One of the key convictions of Slow Church is that God’s plan for reconciling all creation involves not only gathering a people, but gathering people in particular places that span the globe. The language of Englewood Christian Church’s covenant (where Chris is a member) puts it this way: the church community is “a manifestation of the Body of Christ in a particular place.”
Happily, there is a vibrant conversation happening in the church now about the importance of placedness. Christianity Today‘s This Is Our City project is one example. So is Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove’s essential book, The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture. And so is a comment a George Fox University professor made during a lecture at the Benedictine abbey near my house (which I heard about secondhand), that if one wants to understand what is happening in American Christianity today one has to be familiar with the work of Wendell Berry, the farmer-writer from Kentucky whose fiction, nonfiction, and poetry often explore the intersection of human community (the “membership”) and the land.
Chris and I have both been challenged and inspired in this area by the work of the Parish Collective
, an organization based in Washington State. The Parish Collective works at a grassroots level to “root together” churches, faith-based organizations, and community groups in particular neighborhoods. “Then we link them to other parishes regionally and globally for mutual support and innovation.”
We’ll be writing more about Parish Collective on this blog and in the book. I am embarrassingly late turning in a short article for Neue Magazine
about Parish Collective, and I will also be posting on this blog some brief excerpts from my interview with the Parish Collective’s co-founders, Tim Soerens and Paul Sparks. But for now I want to bring to your attention one of the primary ways the Parish Collective facilitates rooted collaboration: the second annual Inhabit Conference
, which will be held in Seattle on April 20-21, presented in conjunction with The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology
My wife and I went last year and the experience was transformative. (It’s also where I met Chris in person for the first time.) An exciting lineup of keynote speakers have already been announced. They include Jim Diers, David Fitch, Michael Frost, Lisa Sharon Harper, Milenko Matanovic, Sally Morgen Myers, Mark Scandrette, Tom and Christine Sine, and Richard Twiss. I will be attending again this year, and I hope you will too. I look forward to reuniting with people I met last year and, of course, meeting a lot of new people.
Still need more convincing? Check out this video of highlights from the 2011 conference: