The past year has brought tumultuous change to the church, as it has to the nation and the world.

Christian leaders have struggled to come to grips with a raging pandemic and a fraught presidential election. They have cared for others while trying to care for themselves and their families. At the same time, 2020 has reminded us that historical issues like racism and inequity remain -- and remain deadly.

As many of our readers have pivoted to engage with the shifting needs of today’s Christians, Faith & Leadership has aimed to fill their need for knowledge, guidance and inspiration with our essays, feature stories and interviews. We present here 10 highlights of this work.

Over the past year, we have been privileged to publish content dealing with a range of topics facing church leaders, from finances in the pandemic to the faithful leadership needed in an election year to the ongoing struggle of church leaders of all races to address systemic inequities.

We have seen Christian leaders continue to innovate in a world that’s very different from what we expected at the beginning of the year. We’ve also tried some experiments -- among them, the list of resources for Christian leaders dealing with the pandemic that we created in the early spring and have continued to update regularly.

As part of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., and with support from the Issachar Fund, we have sought to contribute to the thriving of communities and to represent a diverse array of leadership.

We hope that the new year will bring some respite, especially to those most affected by current events, and that the stories we tell will continue to help our readers find ways forward in 2021 and beyond.

But first, a look back at some of the best Faith & Leadership pieces from 2020.


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Proclaiming the liberation narrative of God through church art

A Chicago church has installed a trio of stained-glass windows to help its members reclaim their past, honor their present and look ahead to their future.

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Will the church financially survive the COVID-19 pandemic?

In April 2020, we asked 12 Christian leaders to share their thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic might affect the financial health and sustainability of American churches. In October, we followed up with a story about a Lake Institute on Faith & Giving survey of more than 500 churches to see how they’re doing.

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William H. Lamar IV: It’s not just the coronavirus -- bad theology is killing us

COVID-19 -- and its impact on Black and brown communities -- is the American empire in viral form, writes the pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

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Kara K. Root: The 20-second gift of washing your hands

Twenty seconds doesn’t seem like a long time -- until you try to follow the guidance to wash your hands for that long to avoid the new coronavirus, writes a pastor.

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Aleta Payne: To my white sisters in Christ

A Black mother of sons challenges white women to move beyond silence or tepid, timid outrage to work for a world in which all of God’s children can live more fully and fairly.

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Gail Song Bantum: Leaders make space for others

Mihee Kim-Kort interviews Quest Church pastor Gail Song Bantum, who reflects on her journey into ministry and how pastors must make space for others to flourish.

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Shelley Best: Dying organizations must transform in order to survive and flourish

In order to pursue its core mission, an organization may have to craft its own path, says the CEO and president of The Conference of Churches in Connecticut.

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Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: Voting for our own souls

Christians must remain engaged for the sake of the country and the integrity of their own faith, writes an author and activist.

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Dave Odom: Ash Wednesday instills a leadership discipline, even for a novice

Themes of confession and repentance connect across faith traditions and reinforce important traits for those in positions of authority, writes the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

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A church-run business incubator grows its community’s own solutions to poverty

Under the Rev. Barry Randolph, a thriving Detroit church has brought a young community together to improve their lives with their own ideas.

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