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Who Was Jesus Anyway?

In This Issue
Another Story
When Was Jesus?
Dear Jesus
Book: Saving Jesus from the Church
One in the Spirit
Review: Setting Jesus Free
Poem: Who Was Jesus Anyway
Giving Christianity Back to Jesus
Special Events!

Quick Quote

Are we following Jesus? Or just believing in Christ?
'Cause we can believe, and not change a thing
But following will change our whole life
He never said, come, acknowledge my existence
Or believe in me, I'm your first class ticket to eternity...
But 87 times he said... Follow me...

~ Lyrics by Bryan Sirchio in "Follow Me (87 Times)"

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Curriculum Project Update!

A Joyful Path,  

Year 2  

We have exciting news! We have just been offered an extremely generous donation to begin work on A Joyful Path, Year 2, children's curriculum, for ages 6-10.


Right now we have over 300 groups using A Joyful Path, Year 1 and we have received overwhelming positive feedback. But now it is time for round 2! 


You can be a part of this wonderful project as well. Our donor has offered to match any donations you make up to $50,000. That means when you donate $100 it turns into $200!


Donate today! 

Feature Event

Shift:  A Musical Summit for the Progressive Christian Movement

music note  


July 27-30, 2011 


Green Lake, WI


Join us for a 3 day retreat for pastors, church musicians, and anyone interested in the whole area of music and worship in progressive congregations.  We'll discuss what makes worship thrive, and what kind of music and lyrics will be needed to help progressive churches sing their faith with passion and integrity.  There will be workshops that focus on the design of worship and how to find new musical and liturgical resources with progressive theology.  There will also be opportunities for songwriters to share their own music and to collaborate with others who are creating new music for progressive worship.



Check out our Awesome Summer Solstice Sale!! 


20% from June 21-July 31, 2011


A Joyful Path, Year One 


Children's Curriculum

For use in congregations, small groups and the home


"You may appreciate my sigh of relief when I opened the new offering from the Centre for Progressive Christianity, A Joyful Path - Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds.  Here is an engaging, beautifully presented opportunity for young people and their teachers to share an exploration of ideas of God, the world, the richness of our human existence and the wonderful gift that is life. The overwhelming sense is one of intelligent awareness - of the potential of humanity to embrace each other and the natural world...of what it means to be human in complex societies...of the richness we experience when we open our minds to listen. This is a positive Christian offering and one that celebrates the diversity within the worldwide Christian Church, and the universal nature of the Spirit..."


Click here for more info or to purchase!


(discount only valid during sale dates)   

Special Event!

Who I Am I Must Become

A Transformational Seminar

Shepherd's Spring, Sharpsburg, Maryland

July 23 - 31, 2011

Who I Am I Must Become
is a nine-day experiential seminar that will guide participants in accessing the wisdom, creativity, and power we hold at our core. Our work will be a quest to know ourselves more fully by using Jungian psychology as it interfaces with the teachings of Jesus along with western spiritual and contemplative traditions

Click here for more info and to register

This Summer, let's delve into the heated desert of the past, where Jesus may have roamed, pondered, fought, taught, meditated, and changed the world. Who was this man anyway? What was his true intention? What were his words? What was this place he called home? How did this one man come to affect the world in such a profound way? What gave him the courage to stand up against oppression? Why was he filled with a love for the outcast, the downtrodden? How did a carpenter become a prophet? How did the prophet become god? As with many of the questions we ponder in this venue- there are no clear answers and we have to remove layers of falsity, myth, and ignorance to get closer to the reality. But as we wipe away the grime of time, what we find at the heart of this question is a man, who came into this world with the desire to heal and free a people. May we forever learn from his example.
~Deshna Ubeda
Another Story

By: Fred Plumer

Jesus the carpenter 

I would like to share a little story. It is a story that has been told before but does not get told often enough. I am not certain that it happened this way but I know that it is true.  A couple of thousand years ago a baby boy was born in the northern part of Israel, in the area of the Galilean Sea. Most people would say that he got a bad start in life. As an oppressed Jew in a country that was run by a tyrant under the auspices of the Roman Empire, he was born into very hard life.

As a Galilean Jew he was a minority of a minority and under the best of circumstances would have suffered the worst kinds of oppressive abuse in an already oppressive society. The religious leaders of his time were co-opted as they served two masters, the Romans and their temple and they would have been little help in the struggle for his people to survive.  More than likely he also suffered the consequences of being considered a part of the mamzer caste-those of unknown fathers or what today we would call illegitimate or bastards. It was considered a low caste within a low class in those days.


When Was Jesus?
Scroll fragment

By: John Shelby Spong


In order to understand the New Testament with any real integrity, it must be placed into its historic setting. The events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth did not happen in a vacuum, nor are these events history as history is now defined. Not only was Jesus born in, shaped by and interpreted through a particular context, but also the narrative details of his life found in the gospels were not recorded until somewhere between two and three generations after his life had come to its end. Both of these facts are ignored in many church circles today.


First, we seek to fix the dates around the life of Jesus. That is accomplished by an appeal to both the remembered story of his life and to secular records that we can locate, which date other people who appear in his story. It is not an exact science but it is a trustworthy guide.





Dear Jesus

By: Lloyd Geering 

Dear Jesus,


You could have heard those two words millions of times in the last two thousand years- that is, if you had been with hearing distance, as those who addressed you certainly believed you were.


But it's my belief you didn't hear them. You died on a cross and never learned anything of what happened after you breathed your last. So I write to tell you, but where to begin? Seventy years after you died one writer said, "The world could not contain all the books that could be written about you." And if that was true after seventy years, what about two millennia later!


Feature Book

Saving Jesus From the Church- How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus

Saving Jesus from the Church

By: Robin Meyers 


Countless thoughtful people are now so disgusted with the marriage of bad theology and hypocritical behavior by the church that a new Reformation is required in which the purpose of religion itself is reimagined.


Meyers takes the best of biblical scholarship and recasts these core Christian concepts to exhort the church to pursue an alternative vision of the Christian life:


* Jesus as Teacher, not Savior
* Christianity as Compassion, not Condemnation
* Prosperity as Dangerous, not Divine
* Discipleship as Obedience, not Control
* Religion as Relationship, not Righteousness


This is not a call to the church to move to the far left or to try something brand new. Rather, it is the recovery of something very old. Saving Jesus from the Church shows us what it means to be a Christian and how to follow Jesus' teachings today.


One in the Spirit
Jewish Scriptures

By: Sea Raven


The reading from Matthew's Gospel - the only place in the synoptic gospels where anything approaching "trinitarian" metaphor appears - is confined to four verses, and the Apostle Paul is only allowed to say, "Lastly, brothers and sisters, rejoice, put things right, encourage each other, come to a common understanding, live peacefully, and the God of love and peace will be with you . . ."


In Matthew's narrative, Jesus has come to the region of Caesarea Philippi, and he is quizzing his disciples: "What are people saying about the 'son of Adam?'" They give him the stock answer, which likely reflects the thinking of most people of the time.  The "son of Adam' was the one to be sent by God to usher in the Fifth Kingdom, to be ruled by God, and not by the empires of the earth.  They report that some say the "son of Adam" is John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the prophets.  The disciples aren't picking up on the obvious, so Jesus asks them directly: "What about you, who do you say I am?"  



Feature Review
Setting Jesus Free
By: John Churcher
Setting Jesus Free

Review By: Dean Watt 

Rev. Churcher's identification as a minister in the Methodist Church of England, along with his interesting last name, makes it appear especially appropriate for him to be writing on the subject of the growing challenges facing the Christian church.  His life in England has made him more acutely aware of the demise of the Christian church than it appears to Christians in the United States, though both the Roman Catholic and mainline protestant churches experiences a shrinking here, though to a lesser degree.   It appears that Rev. Churcher may not be aware that, world-wide, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world, with the Pentecostal branches bringing the majority of the growth.


Who Was Jesus Anyway?
A Poem
ancient Israelites

By: Jim Burklo


Conceived in the womb where love meets doubt
Carried by questions that aren't worked out
Born in the hay and raised on the run
Was Jesus really Mary and Joseph's son?

Trained as a carpenter when just a child
But once at Jerusalem the boy went wild
They found him in the temple where the rabbis read
He left them speechless with all he said.

Giving Christianity Back to Jesus
Jesus at the well

By: Matt Carriker


Jesus was a prophet, teacher, and healer who lived on earth 2000 years ago.  Christ was the name given to Jesus by his followers.  Over the course of Christian tradition, many Christians have come to believe that the word Christ is synonymous only with the person of Jesus.  In other words, Christians have come to believe that Christ was Jesus' last name, belonging only and properly to Jesus.


This view, I believe, is a misleading one, and sets up a dysfunctional relationship between us and Jesus.  Believing that Christ is a term reserved only for Jesus sets Jesus on a pedestal which we can never reach.  Its implications are clear: Jesus was the Christ.  Jesus performed miracles and healings, and was the Son of God: human and divine.  We, on the other hand, are merely mortals.  We can never attain what Jesus attained. 



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When we allow Jesus to be simply a man who had an experience of God that he wanted to share with his people- we remove the baggage from his shoulders and open up the possibility to become a follower of the way, rather than a follower of the myth. We can't remove him from the language of the time, from the science of the time, from the culture of the time, from the awareness of the time, so we must let his teachings be what they were- we can't put modern words in an ancient man's mouth. We can, however let his teachings be resurrected into a new language of today's world. We can follow his example and see god in all things, everywhere. We can be lights in this world, pushing ever forward toward peace, justice, and inclusion.

Thank you for taking this journey with us!  



Fred Plumer and the Team at
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