Humanity & Vulnerability:
The Associated Press took a ride with me in Boston.
“Bicyclists have the experience of knowing our own vulnerability, and knowing that in some ways our safety is dependent on the actions of others,” she said.
Read more here: https://apnews.com/5a078edb655c45ac81e82f61482c2537
Bicycles & New Ways We Gather:
I gave the keynote sermon for the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, with the exceedingly smart Angie Thurston, Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and On Being.
My day job is as executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. But by night, I get to turn into a neon-clad cyclist traveling the streets of Boston. None of this was intentional. I fumbled into this ministry. I began riding a bike as my primary form of transit because my car died, and I was in a bible study on economic discipleship with some other Christians who convinced me that it was cheaper and more fun to travel by bike. These bicycle evangelists taught me how to ride in the city and fix a flat on my own. I fell in love with my city by traveling it by bike.
Over all those miles and through the rain, snow, and sleet of Boston, I’ve discovered the deep convictions of cyclists. Historically, monastic communities would call this a “Rule of Life,” a set of patterns and norms that govern communal living. Practical cyclists aren’t so much rule-bound to never take a car or a train or walk. Rather, in the sense of a “Rule of Life,” the bicycle becomes the regularizing frame for other decisions.
You can watch the whole sermon here:
Ministry in the Bike Lane:
I’m featured in the June 2016 Sojourners Magazine article, “Why Some Pastors are Taking Up Bicycles to Better Love their Cities, ” by Steve Holt.
“Everett is one of just a handful of ministers across the nation- from New York City to Minneapolis to Denver- whose parish extends outside of traditional church structures to include bike lanes and cyclists. She says cyclists know the risks of the road and yet choose to bicycle- “a rule of life that many pastors would give their right arm for.”
“These are people who have said, ‘There’s an easier path, but I’m going to do this,’ she says. ‘That’s remarkable.”
The Spirituality of Bicycles:
I spoke at Harvard University’s Memorial Church on “The Spirituality of Bicycles”
The idea that every mundane thing, even bicycles, can be a pathway to God has not always been well received. Back during the turn of the previous century’s cycling boom, New England’s religious conservatives did not appreciate the spiritual potential of bicycles, especially when they were ridden on Sunday. At the time, Harvard President Charles Eliot countered by saying, “God delights in every innocent pleasure. I ride a bicycle or a horse for pleasure on Sunday, without feeling that I have desecrated the Sabbath Day.”
You can listen to the sermon here: https://soundcloud.com/memorial-church/laura-everett-mdiv-04-september-23-2016-morning-prayers?in=memorial-church/sets/morning-prayers
I’m quoted in this Boston Globe article about the emergence of the “Ghost Bike” as a memorial ritual to cyclists killed in cities.
The memorials are coordinated by a private Facebook group made up of dozens of cyclists who see communal mourning, and the resulting protest against unsafe streets, as a sacred responsibility.
“For me, it’s a funeral guild,” said the Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and the officiant at the vigil for Phillips, which drew perhaps 250 people. “These are the faithful people who are committed to memorializing the dead.”
You can read the entire article here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/06/30/urban-ritual-marks-life-loss-and-love-cycling/bp8y6ROmwiWvJgwZ40UBJM/story.html
I wrote for the Christian Century’s blog on praying with the words of the arrested.
I believe the city is full of scripture, words that guide us closer to the one full of infinite compassion and perfect justice for the innocent and the guilty. Yet the arresting words are not just about others, but also about me; they condemn my complicity in a system that criminalizes poverty and addiction.
I’ve prayed with these words over the past few weeks, as part of learning to pray for the whole of my city. Meditating on these arresting words challenges me to pray for the person so broken that they’d say to a child, “Pick a bullet for you and me and mommy.”
You can read the full essay here: https://www.christiancentury.org/blogs/archive/2016-04/voices-arrested
About Institutional Leadership:
I write a lot for Faith & Leadership about how I’m learning to lead a vibrant institutions. You can read my essays here: https://www.faithandleadership.com/people-news/writers/laura-everett
Two essays that get requested often:
The sacramentality of tattoos: https://www.faithandleadership.com/laura-everett-sacramentality-tattoos
Ecumenical awkwardness as a spiritual discipline: http://fteleaders.org/blog/ecumenical-awkwardness