This is an interesting piece from the HuffPo. The writer left his Christian faith but remains involved in anti-hunger activism in an interfaith context.
What I didn't fully understand [in college] was that my desire to help others and be in community existed apart from the theological claims of Christianity, which never sat as easily with me. After I was encouraged by my college professors to critically examine the underpinning desires that initially propelled me into Christianity, I left the church. At first being an atheist meant rejecting religion and all interpersonal discussions of it; but, years later, I realized I was missing opportunities to learn from and with those who saw the world differently than I did. .... I now coordinate the first ever atheist-led interfaith community service program, Values in Action.The writer describes his work:
If atheists and Christians started seeing one another as necessary partners in making the world a better place, what might we come to understand about each other? What might we come to better understand about ourselves? What might we accomplish together?Doing this work, he met his previous pastor, Matthew, with whom he'd had a good and close relationship. He describes their initial (re-)meeting. (Now, they work together in an alliance to fight hunger.)
"Remember how you told me you had a call to ministry?" [Matthew] asked as I took a sip of black coffee.
I laughed, nearly spitting it out. "I work for an atheist organization now, so I think it's safe to say that I was wrong about that one."
"Oh, see," he said with a smirk, his eyes darting mischievously between the Bible he had placed on the table and his former parishioner, "I was going to say that it's really nice to see you've realized your call."I really enjoyed that line. What do you think? Do you think nonbelievers (of which I am one) can have "a call"? The writer goes on,
I never did become a pastor, but by working with one, I've been able to do the work of helping others all the same. I call it service, he calls it ministry; though our words are different, our values and our work are the same.