January 11, 2011

my very own cohort... #reverb10

Still catching up on the 31 reverb10 prompts from the month of December.  Little by little, I will get through them all!!!
So tomorrow, we start with our first monthly gathering of 2011.  We are looking at Carol Howard Merritt's "Reframing Hope." (I wrote some about it yesterday)  I can't wait to continue the conversations and to meet some of the new folks who will be joining us for the first time!  Plus, Fusion has this Maccu Piccu Mocha that is absolutely to-die-for.  Totally yummy. (just saying.)
December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)
In the last year, a new group of conversation partners have begun meeting in Eastern Iowa.  In some ways, it started with connections made at the JoPa Theological Conversation with Jurgen Moltmann back in 2009.  A few of us realized - hey, there are Iowa folks here! And we committed to gather more locally and chat.

I also recieved an email from a guy who wanted to start talking about emergent theology/church themes near the beginning of that year.  We live nearby and a coffee shop conversation began.

Since those initial plans, the Eastern Iowa Emergent Cohort was rebirthed.  I'm not sure who started it, or who was involved, but the conversation had gone silent for a while.  But we have some new faces, some new energy and last year planned three face-to-face conversations.

It has been so strange for me to enter these emergent conversations, because I am what Carol Howard Merritt calls a "loyal radical."  I am firmly planted in the tradition and I wouldn't leave it for the world, but there are facets of the emergent movement that so speak to me. The deep sense of community, the diffusion of authority, the importance of communal discernment, the focus on a rule or way of life, the place for questions, etc.  There aren't a lot of places to talk about that either in the hierarchical church (although I am making those connections) or in the local congregation I serve. And to be honest, I have not come into the community through traditional venues like blogs and books either.  I kind of just discovered it on my own and then sought words to explain what I was thinking/feeling.

You see, I first was introduced to the entire idea of emergent theology and postmodernism back in Nashville, Tennessee.  I can still remember walking down the sidewalk with Kay Hereford Voorhees and learning all about postmodern theology on a sunny afternoon.  I was working at a large, very traditional, uptown church that had this little quirky group of folks who were exploring other ways of being faithful.  We began an emergent worship service before we even quite realized what we were doing.  We had an intimate and holy community of faithful folks who weekly walked with one another.  I miss that group of folks VERY MUCH!!!

As I prepared to move back to Iowa, I knew what a gap would be left in my life, and so this blog was an attempt to fill that gap. But I also longed for the types of conversations having through cohorts meeting at the Flying Saucer in Nashville, or the Emerging UMC (version 1) event we had. Iowa seemed like a barren landscape, void of partners.  Boy was I wrong.

This new community is a breath of fresh air.  It is a chance to ask questions and wrestle with folks who think the way I do... and find themselves in congregations like mine.  Some of us maintain contact on twitter or facebook, but these three gatherings have turned into a desire to have a more frequent relational contact.

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