Emerging Church yada yada...

Dave at The Grace Pages (site seems down right now, though) posted these questions to Maggi Dawn (really cool name for a priest, btw...) :

My questions are these:
1. How do you think the Emerging movement in Britain, insofar as it can be called a movement, differs from that in the US, if at all?
2. To what extent is the Emerging Church simply a rehash of the same old conservative evangelicalism?

Maggi posted a reply that you can see there, and I had the following thoughts, but at 1000 characters at a time, it took 4 posts to reply via comment. Hence, I'll post the entire text here...

maggi (& other dave)

I'm a longtime Anglican/Episcopalian who grew up in the UK, lived in Montreal for a while, now the US for almost 20 years.

I just got seriously interested in the "emerging church" movement a few months ago, mostly because my parish (Episcopal) wants to start a new service aimed (but not exclusively) at the 20something crowd. It was intended to be just a pure "contemporary" service. However, being fairly immersed in youth work, it seemed to me that it needed to be more or different than that.

We have two local examples - Karen Ward's Church of the Apostles and Mars Hill. Opposite ends of the spectrum. CotA, as it's known is trying to do something really new and different. Karen gave a short intro to CotA at our Diocesan resource day and that got a few of us really interested.

I had also heard of Mars Hill and went searching on the web. I found Adam Cleaveland's blog and a discussion of whether Mars Hill is truly "emerging". In brief, I believe Mars Hill is mostly just another megachurch with a slant towards the 20-somethings.

Well, from Adam's blog I discovered the world of blogging, and especially the pomo emerging church side. Just discovered it too late to go to the San Diego or Nashville conventions, though.

Anyway, that's just the preamble :-)

From what i can tell, the emerging church movement in the UK is more like anew creation digging out from the "ruins" of the traditional church, especially the C of E. In some ways the emerging church is also an answer to the stadium rock orientation of Soul Survivor and the like.

In the US, one of the things that ticks me off is the conservative evangelical fundamentalist church (c/e/f for short) is seen as the primary expression of church. The rise of Falwell, Robertson et al and the political clout the religious right gained in the 80s and 90s certainly makes it seem that way. But in many ways they are more organized and coherent. The evangelicals have turned church into more of an industry. The Christian music industry is overwhelmingly dominated by c/e/f out of Nashville. Youth group materials are overwhelmingly produced by the c/e/f mill. Youth Specialties is part of that, and so when it comes time to publish Emergent books and put on emergent conventions, there they are.

This is not to say that this is all bad. It's good to have somebody willing to step up to the plate, and to be honest, the organizers of these things really do understand that they are trying something new. The c/e/f rank and file, though, ARE looking for the next new thing (to replaced by next years next new thing, of course.)

The ranks and file are also VERY nervous about the acceptance they see in the emerging church. The most high profile issues there are women's roles in the church and the acceptance of the GLBT community. The mainline churches (and particularly the Episcopal Church) have been and are still on the front lines of these issues but the c/e/f community is probably 50 years behind.

For instance, Dan Kimball's books are really great. An excellent introduction to the world of what's emerging. However, as an Anglican, I can spot that more than half of the "radical, cool, emerging" material are practically right out of the 1982 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

So I think the US situation is more complex than "emerging church" being devised by the c/e/f branch, but they are the most obvious and vocal.

If we can ever connect the liturgical church with the c/e/f then watch out :-)

Hmm, sorry about the 600 word reply...

a different dave

After that I thought of another cool blog title - YADA - for Yet Another Dave Analysis.

Well, I'll keep that one in reserve for the future sometime.

this dave

hi dave,

welcome to the blogsphere!

wanna come over to fremont for a pot of tea and a chat this week, some evening?

we have some great 'folk/jazz' at 8 pm (wednesday) and a soul cafe night 7-9 on thursday at living:roomalso, adam cleaveland dropped over to COTA this past saturday, and we had a nice theology pub chat over a belgian beer afterwards, and he is headed off to princeton very soon...

how are things at your parish?
it's me again, karen. i'm now blogging at submergencebut my most wicked rants are preserved at my old blog (deepdirt.blogspot.com)
Hi, Other Dave!

I look forward to re-entering the Emergent conversation on my own blog sometime soon, but unfortunately I was interrupted over a week ago by a computer virus, and my blog-hosts have been less than forthcoming with help in reinstalling the software, so I can't blog at the moment. In the meantime, thanks for your comments.


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