an emerging, missional Christian community in the Scranton, PA area:
rooted in the Episcopal Church, welcoming all.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Who We Are

Who knows how to mark the beginning of a community? Perhaps Peacemeal began when we had our first meeting back in September 2005, but that would exclude all the time spent preparing the ground for that first meeting. I had been reading, conversing, and dreaming about vital new forms of church life at least since my sabbatical two years before, when I stumbled upon Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian while sipping coffee in Borders. My reading about the emerging church, combined with my participation in the Ekklesia Project, led me to imagine a church community that experimented with new patterns of worship, leadership, and mission while responding to the end of Christendom, the rise of postmodern culture, and the tendency of American churches to function as chaplains to the dominant social order. During the summer of 2005 I met with my Bishop, Paul Marshall, and a couple of priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, to brainstorm about renewal and evangelism in the diocese. The bold idea of trying to start a new community came from the bishop, himself, and I was happy to run with it. I contacted Josh Frank, with whom I had been having a sporadic email conversation for several months (sporadic because I ignored my email for a couple months right after our third child was born last April!) and we met for coffee and visioning. With our wives and a handful of interested friends we began our community with a eucharistic gathering in our home--at which the bishop presided (a visible sign that this was a work of the diocese and not some splinter group).

Our community attempts to combine the best ideas coming out of emergent and the Church of England "Fresh Expressions" in the context of the Episcopal Church. Our goal is to wed the creativity of new church expressions to the tradition and oversight of the Anglican communion. We have no desire to be "independent" of such structures, indeed, it's not clear to us what an "independent" church could mean given our belief in the communion of saints and the catholicity of the church. Nonetheless, we hope to embody a missional form of church life that is unlike the traditional parishes around us, to try to create in an American context something of the "mixed economy" of church life and structure that is being explored and encouraged in England. We are new and we are improvising and we will surely make mistakes. But we are being given the freedom to explore church in fresh ways, and we couldn't be more excited about that!

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