“… 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.

I need mentors to guide and inspire. I need mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers of the church, the body of Christ, for me to grow in the call to the servant leadership. Our Church Within A Church Movement is about BEing the church today, with justice, mercy and equality overcoming the push to conform to the will or the way of a socialized hierarchy of worth. At times I lose focus as I lose heart.

I have discovered that I especially need the companionship of a woman of wisdom born of experience in visionary work. (more…)

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?

This is an offering from the Power Flower discussion at the last national meeting in October. I hope it gives further food for thought and, at least, keep the issue of -isms in the forefront of dialogue.

Privilege is one of those very strange things. Those who lack it generally recognize it as either something to envy or something to despise. Those who know they have it and are inclined to have more, manipulate it to their own advantage. Then there is the great, largely clueless majority who, if asked, will tell you they don’t have privilege – they are just as downtrodden as women, people of color, GLBT or whatever other group they may name. Sometimes I think that the invisible unflective privilege is the most heinous and insidious.

To fully understand privilege, we have to first unpack its two close relatives – bias and prejudice. While we tend to use these words interchangeably, they are quite different. Bias is an ingrained preference for or against particular things, and it ranges from the mundane to the notorious. Preferring strawberries over apples is a bias, as is having a preference for white people or against people of color. One is relatively harmless and mild, while the other may be hurtful to both persons involved. Prejudice is pre-judgment based on some criteria or bias. It is one thing to be biased towards whites, but another to prejudge the characteristic of white as better than all other possibilities. Prejudice elevates bias to an action or belief system that is illogical and not just hurtful, but potentially truly harmful. (more…)

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…)

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!

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

A powerfull, moving video from ray Boltz and our friends at Soulforce (www.soulforce.org)