The Truth Shall Set You Free: Practicing Transformative Lament

Next Church Conference – Chicago 2015

Facilitated by, Tasha Hicks McCray (Mt. View Presbyterian Church) & Eliana Maxim (Seattle Presbytery)

The following is a collaborative poem comprised of responses from workshop participant’s to the question, Who Do You Say That I am? compiled by Glenn McCray.

I am from:

Seattle

Florida

Washington DC

Wisconsin (actually, Michigan)

I am from:

Illinois

McCormick (and we roll deep)

Austin Seminary but Gainesville is where home is

I am from:

Chicago…I’m not Presbyterian

Ann Arbor

Minneapolis

I am from:

We don’t want to offend anyone but someone needs to say it

I am from:

A place of regret

I am from:

Shame; a place that exist that I am not proud of

I am…

Many things

I am…

Not Presbyterian!

I am…

Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, Irish, German, Dutch, Welsh

I am…

African American, Filipino, Spanish, Irish, Native (and some other stuff I’m not too

certain of)

I am…

An Afro-Caribbean, Sephardic, immigrant from Colombia. Spanish was my first

language, and I don’t have an accent.

I am…

A son of immigrants, fearfully and wonderfully made

I am…

A white male, top of the heap, most privileged

I am…

A Princeton Graduate

I am…

In the ordination process

I am…

Vulnerable, exposing my own prejudices and biases

I am…

A redeemed sinner

Gods own

I am…

A child of God

In process

Unfolding

Seeking

Thinking

I am…

“Re…” something…REdeemed, REformed

I am…

Baptized

Grateful and troubled

Just another child of God

I am…

An aging beloved woman

I am…

A Single mother of 3 kids

I am…

Wonderfully being shaped

I am…

Creative

I am…

Loved

NEXT Church 2015 Gathering: Day 1

By Laura Cheifetz, Social Media Curator of #nextchurch2015

We can all acknowledge it’s weird to mix the media, to have Tweets read from the church lectern. But that’s what we’re doing, knowing that the conversation is happening in multiple ways. If you’re like me, the conversation is happening live, in real time, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, while it happens via text and private message on a personal phone, while it also happens via Facebook, and while it happens on Twitter. Bringing the Twitterverse together with the live/real time conversation means bringing more voices to the conversation. We have formal responses to presentations up on the platform, and we have responses online.

At morning worship, @TheRevHanPowell preached about Peter. There weren’t enough bulletins for everyone. (That’s cool, admit it.)

Tweets heated up in a discussion about the use of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” during worship. @TheRevHanPowell got a laugh out of us when she called our passing of the peace “competitive.”

We wrote down things to let go on strips of paper, and people posted photos of the papers being stapled together into chains.

She brought up the “Jesus question” – Jesus as historical figure? Jesus as savior?

@pstamaury stated, “Protestantism reduced confession and reconciliation to piety from its sacramental and communal status #reclaim it”

@miheekimkort said, “Maybe church should focus on facilitating confession rather than proclamation.”

Themes that emerged in the morning session included:

  • The hard work of diversity, and addressing race and racism. The church is too white.
  • White people committing to the work most people of color have to do by default
  • How can we share, support each other in having difficult conversations about race
  • How churches can involve more ruling elders and members in NEXT
  • How to make the conference concrete after returning home, live what we learn
  • Wisdom comes from diversity
  • Intersectionality – how can the church talk about race as well as other identities facing discrimination
  • The importance of testimony

@bookkats was concerned with how church can best support and include millennials, who need time and money, by helping with debt reduction, perhaps exchanging loan payments for volunteer time.

On the Topic of Giving Up Membership

@MBauhof says @uvchurch didn’t have membership for its first three years

On the Gift Economy and Social Enterprise

@CNeely says Time magazine speaks of social enterprise this week

@gklimovitz loves the concept/praxis of Gift Economy. Sounds like Acts 2.

@miheekimkort says it is yucky to talk about the ethos of consumption tied with compassion

While

@landonwhitsitt Market economy can be a tool for bad or good

@marykathryndean notices “this ‘gift economy’ video talks about paying it forward and all, but doesn’t address people who can’t afford lunch.

For Workshops

The workshops with the most buzz discussed failure, culture change, mission, and formation. No one could tweet out of the movement workshop (fair enough), and not much tweeting came out of the incarceration workshop, but I know it was happening thanks to @CoachRevJen

On failure

@kathleenhenrion #failurelab telling stories of failure without “tying it up with a bow,” no lesson assigned at the end

Many mused on failure, how we can give permission without destroying each other, without enjoying the failure of others, and how to reflect on failure without giving into despair.

Mission

@RevMcWhit mission is less about people coming to church & more about church being sent to people. Less transactional & more relational

@revfelipe Missional church: God is already working in the community, we just may not have noticed. – Edwin Andrade

There has been ongoing conversation about how in the presbyterian church, we don’t really have lay people. We have Teaching Elders, Ruling Elders, Deacons, and members. Others mused about how membership as a model doesn’t work as well as it used to, with some considering “covenant partnership” as a model instead of “membership.”

@kathleenhenrion Confession as countercultural #failurelab

@theleannem How do we avoid the schadenfreude in this format? #failurelab

@erincounihan Culture Change Workshop: you should always have someone under 25 in leadership!

@jasaface Less magnet-ministry, more slingshot-ministry; get out into the world instead of waiting indoors

@rosynotrosie #nextchurch2015 is curing presbyopia (old eyes) #missionalcommunities

At the Jazz Service

@revmamd I’ve got a front row seat as Lucy Smith leads this jazz combo and it’s pretty rad

The Rev. Joy Douglas-Strome preached about the third space, faith, and the uselessness of our anxiety, and Twitter blew up.

@spooks1185 Where is your third space?

@scottpcusa “Maybe someday we’ll all find that rainbow connection.” (Rev. Joy Douglas Strome) #Word

@kathleenhenrion Easter spoiler alerts at #nextchurch2015

@mnewgale Jesus: “Can’t let a little thing like crucifixion get in the way of what I trained you for!”

@fyamada We have been given the gift of the gospel, and our energies are hijacked

@thesoulstepford “Faith has never been dependent on sight”

@jodicraiglow “You may called into a weighty institution, but the ministry of Jesus Christ is alive and kicking.” Joy Douglas Strome.

@nanettesawyer Lives are depending on us living out the good news

@chrisbjames I challenge you all today: find a better job than this one.

We then wrote on ribbons what gives us courage to step forward, to do this best job in the world.

And for Fun!

@erincounihan How to mess with Presbyterians: Sit in a different pew for every session.

@presoutlook When I was 10, I read books. The original hand-held device. – Joe Small

Laura Cheifetz is a pastor and the executive director of Church and Public Relations for the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. She blogs at http://churchrelations.blogspot.com 

Watch Live!

Can’t make it to Chicago? You can follow much of the conference via live stream and join the conversation on Twitter–follow our social media curator, Laura Cheifetz (@lmcheifetz) and  tag your tweets #nextchurch2015!

Read more

How Will #nextchurch2015 Know If It Worked?

Thanks to Rocky Supinger for allowing us to cross-post his thoughts on the upcoming National Gathering. You can view the original post at his blog YoRocko!

By Rocky Supinger

NEXT Church is next week!

I’ve enjoyed blogging about past NEXT Church gatherings, for example, here, here, and here.

This week I’m sharing four questions I’m bringing with me to my favorite annual gathering of Presbyterians [full disclosure: I helped plan this one].

Here’s my first question:

Here’s my second question:

Here’s my third question:

And now my fourth question . . .

How will we know if NEXT Church 2015 was a success?

There will be over 600 people there. Is that success? There’s a program full of recognizable names–preachers, speakers, and workshop leaders who are considered “experts” at what they do. Is getting them success?

Maybe you only know if gatherings like this worked much later, when people who were there trace their transformation back to it as the moment they learned something new or started important relationships or made a vocational decision or encountered God’s grace. Maybe if enough people do that it worked on a church-wide scale.

Evaluations will tell you if your thing worked as a thing: was the food good? Did the content connect with peoples’ expectations and experience? Was your communication clear? But we want our thing to move the needle in ways that don’t show up on evaluations. How do we know if that’s happened/ing?


Rocky Srocky supinger (472x640)upinger is associate pastor of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Claremont, CA and co-director of this year’s NEXT Church National Gathering. Connect with him at his website, YoRocko!.

What Impact Will Young Adults Have on #nextchurch2015?

By Rocky Supinger

Thanks to Rocky Supinger for allowing us to cross-post his thoughts on the upcoming National Gathering. You can view the original post at his blog YoRocko!

NEXT Church is next week!

I’ve enjoyed blogging about past NEXT Church gatherings, for examplehere,here, and here.

This week I’m sharing four questions I’m bringing with me to my favorite annual gathering of Presbyterians [full disclosure: I helped plan this one].

Here’s my first question:

Here’s my second question:

Now my third question: what will be the impact of young adults?

The Mainline Protestant landscape is largely absent people in their 20’s, a fact that has been analyzed by multiple studies. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is not exempt from this reality, but it boasts a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program that each year commissions young adults to a year of service in a couple dozen sites in the U.S. and across the world. The PC(USA) is crawling with recent college graduates eager to impact the world, then. They’re just not in congregations.

NEXT Church national gatherings have featured young voices from the beginning, and I wonder if this one won’t do that to a greater extent than before. A Young Adult Volunteer is on the planning team and has already shaped much of what will happen. McCormick Theological Seminary’s innovative Center for Faith And Service will be on hand in the person of the incomparable Wayne Miesel, who has done more than anyone to shape the church’s thinking about ministry with young adults. One of the seven Ignite presentations will feature a trio of YAVs (see their pitch below).

Young adults–including those in seminary–will have lots of opportunity next week to connect, share, and even organize around their vision for the next embodiment of the Presbyterian Church.

There’s a YAV from my congregation coming next week at my insistence, so I’ve obviously got high hopes that NEXT Church 2015 will provide her and her peers with both an imaginative environment for discerning their place in the PC(USA) and a platform to constructively shape its future.


Rocky Srocky supinger (472x640)upinger is associate pastor of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Claremont, CA and co-director of this year’s NEXT Church National Gathering. Connect with him at his website, YoRocko!.

What Can Non-Pastors Do with #nextchurch2015?

By Rocky Supinger

Thanks to Rocky Supinger for allowing us to cross-post his thoughts on the upcoming National Gathering. You can view the original post at his blog YoRocko!

NEXT Church is next week!

I’ve enjoyed blogging about past NEXT Church gatherings, for example herehere, and here.

This week I’m sharing four questions I’m bringing with me to my favorite annual gathering of Presbyterians [full disclosure: I helped plan this one].

Here’s my first question:

And now my second question:

Will this gathering equip non-pastors to lead in the church?

There will be significant leadership at this event from educators, non-profit executives, and entrepreneurs. NEXT has always lifted up the importance of Ruling Elder leadership, ever since the first gathering in Indianapolis, when the late Cynthia Bolbach–herself a Ruling Elder and General Assembly Moderator–pointed out the overwhelming majority of Teaching Elders (pastors) in attendance.

Are we getting closer?

George Srour is a Ruling Elder from Indianapolis who will describe the organization he’s built that is constructing school all over Africa.

Anita Ford is an elementary school principal who will help explain how her school partnered with a church to create a children’s music program. Charles Kerchner,an academic who specializes in public education, will also be part of that presentation. Charles is one of five Ruling Elders coming from the congregation I serve.

Bill Habicht is a pastor, but he calls himself a “common good and social media conspirator,” and he spends a lot of time working with non-pastors to form things like art collectives and coffee shops.

It certainly feels like a opportunity more attuned to the particular leadership gifts of those for whom ministry is not their job, so I’m eager to see what all the non-pastors will do with it. How many do you know who are coming?


 

Rocky Srocky supinger (472x640)upinger is associate pastor of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Claremont, CA and co-director of this year’s NEXT Church National Gathering. Connect with him at his website, YoRocko!.

Will #nextchurch2015 Move the Church Towards Racial Justice?

 

This week we are gearing up for the National Gathering! This series of posts first appeared on conference co-director Rocky Supinger’s blog and are shared here with the permission of the author. Check out the original posts at YoRocko!

By Rocky Supinger

NEXT Church is next week!

I’ve enjoyed blogging about past NEXT Church gatherings, for example herehere, and here.

This week I’m sharing four questions I’m bringing with me to my favorite annual gathering of Presbyterians [full disclosure: I helped plan this one].

So, my first question:

The fouled up racial reality of the American context is more clearly in focus today than it has been for years, at least as measured by the mainstream media discourse. Michael Brown and Eric Garner are household names, and #blacklivesmatter is necessary to state now. How will the urgency of racial justice inform what happens next week?

A colleague shared this in an email yesterday:

I still have my same concerns about the church in general and about NEXT in particular. The events of the past six months, especially events around Ferguson, have even heightened my sense of concern for organizations that are predominantly led and and membered by privileged white people, including organizations like the PC(USA) and NEXT Church. I’ll be interested to see if your conference makes any movement this year compared to the last several years I’ve attended.

One way to measure movement toward racial justice in a gathering like this is by looking at who’s up front. NEXT has always work hard at diverse racial representation among its leadership, even if the PC(USA) is a mostly white palette from which to draw.

Among others, this year’s gathering will hear from Chineta Goodjoin, the Organizing Pastor of a new African-American church in Orange County, as well as Tiffany Jana, who heads a consulting firm with her husband Matt that helps organizations harness the power of diversity (watch her TED Talk below).

This year’s theme, “Beyond: Our Walls, Our Fears, Ourselves” lends itself well to addressing the church with urgency to explicitly address its witness to a world in which police officers openly send racist emails, fraternity brothers at a prominent university chant “hang ‘em from a tree” with glee, and young black men are disproportionately more likely to be killed by police.

It’s on us to push things in the direction of justice and reconciliation. I expect next week’s gathering to offer concrete ways to do that.


 

Rocky Srocky supinger (472x640)upinger is associate pastor of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Claremont, CA and co-director of this year’s NEXT Church National Gathering. Connect with him at his website, YoRocko!.