This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit a couple of cities and talk with some folks about the future of the church. I first started in Louisville, KY met with some students at Louisville Theological Seminary over donuts and coffee – Starbucks and Krispy Cream – had lunch with a couple of pastors, happy hour at Flanagan’s Ale House and finally Coffee at Heine Brothers. Quite the day of zipping around Louisville, but so exciting. Yes, we talked a bit about this whole moderator thing and my travels – about which I will blog later – but we mostly talked about the church. Despite what some may want us to believe, what I heard were not cries of lament and despair about the future of the PC(USA) but quite the contrary, students, church participants and clergy talked of Hope.
The next day, after just staying ahead of the Atlanta snow, I took part in the Montreat Youth Conferences Co-directors Reunion at Montreat Youth Conference Center in Montreat, NC. Now these folks were people who were who have been "doing" church for years, come from many church backgrounds: pastors, presbytery staff, elders, youth workers etc. This was meant to be a time to help center staff address some issues about the future of some of the conference programs. Of course, the process time was good, but more exciting was again, the excitement about the church all centered on a common expression of our faith. There too, different crowd, same words. Hope.
So . . . what did I get out of this time?
In short, this brief trip has been a reaffirmation of my belief that in the church there is a growing movement towards something new in our denomination. We can feel the momentum building. We hear the conversations. We get the sense that there is hope, hope that is being expressed in events, congregations and social networks. And this hope is not shallow or reactionary, but based on a tradition and heritage that has built up a faith strong enough to be open to the possibilities of God.
Hope is real, practically palpable. I think it has been coming for years. What will we do? How will we respond? How can this hope be translated into something real and denominationally transformative?
This is the question that we must discover together.
How exciting and amazing is that?