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The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow is the founding pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, San Francisco, CA, and former moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Follow him on Twitter @breyeschow

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Bruce Reyes-Chow: I Am Still Emergence

January 28, 2013

After the recent Emergence Christianity Gathering in Memphis, there have been some interesting responses about Phyllis Tickle's presentation, the future of the emergent church, the response to privilege, etc. As I have skimmed the blogs, I have seen feisty conversations with some valid critiques and, for the most part, respectful interaction. Whether invested in the emergent church conversation or not, I choose to believe that all of these conversations will be good for the emergent body of Christ as we all seek a way forward.

Here are a few posts that have been shared, though Kimberly Roth seems to have a great list on her post, EC13 Reflections: Prologue.

My input into the conversation is this - As we venture forward, we must be careful not to assume that the power of the emergent church lies in the hearts, minds or actions of any single person, any one gathering or any group of leaders. There are certainly respected individuals who fill traditional roles of organizational leadership, but I have always believed that the impact of the emergent church is most profoundly experienced through the inertia and momentum of the many groups of people who are gathering together, wherever they are or however they are lead - each living and seeking to move closer and closer to who and what God hopes the church to be.

Yes, there is a place for conferences, books and other traditional means of convening religious people, but these things do not, must not, be the sole definers of what it means to be the emergent church. If we allow this to happen, then those who sit outside of these spaces pointing fingers and tweets accusing the emergent church of just being the next iteration of what we have always done before . . . they will be right and these relationships built on emergence sensibilities that have been nurtured along the way, they will get lost in the fray.

Three years ago, I posted this I am emergence post as a confession of sorts . . . none of which has to do with a group of leaders, a "movement" or a defined set of beliefs.

because I believe that Jesus called us into individual and communal lives that are inspired and fueled by the wonderfully ambiguous, immeasurable and nuanced challenge of BEING the church;

because I believe the "T"ruth that God speaks to humanity must be discovered and rediscovered through a consistent and exhibited life of shared authority, communal theologizing and institutional fluidity;

because I believe that the political, theological and ecclesiastical "other" is discerning God's calling on their lives just as faithfully as I am, but do not feel the need to stay in relationships that are confined by false, forced or unjust relationships;

because I embrace, respect and stand up for world that is does not exist in controllable and unyielding bounds of culture, class, sexuality, gender, economies, geography . . .;

and because I just am.

[full post]

I'm okay with these words. I guess, I am still emergence.

So, let's keep growing by challenging AND defending one another, let's keep gathering at conferences AND at the local pub, let's keep gathering on the margins AND in the mainline . . .  lets keep being this amorphous thing that has been and will be a powerful presence in the world even if none of us can say exactly what it is.

And if you want a little more emergence talk, here is my friend Anthony Smith.

Videos via Sogo Media.

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Taken with permission from Bruce's blog.


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