March 2007
Register Now for a Chance at $50 of Books

Every person registered for Gathering 2007 by June 10 will be entered in a drawing for $50 in free books from Wipf & Stock, Doulos Christou and Brazos Press (there will be 3 winners). So register for Gathering 2007 NOW (if you haven't already). To register, go to the EP website, log in, then select the registration button in the left column.

For a description of the Gathering, see article 3 below.

New Book on Preaching by John Wright
Endorser John Wright, professor of Theology and Christian Scripture at Point Loma Nazarene University, has a new book with InterVarsity called Telling God's Story: Narrative Preaching for Christian Formation. Wright's new model of preaching aims to connect the biblical text with the congregation so that they are formed into a true Christian community. Such formation calls for interpretative engagement with both the biblical narrative and the cultural narrative that shapes our society. Wright critically surveys current theories of preaching and the variety of hermeneutical practices, providing clear guidance and practical direction for faithful preaching. Those who know John know to expect a creative, provocative, and thoughtful read.

Marva Dawn writes: "John Wright very clearly exposes both the prevalence and dangers of the split between 'personal salvation' and 'mission of the nation-state' preaching in North American culture and calls us instead to the kind of preaching that will immerse our listeners in God's larger story. His many helpful insights into such topics as a 'homiletic of turning,' comedic versus tragic moves, therapeutic and managerial functions, and elements of congregational contexts will positively affect your preaching and pastoral care. This is a significantly constructive book!" (Reviewed by Jon Stock)

Meet the EP
Greg Jarrell is a recent endorser of EP who, like many others, has followed the work of The Ekklesia Project for years via the writings of members. He is excited about officially becoming a part of the work, and about building friendships with current and future members. Greg is a part of the Hyaets in Charlotte, NC. He and four other members of the community share a home in a low-income neighborhood and work primarily with the youth in their immediate surroundings. In addition to listening, teaching, and modeling a life of discipleship in a frequently violent environment, the community is sometimes called to the sort of hospitality that can be life-changing. They have welcomed into their community a fifteen year old named Jamar, who is currently in foster care with the folks at Hyaets. In addition to his work and hanging out with the children in the neighborhood, Greg enjoys playing and listening to jazz music.

Jessica Andrews, a recent endorser of EP, is currently on staff with Young Life in Washington, working and establishing challenging, Christian friendships with a variety of young people. Through an internship that involved taking classes at a nearby seminary, Jessica was further challenged to wrestle with the hard questions about her faith. This wrestling match helped to lead her to EP, and she is excited to find others who are exploring some of the same questions about discipleship that she is.

Gathering News: Schedule Overview
Here is an overview of our three day gathering: We will begin our time together Monday afternoon with worship and Sharon Huey preaching. This will be followed by an introduction to the theme of congregational formation by Phil Kenneson. Late that afternoon and evening we will hear some stories from participants in EP's Congregational Formation Initiative and have our traditional pizza party. Tuesday begins with morning prayer and ends with a quiet service of worship and footwashing. In between, Steve Fowl will help us see what the book of Philippians has to teach us about formation, and there will also be workshop opportunities in the morning and the afternoon. Our time together Wednesday begins with morning prayer, moves to a panel discussion of the joys of congregational formation, and closes with a worship service with Kyle Childress preaching.

See the opening article for information on registration.

EP Finances
The EP continues to operate in the black for 2007. As of May 16th, we can report $6,222 in income (almost entirely contributions -- thank you!) and $5,022 in operating expenses (expenses not directly related to the Gathering). If you have any questions about our financial picture, please contact Treasurer Michael Bowling.

From the Editor
After nearly 35 years of service as senior pastor of large UCC congregations, I am now serving as chaplain in two settings, one compensated and one volunteer. The ethical mandates of completing a parish ministry require me to maintain complete distance from the congregation I served these last 23 years for at least two years. Both my spouse and I deeply grieve this necessary period of separation from our cherished community, but it also provides an opportunity to experience some of the new things God is doing in our midst. We currently worship with an "emergent church" that meets in a downtown bar. Shaped as I have been by rigorous Reformed liturgy and Biblical scholarship, I struggle at times with San Damiano's informality (worship time is listed as "10:30ish," which seems to be code for "sometime around 11") and the decidedly non-academic approach to scripture ("the Beloved Disciple must have been very old when he wrote the Book of Revelation"). But the pastor and the congregation get the heart of Jesus right most of the time, and they take Christian discipleship very seriously. So we are trying to open ourselves to the ways the Spirit is moving through this community of folks mostly in their twenties, seeking to fulfill our role as elders. I am finding there much of what I have long yearned for: Evangelical Christianity's unapologetic faith in Christ married to progressive Christianity's commitment to social and economic justice, precisely the combination many of us cherish in the EP. In an era where Christ's Church knows so much division and conflict, it is good to know that God is weaving new webs of Christian unity. Oh, and if the Brewers score six runs on more on Saturday, the chicken wings are only fifteen cents.

John McFadden, editor

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