I know I’ve been severely remiss the past couple of weeks in posting here. Part of it is the natural emptiness brought on by the major brain dump that I did in the Legacy Project. Part of it is pure sloth, without the prod of the prompts from the Legacy Project to get my mind working. Part of it is that I’ve been busy with church stuff (more mental busy-ness than physical busy-ness). And part of it is that I’ve rediscovered my joy in sorting out the genealogy of the family.
So today, let me tell you about the church/religion things that are noodling around in my brain. You may already understand that I am really interested in the “Emerging Church” movement. (Your first clue was my interest and involvement in #UNCO11. Be sure to check out the category Unco11 here on the blog if you don’t remember me writing about it.) I don’t remember whether I said much about it on the blog, but one of the things that came out of that was a desire to bring some of our expertise in social media to already existing avenues in the church. In furtherance of that aim, a small group of us created Presbyterian Women Interest Group on Facebook. Here’s a short synopsis of that creation, and where we are today.
In May 2011, an ecumenical group of about 75 clergy and laity interested in exploring how the church is evolving and expanding met at Stony Point Conference Center in New York for an “UnConference.” At the end of two days of worship, fellowship, and exploration various members met in small groups to discuss how we could be of service to the greater church. Katie Mulligan, Abbie Watters, Janet Boren and Margaret Aymer Oget participated with several others in one group which was focused on using social media to expand and enrich current programs in the church. In addition to the group in the room, several others, including Sonnie Swenston-Forbes, Laura Viau, and Karen Sapio were with us
virtually (on Twitter). Rather than reinventing the wheel, we thought we could convene a virtual Presbyterian Women’s Circle. In our off-the-cuff, one-hour planning session we hoped we could get 15 or so women who would be interested in doing the Horizon’s Bible Study, and gradually expand from there. We said, “If there’s more interest than that, we should consider splitting into two groups when we reach 18 or 20 members.”
We agreed that we would each use our Social Media contacts to publicize the group. We left the UnConference on Wednesday afternoon, and
Katie went home and set up a private group on Facebook and added the six of us as members. By the time most of us got home on Friday, we had 150 members, and the rest, as they say, is history. By Monday, we realized we had a tiger by the tail, and a steering committee was formed. That committee met on Skype, and various administrative jobs were parceled out. By the end of May there were over 250 members, and today we have 400 members, nation-wide.
We have Bible study groups meeting regularly in four different media: Skype, Facebook, blog, and Second Life. We also have the Mission discussion groups meeting on Facebook. The national office of Presbyterian Women has been gracious enough to lend us advisors who are members of our Facebook groups and who help keep us true to the mission and purpose of Presbyterian Women.
I am functioning as registrar, keeping track of new members as they ask to join the Facebook group, and making sure they feel welcomed. I also try to “friend” each of them, and send them a personal message inviting them to choose a Bible study circle, and/or a mission emphasis group to join. That, as you can imagine, gives me something to do every day. I’m also one of the Bible study leaders for the group that’s studying the Beatitudes on the blog.
In the middle of September, Big Al and I drove over to Ft. Worth to the 1st Presbyterian Church there to hear Margaret Aymer Oget preach.
Margaret is the author of the Presbyterian Women Bible study on the Beatitudes this year. It was great to get to see her again (I had seen her at the Texas PW Bible leader training at Mo-Ranch). You can hear her sermon here.
Last weekend, we hosted part of an emerging church conference at Preston Hollow. The featured speakers were Nadia Bolz-Weber
and Brian McLaren.
Nadia is a Lutheran (ELCA) minister who pastors the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, CO. That church serves the homeless, drug addicts, and LGBT folk of Denver. Brian McLaren is a nationally recognized speaker on the emerging church. Their messages were basically that we – the mainline, tall steeple churches – need to get out of our own heads and into the world. We need to be authentic, and loving to the least, the last, and the lost, and “it’s not about the numbers.”
So you can see, I’ve been busy trying to reconcile my staid, unchanging Presbyterian soul with what I know HAS to be a new direction for the church. I’m still not sure where I come down on all this, but I am sure we need to begin to get on board for the ride. I’ll be posting more about all of this as the time goes on.