The following was sent out last week to all who receive the Emergent/C. If you are not on that list but would like to receive regular updates from us, go over to the home page of Emergent Village and "Join the Emergent mailing list."
The Importance of Being Together
by Doug Pagitt
For the last few years a number of people have had the opportunity to give their time and energy to the effort of Emergent. While Emergent has attempted to be a flat, open and "non-agended" organization, this should not lead one to believe that it has not been organized or that much work has not gone into creating events, arranging publishing, coordinating the website, making connections between people, etc. There have been many people involved in this effort.
I have had the privilege of being one who could give my time and energy. I can say after four years I have benefited greatly from having been involved with the people of Emergent.
And, I will say that for me the most important aspect has been what is created in events. I will admit that I am an event guy. Not because of the content delivered, nor simply for the excitement that comes from traveling and getting a bunch of people together in the same place, as good as all that is. But my love affair for events comes from the fact that I find being together to be of such importance. For me Emergent is not an idea, a movement, or a resource - it is a community. In the work I do at Solomon's Porch, or my attempts to re-imagine my faith in the world, even my hopes of having a family that lives together and in the world in the way of Jesus, Emergent has been one of my formative communities. And events have been the places where ideas are embodied and "walk among us". Events are where our humanity connects.
In many ways events are like pilgrimages - they shape me. I find myself needing to get beyond blogs and books, tapes and downloads, phone calls and DVDs and be in the same space with those of my community. Eating together, walking together, praying with one another. I want to, and need to hear stories of other's families and faith. I want to hold the young children of soul-friends from around the country. I want to be in the conversations that happen late into the night, or in the van pulled in front of a hotel when the conversation will not seem to end and the true depth of joy are frustrations being shared.
For me events are part of what keep me sane. Emergent is not so much a place of ideas as it is a place of friendship and I hope that friendship continues on for years and decades. I want to be together learning new spiritual practices or yoga poses. I want to learn the rhythm of other people over days spent together.
In one way or the other I have been part of the developing relationship since 1997, when my daughter was 7 years old. She is now nearly 16. We have had the chance to include our children in many events, and to introduce them to friends who stay at our house, or whose homes I have stayed in. My daughter came home from visiting a friend's church youth group last night. The youth leader was talking about how important having solid, unchanging belief is in "a world like ours" for teenagers. He went on to say that this "new thing called emergent" has leaders who do not believe this to be the case and went on to give warning about the dangerous effect of movements like these. My daughter said she sat there thinking to herself and whispering to her friend, "I bet he doesn't even know any of the people he is talking about. I do know those people and he has no idea what he is talking about."
She said that she did not speak-up or try to argue, instead she smiled and said thanks - not so much for what said that night but for the fact that she has friends, admittedly the geeky friends of her mom and dad from around the country who are part of the community of Emergent. I want my children to know that relationship is more important than being right and that the people we know give us confidence in what we know.
I recognize that not everyone will have or has had the same experience with deep relationships in Emergent, and I am sorry for that. But I would encourage us to all keep meeting and keep growing in this generative friendship we call Emergent.
There are a number of events planned for 2005, 2006 and 2007 and while now one can be part of them all I implore you to find a way to continue to meet together with those of your larger community.
Overview of Upcoming Events
The Fall Emergent Gathering is a real highlight for many in the Emergent conversation. It is a prime way to connect with one another in a structured, yet free form setting. It is part family reunion, part art festival, part "senior seminar". More than anything it is something you have to experience to fully understand. The Gathering is set at a conference center outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The setting is peaceful, the conversations enriching and the event is very much at the heart of the Emergent effort. There is no cost for the event and housing options include hotel-like rooms, camping, and large cabins. We are hoping that the Gathering will become the prime place of meeting for those on this journey. Please consider joining in.
For several years, Emergent has been convening a conversation with a preeminent American theologian in hopes of advancing and sophisticating our movement. This time, we'll be meeting with Miroslav Volf, one of the leading theologians on the scene today. After growing up behind the Iron Curtain, the son of a Pentecostal pastor, Volf studied with Jurgen Moltmann. He taught for several years at Fuller Theological Seminary before taking his current position as the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School. He also directs the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. Volf's theological interest lies in the intersection of faith and life, and he has written extensively on issues of work, ecclesiology, and forgiveness. Our conversation with him will be an intersection of his writings and musings and the development of the emerging church.
The Leadership/Theology/Life Institute is a new initiative for Emergent. In an effort to provide personal and professional development the institute will utilize both classroom teaching, interaction, and peer-based instruction techniques with leadership provided by people connected with Emergent who are peculiarly qualified to provide leadership in these areas. We believe there is something significant happening in the development of 21st century Christianity and the time is upon us to make significant strides forward in the development of thoughtful, well informed and healthy leaders in this effort. Significant work needs to be done in the areas of Theological and Philosophical thought, Ministry Leadership, Community Creation and Holistic, Sustainable for individuals and Communities in order for the continuation of this effort. The Emergent Institute is intended to allow participants to grow and learn in not only church and ministry related areas, but in a new understandings of Christianity and in holistic, sustainable ways of life. The institute will run in four sessions, each running 2 ∏ days; Monday - Wednesday and Wednesday - Friday, during the weeks of June 5-9 and June 12-16, 2006.
This event will be a series of events happening over the same period of time (think Olympic Festival or South By Southwest). Our hope is to create and event that fits well with the feel and message of Emergent. The intention will be to create an event that benefits from many contributing organizations and meeting together in a common city. A group was formed in February 2005 to create the structure and plan for the event. As details become clear we will communicate through the Emergent/C, EmergentVillage.com and the 07Event Blog.