I’m headed to Memphis this week for the National Conversation About Emergence Christianity with Phyllis Tickle and Friends (EC13), and about 450 other progressive Christians from around the country. The city of Elvis’ Graceland seems an appropriate place for an event celebrating the ground-breaking inroads that have been – and continue to be – happening in the Church in the 21st Century … albeit with a lot less substance abuse (unless you place Memphis BBQ in that category).
EC13 is a follow-up gathering to the 2008 event celebrating the release of Phyllis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. Five years later, Tickle is releasing a new book documenting this new “stream” in the history of the Church called Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters, and the EC gang (led by Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt of the JoPa Group) thought it was high time to gather again and look back on the past, celebrate the present, and glean the future together. They’ve gathered a stellar collection of voices to help lead the conversation, including Brian McLaren, Diana Butler Bass, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Eric Elnes, and Pete Rollins, to name a few.
“It’s good to be able to stop now and to actually look at Emergence Christianity as what it is – a new tributary in the river of Christianity, the new expression of what the faith is, a new part, a new player in the Kingdom of God,” says Tickle, in the video below. “Indeed, whether we are part of traditional church or emergence Christians, we are all players in the Kingdom of God, and this thing that is a new tributary in the river of faith, a new player, a new part of Latinized Christianity, is to be welcomed and embraced and assisted in every way. Yes, it’s different, but if we look at the differences, they becomes less dangerous, and less frightening.”
I’ll be blogging live from the event beginning Friday — and inviting some other folks to guest post as well. We’ll provide some snapshots from the event, as well as reflect on what we’re learning and noticing in the conversations. What’s changed in the past four years? What significant advances have been made in the emergent/progressive Christian movement since 2008? What’s taking shape in 2013? Where are we headed? Who are the leading voices and communities of this movement?
So c’mon back to the blog later this week for some good ol’ soul food from Memphis, TN. (And we’ll be posting an interview with Tony & Doug about the event tomorrow to whet your whistles…)