By Jonathan Davis, Small Town Churches Network
The struggle for community is real. Across America people long for community, whatever that means, and whatever that means, community seems increasingly elusive.
I’ve lived in suburbia before, and the sense of isolation can be overwhelming. In one neighborhood we used to live in, all the houses lined up in rows. People came home from their commute and immediately pulled into the garage. Whether people were home or away, it was impossible to tell because there were no cars in driveways. The living rooms were in the back of most houses, so even when the neighbors were home, you couldn’t see any lights on in the houses.
A neighborhood full of people who didn’t know each other, and didn’t even know if the neighbors were home. A park that was mostly empty because everyone set up a swing set in their own back yard. A perfectly good community with no community. Continue reading The Struggle for Community – Whatever That Means
By Rev. David Lewicki, co-pastor, North Decatur Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Georgia
Every 3rd Thursday, there’s a meeting in the Fellowship Hall at North Decatur Presbyterian Church. So what? Meetings happen most nights. But look closer.
The people gathered are of different races; they are Catholic and Presbyterian and Baptist; they are octogenarians and millennials; they have traveled from several different counties—some an hour or more—to be there. The meeting is tightly organized. It starts on time, with an ecumenical prayer. The agenda is received. When they talk, they talk about the changes they want to see in the world, and then—and here is the radical part—they make a plan to implement those changes. Continue reading Making News from the Pews: Congregations and Community Organizing
The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, co-pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Del., released the hymn, “They Met to Read the Bible,” Saturday following the murder of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. The three men and six women were gunned down Wednesday evening while attending a prayer meeting. Twenty-one-year-old Dylan Roof has been arrested in conjunction with the shootings.
“This hymn is a prayer that we as a society will find courage to change,” says Gillette. “We need to live differently. We can’t put our faith in weapons or in symbols of hatred any longer. We need to hope for justice, to pray for justice, and to work for justice. We need to realize we are all brothers and sisters. We’re all children of God.” Continue reading PC(USA) pastor pens hymn to commemorate those slain in Charleston
By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning
In Ancient-Future Evangelism: Making Your Church a Faith -Forming Community, Robert Webber, Myers Professor of Ministry at Northern Baptist Seminary continues the “ancient-future” theme from previous works, the Ancient-Future Worship website, Ancient-Future Faith, and anticipates the following volume, Ancient-Future Time. In this book Webber presents a model for evangelism and discipleship—and therein lies his worthy contribution to the subject of churches and evangelism: the authentic reclamation of evangelism as a vital part of what the church does as part of its disciple-making mission. Specifically, he reminds his readers that the Great Commission is “not only to evangelize, but to make disciples” (p. 13). Continue reading For the Bookshelf: Ancient-Future Evangelism
By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning Against the prevailing but uninformed notion claiming “I am spiritual, but not religious,” Barry L. Callen (professor of Christian studies at Anderson University, editor of the Wesleyan Theological Journal and founding editor of Anderson University Press) counters that religion and spirituality must coexist. In this book, Authentic Spirituality: Moving Beyond Mere Religion, Callen demonstrates how religious practice and tradition are necessary for authentic Christian spirituality.
Callen’s stated purpose is “to show the way beyond dead orthodoxy to the authentic Christian faith of the heart, a faith that is both text anchored and Spirit enlivened” (p. 19). His approach in the principal chapters is to select language (terms) and teachings of the Bible on spirituality, relate them to key elements of the Christian year and then to connect those to the theological teaching of the Apostles Creed. Callen’s audience is primarily the Evangelical Christian who may not be familiar with the traditional liturgy of the Christian Year and the Apostle’s Creed that inform the spirituality of more Mainline traditions. As such, his approach is a bold attempt at reclaiming a richer heritage that can ground contemporary spirituality in Word and tradition. Continue reading For the Bookshelf: Authentic Spirituality