The Ekklesia Project logo 


July 2011



Gathering Issue:



Near and Far"


DePaul University,

July 14-16, 2011

Gathered for Worship   

Summarizing the Unsummarizable 


Around 100 endorsers and friends gathered in Chicago for three days of intense engagement with God and one another, focused around the theme of the other who is our neighbor. Pictures and podcasts have Gathered for Worshipbeen uploaded to our Neighbors Near and Far pages for your edification. 


Our Gathering opened and closed with worship that celebrated the Acts 2 gift and challenge of Pentecost. Erin Martin, CFI pastor of Wesley UMC in Eugene, Oregon, preached "Beginning to Speak ."  Gabriel and Jeannette Salguero, pastors of The Lambs in Manhattan, preached "A Pentecostal Inoculation " bilingually. 


Reflecting on all this, Sharon Huey wrote:

"That Acts 2 was on both ends of our time together was a wonderful gift, since it seems we found ourselves in the same place as that Pentecost crowd wondering, "What is this?" ... There seemed to be more space to receive some unusual (for us) gifts: the silence and listening of lectio, a powerful time of testimony, and that fiery closing sermon which I thought swept us out of the door, less aware of ourselves--our thoughts, risks, fears--and more hopeful in God." 


There were two innovations that brought significant blessing. Friday and Saturday mornings, we began the day (after breakfast) with lectio divina, inviting God the Spirit to read Luke 10:1-12 with us. Saturday, we closed our worship service with testimonia, more than fifteen minutes of persons sharing what God had laid upon their hearts during the Gathering.


Successive plenaries by Danny Carroll , Beth Newman  and Craig Wong  provided rich fare. In addition to our typical discussion following each plenary, we also convened a closing discussion  with this plenary panel.


Beth's focus on 'vulnerable hospitality' provoked this rumination by board chair Debra Dean Murphy:

"We're not sure where this "organization" is headed, ultimately, and we wonder (worry) if we're being true to its original vision. But this most recent Gathering felt like something of a gift--something we couldn't predict or manage but just needed to receive: the new folks (so many first-timers) and some of the things that were maybe beyond our own level of comfort or control.


Meet(ing) the EP:  Jamie and Michelle Gates Jamie and Michelle Gates


After presenting a workshop at the 2010 Gathering, Point Loma professor of sociology Jamie Gates was 'volunteered' to serve on the 2011 Gathering planning team. Jamie in turn 'volunteered' his friends the Salgueros as our closing preachers, and persuaded his wife Michelle to come along for the fun, widening the circle of friendship for us all.


Immediately after the Gathering, Jamie offered these reflections:


"The Ekklesia Project Gathering is a place where strangers quickly become friends.  This is my third Gathering, having come last year and once way back in 2002.  I'm learning that this is a time and place for the growth and discipleship of sub-versive friendships for the sake of more clearly seeing and naming the Reign of God, for the reconciliation of the Body of Christ and for more faithful participation in the Reign of God.  It is learning to see and speak with prophetic eyes and a prophetic voice." Read more.  


Roundtable Discussions 


Two topics were discussed in Roundtable format at this year's Gathering: The Congregational Formation Initative and our updated Endorsing statement.


Roundtable DiscussionThe goal of CFI is to nurture and support congregations committed to lifeIong formation and discipleship. A number of resources and processes have been developed to help initiate and sustain congregational conversations about the fundamental identity and mission of the Church. 


"Endorsing" goes way back with the Ekklesia Project but hasn't been highlighted much in recent years; the launch of the new website--with more functionality for getting in touch with fellow-EPers--was part of the impetus for reintroducing the practice of endorsing.


For more information on CFI, click here. To read the new Endorsing Statement and/or to endorse the EP, click here. 


Slow Church, Fast Friends


The Ekklesia Project board has chosen our 2012 Gathering focus: Slow Church, Fast Friends . The planning team is being assembled. It already includes Joel Shuman, Stan Wilson, Kyle Childress, Chris Smith, and Ragan Sutterfield. The coming year will include significant reflections in bLOGOS on deliberate ecclesiology and sustained fidelity. Here is an inaugural provocation, forwarded from a Church of the Savior mailing: 


A Lazy Thought

Eve Merriam


There go the grownupsslow church sign

To the office,

To the store.

Subway rush,

Traffic crush;

Hurry, scurry,

Worry, flurry

No Wonder


Don't grow up

Any more

It takes a lot

Of Slow

To Grow.

New on bLOGOSMustard Seeds 

Mustard Seeds and Evangelism

by Kyle Childress


Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52 


Being a Baptist in Texas the very air that I breathe is full of evangelism, growth, outreach, and marketing. Everything is either big or needs to be bigger and it seems that the church is no exception. Here in Big Texas (and America seems to be just a bigger version of Texas) it's all about Big Business and trans-national corporations, mega-churches, and mega-plexes. We want Big Answers and Big Solutions to Global Problems and we want to super-size everything from fries to storage buildings to football stadiums. Politicians and economists of every persuasion keep telling us that a bigger economic pie is the answer to everyone's concerns. Closer to home, every day I receive mailings and emailings on how to grow, be bigger, reach more people, raise massive amounts of money, train more people, build bigger buildings, have a bigger sound system, a bigger music program, a bigger youth program, get a bigger church van, where to order a bigger pulpit, or how I can get a bigger Bible with larger print (okay, so I'm keeping that one). In other words, bigger is always better; it is a sign of blessing and success, and if we're not getting bigger then something is wrong. 


To read the rest, click here.


Job Opening 


Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC, has a staff opening for a Director of Young Adult Ministries. This staff person works in partnership with the Minister of Education to provide a comprehensive Myers Park UMC

ministry with young adults that includes worship and Bible study, mission and service projects, retreats and social gatherings.


Myers Park United Methodist is a 4,900-member, mission-driven church with a heart for those in need. The church has excellent resources available: a staff environment that encourages spiritual growth, a church body that provides financial support for a variety of mission-related and young adult programs, strong partnerships in the community, and a diverse membership with a large and active young adult population.


For more information, click here