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Buried Seeds

Learning from the Vibrant Resilience of Marginalized Christian Communities

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"They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds." In this book, Alexia Salvatierra and Brandon Wrencher explore two grassroots faith movements whose witness has been buried within the histories of the institutional church and secular justice movements: the base ecclesial communities of the Global South in the late twentieth century and the hush harbors of the US antebellum South.

Buried Seeds demonstrates how these two overlooked ministry models offer proven wisdom and strategies for the twenty-first-century church and contemporary social movements. The authors show how these ministry models are treasure troves of insight into the creation and sustenance of vital Christian community, particularly for those seeking indigenous, culturally rooted models. They show that mission models must integrate social justice in order to speak to today's generations with power. This book will help readers learn how to integrate vibrant Christ-centered faith and mission with world-changing social justice and political action. It includes compelling on-the-ground stories from multiethnic communities expressing alternative ministry models.

Foreword by Robert Chao Romero  
Introduction: Longing for More
1. Base Ecclesial Communities: The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor
2. Hush Harbors: The Invisible Black Prophetic Church
3. Kinship: Familia en Comunión
4. Leader-full: Participación
5. Consciousness: Conscientización and el Mensaje de Liberación
6. Spirit-uality: Sanidad and la Teología de las Abuelas
7. Faith-full Organizing: Alma y Fermenta de la Sociedad
8. Catch the Fire: An Integrated Vision for the Twenty-First Century
La Fuente Ministries by Marcos Canales
Mission House Church by Anthony Smith
Afterword by Willie James Jennings


"This book mines the rich legacy of Black and Brown grassroot expressions of Christianity, and it builds on this firm foundation to offer us a new, faithful way forward where we can be ethnically proud and distinctively Christian."

Dominique DuBois Gilliard, author of Subversive Witness: Scripture's Call to Leverage Privilege

"Buried Seeds pays homage to the critical course of liberationist growth and process: freedom is embedded in the miracle of life's happenings; and no matter the circumstances, life will always spring up where there is potential for flourishing. Salvatierra and Wrencher have gifted us all a book that feels like a garden!"

Oluwatomisin Olayinka Oredein, assistant professor of Black religious traditions, constructive theology, and ethics, Brite Divinity School

"Beginning with the challenging but hopeful admonition, 'The Church has to be so much more,' this timely and significant work offers real-life examples of churches and Christian communities that are so much more. Drawing inspiration and examples from the oppressed and the poor, this book provides the hope that renewal can truly come from the margins. Buried Seeds exemplifies the best of what the church can be and offers a much-needed antidote for an ailing church."

Soong-Chan Rah, Robert Munger Professor of Evangelism, Fuller Theological Seminary

"If you're about to close the door on Christianity for good, wait, and read this book first! Buried Seeds is the dose of hope we've needed in an age where it's hard to tell the difference between ecclesia and empire. Salvatierra and Wrencher draw on decades of lived experience to remind us that for generations Black and Brown peoples have shown us The Way, forging a rich faith out of exile and struggle. Packed with pertinent research, rigorous theological analysis, and vivid stories, this book is a manual for leaders who seek to provoke the Christian church into resurrected life. Buried Seeds made me commit anew to 'the assembling of ourselves together.'"

Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, curator, Salt | Yeast | Light

"This very worthy book shines historical light on the ingenious, centuries-old contributions of Black and Brown peoples who understood the interrelationship between Christian faith and social justice. During the current era in which organizers and faith communities sometimes seem desperate for new models in the name of innovation, the authors plumb our collective history and make the case that some strategies are timeless and have merit in an array of cultural circumstances--including today's. Inasmuch as I subscribe personally to the principle of sankofa, I'm especially grateful for the authors' willingness to look back in order to move forward."

Paul Roberts Sr., president, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary

"Buried Seeds is a sacred gift to a church in crisis. The authors take us on a journey and help us recover the radical and unsung roots of the Christian faith by introducing us to transformational ministry models. For those who take seriously the call to Christian community and to putting faith into action, Salvatierra and Wrencher will provide guidance and wisdom through their Spirit-filled words."

Karen González, author of The God Who Sees and Beyond Welcome

"As you read Buried Seeds, your knowledge of base ecclesial communities (CEBs in Latin America and the Philippines) and hush harbors (US antebellum South) will be deepened, you will gain wisdom concerning our own social challenges, and you will benefit from practices the authors present. What's more, as you enter the worlds of Salvatierra and Wrencher, if you dwell there with heart and mind and if you bring these worlds into conversations, then as you reenter your own world, your awareness and imagination will be changed. You will be more apt to see the Spirit of Jesus ahead of you and around you, calling you and your community toward participation."

Mark Lau Branson, Homer L. Goddard Senior Professor of the Ministry of the Laity, Fuller Theological Seminary; coauthor (with Juan Martínez) of Churches, Cultures, and Leadership

The Authors

  1. Alexia Salvatierra

    Alexia Salvatierra

    Alexia Salvatierra (DMiss, Fuller Theological Seminary), a national leader in faith engagement in immigrant justice for over twenty years, is the academic dean of Centro Latino and associate professor of integral mission and global transformation at Fuller...

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  2. Brandon Wrencher

    Brandon Wrencher

    Brandon Wrencher (MDiv, North Park Theological Seminary) is a minister, community organizer, teacher, and facilitator. He works across faith, higher education, and nonprofit sectors at the intersections of decolonizing church, contemplative activism, and local...

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Named One of Fifteen Important Theology Books of 2022, Englewood Review of Books

"This volume will inspire and sustain resilient integral Christian communities that foster belonging and cultivate justice."

Susan Willhauck,

The Christian Century