Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fresh Expressions Explored

I'm here at a net cafe in Oxford on a steamy hot afternoon, which is brilliant!! We have visietd Telford and 'Safespace' with Mark Berry and the wonderful community there as we invaded their Thursday night 'community night' including a meal and a simple liturgy which would have included a lot more in depth conversation amongst themselves in our absence!! Enjoyed great conversation about all things Telford, Safespace and life in general!!

We've had today to explore Oxford and I have visited the 'Eagle & Child' pub, a haunt of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis plus walked through Christ Church Cathederal which was used in some of the Harry Potter fun and whose 'Great Hall' inspired the same in Hogwarts!!

Have learnt stuff about:
Mission shaped church
So called 'pioneer ministry'
Ideas about money
The gift to the UCA that will be 'Youth Workers' with contextual skills
The need to train people for leadership in the 'mission shaped church' differently
i.e. faster, more praxis, a cooperative venture between lay and ordained trainers currently engaged
Pastor could be a great gift to us in the long run to free up people
Presbytery space, permission, resourcing and funding will be key to the future

Visiting 'Safespace' reminded my of my old 'cell group' at home in Newcastle and the ups and downs of our time as group... which I needed to leave when my relationship with Jane broke down [and still miss to this day] as an appropriate and valued faith space!!

There are yet plenty of places to see and groups to experience and then to compare to the US as well.

OK, running out of net time but I do have a daily journal and some videos and pics that will be added here later!!

Onwards to Reading, London and New York before getting home on the 9th September!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Greenbelt Festival Part 01

Here I am in the GB08 internet cafe in 'The Tank' with 5 mins left on the net...

The Festival is all I hoped it would be and I have enjoyed the relaxed program with lots of options. I have seen Michael Franti and Spearhead and Jose Gonzales and look forward tonight to the beatboxer 'Shlomo'

The first evening there was a panel of people 'representing' different communities loosely described as part of the emerging church and in essence that was enough input for though I have continued into other workshops etc.

The group affirmed many of the things I hold to be central for the future of communities of faith identifying themselves as Christian and some sense of a way forward for a denomination in 'throwing off' what is unhelpful and creating permission ans space for new things:

Contextualising faith and living in the world

Consensus forms of decisionmaking
Worship that represents life and tradition plus transendence
Gathering around a set of values not a corporate plan
Being and gathering in the world
Accessing the best of the world of the creative arts
Blowing up the gap between secular and sacred
to name a few

I of course timed out at Greeneblt so here I am in Stratford Upon Avon, birthplace of the Bard,Shakespeare!
The group have set out to find the worst kitsche souvenir for 2 pounds or less... I can't bring myself to buy it but I did find a ceramic thimble with only a pic of his birth home on it or a modern lead pencil with a Yorrich Skull on the end...

Anyhow, it's Tuesday here now and although I am missing my three gorgeous girls!! It has been a brilliant experience to finally attend GB. I have a few ideas for Converge NCYC09 'surfing level' Bible Study I am leading with a great team...

Those ideas include:
An opportunity to add to an artwork/cross or mural
Self portrait drawing
An unfolding artwork on a white roller painted wall we construct in the space
A great lounge setting for any 'first person' readings or interviews
We could interview one or more of te key speakers about their ideas of the days topics
Screens in the four corners of our space rather than a previous idea I had about four in the centre in a square.... depends what we want to do

Anyhow, I have now since participated in a number of conversations with individuals at GB, have a few ideas about work and some inspiration for myself:
If you write it down I guess you have to act!!

Options: all seen as integrally part of my work
1. Increased participation in some aspect of the worship and mission of my home congegation at Adamstown's Dungeon
2. A wider initiative helping another group form a 'faith comunity' e.g. either people our own age and stage in the city or around home or young adults and others in the city around say a monthly worship gathering and perhaps film club alongside
3. Helping resource and support someone somewhere where this is or could happen because they have already begun or spoken up about wanting/needing to...

I had already also committed to 'Worship Unplugged Volume 2' and have an idea for a discipleship resource around 'Way to Live' as a theme.

I had a moment to speak to BRian McLaren and sounded him out about 'donating some shoes' and that I'd like to send him the song I've written inspired by his 'Everything Must Change' book.

This I will track via his website email...

OK, more later but it's been a terrific trip thus far in terms of engagement with good people doing inspired things... its challenging and there's so much more to come!!

Pictures will be uploaded when I get home and if you're at all keen to check out the 'Jesus Arms' Pub at Greenbelt you'll find the amazing 'Beer and Hymns' at I believe or google beerandhymns greenbelt

It was something else to watch 3500 proplr belting out among other Wesley classics "And Can It Be" Hymn number 347

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greenbelt/Fresh Expressions/New York

I have enough work to do in the next three days to fill a month.... however regardless of that I jump on a plane next Tuesday to head off on an exploration and an experience of some emerging churches and some popular culture in places and at events I have harboured a hope of seeing for decades!!

I have tracked Greenbelt Festival for some 15 years as a seemingly genuinely diverse all age event at Cheltenham Racecourse in England. I had made tentative plans to be there in 2000 but that didn't pan out. The 'fresh expressions' movement strikes me as a move allowing permission, space and real resourcing for grassroots change and new indigenous expressions of faith in community!! I am looking forward to checking all that out...

On the same score I have been lucky enough to visit the 'Big Apple' twice before and while disappointed this is not a family jaunt [because it's coincidentally at the time of year Simone and I have dreamt of returning] BUT if I'm on the work trip of the decade then I had better knock over both goals because it won't happen again for a while....

I think I've already written that I plan to track a few faith communities in NY but to also participate in a Tribute Centre Walking Tour of Ground Zero where the guides are those directly effected by the fall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centres on September 11 2001.

This is very much a part of my 'storytelling' explorations... I hope to have time to take a wander in Harlem [avoiding the Tour Bus syndrome] as I've done almost all the touristy things in NY I need to... apart from the Yankee Stadium Tour of course [as this is its last year of MLB]!!

So there you have it... we leave on Tuesday and I hope to have sufficient headspace, net time and motivation to blog while away.... we'll see!!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Succumb" David Bridie

Looks like more great music out this weekend with "Succumb" from David Bridie on his third solo CD [this time through Liberation Records]!! Themes of politics, religion or belief, relationships, fear and life are familiar themes for Bridie. This CD [from the snippets I've heard and read] sounds like there's more electronics and guitar!!

"This Year is Better Than Last Year"looks like a pointed reflection about our Oz change of government last November... and check out "So Many Lies" on David's MySpace

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"Be Yourself" Melinda Schneider

Melinda Schneider was a guest here in Oz on 'Enough Rope' last Monday with her mum [the famous yodelling Mary Schneider] after a kind of Ok interview with Jose Ramos Horte...

At the end Melinda spoke about a song she'd written which was inspired by another episode of the show and a particular transvestite guest... who's message was "be yourself, everybody else is taken"...

Her music is not my normal style BUT this song has a great message and would provide a great discussion with young and old alike!!