An Update on the Presbyterian Church that Meets Online

Photo by stevewall on Flickr

As many of you know the past year has had me exploring many options for ministry. One of those things was to begin thinking about the formation of a Presbyterian church that meets online. It is hard to believe that we floated this idea about six months ago. My how times flies.  This project has spurred some good conversations about church, social media and community.

Like any group of folks with many projects on their plates, the leadership team has been going through the ebbs and flows life, ministry and planning. Over the past 18 months, I too have been riding the rhythms of life, engaged in my own sabbatical of wandering and discernment. So while this new community will contiue to move forward, yesterday I shared this update with our Facebook Group letting them know that I’m pulling back from driving the project.

Greetings all,

I hope folks are doing well and enjoying the Fall season.

First, let me say that I am feeling a little sheepish about not being as consistent and committed to this church online adventure that I had hoped to be. More than usual, life has been a little overwhelming and my own long-term discernment has been unexpectedly paralyzing.

That said, I am starting to see where I am headed and this has created a situation where I need lesson my involvement in some projects. It feels great to begin seeing some clarity of call, but I am also know that I have invited many folks into some things that I can no longer be part of in the same way: and for this I am sorry. So, yes, “a church online” will be one of the areas from which I will step back in leadership.

So what is next for this group? While I understand that I bring particular strengths and gifts to the endeavor, the ideas and questions from which this community has emerged goes way beyond any of us. I intensely believe that the idea of a church that meets online has huge possibilities. I will still be involved as I can, but Katie Mulligan and Derrick Weston have agreed to take the wheel and drive the proverbial leadership bus for the near future. I think they will help us to step back and take a more thoughtful approach to beginning this new community of faith. THIS PROJECT IS NOT OVER and I hope you will find a way to continue should you feel inspired to do so.

I also want to thank a few folks who walked this journey this far as part of the initial leadership team: Jennifer Owen Walsh, Jack Jenkins, Betsy Katz, Noelle Royer, Stephen Salyards, Bridgett Green, Mihee Kim-Kort, Katie and Derrick. I count them as dear friends and part of my church.

Lastly, while exact plans for future communication and social media platforms are still being worked out, for now, this Facebook Group is the place where people can stay updated, so please feel free to share this note and invite more folks into this next stage of the journey.

And my the peace of Christ be with you all!
Bruce

Now this does not mean that I have decided what is next as I am still embracing the luxury that is discernment mode. The decision to pull back from this project only means that some possibilities are being narrowed down and my call is coming more into focus. Believe me, I look forward to the day what I can post some grand announcement about my future.

Thanks to everyone who has mused about this idea with me and I hope that you will continue to stay connected and support this new church.  If you want to keep up with next steps for this project, request to join the Facebook Group, a church online | beta

Book Review: Making Paper Cranes by Mihee Kim-Kort

Making Paper Cranes
Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology
by Mihee Kim-Kort [Mihee on Twitter]
Pre-order on Amazon

First, Mihee is a friend and colleague.

Second, I am in awe of my friend and colleague.

When I review a book by a friend, I am always a little nervous. What if it isn’t very good? What if I disagree? What if it just does not feel it was written by the person I know? Well . . . from the first sentence, I was hooked. This book is very good: culturally provocative, theologically solid and written with a narrative flair.

It begins with a honest and telling sentence.

“I know. It’s a bit cliche, making paper cranes-especially an Asian person doing origami.”

Mihee, a Korean American Presbyterian immigrant woman, takes us on a journey of honest self-discovery employing a wry sense of humor, keen cultural insight and an ability to ask and respond to powerful questions with which we can all identify.

In the first part of the book Mihee unpacks some of the realities of growing up as an Asian American women in the United States. As one who has a degree in Asian American Studies, I think Mihee does a wonderful job at surveying the vast ways in which Asian Americans in general and Asian American women, in particular, face exclusion and otherness. Mihee captures the nuances of being Asian in a society that often thinks of culture and race as a conversation between Black and White.

when the teacher is reading from
some book about the history of the people around her
something about pilgrims, slavery, wars, the Great Depression
it is supposed to be her history, too
but no one looks at her and things that
this yellow girl belongs in the same story
the story of America

An excerpt from a poem that Mihee wrote, paper margins, page 44-45

The last part of the book dives into some theological thinking, but not in a way that one might expect. The tone does not change, nor does the weaving in of personal stories that give depth to the thinking that we are asked to undertake. I love her nuanced look at “fragmentation” not as a negative occurrence, but as a process that we must all go through, culturally and theologically. What makes Mihee’s treatment of both culture and theology is that she does not call us to follow a tidy linear progression, but rather to an embracing of a spiraling web that does not create anxiety and confusion, but rather liberation and discovery.

As I reflect on my own faith journey, I realize a number of painful pieces that make up who I am. Some pieces I have chosen for myself, but other pieces have been forced upon me, whether according to assumptions and stereotypes, or in relation to categories about race, culture, gender or generation. I am learning how to feel this fragmentation by embracing the disjointedness as my own unique experience while recognizing the necessity for engagement and inquiry. I am slowly realizing how I have navigated and continue to operate and live through this fragmented existence. – page 74

In the end, Making Paper Cranes is not a book that should be limited to only Asian Americans, women or church folks, but rather this book should be read by any and all who yearn to know better and understand the complexities of American culture. While Mihee’s story is told through the lens of a Korean American Presbyterian immigrant woman, when we think about American history, in reality it is the story of us all.

Thanks Mihee.

Mihee includes a GREAT bibliography on race, culture and theology. Some highlights:


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