No Longer Strangers: The Practice of Radical Hospitality by Rev. Wendy J. Taylor and Margaret Kimball Cross is an inspiring and engaging read, the story of one woman’s response to the needs around her. In the small town of Pescadero, Calif., 45 miles southwest of San Francisco, a newly arrived pastor sits on the steps of the small church and chats with The Men Alone, immigrants who work at local farms whose families were left behind in Mexico. Thus begins a journey that will touch hundreds of lives in two countries.
Taylor, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, feels called by God to build a “bridge” between the U.S.-born members of the community and these invisible immigrants. No Longer Strangers is the story of this ministry as it is birthed and then expands into new forms of outreach with a growing impact on the immigrants and increasing involvement from the native-born community. As the story unfolds, we share the joys and sorrows of life lived in community and see new beginnings sprout as radical hospitality tears down stereotypes and bridges replace barriers. The book can serve as a lively manual for individuals and congregations seeking to engage in similar ministries of hospitality. Taylor and Cross share many good ideas about ways to engage, pitfalls to avoid, and how to recover from stumbles.
This is also a book about call: God’s call to radical hospitality and how one person was able to hear, discern, and live out her call. Time and again the action is stilled while Taylor and others seek to learn God’s will. God does not fail them. The Holy Spirit is definitely still speaking – are we listening?
Most of all, readers learn – as did the folks in Pescadero – that the strangers among us are actually our sisters and brothers. God calls us all to practice radical hospitality and build bridges to unite our communities. The beloved community, that place where we “may all be one” (John 17:21), is God’s vision for us. It is where we will find our greatest joy. No Longer Strangers is an engaging guidebook that can help us reach that place.
Review written by Edith Rasell, JWM's Minister for Economic Justice