Last year, the 1st year, we walked around the block, Andy and I, in the freezing cold wondering what the year would bring; believing God has a hand in it all; hoping that we could come to know the neighborhood and learn to be community together.

This year, we have the experience of a year lived on this block. We have shared the street with ambulances, police cars, taxis, fire trucks and kids throwing the ball to each other. (more…)

Out of a starting point connected to those who are marginalized comes the theological spiral that Beverly Harrison has called a “liberation social ethics methodology” and Katie Cannon calls “emancipatory praxis”. This style 0f theologizing in a continuing spiral of engagement and reflection begins with commitment to the task of raising up signs of God’s new household with those who are struggling for justice and full humanity. It continues by sharing experiences of commitment and struggle in a concrete context of engagement. Third, the theological spiral leads to a critical analysis of the context of the experiences, seeking to understand the social and historical factors that affect the community of struggle. Out of this commitment to action in solidarity with the marginalized, and out of sharing of experiences and social analysis, arise questions about biblical and church tradition that help us gain new insight into the meaning of the gospel as good news for the oppressed and marginalized. This new understanding of tradition flows from and leads to action, celebration and further reflection in the continuing theological spiral.

from Church in the Round

Finally someone who has deliberately undergone [one’s] own destiny in all its tragedy will also detect more  clearly and more rapidly the suffering of the other, even if [one] must go beyond it. [One] will not be able to mock strange feelings of any kind if [one] can take [one’s] own seriously. [One] will no longer go round the vicious circle of contempt.

“… I describe the church as a community of Christ, bought with a price, where everyone is welcome. This community is bought with a price because of the struggle of Jesus to overcome the structures of sin and death constitutes both the source of new life in the community and its own mandate to continue the same struggle for life on behalf of others.”

“Those of us who ‘fall in faith’ with [Jesus] and [the] story of God’s welcome experience cognitive dissonance, a contradiction between ideas and actual experience, when we turn from reading the Gospels to looking at the way this message has been interpreted in the church through the ages. Nevertheless, many of us, including myself, continue to find that this is a life-giving story that points us to God’s intention for New Creation, in our lives, in society, and in nature as well.  And we find ourselves seeking out communities of faith and struggle that speak of life in the midst of all forms of death-dealing oppression.”

– Letty Russell, Church in the Round

It is impossible for me and for many other alienated women and men to walk away from the church, however, for it has been the bearer of the story of Jesus Christ and the good news of God’s love. It seems rather that we have to sit back and askourselves about what is happening among us when two or three gather in Christ’s name and begin to think through possible ways of being church that will affirm the full humanity of all women and men.”

– from Church in the Round, pg 11.

As the Body of Christ in community, church has a role. Since CWAC is a movement in response to oppression, we covenant to filter conversation through the following (you can hold us accountable in loving support):

1. The starting point of theological thought and action is the experience of social oppression.

2. The goal of theology is human worth, the possibility of being a person within a just order of society.

3. Theology is praxis. Theology takes place in just action and the struggle for a new society.

These tenets were taken from Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel’s A Land Flowing With Milk and Honey (1989).

The Open National Coordinating Team meeting in White Plains, NY, will be meeting March 13-15. Follow this link to learn more: CWAC Meeting

The Church Start/Redevelopment Team (Ministry Development) will meet on Friday, March 13th at 3:00pm. We will be gathering to discover what BEing church looks like in ministry as new church starts and revitalizations. We are stepping out into communities as church – the Body of Christ. What exactly does that look like?

It looks like a communion table that always has room for one more.

It looks like a place where every pew is a sacred space of sharing

It looks like a time/place in which no voice is valued above another.

It looks like a place where everyone is a participant, not a visitor.

It looks like …

We would love to be able to come together to talk about how this is lived in reality – here, now, today – in our ministry.

divorce_vid2This is a movie from the Courage Campaign in California. It is truly poignant. I encourage all, no matter your thoughts on same-sex marriage, to see this video and ponder the effects of potentially being forced to divorce your spouse.

Or, you can go to http://www.couragecampaign.org/page/s/divorce

Perhaps this begs a question. If you don’t believe they should be married to each other, who do you believe they should marry?

It is imperative that churches recognize the need that exists today to teach folks how to reflect theologically. The single biggest reason for this, quite honestly, is that church hierarchies have done the local church member a grave disservice.Increasingly, the theological discussions surrounding potentially contentious issues have occurred in denominational ivory towers, leaving the average church-goer divorced from the process of contemplating God’s place in any controversy. (more…)

As it turns out, not every good idea is high-tech. “Cookies” are the little files that help your web browser to remember the websites you’ve visited. Low-tech cookies, real world ones, can actually do the same thing, I found out. (more…)

What does a virtual church look like – forgiving, of course, the fact that the question seems to be an oxymoron? If a church does not exist in bricks and mortar, with live people, is it a church? If you just reproduce a real world church on video is it really virtual? And, if you just put a selection of hymns, prayers and sermons online so someone can click on them, does that qualify for either? This is a strange concept, this virtual church, raised most recently and bravely by our Executive Director, Cathy Knight. It will not be answered without wide discussion and participation. (more…)

This is a video compilation of key moments in the Church Within A Church service of extraordinary ordination.  Revs Annie Britton and Jenna Zirbel were ordained in the Methodist tradition in an ecumenical service. What can you say, it was a beautiful event – one that changed us forever. Praise God!

This was also originally posted elsewhere, but has been re-posted here with permission.

Narratives are a powerful tool for communicating, but even more so they can be immensely important in the process of self-reexamination. This is a reflection on a chance encounter that opened my eyes even more the lives lead by some immigrants in the U.S and to my own place of privilege. (more…)

When faced with urban decay, homelessness, drugs and other crimes, as well as the cultural depression that occurs within a blighted area, some communities take action. The results of that action can be visible, sometimes manifested in cleaner, safer, more optimistic environments. Sin and grace are both visible in the steps taken to “clean up” neighborhoods. It appears, at least to this observer, that the initial effort to resolve the problems, as described above, can eventually turn into efforts to take care of our situations. My observations thus far indicate the existence of a substantial amount of self-interest in revitalization actions taken, as opposed to acting primarily for the larger good of community. (more…)

Professor Emeritus Arlo Duba, long-time conservative retired Dean of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, shocked many with this revelation. It is well worth the read.

“I rejoiced when the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was given the authoritative interpretation that precluded homosexual participation in the ministry of the church in 1978. I thought the issue was settled once and for all. I continued my smugness for more than twenty years when the denomination repeatedly confirmed that interpretation. I was simply so certain that I never read any of the literature being produced about the issue.

Then my Bible reading and study led me to the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39).”

Read the full article at: “How My Mind Was Changed” Written by Arlo D. Duba
Appearing online at the Presbyterian Outlook website, Sunday, 28 December 2008