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Future of Mainline Protestantism

Introduction

Introduction

Solidly established in American society, mainline Protestantism faces a threshold. How will it retool itself for a new century? How will it develop new avenues of ministry and new ways of doing community? How will the growing progressive and emergent movements affect Protestant thought and practice? How will denominational bodies respond to the well-documented "mainline decline?" How will pop culture reflect and be impacted by the changes in mainline Christianity? Patheos invites the visioning of Protestant thinkers in its Future of Religion series.

Contributors include: Sam Alexander, Jim Burklo, Jerry D. Campbell, Philip Clayton, Monica A. Coleman, Kenda Creasy Dean, James Calvin Davis, Bruce G. Epperly, Greg Garrett, Larry M. Goodpaster, Anne Howard, James J. Kang, David LaMotte, Lisa Larges, Alyce McKenzie, Brian McLaren, J. Ryan Parker, Anthony B. Pinn, Bruce Reyes-Chow, Robert John Russell, Josef Sorett, Adam Walker Cleaveland, Peter Wallace, and James K. Wellman Jr.

A Still More Glorious Dawn Awaits

A Still More Glorious Dawn Awaits

Sam Alexander (Senior Pastor, Presbyterian Church)

Once again, the body of Christ, or at least the Mainstream Protestant version of it, is on the cross. At this critical moment, we need to do what Jesus did.

Seeding the Future Church: Progressive Christians with Fresh Ideas

Seeding the Future Church: Progressive Christians with Fresh Ideas

Jim Burklo (Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California)

Remarkable creativity is springing out of hundreds of progressive congregations and groups in the U.S. today. It's a theological reformation.

Who Are the Samaritans Today?

Who Are the Samaritans Today?

Jerry D. Campbell (President, Claremont School of Theology)

Our Christian past has been rife with breaking God's human family apart. Could the future of Christianity be about bringing it together?

New Visions: Or, Church for People Who Aren't So Sure about Religion

New Visions: Or, Church for People Who Aren't So Sure about Religion

Philip Clayton (Claremont School of Theology)

What does "church" look like when you take it out of the box, replant it, and let it grow organically? It's going to stretch and challenge you; it's going to take openness to forms and practices you've never seen before.

Black Church Walk-Out

Black Church Walk-Out

Monica A. Coleman (Claremont School of Theology)

I had a dream that all the oppressed people in black churches staged a walkout. They didn't leave because they hated black churches. They left because they loved them.

Youth Ministry Shaping the Future of the Church

Youth Ministry Shaping the Future of the Church

Kenda Creasy Dean (Princeton Theological Seminary)

Youth ministry allows experimentation of what it means to "be church," and that's a hopeful thing for us.

Mainline Protestantism: Antidote to American Incivility?

Mainline Protestantism: Antidote to American Incivility?

James Calvin Davis (Middlebury College)

Despite the popularity of the exercise, I am not drawn to write the obituary of mainline Protestantism. To the contrary, I think Protestantism faces an important future of public witness.

Process Theology: An Open Future for God and for Us

Process Theology: An Open Future for God and for Us

Bruce G. Epperly (Lancaster Theological Seminary)

A God who does not fully know or determine the future in its actuality is more alive, creative, and active than a God who has chosen the future in its entirety.

Hope Yet for Mainline Denominations

Hope Yet for Mainline Denominations

Greg Garrett (Baylor University)

The history, practice, and theology of mainline Christianity may in fact be better adapted to life in the 21st century than any of its detractors suggest.

Reclaiming a

Reclaiming a "Movement": The Future of The United Methodist Church

An interview with Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster (President, United Methodist Church's Council of Bishops)

The newly-elected President of The United Methodist Church's Council of Bishops shares his insights on the future of the largest mainline Protestant denomination in America.

Progressive Christianity: Meeting in the Public Square

Progressive Christianity: Meeting in the Public Square

Anne Howard (The Beatitudes Society)

At the heart of Progressive Christianity is the same thing I see at the heart of the teaching of Jesus: a commitment to the welfare of all, to a world of "shalom" for all, and therefore advocacy for compassion in public life.

From the Future, With Love

From the Future, With Love

James J. Kang (Pastor, United Methodist Church)

A father and Methodist minister imagines a congratulatory letter to his newly ordained minister daughter, in the year 2050.

Embracing Conflict Faithfully: The Future of Social Justice and Peacemaking in the Church

Embracing Conflict Faithfully: The Future of Social Justice and Peacemaking in the Church

David LaMotte (Singer, songwriter, founder of PEG Partners)

One of the central questions mainline Christians will have to wrestle with in coming years is this:  Are we willing to embrace discomfort as part of our faith?

Who Really Cares? Ordination and Marriage Equality in the Mainline Church

Who Really Cares? Ordination and Marriage Equality in the Mainline Church

Lisa Larges (Coordinator, That All May Freely Serve)

While our denominations continue to argue over ordination and marriage equality for LGBT persons, the next generation, those under 35, have already made up their minds.

"You're in My Seat:" Imagining Protestant Preaching in Twenty Years

Alyce McKenzie (Perkins School of Theology)

What will Protestant mainline preaching will be like in twenty years? What kind of sermon will the preacher preach and the worshippers experience?

A New Christian Convergence

A New Christian Convergence

Brian McLaren (Emergent Church Leader)

A new coalition is already happening, as existing organizations and emerging networks discover one another and realize they have independently reached common conclusions.

The Future of Christian Cinema and the Progressive Voice

The Future of Christian Cinema and the Progressive Voice

J. Ryan Parker (Blogger, Pop Theology)

Independent Christian filmmaking is poised to take off in the 21st century. But will the Progressive Christian voice be represented?

Getting an 'Amen' Isn't Enough

Getting an 'Amen' Isn't Enough

Anthony B. Pinn (Rice University)

Statistics regarding African American religiosity don't negate a central reality:  Black churches in the 21st century face a life-or-death dilemma.

Necessary Change for the Denominational Church

Necessary Change for the Denominational Church

An interview with Bruce Reyes-Chow (Pastor, Mission Bay Community Church)

Recent Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Bruce Reyes-Chow reflects on the challenges and opportunities facing his denomination, and the future of the mainline church.

Time to Celebrate! Mainline Protestantism and Natural Science

Time to Celebrate! Mainline Protestantism and Natural Science

Robert John Russell (Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Graduate Theological Union)

Mainline Protestants can and should embrace the responsible dialogue with natural science and fulfill our mission of offering a prophetic voice in contemporary scientific culture.

Forecasting Black Church Futures

Forecasting Black Church Futures

Josef Sorett (Columbia University)

The prevalence of post-race talk is not evidence that racism is no more. But it does signal a change that black institutions, including churches, must address.

Presbymergent: A Reforming Spirit from the Inside

Presbymergent: A Reforming Spirit from the Inside

Adam Walker Cleaveland (Minister and Presbymergent Co-Founder)

Presbymergent, and other groups like them, consists of people who choose to stay on the inside to bring about creative, emergent expressions of an historic faith for various contemporary contexts.

The Mainline Church: A Confusing Yet Hopeful Future

The Mainline Church: A Confusing Yet Hopeful Future

Peter Wallace (Author and Host "Day1")

The more I ponder the future of the mainline Protestant church, the more confused I get. And the more hopeful.

Will the Real Mainline Church Please Stand Up!

Will the Real Mainline Church Please Stand Up!

James K. Wellman, Jr. (University of Washington)

American Protestantism is an ever-changing, multi-faceted, and multi-colored quilt, and the once mighty Protestant Mainline is now a shadow of itself.