The Ekklesia Project

   July 2009   


Around 160 endorsers and new friends gathered in Chicago in July for fellowship and reflection on "Wealth and the Household of God."  As always, we are indebted to our Gathering team -- Chi-Ming Chien, Jon Stock, James Lewis, and Kelly Johnson -- for the hard work that it took to put together yet another amazing Gathering.

We are already receiving emails asking for our 2010 gathering dates. We don't have them yet, but hope to soon. Meanwhile, We invite you to enjoy these descriptions and pictures of

 Gathering 2009!

Grace - ious friends

For a slideshow of photos from the Gathering, click here.

Jonathan Wilson-HartgroveAll three plenary addresses from this year's Gathering,
are now available as podcasts on the EP Website.  Our first plJonathan Wilson-Hartgroveenary presentation was by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, who spoke
with passion and humor on "Tactics from Jesus for
a Good Life Now." 

Bill Cavanaugh
's address, "Grounded: Creation and Economic Crisis," combined a "101" on the multiple causes of the global economic collapse (regularly punctuated by the refrain "but it gets worse!") with theological reflections on our calling to ground our economic practices within God's providential Creation.

Our third plenary session was presented by a new friend to many of us, Kathy Grieb, wKathy 2ho teaches New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary.  Kathy addressed "Paul's Theology of the Cross and the Jerusalem Church Collection." Kathy fostered stimulating conversation around Paul's collection as a practice of Christian unity in spite of disagreement, and how that should shape our own congregational giving.
Other podcasts available on the EP Website are the workshop  "Doing Business for the Kingdom or the Empire?" conducted byKoinonia Farm and Dayspring Technologies and Danny Fong's sermon from our closing worship.

 MEET THE EP: Julia and Ian DiOrio

Gathering 2009 included many first-time attendees, including Julia and Ian DiOrio and t
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgroveheir daughter, Semeia, from Fullerton, Ca.   Other first-time participants included seminarians and graduate students, as well as young pastors.  Children, babies in particular, were very much in evidence throughout the Gathering.

Ian and Julia currently serve the young adults ministry at Eastside Christian Church in Fullerton, CA. Ian is the pastor of all next generation ministries, and has a passion for reaching this next generation with the call of Christ. Eastside´s young adult ministry emphasizes radical discipleship in all areas of life, and is currently involved in local community projects with the homeless as well as participating in the creation of a sustainable orphanage in Panama. Ian works on the planning team for the Orange County division of CLUE, Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice, and has participated in local dialogues with Disney and other major corporations over fair pay to their employees.

Ian is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, and is currently completing his D.Phil in Political Theology. Julia is a 4th grade teacher at a Christian school in Orange County. They are the proud parents of Semeia Leigh DiOrio (who, like other babies present, got passed around a great deal).


In a moment of insight (or sudden inspiration from the Holy Spirit), the planning committee realized that our traditional seating plan for plenary sessions - rows of chairs facing forward - worked against one of the at tableGathering's primary goals, which is to build friendships among EPers.  For Gathering '09 we sat at round tables for most sessions.  When the plenary speaker concluded his/her presentation, we took twenty minutes for "table talk" with one another before sharing ideas or questions that had arisen at our individual tables with the full group.  The conversations were rich, and it provided a wonderful opportunity for "old-timers" and those who were new to the Gathering to become better acquainted.  This picture is from the Thursday night Pizza Party (Mike Budde still insists that Chicago-style pizza has something to do with Jesus), one of the many times that we gathered about table with one another.

John McFadden and Jon StockFrom the Editor

One of our speakers at Gathering '08 last year was a bright young academic who did not know a great deal about the EP.  He arrived on a steamy Chicago July day wearing a dark suit, a crisp white shirt and a handsome tie.  I chatted with him while we stood in line to check into the dorm.  "Is that Rodney Clapp?" he asked excitedly.  I admitted that it was.  Rodney was wearing baggy shorts and a just-on-the-edge-of-good-taste tee shirt, with a pillow clutched beneath his arm.  "I'm feeling a bit overdressed," said our speaker.  He, of course, was accustomed to academic conferences where formality and professionalism are the norm, and the goal of a young academic is to make a positive impression.  Our Gatherings are content-rich, to be certain, but content is just one part of the mix, and certainly not the most important part.  We come together to worship God, to greet old friends and to make new ones.  Sound theology, rich friendships, lively conversation, commitment to faithful discipleship and tacky tee shirts: where else can you find them all but an EP Gathering?

John McFadden [the John on the right, not the Jon on the left]