LOS ANGELES, MINNEAPOLIS -- Synagogue 3000 (S3K) and Emergent have announced a ground-breaking meeting to connect Jewish and Christian leaders who are experimenting with innovative congregations and trying to push beyond the traditional categories of "left" and "right." This will be the first conversation that brings them together to focus on the enterprise of building next-generation institutions. Leaders from across the United States will gather during the inaugural session of the S3K Leadership Network's Working Group on Emergent Sacred Communities, which takes place January 16-17, 2006, at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley, California.
Prominent Emergent Christian theologian Brian McLaren (_A New Kind of Christian_) has met with Synagogue 3000's leadership three times in recent months to discuss shared concerns, particularly surrounding attempts by younger Christians and Jews to express their spiritual commitments through social justice. "We have so much common ground on so many levels," he notes. "We face similar problems in the present, we have common hopes for the future, and we draw from shared resources in our heritage. I'm thrilled with the possibility of developing friendship and collaboration in ways that help God's dreams come true for our synagogues, churches, and world."
S3K and Emergent will convene pioneering rabbis, pastors, artists, and leaders who are reaching out to the unaffiliated and others who are not attracted to mainstream congregations. An open discussion with leading clergy in mainstream synagogues will address the relationship between the congregational establishment and emerging groups. An evening lecture program will feature Emergent scholar Ryan K. Bolger (_Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Communities in Postmodern Cultures_), in dialogue with two renowned experts on Baby Boomer religion, Steven M. Cohen (_The Jew Within_) and Wade Clark Roof (_A Generation of Seekers_).
S3K Senior Fellow Lawrence A. Hoffman, (_Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life_, forthcoming 2006) stressed the importance of building committed religious identity across faith lines. "We inhabit an epic moment," he said, "nothing short of a genuine spiritual awakening. It offers us an opportunity unique to all of human history: a chance for Jews and Christians to do God's work together, not just locally, but nationally, community by community, in shared witness to our two respective faiths."
According to Emergent-U.S. National Coordinator Tony Jones, this meeting has historic possibilities. "As emerging Christian leaders have been pushing through the polarities of left and right in an effort to find a new, third way, we've been desperate to find partners for that quest," he said. "It's with great joy and promise that we partner with the leaders of S3K to talk about the future and God's Kingdom."
Not only are many Jewish religious communities looking to the experiences of Christian innovators, especially in the context of worship that engages the unaffiliated, but they are seeing a similar paradigm shift from the Baby Boomer individualistic seeker mode to an emergent Generation X/post-GenX search for spirituality in community. S3K Director of Research Shawn Landres, himself a GenXer active in an emergent Jewish congregation, said, "We hope to learn from their experience and also to build bridges by engaging and challenging one another."
Synagogue 3000 is a catalyst for excellence, empowering congregations and communities to create synagogues that are sacred and vital centers of Jewish life. Its purpose is to make synagogues compelling moral and spiritual centers-- sacred communities--for the twenty-first century. From offices located at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and the Hebrew Union College in New York, the S3K staff has created a national congregational leadership network and is developing a synagogue studies institute. The S3K Leadership Network comprises two working groups, one on Spiritual Leadership and the other on Emergent Sacred Communities.
Emergent gathers reflective practitioners and engaged scholars for conversation and missional action around the issues of Christian theology, practice, spirituality, justice and church life. The network developed in the 1990's and includes a wide range of Christian leaders from progressive evangelical, mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds.