Crossing the Divide: Race, Racism and the Body of Christ
Gathering 2008: July 7-9 at Depaul University in Chicago

As we turn toward Easter, the summer Gathering cannot be far away. As the planning committee continues to finalize the schedule, it is pleased to announce the following:

Plenary Sessions will be led by:
Rodney Sadler, Union Theological Seminary
Victor Hinojosa, Baylor University
Kelly Johnson, University of Dayton
Michelle Loyd Paige, Calvin College
Mike Budde, DePaul University

We will also feature a congregational forum in which we hear from two congregations with different approaches to the ministry of racial reconciliation.

Tentative Workshop titles include:
Wrestling with Scripture (led by Mic hael Cartwright)
Race, Immigration and the Divided Church
The Christian Community Development Association and EP in Conversation (led by Craig Wong of Grace in San Francisco and Glenn Kehrein in Chicago.)
The Liturgical Landscape of Race

As always we will worship together. James Lewis will be our opening preacher, we will close with the washing of feet, and we are planning a hymn sing in which we explore the power of various hymns to overcome racial division.

Finally, we consider this gathering an opportunity to practice hospitality, and to open our own work to the challenges and gifts of the greater diversity of the church. So we invite you to invite new friends to this gathering, especially colleagues and friends of color who can help us speak faithfully about habits of race and racism in the church. There is no substitute for a personal invitation, so we challenge our fellow endorsers to help us make this a hospitable gathering.

For further information, visit our website.
We hope to have online registration for the Gathering available by Easter Monday at the latest.

Planning Committee: Nekeisha Alexis-Baker, Victor Hinojosa, Erin Martin, Stan Wilson and Craig Wong.

An Evening with Clapp and Cash

Longtime EPer Rodney Clapp has just published Johnny Cash and the Great American Contradiction (Westminster, 2008). Far more than an ode to a great singer, this book draws "attention to the tensions that are at the heart of that project called 'America'" (Stanley Hauerwas).

St. Barnabas EpiscopalChurch in Glen Ellyn, Illinois will host an evening with Rodney, including a talk, questions and a book signing on March 29 at 7 pm. All are invited.

Meet the EP: Chris McMahon and Jason King
"Consuming Jesus: Saving Soteriology in a Market Driven Culture." This title, from an essay by EP member, Chris McMahon, nicely captures interests that he and fellow EP member, Jason King, share. Chris and Jason are recipients of a Louisville Grant focused on connecting soteriology and ecclesiology to substantive church practices. They attended EP's gathering last summer and were particularly drawn to the rich understandings of Christian formation narrated and discussed in the sessions and over meals.

Chris and Jason both teach theology at Saint Vincent's College, a Benedictine institution in Latrobe, PA (former home of both Mr. Rogers and Rolling Rock Beer!). Chris is a member of Saint Vincent Basilica Parish, but also attends a Mennonite church with his wife, who is Mennonite. Jason grew up Catholic, post Vatican II, in the predominantly Baptist culture of small town, Kentucky. He describes himself as a "cradle Catholic" that converted to Catholicism at the hands of two Lutherans (two professors at Berea College). Jason's wife directs service learning at Saint Vincent's and they have two wonderful children (4 and 1 years old and one on the way). EP is delighted to have Chris and Jason as fellow travelers for God's kingdom.

Amy Laura Hall's "Conceiving Parenthood"
reviewed by Jon Stock
EP endorser Amy Laura Hall challenges us all in her book Conceiving Parenthood: American Protestantism and the Spirit of Reproduction (Eerdmans, 2008). Hall seeks out the genesis of issues like genetic manipulation, designer babies, prenatal screening, and the genomic revolution. Her disturbing finding is that mainline Protestantism is complicit in the history and development of reproductive biotechnology. A tradition that should have welcomed all persons equally has instead fostered a culture of "carefully delineated, racially encoded domesticity." Hall encourages new conversations within communities of faith -- conversations enabling individuals, couples, congregations, even entire neighborhoods to conceive of parenthood in ways that make room for families and children who are deemed to be outside the proper purview of the right sorts of families. "It's the sort of book that threatens not only to change our vocabulary but to make us better people" - Jason Byassee

Free to be Bound: Church Beyond the Color Line
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Ann Atwater at BSTR
On March 25th and 26th, the Baptist School of Theology at Richmond (in Richmond, VA) hosts the Lawrence Hoover Lectures, which this year focus on race and the church. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, EPer and major voice in the new monasticism movement, will be speaking on March 26th, along with Ann Atwater. The lectures are free and open to the public. For more information click here.

"Pop Christianity"
In the course of more than thirty years of parish ministry, I was gifted with many books by church members. Most of them fell into three broad categories: books that attempted to make Christianity "practical" ("The Biblical Guide to Raising Upright Children!"), books that tried to make Christianity mysterious ("The Secret Behind the Secrets of the Secret Dead Sea Scrolls!") and books that sentimentalized the Christian faith ("Seven Highly Effective People you Meet in Heaven"). When I cleaned out my office at the church I felt almost guilty for keeping such books in circulation by donating them to Goodwill.

So I take some encouragement in noting that two books currently drawing a great deal of popular attention are Gary Wills' examination of the Gospels and Ann Rice's fictionalized account of the life of Jesus. At the least, each appears to encourage the reader to take Jesus seriously and to wrestle with the summons to discipleship (even while speculating on the possibility that young Jesus had a girlfriend). Just my luck: we are finally seeing interesting popular works about Christianity now that I no longer have parishioners eager to give them to me. John McFadden, editor

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