Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

Guided by Hope


The dawning of a new year brings hope for a new and different tomorrow. Leading Change asked three members of the McCormick community about the hope they have for the new year and how that hope will light their path and inform their actions in the year ahead.

A Motivating Hope
Dr. Anna Case-Winters, Professor of Theology

“I am full of hope because I see change coming…change that I have fervently hoped to see. The change at the top of our nation’s leadership is most welcome. But this is only the tip of the iceberg of what needs to change. I found a lot of hope in the peaceful, persistent protesters this past year; we have seen a whole lot of people in the streets who want a different kind of world. They are motivated by the hope that things can change, and they are willing to be part of the change.

“Christian hope is different from optimism that believes every day in every way, things just get better and better. Christian hope takes a clear-eyed look at harsh realities and hope makes us agitate for change because we believe God’s intention is for the flourishing of all. Hope calls us to action! As it says in the Confession of 1967, “With an urgency born of this hope, the church applies itself to present tasks and strives for a better world.” Present tasks right now include addressing police violence, systemic racism, the global pandemic, and the climate emergency.

“‘I can’t breathe’ was the poignant outcry of George Floyd. I am hoping for a world where everyone can breathe. We can imagine those same words coming from people with shortness of breath, receiving oxygen and relying on ventilators because they can’t breathe. The pandemic has been for us a kind of “apocalypse” or revelation about the iniquities in our society that leave some people much more vulnerable to illness and death than others. We are not all in the same boat. Some of us have the safety of a Noah’s Ark while others of us are hanging on broken pieces of the Titanic. My hope is that we will come to terms with the inequities that the pandemic laid bare.

“During the previous year, we saw fires out of control…hurricanes more numerous and intense…erratic weather patterns. We saw, in short, exactly what climate scientists predicted we would see because of global warming. With what we have done and continue to do, the earth can’t breathe. I am living in hope that the new administration can undo some of the damage that has been done to environmental policy and practice and begin to mitigate the looming disaster of our climate emergency.

“In this New Year we are hoping for change, waiting to see God present and active in our world. What if God is waiting for us, too? Where do we need to be present and active in our world?”

Pregnant with Hope
Justin Hamler, 2021 Master of Divinity Candidate

“I start this new year with my life filled with hope. My wife is pregnant; our baby is due in May. For me, that means God is still moving in our midst and we can have an expectation that there is more for us…more possibilities, more opportunities, more positivity in our world. On my Facebook and Instagram pages, I see other people sharing pictures and news about their babies and children and I think, one of these children could be the person who will develop the next vaccine that’s needed or will be a future leader. In the midst of the darkness that we’ve been experiencing, there is still new life happening and that gives me hope and something to hold on to.

“Hope was with me last year as well, even though I had to hold the tension of living by faith with uncertainties about the future. The two can and do exist in the same space. One thing that was helpful was seeing how fast the seminary moved classes online and how learning online could be an enriching experience. We tapped into technology and creativity and each other more than we knew we could. I lived basically online but adjusted to the point where I found something good from being there. In an in-person class, I just talk and say the first thing on my mind. When I had to type out my answers online, I had to be more thoughtful…I had to stop and process before responding. I’m taking the thoughtfulness that came from slowing down into this new year. Even if this new year holds some of the same concerns as the past, I know that God is still with us and God can take us through. For me, that’s hope.” 

Our Ultimate Hope
Dr. Carol Ping Tsao, M.D., J.D., McCormick Board Member, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, and Associate Dean for Medical Students at the Medical College of Wisconsin

“As I enter the new year, I’m breathing a sigh of relief…it has been a regressive four years. Now I see us as a country in urgent need of rooting out institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and all the other “isms” and phobias in their myriad varieties. My hope is for a nation that gets guns off the street and pursues stricter gun control laws, background checks and waiting periods to purchase firearms. We need to look like the rest of the first-world countries when it comes to gun violence statistics. Those are some of the things that will not just restore our status in the world but return us to being a beacon of hope in the world. My hope is that as we work to make our country a better place that we would also focus on ending violence against girls and women all over of the world. In a world where God is the architect and builder, we do not see human trafficking, mutilation, rape, child marriage and intimate partner violence.

“Pope Paul VI once said, ‘if you want peace work for justice.’ McCormick is working for justice. It has become very clear to me that McCormick provides evidence of the things it hopes for. Take the Liberative Carceral Education Initiative at Cook County Jail. It brings hope to both individuals who are incarcerated and those of us who want to be the people Jesus is talking about in Matthew 25:34. We want to be people who feed Christ, clothe Christ and visit Christ when we feed and clothe and visit those most in need of Christ’s compassion. For Christians, our ultimate hope is the unveiling of God’s full glory in Jesus Christ. But that’s not just a hope about the future. It’s our highest hope...a guiding hope that informs how we live and what we do every day…every hour.”