Being Christian in the Wake of Trump
Buy Sanctuary: Being Christian in the Wake of Trump
Throughout her nearly forty years in ministry, Heidi Neumark has strived to make the communities she was part of sanctuaries amid the turmoils of life. Now, with the social and political upheaval of the years since Donald Trump was elected president, Neumark believes the true Christian calling is to live out a counterpoint to today’s prevailing spirits of exclusion and hatred. Using her own bilingual, multicultural congregation as a model, she moves through the seasons of the church calendar to reflect on what it looks like to live out essential Christian convictions in community with others.
Sanctuary is an amplifier for the many voices crying out against policies and rhetoric that are cruel, dehumanizing, and dangerous. Neumark begins each chapter with a quote from Donald Trump that she defies and dismantles with the power of her own stories–anecdotes about offering shelter for queer youth in her city, supporting immigrants and asylum-seekers being harassed by ICE, and embracing her church’s diversity with a Guadalupe celebration, to name a few. This is a book born out of the necessity of our current times that will nevertheless stay relevant as this era’s deep wounds, inflicted before and during Trump’s presidency, remain long past its end.
From Publishers Weekly: In this insightful work, pastor Neumark (Breathing Space) offers a collection of essays on ministry in the Trump era. “What Trump says and does,” Neumark writes, “publicly disavows every core teaching Jesus set forth…. The church must take sides.” Each piece begins with an epigraph from Trump juxtaposed against an anecdote from Neumark’s life that gives context or runs contrary to his statement. “Suffer the Little Children,” for example, opens with Trump’s quote: “the beauty that’s being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never be able to be comparably replaced.” Neumark then explores the historical white supremacy inscribed in the location and construction of Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City, built by German immigrants in 1908, where she is pastor, before reminding readers that Trump’s quote was in reference to the removal of Confederate monuments. In “Measuring Up” she quotes Trump’s racist remarks (“Hello Miss Housekeeping”) before exploring Trinity’s shelter and food bank program, as well as organization on behalf of immigrant labor rights. The collection ends with a particularly affecting story about The Border Church located between San Diego and Tijuana. With this powerful collection, Neumark adds her voice to the growing chorus of Christians calling for faith-based resistance to the Trump agenda. (Sept.)
“Pastor Heidi Neumark’s intensely personal telling of her wildly diverse congregation’s quest to create community against the backdrop of Trump’s presidency and NYC’s gentrification is inventive, humorous, painful, and oh so inspiring. Our world needs more pastors like Heidi, more congregations like Trinity Lutheran, and more books like Sanctuary. All three offer a divided nation reasons to be hopeful and paths toward healing.”
— Cynthia Nixon
actor and activist
“Passionate, luminous, inspired, and practical, Neumark’s Trinity Lutheran Church on Manhattan’s West 100th Street is a place where the simplicity of play meets a righteous rage for change, where faith and morality attain true meaning. Sanctuary takes on the problems of the USA—and of humanity—while recounting, with rich stories and vivid details, how a small church can carry an inclusive vision that transcends boundaries. This is a fine example of the resistance, vision, and transformation that, in her words, ‘these days, and the gospel, require.’”
— Joan Juliet Buck
author of The Price of Illusion
“Heidi Neumark’s books always take me to places I’ve never been. Sanctuary is no exception. It is more than a prophetic response to one president or one political party. It is a series of eloquent dispatches from the front where genuine ministry is happening, delivered by a trusted and wise messenger. This is a wonderful book.”
— Richard Lischer
author of Stations of the Heart
“Sanctuary is a must read. Throughout the book, Neumark weaves together stories from those bruised, battered, and abandoned in the midst of abundance and puts them in stark relief with the oppressive decrees of Donald Trump and his enablers. Neumark’s stories, from her own lived experience, embody the call of the gospel to preach good news to the poor and bring comfort to the broken amid bedbugs, detention centers, and systemic violence and injustice.”
— Liz Theoharis
cochair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
“Heidi Neumark’s powerful book will retain its power long after Donald Trump’s presidency. Neumark has the unique ability to bring together people and events that are seldom in the same space—consider her chapter, ‘Bed Bugs, Condoms, Frankincense, and Myrrh.’ Biblical texts and church seasons intersect with politics without apology: ‘It’s remarkable,’ she writes, ‘that people who gather to worship in spaces with a cross prominently displayed become upset about politics in the sanctuary.’ You will never say ‘sanctuary’ again without hearing her passionate plea for the church to take sides—based on the Bible—with those whose lives are demeaned and dismissed. This is a book many have been waiting for; hopefully, it will also be read by those who didn’t know they were waiting.”
— Barbara K. Lundblad
Union Theological Seminary, New York City
“Pastor Heidi evocatively defines sanctuary as ‘an embodied way for dreams to grow in a protected space so that a different future can be born.’ This book is a sanctuary rich with the gilded stories of beautiful people for whom the church or society have rarely offered safety, finding their way to healing in a community finding its way to Jesus in our ever-changing and brutal city. A beautiful, compelling vision.”
— Winnie Varghese
Trinity Church Wall Street
Buy Hidden Inheritance:
“I’m a Lutheran pastor, but I’m not the same one I was six years ago.” says Heidi Neumark “That’s when our daughter was up late Googling family names and called out: Mom! Do you know you’re from a prominent Jewish family and your grandfather died in a concentration camp? It’s on Wikipedia!” Within months, that Wikipedia footnote sent Neumark on a personal journey across the globe to search for her family roots – taking her from Germany to the Czech Republic, to Brazil and eventually to a Passover Seder in Los Angeles with newly found cousins.
Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory and Faith by Heidi B. Neumark (Abingdon Press, October 6, 2015), takes readers on Neumark’s journey into an unimagined past with life-changing repercussions for her future. Personal narrative, social history, theology and Biblical reflection are interwoven in a story that challenges the author’s identity, vocation and her theology. As this Lutheran pastor is shocked to uncover her Jewish roots and successive family loss and trauma through the Holocaust, readers are invited to consider for themselves how secrets, closeted identities and silence can shape their lives.
Heidi Neumark strong passion for social justice kept her in the South Bronx where she served congregations for twenty years. Her first book, the award winning Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx tells that story. For the past twelve years she has continued her passion as pastor of the multicultural, bilingual, Trinity Lutheran Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She initiated support groups for Latino members, and programs for low-come, immigrant children and homeless LGBT youth. During all those years, Neumark had no idea that there was a chilling history of oppression in her own family.
In Hidden Inheritance Neumark grapples with Anti-Semitism in the church and the role of the church in silencing trauma. She reconsiders how her lifelong identification with marginalized people and work for social justice emerged from roots she never knew existed.
Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, published by Beacon Press, 2003. Winner of 2004 Wilbur Award given by the Religion Communicators Council.
From the Publishers Weekly Starred review: “A gifted storyteller, she portrays people who, despite personal tragedies and minimal resources, band together to build low-income housing, create first-rate schools, restore their church, plant trees and help each other through crises. People like Burnice, who initially came to church to pick up Christmas gifts, intending to trade them for drugs and then kill herself with an overdose; but who kept coming back, got her GED, found a job and is now a leader in church and community. ‘Some future pillars of the church arrive in ruins,’ Neumark wryly notes. With its hard-nosed realism and passion for God, this memoir should appeal to people of faith across the political spectrum.”
More Critical Praise:
“Breathing Space could not have been written by anyone other than Heidi Neumark, who has been immersed in the life of the South Bronx for twenty years. She writes with the passionate love of a pastor’s heart and a poet’s gift for language. Politicians have visited the South Bronx and novelists have taken detours onto its streets but Heidi Neumark stayed long enough and loved hard enough to be marked for life. This book will take your breath away.”
——-The Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. Senor Minister Emeritus,
The Riverside Church, NYC.
“This beautiful book, written with insight and gentle humor, breathes wisdom, kindness, and great blessing. Heidi Neumark wrestles with angels and discovers pools of refreshing grace.”
——-Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching,
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
“Heidi Neumark has worked tirelessly to earn the trust of people who have been betrayed constantly in their lives, finding in stories of desperation, poverty, and death, stories of hope and transfiguration. Read this book carefully and let Neumark’s commitment and love touch your heart.”
——-Ada María-Diaz, author of En La Lucha: A Hispanic Woman’s Liberation Theology
“This remarkable book helped me enter a world I’d scarcely imagined.”
——-Richard Lischer, author and James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School
A collection of essays that includes one by Heidi