Day one down of the first Mainline Emergent/s event at Columbia Seminary
in Decatur, GA. I am sure some there will be no shortage of reflections about content, so my major reflections are about who is here.
When I attended my First Emergent Conversation last year in New Haven, while diversity was still an issue, I was pleasantly surprised at the mix of folks from different ethnic groups and from denominational lines. Wow, make it mainline and look what happens. Was I in for a little shock to see how white and generally older this group is, where did all the brown people go? I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, but this group looked a lot like a generic Presbytery meeting, mostly older, mostly white, traditional . . . . not emergent, from what I could tell. Again, total generalizations, but there you have it. It is just one more reminder about how much work and thought must be given to the bigger picture of who or who is not at the table for the discussion. I know the emergent leadership knows this, but the lack of people of color should not be a statement about them only, but also our denominations.
In terms of content, my framework for the event needs to shift a little bit. Brian and Karen Ward were good as always. Day one there has not been much challenging for those who consider ourselves to have healthy understanding of being emergent. A great deal of affirmation and validation, but not too much challenging at this point. It seems like the common denominator are folks who are trying to figure out what it all is. At the same point, I would be interested to see if the things that Tony Jones raised today that he thought would be challenging were actually challenging to folks here: pews, vestments, etc. I suspect that most folks that are here already know that the church needs to change, but are trying to figure out how to empower others to embody some of the emergent ways of being church.
Overall though, day one a success. Now off to hang out with Kelly, Jenn, Peter, Won Ho and some weirdo from Louisville who never reads blogs. Should be a continuation of all the laughing we have been doing all day!