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

Monday, September 25, 2006

episcopal and emergent, part 1 -- via media

I've sometimes been asked why we are an Episcopal community. Many emergent experiments, especially in the U.S., have chosen to go it alone as independent churches. So, why is it important to us to be linked to a tradition and specifically to the Anglican tradition?

(For those of you who don't know, the Episcopal Church USA is the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion--having a spiritual link to all the churches that have emerged from the Church of England and maintain a tie to one another through the spiritual leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury.)

The truth is, we have people in our community who come from Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Episcopal backgrounds. So to what extent does being part of the Anglican tradition make a difference to who we are as Peacemeal?

In short, I believe we are Anglican just to the extent that the Anglican tribe provides a hopeful and helpful band of fellow travelers as we seek to follow God in the way of Jesus. In this tribe we have both a link to the past and permission to explore the future. As the Church of England community, mayBe, puts it on their website:
"The bible is the text that forms us. We are nourished by Jesus's meal - the Eucharist. We are part of the Church of England. And we stand in the tradition of our brother and sister Christians down the centuries and around the world. It's this grounding that gives us confidence to explore. With these roots down, our walls can come down."
Scripture, eucharist, and the tradition together create strong enough roots that we can experiment with confidence that we will not lose our center.

In this and a series of posts to come, I will explore different aspects of Anglican identity that help us live as a faithful, missional community in today's culture.

The first aspect I would emphasize is that the Anglican tradition has always been a "via media" tradition. "Via media" is Latin for "middle way" (or, as I prefer, "third way"--since sometimes the way out of a polarized situation is not to walk down the middle but to walk off the map).

This characteristic goes back to the beginning of the Church of England, when it attempted to find a middle ground between the Medieval Catholic church and the Reformation churches springing up on the European continent. It wanted to keep many of the spiritual and liturgical traditions of the medieval church while taking up much of the theology of the Reformation. You might say the Church of England was trying to be "ancient-future" before ancient-future was cool. In practice this meant that the Church of England left room for many varying theological perspectives within its churches. What united the people was common prayer. By worshipping the same God in the same way we had a unity that did not depend on perfect theological agreement.

For instance, unlike either the Reformation churches or the Catholic church, the Church of England allowed Christians to share in communion at the Lord's Table even if they did not agree on whether (or how) Christ was really present in the bread and wine. The most important thing was that we all shared the sacrament as a way of communing with Jesus and with one another, not that we held exactly the same belief about the elements themselves.

This desire to find the "via media" makes the Anglican Communion a natural place to live out an emerging church experiment. In the emergent conversation we tend to want to find the third way beyond the givens of the modern church: liberal/conservative, traditonal/contemporary, red state/blue state, etc. We're not happy joining either side or writing off either side. We want to embrace the best wisdom of each but move along a third path that does not allow the kingdom to be captured by cultural or political agendas.

In Peacemeal we are trying to embrace the third way of the kingdom and as we do that we draw guidance and inspiration from a Episcopal tradition that has always believed there is a way between (or above) the given options.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Emerging Church Learning Party

Peacemeal ii
Originally uploaded by dydimustk.
Here's (from left) Lacey Brown and Karen Ward from Church of the Apostles, Seattle, and Bob Fisher, Assistant to the Bishop for Mission Interpretation, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA (love that title!) hanging out at Scott and Demery's house this past Friday night. If you look closely, I'm in the background tipping Luke upside down!

Anyway, the three of them, as well as the great guy who snapped this picture, Thomas Knoll, led some of us from Peacemeal as well as around 50 others from the Northeast PA/Philly/NJ area through a one-day Emerging Church Learning Party on Saturday. It was a great time and we were wonderfully blessed by their presence!

Check out a few more pictures from Thomas below.

Praxis - Learning Party setup

Praxis - Learning Party setup
Originally uploaded by dydimustk.

Praxis - Learning Party

Praxis - Learning Party
Originally uploaded by dydimustk.

Learning Party Eucharist

Monday, September 18, 2006

Student Cafe Conversation

This Tuesday, September 19, Peacemeal will be hosting our first "Student Cafe Conversation." Every third Tuesday of the month members of Peacemeal (for more about who Peacemeal is see this description from our website) will be gathering with students from the area at Northern Light from 8-10pm for conversation around theological topics. The conversations will be led by Scott Bader-Saye, a theology professor at the University of Scranton.

Our topic this month is "Faith and Culture" -- how can Christians live faithfully in postmodern culture? can we connect our faith with culture or is culture something to avoid? can we find God in culture (and not just in church)? how can students live their faith in a complex culture that offers both gifts and dangers?

If you are a college student in the Scranton area -- at the University of Scranton, Marywood, Lackawanna College, Penn State Worthington, Keystone, etc. -- please join us for conversation.

We seek to create a context for open, thoughtful exchange about matters of life and faith. We think asking good questions is just as important as finding answers. We welcome your presence and your ideas, even those that are unconventional!

We hope you will join us.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Something I Know Something About

For some time now, I have been aware of the fact that I really ought to contribute something to this blog (I am on the list of contributors, as you can easily see). It isn’t that I haven’t had anything to say…I certainly haven’t been lacking in the opinions department… it’s just that when it comes to theology, to doctrine, to church tradition… I don’t know if what I have to say makes much sense. I’m right in the thick of questioning and learning. When I have something, anything, figured out (in regards to the above stated topics), I’ll write about it. Promise.

On to something I do know makes sense: Why I love my (emerging) church. The question of why people are drawn to the emergent movement came up at last night’s cohort meeting. I didn’t voice my opinion at the time, but I’ve been thinking about it and I would like to share my thoughts with the world at large (or rather, our three faithful readers).

I can’t say that I’m a really visual person. I don’t like comic books… all of the crazy illustrations and the dialogue set up really confuses me. In the same way, I don’t love my (emerging) church because of the awesome meditations my husband or Scott put together. I appreciate them… they’re always beautiful pieces of art, and they always force you to look at things differently. I like the fact that our (emerging) church is able to integrate different media into our worship services, but that’s not why I love my (emerging) church.

I have always considered myself to be a musical person. That’s not to say that I can play an instrument or read music (because trust me-and my old piano/violin/trumpet teachers-I can’t), but I’ve always connected with music. However, I can’t say that I love my (emerging) church because of the music that we use during worship. Truth be told, I really, really dislike contemporary Christian music (unless we’re talking Duvall. I really like those guys). I prefer to connect with songs that aren’t so in your face about what they’re about. I like the fact that my (emerging) church is able to integrate contemporary popular music (think Green Day, The Killers, and U2) into worship services, but that’s not why I love my (emerging) church.

Wait for it…

I am drawn to and love my (emerging) church for two very simplistic reasons:

(1.) They are a missional group of people. Each day I get up and go to a job that I really don’t care for where I do work that doesn’t make one ounce of difference in anyone’s life. Spending time with people who care enough about the world that they will actually get up and do something about it has been a real blessing to me. I love my (missional, emerging) church because, with them, I find fulfillment in my day-to-day life.

(2.) They are my family. I have never felt as loved by a group as I do by these people. To say that my (church) family is diverse would be quite the understatement. We range in age from 17 months to over 40. We’re made up of college professors, college students, artists, master cooks, computer geeks, rock climbers, writers, feminists, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, cuddly children, and too-cute babies. Each time we gather, I am floored by the intimacy that permeates the room, despite our differences. These people (most of whom I have only known for about a year) jump at the chance to help each other in every aspect of our daily (and not-so-daily) lives. Phone calls are constantly made to check up on those who have been away for us for even a few weeks. When any one person is gone, their absence is felt and their presence is deeply missed. I love my (emerging) church because I have found a home and an extended family with them.

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