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The Need for New Language within Progressive Christian Faith Communities
The Center for Progressive Christianity Monthly eBulletin
September 2010
In This Issue
New Liturgical Resources
National Forgiveness Day
Salt Org
New Music
Featured Sermon- Show Me God
Words Do Matter
Fraying Claims to Truth
So You Think You're Not Religious, 2nd Edition
Anything New Under the Sun: Shaping Contemporary Sunday Mornings
Walk the Talk, Talk the Walk
Biblical Christianity is Bankrupt
Seeding the Future Church
Quick Links...
New Liturgical

Holy Breath liturgy
Holy Breath- Prayers for Worship and Reflection
By: Gretta Vosper

Another Breath
Another Breath- Prayers for Celebration and Reflection
By: Gretta Vosper

"Even beyond our former understandings, as a spiritual tool, prayer can still provide comfort, nurture, challenge and healing.  Its familiar rhythms and patterns can offer shelter to those who, well along their consequent journey out of the traditional church, find themselves spiritually homeless.  Because of this, despite our struggle to understand what it is we are doing and can do with this ancient practice, it is crucial that we recognize its continuing importance as we enable the emergence of new forms of spiritual community." Gretta Vosper

The wonder of life- song book 
The Wonder of Life
Songs for the Spirit
By: Scott Kearns

Inspirational songs for congregations, small groups, soloists, and children, with a focus on the spiritual values that unite us and challenge us to full, dynamic living.

"May I be a source of peace for you, May I be a listening ear, open and accepting, welcoming  when you are in need of care.   May I be a source of strength for you, your courage for life, inspire.  Help you to face what must be faced and face it in spite of fear.  The spirit of love is moving me to be all that I can be." ~Scott Kearns

Visit our Store for these and more excellent resources!
Add Your Voice to our Liturgy Project!


View our invitation to submit liturgy here

The Liturgy Project will contact hundreds of churches to collect a wide variety of litanies, hymn lyrics, dramas, chants, and art and design concepts. These materials will then be organized and published on our website.
Join Our Mailing List
Coming Soon!
Another Progressive Resource available through TCPC

If Darwin Prayed

A book by Bruce Sanguin,
Author of The Emerging Church and Darwin, Divinity and the Dance of the Cosmos

science and religion
"We learn our theology as children from prayers and hymns, and it is the theology that stays with us.  Bruce Sanguin, poet of the Christian imagination, has created a new set of prayers that will teach children-and the rest of us-the theology we need for our time."  ~Sallie McFague

Check back to the TCPC Store in October to purchase this book or for more information
Fifth Annual National Forgiveness Day
A Celebration of The Power of Love and Joy of Forgiveness

Sunday, October 30, 2010
light through the heart

To create an awareness and understanding of the power of love and
the joy of forgiveness in producing good health, happiness, and stress-free
living in the lives of individuals and our home, work, and worship

Click HERE for more details!
SALT is a not-for-profit production project devoted to reclaiming and sharing the beauty of Christian life through the arts (including film, photography, poetry, music, and writing).  We aim to build a community of conversation and resource sharing that, like salt itself, helps preserve and season the best and most beautiful of the Christian tradition.  
Our threefold mission is this:  to manifest the beauty of Christian life; to inspire and form a progressive theological imagination; and to help pass on the Christian tradition to a new generation.
Like most everything, it is more easily experienced than described:
Still Want More??
You Got it!
New Music Now Available in the TCPC Store
For use in faith communities, with our children's curriculum, and just for some family fun!
From the creators of Butterflyfish comes:

Great and Small

Great and Small

Great and Small
is a rootsy blend of American folk, gospel, blues, country, and bluegrass, cooked down and spiced up into fresh takes on the spiritual themes so characteristic of old American music.

Featured Sermon from a Pastor Who Continually Challenged his Community to Think Outside the Box

A Sermon by Gary A. Wilburn

gary wilburn at the pulpit


Your faith evolves, your beliefs evolve.  You look at all text in a critical way, testing it for resonance.  Yet, when you walk into your church, does the choir sing about Christ your Savior? Does your pastor talk about bible verses in such a way that is no longer relevant?  In your faith communities do you lack the words you need to describe your beliefs?  Does the word Christianity occasionally make you cringe?  Does the sound of the church organ bring you back to days when a man in robes yelled hell's fury from a pulpit?  Do you kindly ignore the blatant hypocrisy when scripture is read? Do you find that you love the sound of the choir, the feeling of holding hands and humming a tune, but have to roll your eyes at some of the lyrics?  You gather with friends, with family to create a community of sacred spirituality, to share a common path- but do you have the words and liturgy to support it or are you using words from an outdated source, from a mistranslated text, from a time that is so far from our experience that it hardly relevant anymore?  We have all been there at one point. Maybe you, lucky you, have found a faith community where the language is consistent with the commonly held beliefs- but you may not know how hard your pastor and music director struggle each week to make this possible.   We want to help!  We vow to continue to create, discover, and make available liturgy, music, and other resources that will provide your faith community- or just you yourself- with a language that is relevant and inspiring.  We are excited to offer the following new resources: Holy Breath, Prayers for Worship and Reflection, by Gretta Vosper Another Breath, Prayers for Celebration and Reflection, by Gretta Vosper; and The Wonder of Life, Songs for the Spirit, by Scott Kearns. Gretta and Scott wowed us at the Common Dreams Conference in Melbourne, Australia with their amazing ability to use new and relevant language to describe the path of a progressive Christian spirituality.  We are thrilled to be able to share these resources with you. We are also working hard on our Liturgy project- bringing together Liturgy from our contacts all over the world.  Share yours today!  We will soon make our first edition available to download.  And coming up soon in our store: If Darwin Prayed, by Bruce Sanguin... "Overshadow our low estimation of our selves, with Spirit's esteeming presence.  Overshadow our fear that you are calling us with Spirit's empowering grace." Check back in our store and in our library for these and other resources for your faith community.
Words Do Matter
By: Fred Plumer, TCPC President
stained glass
The facts are Christian creeds were created to divide Christians into those who were right and those who were deemed "wrong" about what they believed. Christian creeds represent some very serious battles throughout history and if you ended up on the losing side, you may have ended up dead, tortured or in prison. These may have been meaningful metaphors for my scholar friend, but they were never a metaphor for hundreds of thousands of innocent people who died because of them throughout history.  Some mainline denominational churches may be progressive on social justice issues but that does not keep them from using language that is, in (Sallie) McFague's words, "anachronistic and hurtful." That does not keep them from using language that is theologically regressive, even when they claim to be progressive.  The reality is that many of these words and their theological constructs were created in large part by men struggling for leadership in the evolving Christian movements. These same words have undergirded and have even helped create patriarchal societies for far too long.  These societies were too often guided more by men seeking power, than by sincere spiritual experiences or even the teachings of Jesus. 

Fraying Claims to Truth: Challenging Progressives Beyond Their Chosen Response to the Burning of the Koran
By: Gretta Vosper
love your neighbor
The truth of the matter is that the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are filled with violence, divisiveness, condemnation. So, too, are they filled with passages that condone the destruction of property and persons of other belief systems and nationalities. True, too, is the reality that such content can, as Rev. Jones has reminded us, be used for appalling purposes...God's plan is God's plan as far as Jones is concerned and Jones won't deny his God. Even if it means changing your mind on network news. The frightening reality we must acknowledge and face is that he has come to know that capricious God through the Bible, a text most Christians would argue has the right to be called sacred.

Featured New Book
So You Think You're Not Religious? Second Edition
By: James Rowe Adams
TCPC Founder
So You Think You're Not Religious 2nd edition In this fully revised edition of the classic, So You Think You're Not Religious, James Rowe Adams sets himself a formidable task: asserting the value of Christian faith and practice to skeptics, and overcoming their very reasonable objections. It's perhaps in his favor that he's an extremely reasonable man, and that many of these objections were his own, at other times in his life.  It's also to his advantage that he is not trying to turn skeptics into believers, as such. In fact, he holds that the ability and willingness to question certitude are assets on the spiritual path: what's required of the skeptic, in place of blind doctrinal assent, is a tolerance for the paradox and ambiguity so often found in the Bible, and in human communities.  It's liberating to read the Gospels through the lens of myth, rather than taxing them with literal, historical demands they cannot meet.

Purchase HERE
Read review HERE
Anything New Under the Sun: Shaping Contemporary 'Sunday Morning' Experiences
By: Rex Hunt
steeple sunsetShaping a distinctive Australian theology is a recurring problem for us in Australia generally, and for those of us who have the communication task of shaping the 'Sunday morning' worship experience, specifically.  Especially when we are invited, if not expected, to follow a Lectionary and liturgical year shaped in the main by natural European/northern hemisphere seasons, as well as it "reflecting an ancient cosmology that is no longer credible" (Shuck 2005).
How to face this contextual problem constructively has exercised my imagination and liturgies, for many years now.  And some of the ways I have attempted to respond to this situation is through the study of narrative communication, progressive theology and biblical criticism, and the use of contemporary language which is both story and image based rather than propositional.

Visit for the next two articles
Featured Blog: Walk the Talk, Talk the Walk
By: Rev. Naomi Kirstein
man walking away
  At some point life began to tip the scale and what I lived began to impact the way I believed. Two events were weighty in the tipping:  the death of a neighbor boy because of child abuse and a young woman who had lived with us showing up at our doorstep after being beaten by her new husband.   These experiences led me into becoming an advocate for women and children who had been abused.  Sometimes people I worked with wanted to know where I went to church.  When I invited them it seemed nothing in the liturgy touched anything in their reality.  By the time I was 34 I was still going to church on Sundays but I was becoming more involved in the community and less involved inside the church.   My walk in life started to inform my talk of faith.  And so my plumb line seemed be shifting. As a youth I learned to walk my talk; as an adult woman I began to talk my walk.  The naming of patriarchal systems was an essential component of advocating for abused women.   I had no idea how much struggle my female metaphors and experiences would bring me in the patriarchal institution of Christianity.  I began to wonder if liturgical language and doctrine were more sacred than God and Spirit.

Biblical Christianity is Bankrupt
By: Michael Dowd
hubble imageI don't reject the authority of scripture, as Dr. Mohler suggests. Rather, I reject a trivial understanding of what counts as scripture. I reject the notion that our best map of reality and most helpful signposts for living are to be found in ancient, mythic tales that were passed on orally for generations before being written down. I reject the idea that God's most vital and dependable guidance would have come in the distant past rather than the present. Ours is a time of space telescopes, electron microscopes, supercomputers, and the worldwide web. It is also a time of smart bombs, collapsing economies, and exploding oil platforms. This is not a time for parsing the lessons given to a few goatherds, tentmakers, and camel drivers.  The primary cause of the Church's decline in size and influence in Europe, Canada, Australia, and now in America is its failure to grasp that science reveals God's nature, God's ways, and God's guidance far more accurately than the biblical writers could have understood or transmitted.  The elephant in the sanctuary is this: Nothing is driving young people away from God and Christianity more quickly and surely than the Bible interpreted literally.

Seeding the Future Church: Progressive Christians with Fresh Ideas
By: Jim Burklo
drum circle dancerProgressive Christians of today are gifting the church of the future with fresh ideas. I believe these ideas will have influence far out of proportion to the numbers of people who belong to progressive churches today.The institutions of mainline/liberal Christianity, and of the old-line conservative churches as well, are in steady decline. I doubt that this will change for the foreseeable future. Many local churches, across the theological spectrum, are dying of maladaptive habits. They are burdened with dull worship, decaying buildings, ponderous organizational processes, and shrinking resources. But amidst this institutional ruin, wildflowers are bursting into bloom. Remarkable creativity is springing out of hundreds of progressive congregations and groups in the U.S. today. New music and liturgy is being created, leaving supernatural theism and biblical literalism behind, and embracing anew the long tradition of mystical, experiential faith that has always existed in Christianity. Fresh language is coming from these churches, bridging the realms of science and religion, and expressing a pluralistic understanding of Christianity in relation to other faiths. They are engaging creatively with the great social and environmental challenges facing the world. It's a theological reformation.

Coming Up:
You Responded, We Listened
Our Next eBulletin will fill you in on what nearly 2000 people said when they responded to our recent survey

For now, check out these cool stats:
82%  consider themselves Christian
81% live in either a city or small town
83% feel that our Christian heritage is either important or essential
35% visit our website at least once a month, 50% occasionally
53% think our news, reviews, and library are very useful

Between 61-87% feel that our primary goals should be:
1)Creating a global network of Progressive Christians
2) Providing resources for those that consider themselves Progressive Christian
3) Creating progressive curriculum for children and youth
4) Creating and providing progressive liturgy

What are we doing well at TCPC?
" Giving voice and community to those of us, as individuals and congregations, who would otherwise be on the outside looking in. We found our current church, because of its TCPC affiliation."
" You are a necessary resource for those seeking to start a progressive Chrisitan church in their community... a gathering place for like-minded souls searching for the truth on their spiritual journey."

What could we be doing better?
"More emphasis on starting and supporting local faith communities and churches."

Here is the good news: we are listening and we care.  We aim to meet these goals and provide the resources and networking that you are looking for.  Hearing back from you gives us a clearer direction for where we want to go in the future, what things we can improve, and how we can all work together to change what being a Christian looks like.  Your input matters to us. 

Thanks to those who responded!
Thank you for taking this journey with us as we continue to encourage the growth and understanding of a Christianity that is open, inclusive, just, loving and compassionate.  As you delve deeper into the heart of this beautiful and authentic spiritual path, we hope you share it with those around you, educate those who desire to learn, and most importantly let it fill you with light and loving kindness.

Fred Plumer
The Center For Progressive Christianity

P.S. Did you know that you can search our library for more liturgy and worship materials?

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As affiliates you can save 10% on any purchase made in our store.  So check out the latest progressive liturgy we are offering and start using it in your faith community today.  Oh, and don't forget about our awesome Children's Curriculum!