter, the resurrection of a faith oriented social justice. John Cleghorn gives us an inspiring view of the ministries of intersectional churches where believers from multiple identities and life places collide creatively, provocatively, and prophetically as living representations of God's invasive, incarnational encounter with our world. In fighting for its own soul, the church, through these intersectional churches, battles for the resurrection of a just American culture. The church of the future is peeking into the present in the pages of Cleghorn's wonderful work. Catch a glimpse. Feel the hope and promise of resurrection."

Brian Blount, president and professor of New Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary

"Compelling, well-written, and timely, Resurrecting Church: Where Justice and Diversity Meet Radical Welcome and Healing Hope is performative in that it does what it describes, making a rich and diverse case for intersectional churches. Cleghorn's book is a combination of memoir, history, sociology, theology, and biblical exegesis, revealing the beautiful, messy, complex, liberation God works through communities of faith brave enough to do the work and maintain the relationships of an authentic, multi-axis life together. Cleghorn's book provides thought provoking and practical insight into how we might be shaped by the Holy Spirit into God's kin-dom."

Jill Duffield, editor of the Presbyterian Outlook

"A church of the both/and, an intersectional church, a congregation like one of only ten others out of 9,900--in this fascinating book of individual and collective sojourn, John Cleghorn tells us an unexpected story of hope and imagination. For those many of us wondering about the future of the church--or whether it has one--Resurrecting Church offers a vision of what it can mean to hold together diversity and justice. A necessary witness as we navigate days in which we are constantly challenged to give up both. I'm grateful."

Jennifer Harvey, author of Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation