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Becky Garrison

Thanks for the insights.

Another component here that was raised in the previous post is that in the US, emergent church really took off in the Vineyard and evangelical wings of the church - Gibbs & Bolger's book does an excellent rundown here. Maybe these factions work well together in the UK but here in the US, it can be a real oil and water relationship. I'm a pre-natal Episcopalian (my late father was a priest, you do the science) but I've spent enough time in evangelical circles that I've like playing in both camps. But I still get shocked when I meet people who won't play with other campers. What's great about emergent is that there are enough streams where one can go swimming.

I had a great talk/prayer time with Shane Claiborne last week and really got some great insights into this whole women thingee (sorry to those of you who had to endure my rants - it's just rough as heck sometimes to be totally shut out of the conversation just because you're a published chick but you lack a church plant or PhD). As I come from a denomination that's ordained women since 1977 and currently has a woman heading ECUSA, I am accustomed to seeing women at the pulpit. For the past ten years, I've sought out multiracial parishes and currently worship at a Lutheran church where the congregation has a really strong United Nations feel to it. But this has taken a very long and concious effort on my part and to be honest, it wasn't easy at first.

At least here in the US, a number of emergent evangelicals seem come out of church settings where women are viewed aren't ordained and often seen from a 1 Peter context and the community isn't multiracial. I find a lot of the frustration here is that we're at such different places on issues such as this that finding common ground is pretty durn rough. We keep forgetting that we're brothers and sisters in Christ and to keep our eye on the prize. I know I'm guilty of this as well.

On a side note, the two US based components that we tend to satirize in The Wittenburg Door is 1) candle crud (replace the power praise and the light show for ambient music and candles -- the sappy sermon stays the same - and call this emerging worship) and 2) the commercialization of Emergent Church (TM) - we really go after any movement when it starts to get marketed and branded cause something tells us that isn't WWJD.

Becky Garrison

Forgot to add that I don't think the mainline church has the answers by any means - I started playing in evangelical (and even some charismatic) circles because of the lack of decent bible study offerings provided by the mainline churches back in the '80s. In fact, I started going to a Lutheran church because I just can't deal with the politics in the ECUSA.

But I've seen the Spirit do enough amazing stuff in the past few months that I am flled with hope despite what may come across as frustrated angst at times. We're so close yet ...

David Derbyshire

As someone in a charismatic house church - for want of a better term - trying to push things a little more in the creative/alternative direction I’m very interested in the link you make between the charismatic renewal and emerging churches in Anglicanism. So far I have found very little crossover between the emerging church and charismatics - except maybe 24-7 prayer movement. In fact I find emerging church sometimes stereotyped in our circles as something for disaffected denominational people meaning that it gets looked down on twice! So I was wondering if anyone knows of more people that are both emerging and charismatic who might have more kudos with our types of churches.


good analysis, Jonny


thanks becky...

david that's interesting - i guess it all depends what you mean by charismatic. i was using it to mean the wave of renewal that affected the church in the mid 60s through to the 80s. i think that had a big influence on the anglican church in the long run in a way that hasn't happened in some other countries. i guess the people that left the denominational churches at that time may have ended up using the term in a different way defining themselves over against the institutions?

positively i think charismatic is openness to the work and grace of the spirit. it was an exciting and liberating movement, empowering the congregation - body ministry as it was known back then.

negatively, it is now used to describe a particular tribe and culture. i think some of the turn off came because what was a liberating movement ended up with a fairly controlling leadership and rigid theological take along with a time warped culture. the excitemnet of liberating worship in the seventies has worn off for many as a result. so for those inside those charismatic churches they like to label emerging as disaffected in a dismissive way rather than being able to hear the value of the comments about what they are disaffected with! so in our intro to the book alternative worship we cheekily used the term post-charismatic to get at this sense of wanting to move beyond where it had got stuck.

that's my read of it anyway...

Becky Garrison

When I reference my experiences with Charismatic worship, I am referring to a wave that hit the Episcopal church in the states back in the '80s. The two names that stand out were the music of Betty Pulkingham and the influence of a group called Acts 29. I heard snippets about what was happening in the UK and sometimes we'd get a worship leader with a British accent. But in honesty, I was too busy enjoying the buzz and soaking up the speakers, the spirit and the whole ethos to really pay any mind here.

In the late '80s, this movement took a hard political turn to the right and I left, as did many others that I know. Groups like Episcopalians United and others sprung up that were more focused on issues of sexuality than spirituality.

A number of the people I knew who self-identified as Charismatics also got involved with Cursillo. I remember Cursillo making a signifcant splash in the Episcopal Church though I don't sense its presence that much anymore. Many That may because at least in the area where I'm living, that movement stated to become cliquish and I recall finding it all rather silly. So, I bolted.

My informal sense (and this will be confirmed or discounted when I promote my book) is that there is this urge to recapture that spirit sans the political and theological baggage.


one, Canada is voiceless, nameless in this post, and in the emergent manifesto book. i'm not digging, just wondering how they are feeling and where do they fit in this whole conversation?

two, with the rise of the internet, are we likely to see more and more of a globalised culture, and a shared context across the diversity contexts you name.



Curious to know if this is a longer version of the book "Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Church"? It sounds like a similar concept but with more voices. Does anyone know if that's the case?


Becky Garrison

These are two different projects entirely - from what I gather, the book you're referencing would appeal to those who are fans of Mark Driscol's take on emergent. I chose to play in different streams, so I didn't include this book in my list of resources.

BTW-sorry for a few typos in an earlier post. I am brain dead and taking breaks to read blogs, post stuff so I can clear the mind and then back to work.



not sure that's a fair take on "Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Church". Mark is one of 5 contributors, so I would see the book is 20% Mark Driscol's take on emergent. Place him alongside Paggitt and Ward and it sure makes for an interesting conversation, that has more zest in it that "Emergent manifesto"


Becky Garrison

What I was refencing were the reviews of the book that crossed my desk - there was considerable praise given to Mark Driscol's essay and some less kind comments made about the other contributions. In particular, I saw some critiques of Karen Ward's piece that I felt veered into cruelty. So, I concluded that my hunch is people who are into Mark Dricol's work will really like this book. Granted, I only read about ten reviews and I'm always willing to admit oops my bad. I blew it.

You're right - if it's zest you want, this would be the book.


laura thanks. that's a helpful insight into the episcopal scene in the 80s. maybe the c of e and episcopal were at a similar moment but took different routes?... but i agree with what you end up saying.

steve i didn't mention a ton of countries - it's self evident that my post was using some examples of contexts not giving a comprehensive take on what was happening in the world. if anyone from canada felt left out then sorry! and sorry to ghana, scotland, ireland, south africa, lichtenstein, france etc - you get my point?!

becky, andrew jones (tallskinnykiwi) has a very comprehensive review of the beliefs book here - http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2007/02/listening_to_th.html
what i think is interesting from the outside looking in is that in the uk driscoll's take wouldn't even be considered anywhere near emerging church - it would be seen as something that was left behind a long time ago - old school evangelical judgemental dogma (i don't mean to say that evangelical equals that but it's always had it's pharisaical stream) or fundamentalist (no fun, too much damn and not enough mental). it raises eyebrows to see that published in the name of emerging church - and would put a lot of people off i think here who would see emerging church as just the latest evangelical takeover plot with new clothes. again, context i guess.


Thank you Jonny...Trying to be part of a both/and church, it's really encouraging when someone like you affirms that this is possible!

Becky Garrison

Jonny - I was saying what you said re: Driscoll but in a more coded fashion. Thanks for Andrew's link - that was the one review I read that was kind to Karen Ward.

Are you referencing Lauara or me re: the CoE?

I'm not a church historian but from what I've been told, there isn't an equivalent of Bishop Spong in the UK. Seems human sexuality became the chuch's driving issue somewhere down the pike (some claim that the church's refusal to deal with Bishop Pike of San Francisco led the way for Spong & Co. but the church here in the US has a history of bad bishop behavior on both sides). Like you, this is a subject I want to veer from as extremists from both camps have hijacked the denomination to the point where it's splitting.

But in this brokenness I do believe the spirit is ready to soar again. My focus is on trying to explore how we can be Christ in the 21st century. As Nadia (The Sarcastic Lutheran) reminds me, the holy spirit is one cool ass chick. Here's a quote I like to reflect on...

"When a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born--and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible. - Dalai Lama"

I know for myself whenever I sit down to write a book (all three of my books have had very tight deadlines) all hell breaks loose - my natural response is to rant and rave esp. when I'm under a lot of stress - but the spirit is so much bigger than any of this ... thanks be to God.


what a wonderful quote becky!

i am so enjoying this conversation - thanks so much for people who have chipped in on this and the other post.

Becky Garrison

BTW-if you ever use that quote, it's attributed to the Dalai Lama's teachings. Found it in Ann Lamott's Traveling Mercies. It's NO coincidence that "emerging church" is so controversial and there's so much BS going on right about now with various personalities, books, speaking circuit gigs, you know, the works.

One interesting thing I've noticed that really divides people at least here in the US is the use of language. Terms like believer, unchurched and saved, give me the willies - to call someone unchurched sounds like they're "unwashed" and somehow dirty when in fact they might not go to church for some very valid reasons.

I had an amazing email exchange today with a fellow author - I hope to connect the two of you one of these days. Her experience in working with mainline churches on evangelism workshops is that there's a wave that's about to hit. She has almost no connection to the emergent church, BTW. But she speaks a language and has a heart that I know would resonate with you. (My sense in doing the book you're in is that the portions of UK emergent stream coming from Anglicanism will really click with the US mainline churches.)

I then got an invite to attend a session on radical welcoming at a church I parodied in my last book for their exclusive moves post 9/11. I NEVER thought this church would do something like this ... this is a classic case of the Frozen chosen thawing out like nobody's business.

I'm finding that with a few exceptions (e.g., Karen Ward's work with COTA) the stuff that's really turning me on lately is outside of what's termed US Emergent Church these days. The spirit is kicking butt but it's not in ways that one might think.

That's the key - how to we listen and hear the spirit wherever it moves and then follow it? She's a tricky devil.


i don't know whether you're still reading these comments, steve, but i keep re-reading your comment and wondering whether i'm misunderstanding you... i would have thought that if the emerging church isn't highly responsive to its indigenous context then it's not emerging at all. have i got you wrong? wouldn't the emerging church want to be speaking against the globalisation 'caused' by the internet? [i'm really tired and i've had a glass of wine, so maybe i've got you completely wrong]

i've been thinking a bit about the publishing thing. publishing houses aren't there as a public service - even the publishing arm of emergent village. they owe us nothing. they know that books written by white, male north americans make more money than those that aren't. Why? because that's who we've always bought. it's chicken and egg. from a publishing company's perspective, why should they think that the emerging church book reading crowd will have different buying habits than anyone else? We haven't proven them wrong by our choices of the theologians we read and talk about... i know i'm a scratched record when it comes to this, but i don't hear anybody talking about the really interesting female or non-western theologians who are out there writing brilliant stuff. why should publishing houses trust that we'll buy that demographic of author in another context?

we're really giving publishing houses, and emergent village, an enormous amount of power... much more than they deserve, or probably want. let's claim some back. why dont' we ask some of those really interesting voices on the edge of the movement to write a book together. it can be self published on lulu, promoted through proost. we could all publicise it - keep it on the top of the side bars of our blogs for six months. nobody'd make any money, but if that's the point let's go home now. let's subvert the bloody system, rather than rage against it.


hi cheryl,

i was thinking about the term used by roland robertson 'glocal' - that we live in both local and global contexts. what i was saying was that words like 9/11 are a shared vocab, no matter what country you are in.

i remember a few years ago going to one of our rural indigenous communities. driving past a family on horse back. real local i thought. then seeing the next town with 3 shops - pub, diary, video shop with matrix posters on the walls.

Robert Schreiter wrote Constructing Local Theologies, the classic book on contextualisation in 1985. in 1997 he writes the new catholicity; theology between local and global. for me, subversion needs to start with proper naming of the powers - that we do live not only locally, but we all live globally.

when you construct worship for your easter saturday thing (which sounded brilliant) you mentioned borrowing something from pete rollins, that for me was an example of entering a globalised conversation, made possible by global flow of book, airtravel and internet. that's what i meant. and if done 'authentically' your local worship is stronger for the interaction.


Becky Garrison

Cheryl - As "emergent" becomes more institutionalized, you raise some valid points (mild understatement) re: publishing and promotion that require further reflection and prayer. My sense is that Emergent Church (TM) is facing the same challenges present in other aspects of academia and book publishing in general - the turf battles over book deals, speaking gigs, etc. make for great Wittenburg Door fodder but they're awful practices to engage in when it comes to kingdom building.

How do those of us who are writers, speakers, pastors, etc. get the message out to the broader world in a way that allows for a diversity of voices and keeps God not us at the center? One thing I found very helpful after talking with Shane Claiborne very recently is to ONLY rely on the money I make from selling articles and my book advances to pay for my living expenses.

This relieves me of any anxiety over having to generate additional income via speaking gigs, author appearances, etc. in order to feed and house myself. There's a line between book promotion and pimping onself and I'm working on gathering people around me to help me make sure I don't cross that line. If you're trying to make a "living" off the religious circuit, then there's going to be a natural self-preservation tendency to make sure you land X number of speaking gigs, score X number of author events and so forth. And that is going to exclude a lot of voices.

Another trick I'm trying at least with the Church Publishing book is to see where I can bring along some of the people interviewed in my book as doable to get their voice out there as well. My sincere hope is that whatever PR I do here will increase interest in others' work as well.

Having said all this, the ego is a very powerful weapon and it's going to rear it's head with all of us, including me.


Hi - sorry I am late to the dinner party on this one.

I have just got back from a fact finding tour of the US on this very subject - as a Methodist, I am drawn to make similar conclusions as Jonny has put here; but with a layer of Wesley thrown into the mixing pot for good measure.

Thanks Jony for outlining my own thought into such a great post, and I look forward to digesting this meal further.


Becky re: your 4:38 on the 19th
"Are you referencing Lauara or me re: the CoE?"

That was you. My only CoE experience was for the few months I was living/working in London. Mostly just went to the Taize services so obviously, not an expert. ;-)

becky garrison

Define expert - we're all followers in this journey ...

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