The Christian Post is reporting that Brethren in Christ/Mennonite minister, theologian, and social activist Ronald J. Sider will retire as the president of Evangelicals for Social Action, an evangelical public policy organization he launched in the 1970s, next June.
Here’s a taste of the report:
In an interview with The Christian Post, Sider explained that he decided to retire as he would be 74 by that time and it seemed “appropriate for retiring.”
“What really crystalized it was that 2013 will be the fortieth anniversary of ESA and we are planning a big fortieth anniversary celebration,” said Sider. “I was planning to retire in the near future and as soon as I started thinking about that event … I decided that was the time for me to retire.”
Taking his place at head of ESA will be two individuals, Dr. Paul Alexander of Baylor University and Dr. F. Albert “Al” Tizon of Graduate Theological Union.
Sider’s activism was crucial to the politicization of the denomination; for much of the church’s history, members did not participate in electoral politics, viewing such involvements as “worldly.” Sider convinced many Brethren in Christ to adopt a more engaged stance.
Sider also helped the Brethren in Christ to re-interpret their classical doctrine of nonconformity for a new era. I’ll be writing more about this topic in the coming weeks.
Sider was — as the links from Christianity Today substantiate — a major force in the larger evangelical world. In books like Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Sider brought many biblical themes traditionally emphasized by the Brethren in Christ — peace, simplicity, care for neighbor — into conversation with evangelical social ethics. The book has gone on to sell 350,000 copies and to be named one of Christianity Today’s Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals.