Carolyn Kitto and I both got up early and left for the airport. Carolyn works for World Vision Australia, and she was heading for their annual day of prayer in Melbourne. She was meeting Mike Pilavachi there, and he led the prayer day.
I flew to Brisbane. As we pulled away from the jetbridge, I saw my suitcase on the tarmac and thought, “Oh, shit.” It’s now 24 hours later, and I still don’t have it.
In Brisbane, I was retrieved by Duncan MacLeod, a long-time emergent blogger and networker. He currently works for the Uniting Church in Australia (a 1970s merger of Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians). We went to Duncan’s office for a couple hours and I caught up on emails, etc.
At noon, we left to have lunch and a 90-minute conversation with a group of about two dozen Baptist church planters. The conversation was cordial and passionate. We found areas of agreement and disagreement, to be sure.
After that, we went to meet up with Dave Andrews. Dave is also known to many emergents around the world. He and his wife, Ange, spent many years in India, living as a Christian communal presence. A few years ago, they moved back to Brisbane where they founded the Waiters Union. The name, Dave told me, comes from the idea that a good waiter is a helpful but not overbearing presence at a restaurant. They’re trying to be the same in the West End of Brisbane.
As Dave describes a bit in the video below, the West End is Brisbane’s most eclectic, diverse, edgy area. It’s full of ethnic restaurants, has a large aboriginal population, and is also struggling with gentrification and the concomitant rise in housing prices.
The Waiters Union is a collective of a few dozen people who live in several houses in this neighborhood. As Dave told me, “It’s Christocentric, but not Christian. Our value for membership in the community is not whether you ‘believe’ in Christ but whether you’re living a Christlike life.” They’re quite involved in the activity of the neighborhood, and they’ve got several ventures like a fair trade, organic coffee roastery, which I’ll be visiting on Thursday morning. The whole thing reminds me a bit of ReIMAGINE, and Dave said something that I’ve heard Mark say: “We’re caught between the emergent church and the new monastics. Now quite one or the other, but a little of both.”
After dinner (see below), Dave and Matt drove me to a nearby church where Duncan hosted the local emergent network, called “Postcards.” We chatted for a couple hours about all things emergent, then back to Dave’s house for a few hours of sleep.