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"The Shaping of Things To Come?"
Dr Stephen A. Hayner
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Is a Prophetic Movement Emerging?
Dr. Martha Moore-Keish
Author's Response
Breaking Out of a Box
Dr. Steve Hayner
Readers' Responses
Readers' Responses
Marissa Myers
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Marissa Myers and Katie Heard Day
Editor's Notes
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Dr. Mark Douglas

Readers' Responses


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I would love for someone to unpack the following quote from Hayner's article. 

Most of these new experiments see themselves as incarnational communities involved with Christ in holistic ministries both near and far.  Old views of programmatic "missions" are rejected, as are various "reductions" of the Gospel into categories such as "proclamation" or "social action."

It is unclear to me how proclamation and social action are "reductions" of the gospel.  Is this simply a call for a holistic approach to mission?

Rev. Clay Thomas
First Presbyterian Church
Sarasota, FL

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Hi: I am writing to bring to your attention an exciting example of doing church differently here in the desert in Palm Desert, CA.

Go to our Web site at:  www.spiritofthedesertpresbyterian.org

Much of our story is explained there.

In sum:  We began worshiping 4 years ago.  Currently 4 volunteer local pastors carry the preaching responsibilities with another 6 to 10 guest preachers each year.  (Check our honor roll of guest preachers!)  None of the preachers, whether local or guest, are paid (except for travel mileage).  Thus we give 70% per year to mission causes. 

We have a traditional Presbyterian/Reformed service with communion every Sunday and wine as an option.

We are officially a fellowship under the oversight of another Presbyterian church about 45 miles away.

We have usually 20 to 30 people at worship.

Note also that nearly 94% of our proposed budget for 2007 has been pledged, and we are ahead of schedule in giving toward the 2007 proposed budget figure of $45,000.

See also the link on the home page to Jerry Van Marter's article about us.

Want more information?  I'm one of the local preachers and a member of the steering committee.

Thanks.............  Chuck Rassieur 


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It is hard to argue with Dr. Hayner's assertion that "these recent experiments in 'being church' are innovative, bold, diverse, sometimes irreverent, definitely non-traditional, culturally and technologically savvy, and often feel threatening to churches as we know them."  But I wonder if this really is a terribly different circumstance than earlier experiements in "being church" - heterodoxical sects like the Unitarians or even the Latter Day Saints might have been discribed in not dissimilar terms in their earliest forms.  So also might have been Shakers, Quakers, and perhaps even the Methodists.

    I do not suggest by saying the above that the 'emergent church' is this century's version of the Unitarians or the Mormons, or that they will end up disappearing like the Shakers.  Rather, I suggest that the same sort of dissatisfaction with the internal culture of the "mainstream church" and the same nagging suspicion that there must be something more (or something different) to the Christian faith seems to be the fuel for such groups.

    I'm old enough to remember vividly the "Jesus Movement" of the late 1960's and early 1970's.  The "Jesus People" of those days were also dissatisfied with the traditional mainstream versions of Christianity that they found in the churches of the day.  Unlike Flannery O'Connor's Hazel Motes, who started a "Church without Christ," the Jesus People opted for a "Christ without Church."  If I've got Steve Hayner right, the newest version of "being church" for which the disenchanted and (to some degree) disenfranchised faithful are opting is a "church without Church"  ... and that can't be all bad!

    Hayner is right to call our attention to the likely sea change of which these new un-churches may be harbingers.  The movement from the pre-modern world to the modern world also helped spawn the Protestant Reformation - for it's time an "innovative, bold, diverse, sometimes irreverant, definitely non-traditional ... and threatening to the church" as it was then known.  If, as it appears, the movement from modernity to post-modernity is upon us, then those changes may also be helping to spawn a new kind of reformation as well.  It would be a shame and a scandal if the newest reformation yielded the same sort of centuries-long conflict and suspicion as did the Reformation of Luther and Calvin.

Walt Peters
First Presbyterian Church

Westminster, MD 


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Thank you for the challenging thoughts. I am a retired Presbyterian minister and always on the lookout for rich thinking and provocative ideas.

RS Mobayed

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