by Brian McLaren
Dear Friends of Emergent -
I think it was almost a year ago when Doug Pagitt predicted that 2005 would be the "year of criticism" for Emergent. Yet this year more than ever, I've sensed growing momentum, maturity, and health in the Emergent community.
There's a lot of evidence for this growing momentum, maturity, and health. Invitations to and attendance at conferences and other events. Private emails and letters from a number of notable Christian leaders. Interest from seminaries. Enthusiastic partners in publishing and event planning. Book sales. Personal conversations in cities all over the country. The spread of Emergent cohorts. The fact that our upcoming event at Yale filled to capacity in six hours. (We've since made some more space available.) A dramatic increase in the number of women leaders getting involved, and a balancing in numbers of mainline and evangelical leaders who are involved. Deepening of relationships, and expansion and connection with new and broader networks. Even the criticism tells us that our message and momentum are being taken seriously.
From the start, Emergent has been a volunteer effort, a labor of love. Those of us involved have volunteered a lot of time, energy, creativity and emotion. Most of us are pastors and church planters with demanding "day jobs" - and I continue to be amazed at how much has been accomplished with so little money. A lot of other groups and efforts have been spun off from the Emergent conversation as well - and it's exciting to see them doing a lot of good, bearing a lot of fruit.
This year we strengthened our board structure, and I agreed to serve as Board Chair as we plan to bring on a number of new board members - which will expand our capacity in many ways.
Also this year, we set a very important goal: to fund a National Coordinator for Emergent. We realized that we couldn't adequately respond to even a fraction of the opportunities and needs unless we had someone who could coordinate the efforts of volunteers across the country. Tony Jones has volunteered to serve in this capacity on a part-time basis until we can raise part-time and as soon as possible, we hope, full-time support. Tony has earned the respect and affection of so many of us - for his deep commitment, his sharp mind, his great ability as a writer, his articulate and no-nonsense communication style, his passion, his intensity, and his work ethic.
I'm writing to ask you to make a generous financial contribution to Emergent so that we can free up Tony to serve full-time in this capacity as soon as possible. In our "Emergent rule," part of our fourth commitment is to "bring whatever resources we can to enrich this shared faith and resolve." Unless you are experiencing financial hardship, I hope you will give to Emergent in any or all of these three ways:
A large annual gift: It would be of great help to us to receive several large gifts - $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 or more. If you are capable of giving at these levels, please be assured that your gift now will add to our momentum in significant ways.
A regular monthly commitment: If you could consider giving monthly at $50, $100, $200, or $500 per month, you would be building needed strength and stability in our community.
All contributions are tax-deductible, and you will receive a tax letter for any gifts given to Emergent. You can give online by clicking here. The online donation site will also allow you to choose to contribute to Emergent in regular intervals.
If you are interested in mailing a check, please mail it to the following address:
1617 W. 42nd Street
Kansas City, MO 64111
We have already received a commitment for $10,000 in matching gifts, which means that your contributions will be doubled if we receive them before year's end.
Please join me in making a generous contribution to Emergent. As we invest in supporting a National Coordinator, we'll be able to help more and more people get involved in the Emergent conversation - which will bring benefit to the participants, their churches, and we trust, to the church at large. With God's empowerment and our commitment, we just might have a movement on our hands.
by Jay Voorhees
A couple of weeks ago we announced an event to be held in May focused on diversity and the emerging church. What we failed to realize is that the Urban Youth Workers Institute was scheduled for those same dates. Since some of the persons we hoped would attend our gathering will be at UYWI, we have put our event on hold and are looking for alternative dates.
We very much want to support the work that UYWI is doing, and we encourage you to check out their site at www.uywi.org to find out more about their event. It looks great and we are hoping to have an Emergent presence there.
As for our event, we want and need your input. We've set up a website to talk about issues of diversity and the emerging church, and will be planning our event there. Head over to www.emergentdiversity.com to check things out. Make sure to register so that you can be a full participant in that community.
by Cheryl Isaacson
First, a big thanks to all of you who responded to the call for entries! The submissions were all wonderful examples of the thoughtful engagement that is a trademark of the Emergent community. As the panel (which included creative professionals, and Emergent leaders) reviewed the proposed designs, a couple of things became clear. Above all, was the sense that any image chosen to represent this organization must honor the spirit of its formation and be chosen well. Additionally, was the need to admit that solidifying a distinctly Emergent visual identity will be a more complex process than was originally envisioned.
During the jurying exercise, each design was subjected to a series of rigorous tests. The importance of finding a symbol that represented not only the heart of Emergent, but one that could withstand the tests of longevity and usage guided our discussions. Although none of the proposed designs met the criteria for final selection, the similarity of imagery used in the entries has created a strong vibe and valuable framework for next steps. In order to facilitate the transformation of this common pulse into a concrete image, we have enlisted some professional pro bono design help. We are excited to be working on this final stage in the evolution of our logo and are grateful for the investment of so many friends in the process. Watch for another update on this unfolding story soon...
If you're going to be at the National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville and you'd like to talk Emergent, join us for dinner on Saturday night, 19 November. We'll meet at 5pm in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel and walk to Jack's BBQ. If you miss us at the hotel, join us at Jack's (416 Broadway). Also, watch for sessions by Lilly Lewin, Dan Kimball, Dixon Kinser, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt, Mark Oestreicher, Jay Howver, and others.
by Rudy Carrasco
I get asked a lot about whether the emerging church discussion is just something for white guys with two books under the arm and a budget to travel around to conferences. Of course, rarely does anyone ask it in precisely that way, but that's not far from a composite question. The answer is no. To be sure, there is dialogue happening at national events, in books and magazines, and on prominent blogs that often looks like the aforementioned caricature. But people who are familiar with Emergent and interested in the questions about church and culture, fixing what is broken, and epistemology, are diverse by geography, theological tradition, and ethnicity. You just may not be familiar with them.
Here's a list of some blogs by people who are engaged in the conversation at various levels. Now, before you go emailing each one and asking them their opinion on an Emergent issue, you should know that some may not consider themselves "emergent," others will not recognize any familiar Emergent names, and others may simply not know what the heck you are writing about - i.e. "Why did Rudy go and put me on this list?" They all fit the bill because they are discussing, or re-examining, ways of doing and being church in a manner that resonate with the broader emerging church conversation, even if some might not agree with the direction of particular theological discussions.
They're all interesting. In his or her own way, each provides a valuable, non-token contribution toward future discussions, conferences, writings, and - ultimately - forms of doing and being church. This list includes a Native American approach to Emergent issues (Levesque), a Latino Leadership Circle blog (D.Ramos), a church planter in France (Burkes), a South American in India midway through a hermeneutics Ph.D. (Gros), and a former newspaper columnist (Nykol), among others.
This is not an exhaustive list nor a top-ranked list. It's just a placeholder for a sector of the church that is emerging that we don't hear enough from. I encourage you to check out the blogs on this list and drop a greeting in their comments sections.
by Brian McLaren
2005 will be the year many of us in the emergent community will always remember as the year we lost two important people in our lives. Speaking personally, Stanley Grenz was a slightly older brother and wise mentor and friend to me; he passed away in the late winter, suddenly and unexpectedly. Now, this fall comes another sudden and unexpected death: Kyle Lake, a young leader in whom we all saw so much potential.
Kyle was killed in a freak accident on October 30. He was performing a baptism in front of his congregation of 800, and was somehow electrocuted. He leaves behind his wife Jen and three young children, a large extended family, and a grieving congregation, along with a wide network of friends and people who have read his writings.
Three memories stand out when I think of Kyle. First, he was extraordinarily alive. He radiated energy and enthusiasm and zest for life. Whether he was showing you pictures of his family, telling stories about ministry at University Baptist Church in Waco, or talking about a hunting trip on a Texas ranch during his last vacation, his eyes sparkled and he almost glowed with a boyish excitement. It's terrible to think of any young person dying, but for someone as cheerful and vital as Kyle to leave us at so young an age hits all who knew him especially hard.
I will always remember Kyle's zest for learning as well. Whenever we would see one another, he would tell me about books he'd been reading and he'd have some theological questions he wanted to discuss. We'd spend a bare minimum of time in small talk, and then we'd jump in the deep end to talk about matters of significance.
As well, I always had the sense that Kyle was going to do more and more significant things over the years. He was brimming with potential. He had a great attitude, a sharp mind, outstanding charisma and friendliness, a good and pure heart - the kinds of qualities that make Christian leaders both solid and productive over the long haul.
I took a long walk after receiving a number of phone calls from mutual friends with the news. I felt, and feel, the unspeakable loss that this means for Jen and the kids, the trauma it brings to UBC, the broken heart that all of his friends will share, and something more ... the loss Kyle's death means to the whole Christian community. All of us involved in seeking to live and teach the good news of Jesus Christ have lost a good colleague, a good man, a good friend. This has been a tough year. With the untimely loss of a seasoned leader like Stan Grenz, and now an emerging leader like Kyle Lake, it feels like we all have some extra responsibility to share.
I thank God for Kyle. I will miss him. May God give strength to his beloved family to bear the days ahead. May the radiant example of his life inspire UBC and sustain them in their trauma and grief. May we share his zest for life and learning, and may many more young leaders like him arise to follow God in the way of Jesus, serving the church and loving the world with a good and pure heart.