The Center For Progressive Christianity
Progressive Christianity for the Lay Person
Lay People: Addressing the Real Issues October 2008
 Kaila smilesGreetings!

While we cannot claim to have extensive hard data, over the years we have been able to piece together some fairly consistent characteristics in our thriving churches that have allowed us to draw some conclusions about what is working and what is not in our churches. I speak and write about these characteristics on a regularly basis. However the one characteristic that seems to get overlooked the most often is the need to create an environment for open dialogue about theological and Christological conversation. I am not certain why, but I continue to see this vacuum in too many churches that I visit. I suspect the reason may be that clergy do not want to create any unnecessary conflict or nor do they want to risk the loss of any church members. But it seems strange to me that the latest thinking about the historical Jesus or about the sometimes twisted roots of the Christian church can be found on the front page of Time or Newsweek magazines and other national publications but these things are seldom being discussed in our churches. It is a more than ironic that even though scholars are producing more books and articles challenging us to rethink what it means to be a Christian today, one of the last places you will hear these topics being discussed is in our churches.
praying handsFeatured Article  
(W)holly Progressive Batman!
Empowering Progressive Christianity for Change  
By: J. Todd Smiedendorf
As I read the worthy TCPC strategic plan, website, and other documents, I began to wonder if the progressive Christian movement is following the "first of all" commandment laid out in the scribe's answer to Jesus that one is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."  In TCPC plans and programs, I read a lot about speakers, white papers, curricula, books, and theologians.  I think that the progressive Christian movement has the head part of loving God going well.  Hallelujah! It's essential stuff. I love it.
Yet, I wonder if that "head" focus is enough to fulfill TCPC's mission to reconstruct "a viable, exciting Christian faith".  Is the essence of our "different" Christianity all about intellectual and academic differences?  Are we saying or assuming that the essential dysfunction with "dying" Christianities is in the intellectual and academic dimension?  Is "head" dysfunction what makes Christianity "ineffectual, irrelevant, or repressive"?  Will it be enough for a resurrection of faith to have theologians reconstructing and reconceptualizing Christianity?   If, in TCPC's words, the progressive Christian movement is seeking a "holistic, challenging, and spiritual" faith, do we have enough heart, soul and strength to do it? Could the progressive Christian movement be more whole and therefore even stronger if it were a whole self, whole faith movement?
Kaila smilesArticle
Teaching Progressive Christianity Using the TCPC 8 Points
By Louise Mahood

I understand Progressive Christianity is for individuals who find Jesus intriguing but suspicious of institutional church. Like minimalist interior decorating that remove tchotchkes within a space, the Progressive Christian movement strips out the tchotchkes of church and tradition. The tchotchkes of ideas and practices out of date or uphold orthodoxy and exclusion. I offer to my congregation of about 120 people a 4 week plunge into the American Eight Points material honed by Fred Plumer and others.  I manage to engage those who would never sign up for Bible study in a church! This article explains the outline I use, bearing in mind several factors.
book cover Featured Book
Looking Around for God, The Oddly Reverent Observations of an Unconventional Christian 
By: James A. Autry
James Autry, writer and poet, business executive, and son and grandson of Mississippi Baptist ministers, thinks that the true message of the old spiritual is not just that God has an eye on the sparrow. It's that God is demonstrating that if these details are worth God's attention, they are certainly worth ours. It may be that we will more readily find God in the details of this world, and of our own lives, than anywhere else.
Looking Around for God, Autry's tenth book, is in many ways his most personal, as he considers his unique life of faith and belief in a God often clouded by church convention. In assembling these personal essays, stories and poems, Autry shares how God has been revealed in many different circumstances of his life, and he offers a few ideas for how the Christian church might better serve in making God's love and presence manifest in the world.
DVD coverReview
Living the Questions: Eclipsing the Empire,a 12-session series on Paul, Rome, and the Kingdom of God
Review by: Dean Watt 

As with the series, "Living the Question", the twelve sessions of "Eclipsing Empire" utilize scenes from the Middle East, in this case the regions of Paul's travels. In March 2006 Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan and crew filmed the remains of ancient temples, shops and other structures from the period of Augustus Caesar. The ancient ruins of temples were very interesting, but I found the scenes of monasteries cut out of shear cliffs in what is now near Ankara, Turkey the most absolutely incredible videos of all. And all of the visual material blends perfectly with the narration by Borg and Crossan.  One of the fascinating scenes is of the tour group and the surrounding countryside during the total eclipse, which occurred during the March 2006 tour. This eclipse is chosen as the central idea of the twelve sessions, telling of how the lives and works of both Jesus and Paul helped bring about the Eclipse of the Roman Empire.
Kaila smilesImportant Notice
Is your church "suddenly" missing from our TCPC directory?
Last year we announced in our annual letter that as our mailing and website costs continued to climb we found it necessary to insist that every church keep its affiliation contribution up to date. Otherwise we would assume that the church no longer wanted to be listed on our website directory. In July we sent out an email to every church that had not made a contribution in over a year and informed them that in October we would remove the church's information from our directory. We are now hearing that some churches do not think that they ever received a notice. If your mailing information or email address is not up to date in our system, then you may not have received our numerous pleas to bring your contributions up to date. We do not want to lose any affiliates and we apologize if this took some of you by surprise. We still have all of your affiliate information in our files and if you wish to re-affiliate and have your church listed again in our directory, it is a simple process. You can re-affiliate on line or by mail. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us immediately. We are here to serve you. (253-303-0022)
In This Issue
Feature Article: Wholly Progressive Batman!
Article: Teaching Progressive Christianity, a Guide
Featured Book: Looking Around for God
Featured Review: Eclipsing the Empire
Important Notice Re Church Listings
Atlanta Conference
conference logo
The Beloved Community: From Formation to Action
Atlanta, GA
October 10-12 
 Featuring addresses by:
Progressive Christians Uniting's Executive Director
Peter Laarman

The Center for Progressive Christianity's President
Fred Plumer 
Emergent Cohort Pastor and Artist 
Troy Bronsink

Academy for Vital Christianity of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities
Fall Schedule

Talks and Book Signings with Jim Burklo, author, BIRDLIKE AND BARNLESS
Oct 5, 2008: Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Irvine, Sausalito, Orinda

Beloved Community: From Formation to Action- Featuring Fred Plumer
Oct 10, 2008: St. Paul United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA

Marcus Borg's Lecture Schedule
Oct 11, 2008: OR, PA, MN, CA, NC, GA

Bishop Spong's Lecture Schedule
Oct 17, 2008: Many Locations Across States

Living Tomorrow Today
Oct 19, 2008: Mount Vernon UMC
Baltimore, MD

Our Family Matters
Oct 22, 2008: Second Presbyterian Church
Nashville, TN

National Forgiveness Day Power Of Forgiveness Rallies
Oct 25, 2008: Churches & Communities In The United States
Liberty Center, OH

The Emerging Christian Faith: What Is It, and Why Should We Care?
Nov 1, 2008: Countryside Community United Church of Christ
Omaha, NE

 Kaila smiles
Thank You
We are so thankful for your continued feedback, the questions you rise, and the challenges you encourage us to take on.  It really is the people, rather than the leaders or the scholars that drive a movement and it is the lay people in churches, or searching for churches, or even those who have left the churches that are the heart of progressive Christianity.  It is your passion to learn and grow, to expand your awareness, and to share your experiences with a community that make this a real and viable force in our world.  It gives others hope for a Christianity that is open, inclusive, and intelligent- one that is based on love, compassion and the quest for peace.  So, thank you.
The Team at The Center for Progressive Christianity
Contact Information
TCPC President
Fred Plumer
253 303-0022,
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