Thursday, December 27, 2007

Shift Student Ministries Conference

One of the advantages of living here in Chicago is the various events and opportunities that often happen in our neck of the woods. One such opportunity is the Shift Student Ministries Conference at Willow Creek on April 9-11. While I know many of you are probably already planning to attend Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change Tour the weekend before that (April 4-5) if you are specifically involved in youth ministries you'll want to also consider attending this excellent event. Note too that while this event is primarily for adult youth workers, there is also a student track for teen leaders within your ministries.

The organizers of this conferences are clearly tuned in to the emerging conversation as evidenced by their fantastic line-up of speakers and breakout leaders, including:

Brian McLaren
Mark Yaconelli
Shane Claiborne
Kara Powell
Dan Kimball
Scot McKnight

You can find out more by going to the main conference website or click here to register. Also, if you are part of our up/rooted network (i.e. if you get our email updates) please email me for a $50 discount code (good until 2/26, not valid for Student rates). We are partnering with this event to help promote it through up/rooted (so spread the word) and we will also be hosting a lunch discussion/networking time for any conference goers who are interested in finding out more about up/rooted or about Emergent cohorts in general. If you'd be willing to help me put that on, please let me know.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

up/rooted Holiday Party!

Everyone is invited to our first ever up/rooted Holiday Party, Wednesday, December 19th from 7pm – 9pm!

Heavy hor d'oevres, desserts and drinks will be provided free. But, please RSVP via email ( so the cook (me) can make enough (or not too much) food and desserts.

Normally, we'd ask you to bring food or drinks to share, but in light of the Food Bank Crisis that's going on in the U.S., please bring canned goods or boxed food items, baby diapers, or other toiletries and I will be taking them to the nearest food bank.

We'll also be doing a white elephant gift exchange (no more than $5) so bring something you found in your attic, at a thrift store or in your grandparent's basement!

There will also be a contest and prizes for the most hideous holiday sweater or holiday outfit worn to the party! Dumpster diving is also another source of hideous, or to some folks—fashionable, holiday outfits.

The party will be hosted at 5515 EAST LAKE DR, UNIT B, LISLE, IL 60532.

This apt is located just 7 minutes from the Lisle train station (express trains leave from downtown). Please call Kristine Socall at 630-963-0529 or Mike Clawson at 630-742-4062 if you need to be picked up from the train station.

It's also just a 5 minute drive West of I-355, just south of I-88, exit at Maple Ave from I-355. After you exit 355, go West past IL Rt 53 and turn L (South) on East Lake Dr. (also called Patton if you go North). After the turn, you will look for the second place to turn Rt, and the building will be immediately on your left. A Visitor Parking lot is available if you keep going straight past the building. DO NOT park in any spot that has a numbered sign post in front of it.

Please call me at 630.963.0529 if you need directions and I'll try to recruit some volunteers to be out in the lot to help everyone find their way.

Blessings upon you and your community during this season of celebrating God and each other!

Kristine Socall
up/rooted.west co-coordinator

Monday, December 03, 2007

up/rooted.west recap: Kingdom & Empire

We had an excellent discussion this past Monday at up/rooted.west as nine of us gathered at Wheaton College for a discussion of the political implications of Jesus' gospel of the kingdom of God. Chico Fajardo-Heflin from the Reba Place community and his wife Tatiana (one of the earliest members of up/rooted.west from way back in the day) came out from Evanston to guide us through the topic.

He began by leading us through some of the Roman rhetoric about Caesar Augustus that is paralleled in the gospel accounts (which I was happy to borrow for my advent sermon this past Sunday) - for instance, the way that Mark's Passion narrative is structured to exactly mirror a Roman coronation ceremony. We talked about how the gospel message was intended as an explicit challenge to the imperial imagination of Jesus' day, and how Jesus came to establish a new community, a different kind of "empire" - one of peace, justice and self-sacrifice rather than domination and the violent use of power.

From there our conversation naturally took a turn into the implications for living out the gospel in our own day. We talked about what exactly the "empire" is in our day - agreeing that it is far bigger than just a nation-state like America - that it actually encompasses the whole system of global capitalism that we are all immersed in. We also debated whether Jesus' call to create a new community, a new polis (the root of the word "political"), should encourage or discourage direct involvement in the political and economic structures of our own day. Should we avoid the subtle seduction of empire by withdrawing as much as possible from the systems that surround us, and instead create a new and separate community centered on the values of the God's kingdom; or is it possible to "fix" the empire through political processes, or at the very least, utilize such processes to help mitigate the evils caused by empire? (There was significant but friendly disagreement within the group on this issue, and it was fun to hash the question out together.)

Both Chico and I brought in a number of books for recommended reading on the topic. Some of these included Brian McLaren's new book, Everything Must Change, as well as several Anabaptist authors such as Ulrich Duchrow and Donald Kraybill. One the specific topic of how the early Christian message was a challenge to the imperial systems of the ancient world, we'd also recommend Richard Horsley's Jesus and Empire, Dominic Crossan's God and Empire, or Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat's Colossians Remixed.

Speaking of Brian's new book, we will begin an extended discussion of it after the New Year at up/rooted.west. Since it's a long book that touches on a wide variety of topics we will spread our discussion of it out over several months, leading up to Brian's Everything Must Change Tour here in Chicago on April 4-5. For January (exact date and location TBD) let's read and discuss the first two Parts of the book (chapters 1-9).

In December, on Wednesday the 19th, we are going to have a first for up/rooted: a Christmas Party! Kristine Socall will be hosting and more details will soon follow. This isn't just for up/rooted.west either, all of you are invited, especially those of you who haven't been with us for a long, long while. (Yes, that includes you Matt ;) - and Erin too if you're home from Calvin.) This will be a chance to re-connect, catch-up with old and new friends, and have a little holiday fun. Stay tuned for details and I'll hope to see you there!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Another up/ summary

BTW, Helen has an excellent summary of the most recent up/ gathering over at the Conversation at the Edge blog. Check it out!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Trying Not To Be Boneheads - November up/ summary

This month's meeting of up/ was definitely a balm for my soul. I had spent the day cranky and living inside my head, replaying angry thoughts and worrying about the future. However, once I arrived at Wicker Park Grace, I was pulled out of my head because the other folks that were there invited me into their hearts as they told their stories.

Twelve of us shared apples, celery, caramel sauce, peanut butter and apple juice for a little over two hours as we talked. Four of us had attended the first meeting but eight of us were brand new to the gathering and the new dynamic was interesting and good. I liked hearing that all of the attendees were brought to the meeting through the internet somehow and that many folks were meeting with each other independently for lunch.

The long-distance award goes to Bill, Helen's dad, who came all the way from Oxford, England to meet with us. Bill said many interesting things, but I was most intrigued by the logic of one of his statements. He pointed out that since church attendance is so much higher in the US than in the UK, it's reasonable to assume that Christians have a fair amount of influence on the policy that the US makes. He then talked a little bit about our continued use of capital punishment, which he believes is barbaric. He pointed out that capital punishment must have the support of Christians in the US since we are such a large majority and he questioned how that could be when God commands us to have mercy as we have been shown mercy. His voice was an intriguing addition to the group.

The group included an atheist, an almost atheist, an agnostic, a former neo-gnostic, a couple of pastors, former and current evangelicals, former and current mainline protestants, and folks who are still looking for a way to describe their faiths. Beautifully, all of us are actively examining ourselves and the world for God. Over the course of the evening, we built trust with each other, telling stories and asking questions. I particularly appreciated Helen's good questions. We talked about literalism in biblical interpretation, the use of Christian music in schools as an art form, manipulation as evangelism, the teaching of some churches that "doubt is bad" and the funding of church plants, in addition to other topics.

The best question asked, in my mind, came from Steve, the self-proclaimed "atheist husband" of Lainie, who asked, "Wouldn't it be a more enjoyable world to live in if the Christian message that was heard came from Christians who weren't boneheads?"

Amen, brother. I think that's probably something everyone can get behind.

Out next meeting is Monday, December 17 at 7:00 at Wicker Park Grace. I look forward to the balm a new mix of people will bring in a holiday season that can be particularly hard for humans as we try to figure out how to follow God and celebrate Jesus in authentic ways.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

up/rooted city meeting on Monday, November 19 at 7:00

I'm excited to announce that our second meeting of of up/rooted city will take place on Monday, November 19.  We'll gather at 7:00 for tea and stories.  

Wicker Park Grace
@ Acme Art Works
1741 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647

It's our intention to repeat our agenda from last month since it was so successful.  We'll continue getting to know one another, asking and answering questions of each other and creating a community of folks in the city who are interested in this new kind of Christianity and how we are living our lives through it.

There were lots of you out there who expressed disappointment that you weren't able to make it last time.  We look forward to seeing you on Monday, as well as those of you who were able to attend in October.

Please email me if you have any questions either at this address or at rebica (at) aol (dot) com.

In Service,

Sunday, November 04, 2007

McLaren's "Everything Must Change Tour" Coming to Chicago - Volunteers Needed!

You may have already heard that Brian McLaren will be spending the first part of this next year touring eleven major cities to talk about ideas related to his new book, "Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope". The Tour will be coming to Chicago April 4-5, a Friday evening to Saturday afternoon, at the First United Church of Oak Park.

At the conference Brian and others will attempt to answer some of the following questions:
- What does it mean, in today’s world, to be a follower of God in the way of Jesus?
- What does it mean to be a faith community engaged in the holistic, integral mission of God in our world today?
- How do we, as individuals and faith communities, respond faithfully to the crises facing our world?
- What is our duty to God, ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our enemies, and our planet in light of Jesus’ radical message of the kingdom of God?
- How can we engage in personal formation and theological reformulation for global transformation?

Click here for more details about the Tour, or here for a short video by Brian with 7 reasons why you should come.

An Important Opportunity for up/rooted

This Tour is an exciting opportunity for our Emergent cohort to help connect even more people into the conversation here in Chicago, and also to help form new cohort discussions in other locations around the upper Midwest. Brian has graciously agreed to let us use his Tour as a chance to promote up/rooted and other cohorts - we will have a sign-up table, and a chance to speak from the front and invite the attendees to connect with a group near them (or form one if one doesn't already exist).

In return we want to help Brian with logistical, behind-the-scenes stuff for his Tour, basically to extend hospitality to Brian when he visits our city and also take some ownership for this event. That is why I am actively recruiting you (yes, you) to volunteer to help at the Tour. You won't have to miss much of the Tour, just give an hour or two of your time to help with things like registration, airport shuttles, worship music, food prep, IT Techs, etc.

As a thank-you for helping you will receive the following:
1) A reduced registration rate of $79
2) A private cohorts breakfast with Brian on Saturday morning of the conference
3) A free copy of the book (if you don't already have one)

If you are interested in being a volunteer, please let me know. (Email me at as soon as you can.) We need anywhere from 12-20 volunteers, so please step up if you are able.

And we of course need everyone to help spread the word about the Tour in your spheres of influence - at church, school, denominational headquarters, etc. You can download postcards and posters for your blog or to print here.

The goal of all this is to play a small part in spurring on this Revolution of Hope. I'm excited for this opportunity to partner with Brian, and I hope you will join us.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Summary of the first up/rooted city gathering

Hello emerging world!

Our first gathering of the city branch of up/rooted took place a couple of weeks ago now at Wicker Park Grace here in the city and after that initial inevitable stab of nervousness that no one was going to come, I felt really good about the experience.

Nine of us from the city and Mike from the suburbs sat around a pink-clad table in assorted chairs to eat hummus, apples with caramel dipping sauce, chips and cookies and to drink coffee and an array of tea. Once our kinship as creatures of flesh was established, we got down to the business of establishing kinship as creatures of experience. Mike spent a little time explaining the mission of up/rooted, deferring to me like he was speaking out of turn, but I hope that I clearly communicated that I was very comfortable with him in the role of teacher (he is a pastor after all) and that I am uncomfortable being much more to the group than a facilitator.

I have a degree in English and History because I believe profoundly that stories have power. Usually I engage with them in written form in books or on blogs or face to face with one other person over tea or on a road trip. However, this cohort is giving me a chance to experience people's stories in a new way. We spent almost an hour and a half taking turns widdershins around the table telling our stories of where we have been and where we hoped to go as a result of this kind of gathering.

We had folks from mainline protestant churches, folks in leadership at evangelical churches, folks who don't affiliate themselves with a church at all. Several folks shared my story of having their lives - forgive me - uprooted as they began to see that following God did not have to mean what they had always been told that it did.

As we concluded the evening, we decided that we wanted to continue with this format in the near future as we coagulate as a group, leaving the door open to different formats as time goes on.

We'll be having out next meeting on Monday, November 19. I'm working on a different venue, possibly bLEnd, but the fall back will be Wicker Park. I'll update you all as soon as I've got something nailed down.

I welcome any additions or corrections that anyone has about our gathering. I'm excited about what is forming here. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

up/rooted.west, Nov 26 - Kingdom & Empire

Up/rooted.west will be meeting again on Monday, November 26 for practical/theological discussion of "Kingdom & Empire". We live in a world not dissimilar to the one Jesus lived in - where our lives and imaginations are often determined by the systems and narratives of "empire" (in Jesus' case, Rome, in our own, the "empire" of America or, more broadly, that of global capitalism). If Jesus proclamation of the "kingdom of God" was an explicit challenge to the imperial imagination of his own day, what implications does his message then have for us in our 21st century context? More specifically, what does this mean for how we engage with the systems and powers of government and the marketplace?

You don't have to have read anything ahead of time to join in the discussion and share your perspectives. However, if you'd like to study up I'd recommend this article from the Christian Century for a good overview. Or, for the more ambitious, read Colossians Remixed by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat or Jesus & Empire by Richard Horsley.

UPDATE: We will be joined by Chico Fajardo-Heflin of Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston who has been studying these issues and living out their implications in his own life for several years. He has graciously offered to help lead our discussion.

We will meet at the Beamer Center at Wheaton College at 7pm on Monday, November 26. (We'll just take whatever space is available when we get there; go to the lower level and just follow the signs.)

See you then!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted.west co-coordinator

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Multiplying Cohorts

up/, our new downtown cohort, got off to a great start last week thanks to Rebecca Murphy who coordinated the evening, Nanette Sawyer, who hosted us at Wicker Park Grace, and all the others who came to share their stories and contribute to the conversation. I can't wait to see what "emerges" from this new network of friendships.

In many ways up/ is the result of a vision that I and many others share for multiplying these kind of conversations in the Chicago area and around the country (and the world). I am convinced that we are at the leading edge of a global spiritual revolution, and as with all revolutions, it begins with small groups of like-minded people gathering to share passions and ideas. Out of this are birthed friendships and networks that can change the world in both large and small ways.

That is why up/rooted exists, and it is why I would like to see even more cohorts birthed out of it. Right now we have groups meeting in the north suburbs, the west suburbs, and down in the city (some steps have also been made towards a south suburban group, but nothing consistent has developed there yet). We have also helped birth a cohort in Eastern Iowa.

However, there is so much more potential for new groups. Right now there are no cohorts at all in Wisconsin and some of you from there have driven down to attend up/rooted. Why not start a Madison, Milwaukee, or Southeastern Wisconsin cohort? We also have folks that occasionally drive from Chicago Heights and even Valparaiso to attend cohort meetings. Why not instead start a Northwest Indiana cohort? Or perhaps some of you are or know students at UofI or ISU or Bradley. Why not help get an Urbana-Champaign or Bloomington-Normal or Peoria cohort started? Or maybe you're not anywhere near Chicago but would like our advice on how start something where you're at. We'd be glad to help.

It honestly doesn't take much to start a cohort. All you need is three or more people, one of whom is willing to coordinate a day, a place, and a topic every one to three months, and then just start spreading the word to friends, pastors and others who might be interested (flyers at local colleges or coffee shops can be surprisingly effective as well). Beyond that, we can lend you the use of the up/rooted website and email list (or help you create your own) so you can start promoting your events on the web. I can also get you set up on the cohorts listing so that others in your area looking for this kind of conversation will find you.

If you share this vision for multiplying the conversation, are outside of or on the fringes of the Chicago area, and are possibly interested in helping to start something in your area, please let me know. Just email me at and we can start talking about the possibilities.

I can't wait to see how this revolution grows!

Thursday, October 18, 2007 quotes

We had a great time at the other night. I'll let Rebecca write the real summary. However I wanted to share a few fun quotes that "emerged" from the conversation:

"We get together, eat, have communion, complain... sometimes we complain centered around the Bible."
- James describing his faith community

"They're all there to find their Christian mate because they didn't get them at Moody."
- Rebecca describing a church she had experienced

"It was a young church, so we had to download the Statement of Faith and sign on the dotted line."
- Rebecca, on this same church

"Methemergent... Emergemeth... Emerthodist"
- Matt and others trying to think of a mash-up name for Emergent Methodists

Brian McLaren Summary

Helen Mildenhall attended Brian McLaren's talk at Dominican University the other night and wrote an excellent review at the Conversation at the Edge blog. Here's her description of the night, and here's her notes from Brian's talk.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cynicism & Hope Conference at Reba Place

Almost missed this one... Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, IL (north burbs) is hosting a conference entitled Cynicism & Hope: Reclaiming Discipleship in a Post-Democratic Society on November 2-3.

Cost is $40 or $30 for students.

They describe the conference as follows:

How do we live out God's call to prophetic witness in an apathetic and disempowered society?

How can we learn from others who have remained faithful to Jesus' radical call in the midst of failure?

How can art, prayer and other forms of everyday resistance nourish our hope for the kingdom of God?

Join academics, activists and members of our communities as they share their work through the lens of cynicism and hope. Our vision is to provide a space for frustrated, justice-minded Christians who, like us, feel trapped by the current political situation but long to be part of meaningful action for change.
You can see a list of speakers and workshops as well as register at the conference website.

Podcast of up/rooted w/Spencer Burke & co.

Here are the links to the podcast of our event a few weeks ago with Spencer Burke, Neil Cole & Alan Hirsch on "Missional: Has it been shrink-wrapped too?"

Part 1

Part 2

Spencer is also offering a pre-Soularize feedlive event this Thursday, Oct 18th at 8pm CST with Ori Brafman author of “The Starfish and the Spider” at

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Brian McLaren Coming to Chicago

In case you hadn't heard, Brian McLaren will be coming to Chicago next week. You will have two opportunities to hear him speak if you so desire:

The first event is a discussion and book signing for his new book "Everything Must Change" at the Borders in Wheaton on Monday, October 15 at 7:30pm. This will be our up/rooted.west event for this month (though we won't have any personal discussion time with Brian besides the public book signing). Come on out at 7pm to connect with the cohort and then we'll stay for the book signing together.

The second event is the following Tuesday evening (October 16) at Dominican University in River Forest at 7:30pm. Brian will be speaking as part of a special lecture series on the topic of Truth Telling in Christian America: Globalization, Poverty and the Environment. It is open to the public, though tickets are $10 (free for Dominican students, faculty and staff).

Of course, you may also remember that we've also planned our up/ kick-off for that same Tuesday night (Oct 16), at 7pm in Wicker Park. (We set our dates before we knew Brian was coming to town.) If you're down in the city I certainly hope you'll consider coming to that and helping us get off to a good start (if you want to know what Brian will be talking about, I'm sure a lot of it will be in his book.) However, if you're not in the city, or if you really just can't pass up the chance to go hear Brian in person, the Dominican event is definitely a good option too. We hope to make up/ a regular (monthly?) thing, so even if you miss the kick-off you can always join us for future events.

-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Coming Soon: up/!!!

I'm excited to announce that at long last and due to popular demand, we will be kicking off UP/ROOTED.CITY, our downtown Chicago branch of the cohort, on Tuesday, October 16 at 7pm. We will be meeting at Wicker Park Grace, in the Acme Art Works building at 1741 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60647.

Come join us for good conversation, to share our stories, and to help participate in this emerging revolution of faith. If you are in or near the city then bring yourself and bring a friend. Or, if you are out in the suburbs, then tell a friend who lives further in.

Hope to see you at the kick-off!

-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

P.S. If you are able to help us advertise by putting flyers up at schools or churches (especially in the downtown area) please let me know and I will send you a .pdf flyer.

Recap: up/rooted.west w/Spencer Burke & friends

Hey up/rooted,

Despite traffic difficulties that prevented a few of our panelists from being there, we had a great time the other night with Spencer Burke, Neil Cole, and Alan Hirsch out at up/rooted.west. Spencer kicked off the night talking about question of whether "missional" has been shrink-wrapped too. Has it become a product, a system, a hip label, a means for church planters and others to earn a paycheck, etc.?

Of course, this led into a whole mess of other questions, mostly relating to the dangers of institutionalized Christianity. Here's just a sample that came both from the presenters and from the audience:

  • Does a desire to earn a paycheck get in the way of actually being missional?
  • Is it bad for publishers to try and make money off a new term like "missional"? What are the alternatives?
  • What happens when Sunday morning is no longer sacred in society, when it's just another day of commerce? Will that change how we do church?
  • Why do we assume that one pastor can meet every need in a church, and even teach to every person (despite age, intelligence, etc.) on every necessary topic (e.g. relationships, money, spiritual growth, doctrine, etc.)? Can we imagine other, less top-down models?
  • Are pastors in imminent danger of being downsized because of the realities of our post-christian culture?
  • (From Rebecca in the audience): Is our concern over this question of missional being shrink-wrapped because we like to think of ourselves as "different", "rebellious", and "alternative"? Are we afraid of our ideas becoming popular and accepted? Is that why we keep inventing new concepts and terminology whenever an old one gets "shrink-wrapped"?
  • How do we keep this missional movement from calcifying and becoming dogmatic? How do we continue to grow, change, "emerge", etc.?

Of course, many other things were talked about in and around these issues. True to form, Spencer was an excellent provocateur, giving us much to chew on and not being afraid of making us a little uncomfortable. Neil and Alan were fantastic as well.

Anyhow, if you missed it we'll have a link to the video webcast shortly. Check back here later.

-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

P.S. We have some exciting news about our next up/rooted gathering. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Helen has a good review of the event at the Conversation at the Edge blog too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Live webcast of upcoming up/rooted

I hope you're all planning to attend our panel discussion this Thursday with Spencer Burke and friends. However, if you just can't make it, you can log-on to a live, interactive webcast at 7pm CST on Thursday by going to

Friday, September 21, 2007

Recap of evangelicalism/emerging panel at up/rooted.north

(This is long for a recap post, you have been warned. And notice the panel gathering this coming Thursday, 9/27 beneath this post. See you there!)

To recap the panel discussion on evangelicalism and the emerging church at up/rooted.north yesterday, I have some good news and some bad news. Let's get the bad news out of the way first.

Bad news is, no podcast. Sorry to all of those who asked for it. It wasn't for lack of effort. In absence of someone who actually knew what they were doing, we set up the mic, turned it all on, fired up the recorder, and two hours later had...a blank CD. Smooth. Minus one geek point, plus one dork point. Our bad.

Good news is, the evening was excellent. A healthy 50 people turned out (at least they looked healthy to me), and a good many of them just asking “What's this thing all about?”, which is part of what up/rooted is all about. Made for some really great discussion.

I can't hope to cover everything here, and a lot of good topics were raised in the questions and answers, but as a synopsis of the topics of the evening I offer these summaries of Scot, Dave, and Wayne's answers to the two questions we asked them to prepare answers to. My apologies if my summary misrepresents some of their finer points (or even their not-so-fine ones).

Question 1: What issue in evangelicalism is the emerging church responding to, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of that response?

Scot: emerging churches are responding to the inadmissibility of doubt in evangelicalism, and therefore exhibit irony in their stance within the faith: they stand within it but also over it and at times over-against it. The emerging movement offers the freedom to ask questions that often cannot be asked in evangelicalism: inerrancy (especially in Genesis 1-11), Biblical authors as humans who's ideas of truth are conditioned in their context, science and evolution, hell and universalism, and coming to terms with faith having an awful lot to do with our social location (i.e. How many of us North American Christians would follow Christ if we were North Koreans?) The emerging church offers space to seriously process these tough questions; they genuinely want answers.

Wayne: the emerging church is responding to consumer and seeker-driven worship, re-emphasizing participatory worship, liturgy, prayer, the church calendar, confession and lament, and (following Bob Webber) worship as God's story of redemption. He expressed concern that this response still can lead to a new and improved “Celtic, mystic, ancient” seeker-worship, with a heightened (snobby?) aesthetic. Wayne also had reservations that the emerging church might think “authenticity” was the solution to the problem, not realizing authenticity is a social embodiment, that often takes the form of “We don't plan what we say and are just informal.” He also offered a very insightful critique that as emerging worship becomes more and more refined for “our” sensibilities, it only reinforces the ethnic and generational divide in the church.

Dave: the emerging church is reacting to a “we're in/you're out” mentality in evangelicalism that accentuates rescue from hell as the heart (totality?) of the Gospel and individualizes salvation. Instead of offering a second hand summary here, I'd invite you to read his blog post on this issue. (Which led to a surreal moment of Dave quoting himself out of a post he had made the day before for this very panel. That's a tip folks...when presenting, publish on the internet first so you can quote yourself!)

Question 2: What doctrine or church practice has particularly benefited from the emerging church?

Wayne: evangelism as community witness, especially in seeking to reclaim the church as a distinctive social community. Wayne did express concern that the emerging desire to be “un-evangelical” (not that guy, as he put it) could trump this reclamation of the Gospel, particularly in a hesitancy to actually speak and tell people the Good News. He also expressed concern that the emerging church could be co-opted by “bigger projects” in a similar way that the conservative and liberal church has been co-opted by conservative and liberal politics, respectively. He mentioned Jim Wallace's synthesis of right and left as a potential threat in this regard, and underscored again the particularity of the Gospel and the church community, which is not a handmaiden of political gains. (If you haven't picked up on it, Wayne is a pretty rocking anabaptist...a tradition I think the emerging church needs to (and often does) listen to closely.)

Dave: reclaiming the church as transformational, communal, and missional. The emerging church realizes the formation of Christians is about more than cognitive development, and shapes its gathered worship and communal life toward forming people in the shape of Christ, through liturgy, mutual submission and other community practices. Missionally the emerging church (at its best) rejects the attractional model of the evangelical church and seeks to minister in the community it is placed in: to live among and serve the neighbors, poor, hurting, and disenfranchised.

Scot: re-establishing a fuller, Biblical understanding of sin. Sin in evangelicalism is often reduced to the distortion of one's personal relationship with God. Scot spoke of how in Genesis 2 and 3 sin distorts humans' view of themselves, of God, of each other, and of the world. The Biblical narrative then, is an unfolding of God's answer to those problems: reconciliation with ourselves, with God, and with each other for the good of the world. And this answer doesn't skip straight from Genesis 3 to Romans 8 or the cross. First God forms a new community around Abraham. The gathered people of God (ecclesiology) is at the heart of God's story. (Scot unfolds these ideas in his newest—and good—book, “A Community Called Atonement.”)

So that's that, apart from the near violence at the end over the role of mega-churches our fearless moderator Geoff had to break up. (Way to go Geoff!) A special thanks to Dave, Scot, and Wayne, and to everyone who came out and joined us.

Jon Berbaum
--coordinator, up/rooted.north

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

up/rooted.west w/Spencer Burke & friends

I've got good news and even better news! The good news is that we will be postponing our up/rooted.west discussion of "How (Not) to Speak of God" until at least late October, which should give you plenty of time to obtain the book and read it ahead of time.

The even better news is that we are postponing this discussion because we have the opportunity instead to host a roundtable discussion with Spencer Burke, Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Denise VanEck, and Ron Martoia on the question "Missional: Has It Been Shrink-Wrapped Too?"

Come hear these well-known authors and leaders in the Missional Church conversation discuss whether the concept of "missional" has already become too much of a fad, gimmick, program, buzz-word, etc., or whether there is still some value to be had in embracing this term.

up/rooted.west will be hosting this discussion at Redeemer Lutheran Church at 1006 Gillick St in Park Ridge on Thursday, September 27 from 7-9pm. The event will also be broadcast live via internet for those of you who can't make it in person. More details on how to access that later.

If you can help us get the word out by putting up flyers at your school or church, please let me know and I'll send you a .pdf file to print off. Thanks!

Hope to see you there!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

Monday, September 03, 2007

August '07 up/rooted.west update

We had a great meeting of up/rooted.west two weeks ago at Wheaton College. We had a diverse group from all over the Chicago area and even from other states. We spent the time sharing some of the questions and issues that were on our minds and also talked briefly about the vision for Emergent cohorts like up/rooted as connection points for people to discuss these kind of questions.

Our next gathering of up/rooted.west will be in three weeks on Monday, September 24 at 7pm (location TBD). We'll be discussion the theology of the emerging church, using Peter Rollins' book How (Not) to Speak of God as our discussion starter. I definitely recommend picking up a copy and reading it, but don't worry, even if you have not you will still be able to easily join in the conversation.

We will also be discussing several other books for upcoming up/rooted.west meetings this fall, including Will & Lisa Samson's new book, Justice In the Burbs, and Brian McLaren's newest book, Everything Must Change, due to be released on October 2. You may want to pick up a copy of these books as soon as you are able so you'll be ready to discuss at our upcoming gatherings.

Hope to see you soon!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Questioning the Answers: the emerging church critique of evangelicalism, a dialogue

Up/rooted-ers, have we got an evening for you: not just one thinker on the emerging church, but three! Up/rooted.north will be hosting a panel discussion called “Questioning the Answers: the emerging church critique of evangelicalism” on Thursday, Sept. 20th at 7pm at Life on the Vine in Long Grove, IL.

You’re invited to this open and provocative panel discussion of the emerging church’s critiques of evangelicalism, and thoughtful consideration of the way forward. Our panel will consist of:

Scot McKnight, professor at North Park University and prodigious blogger and author;

Wayne Johnson, professor and director of the MDiv program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School;

Dave Fitch, professor at Northern Baptist Seminary, pastor at Life on the Vine, and slightly less prodigious blogger and author.

Each panelist will respond to a particular emerging church critique of evangelicalism (think issues of authority, church structure, worship, preaching, role of Scripture, etc.) and we’ll get a chance to engage with them in open discussion of these crucial issues.

Come and engage these thinkers, teachers, and pastors and each other as we gather together around the emerging conversation. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Southeast Emergent Gathering

The Southeast Emergent Cohorts are following in our footsteps and hosting a regional gathering in their neck of the woods now too. On October 11-13 they will be holding a retreat in Elfland, North Carolina with Chicago's own Scot McKnight as well as Mary McClintock-Fulkerson from Duke Divinity School to talk about Atonement as a Lifestyle, based on Scot's new book, "A Community Called Atonement".

If anyone who reads this blog is from that area you should definitely consider going. And if you aren't, but know someone who is, let them know about it. It's exciting to see more regional events happening. As we found with our conference, there are a lot of people who want to connect with the emerging church movement but can't make it to the big national conferences. A regional gathering makes these connections more possible.

Best of luck to Tripp Fuller, Steve Knight and all the others planning this event. I wish I could be there!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

up/rooted.west picnic, August 20

Our next up/rooted.west gathering will be Monday, August 20 from 7-9pm on the lawn of Blanchard Hall at Wheaton College (only two blocks from a Metra stop and not far off I-355). We will spend some time sharing our individual stories/recent faith journeys, and then talk some about the vision behind Emergent cohorts like up/rooted, why we exist in the first place, and how we can be part of the exciting new movement of God's Kingdom that we've seen unfolding around us in recent years. It will also be a potluck picnic, so if you're coming try to bring some snacks or drinks to share if you are able. (Though if you can't, feel free to come anyway.)

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Midwest Emergent Gathering Update

Some of the most transformative experiences for me have come through conferences - whether through the speaking, or the networking and relationship building, or just the sort of "greenhouse" experience of deliberately placing oneself in an environment designed for short intense bursts of spiritual growth. It probably has to do with having grown up in the Christian camping world. I mean, let's face it, ministry conferences are basically camp for adults. That's part of why I've been so energetic and excited about helping to create the Midwest Emergent Gathering that we just put on this past weekend. I just love being able to create for others the kinds of experiences that have been so meaningful to me in the past.

This journey began with a conversation in a hotel bar in Seattle last November with myself, Sarah Notton, Randy Buist, and Spencer Burke as we wondered why there were no good ministry conferences in the Midwest, and then started asking ourselves why we didn't go ahead and do one. And rather than let the idea just stay there in that hotel bar, we actually kept dreaming about it, and talking about it, and talking to other people who might be interested in helping us make it happen. Fast forward eight months and here we are, having just successfully pulled off the first ever Midwest Emergent Gathering.

And it was great, at least from my perspective as one of the conference planners. I confess that going into the conference I had this fear that it would be totally chaotic, unprofessional, and a complete waste of time for our attendees - and yet the complete opposite actually happened. Thanks in large part to our amazing crew of fellow planners and volunteers, the whole thing just ran incredibly smoothly. As the onstage host/MC I was able to just sit back and let it unfold, trusting our team to make sure that all the details would fall into place. Because they did I was able to focus on my part of it, which was casting the vision and then making sure all the onstage pieces fit together with that vision.

In my opinion, it all fit together beautifully. We created this conference with the idea of "Creating Missional Communities" in mind and invited a wide diversity of speakers to come and paint pictures for us of what that looks like in practice. We started on Friday morning with Tony Jones describing what it means to be emergent and what it means to be missional, and why those two go together. He exhorted us to move beyond the polarities of liberal and conservative and not let our be defined by such binary ways of looking at the world.

Doug Pagitt continued the conversation with encouragement to have a wholistic gospel that includes teaching both about Jesus and about the kingdom of God (cf. Acts 28:31). He also reminded us that the kingdom is bigger than the church and that God is at work everywhere, whether urban, or suburban or rural or wherever.

In the afternoon Denise Van Eck told us the story of how she went about trying to create authentic missional community at the 10,000 person monstrosity that is Mars Hill Bible Church and learned that community isn't something that can be created, it can only be discovered.

That evening Nanette Sawyer told us about a very different kind of church, Wicker Park Grace, a urban and artsy faith community in downtown Chicago. She described the creativity and hospitality of their gatherings, and talked about how they are welcoming individuals that have felt rejected by so many other churches (gays and lesbians for example).

The next morning we heard a phenomenal presentation from Alise Barrymore and James King, whose church Scot McKnight described to me as the only African American emerging church he was aware of. Their story blew me away and from the conference evaluation forms we received I know that many others were blown away as well. Their faith journey was so resonant with the kind of journey most of us in the emerging church have been on ourselves, and yet it was so intriguing to see the unique issues they dealt with along that journey in their African American context. Anyhow, I hope Alise and James are voices that we begin to hear a lot more of in the emerging church conversation.

We wrapped up the conference with a fiery and prophetic set of exhortations from Spencer Burke, who encouraged us not to get bogged down with creating ecclesial empires or big structures, but to begin reimagining a whole new way of being the light of the world in our postmodern cultural context. I was especially touched by his closing comments about coming back to the heart of God and just remembering the love that our Father has for all of us as he holds us close to his breast (like a parent holds a newborn infant). It was the perfect note to end the conference on.

Of course, interspersed with all these presentations were other elements, times of worship as well as missional highlights (New Life for Haiti and Mission:USA), and our "Outsider Interviews". On Friday we had John Armstrong give us his advice for the emerging church from his perspective as a friendly observer of the movement. He commended us for advancing the idea of missionality in the church, and yet also cautioned us not to become arrogant and think that we are creating something entirely new under the sun - he reminded us to listen to the wisdom of the past, whether that of Augustine or Calvin, or more recently people like Barth and Newbigin.

Then on Saturday we had an interview with my friend Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist. He gave us a perspective on us Christians from outside the faith entirely, encouraging us to do more to serve those in need outside the church and to partner more with non-Christians as we do so. From the comments I received I think there were many people who appreciated hearing both Hemant's and John's perspectives and were gratified that we included differing opinions in our conference. Personally I was gratified that both of these friends were willing to do something so potentially "risky".

In between the sessions we had lots of workshops, though unfortunately as the one "running the show" I didn't get much time to sit in on these. I heard they were all superb though. We also encouraged attendees to "create their own" workshop if they wanted to talk about a topic that wasn't on our list, and several people took us up on the offer. Besides the workshops we also tried to give plenty of time for conversations (long meal breaks, Q&A times w/the speakers after the sessions), because again, one of the most valuable parts of conferences like these is the relationships that are formed. I for one enjoyed not only the time to reconnect with some of the well-known "movers and shakers" in the emerging church world (i.e. most of our speakers & presenters), but even more I enjoyed meeting new friends from all over who came just to attend and learn and network at the conference. I look forward to deepening all of these friendships in the future.

Speaking of the future, I have high hopes for what some of the long term outcomes of this conference might be. Jeff Kursonis, the national cohorts coordinator for Emergent Village has said this was a historic event in that it was the first time that multiple cohorts had worked together in such a way. I'd love to see this set the trend for more regional cohort gatherings, whether full blown conferences, smaller get togethers, or missional collaborations. I also have hope that this event and others like it will lead to the formation of new cohorts. The emerging church needs to have a local face. If it is primarily a conversation, then that conversation happens best in small groups of passionate individuals who can see each other, know each other, and have a beer together as they plot how to advance God's kingdom of love and justice in the world. It's like Margaret Mead said "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Imagine what could happen if we can continue to multiply many small groups of thoughtful people all over the country (and world) who are committed to this kind of global transformation!

BTW, if you missed the conference but would like to listen to our mainstage presentations, you can download the audio of them on our conference website.

The following bloggers have also posted on the conference. I'll try to add new ones to this list as more people post about the conference.

Rich Vincent at TheoCenTriC MuSiNgS.

Conversation Outside the Bubble: Day 1 and Day 2.

RCA Church Planters: Part 1 & Part 2.

Helen at Conversation at the Edge.

David Jones & Betsy Whaley at Nexus Jesus.

Maurice Broaddus (the Sinister Minister): Part 1 and Part 2.

Julie's reflections at Emerging Women.

And John Armstrong's blog.

Also, Doug Pagitt has a number of pictures from the conference currently up on his blog, mostly of Will Samson sleeping.

Update: Oh, and you know you've "arrived" in the emerging church world when you're trashed by Ken Silva. I'm glad to see our event made it onto his EC-bashing radar. :)

Another Update: Tony Jones has blogged about it now too.

And another one from my new friend Rebecca.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Book Release Party: Justice in the Burbs

Even if you're not planning to attend the Midwest Emergent Gathering in a few weeks, you are all invited to attend the After-Party being done in conjunction with the conference at no charge. Baker Books is sponsoring it as a book release party for Will Samson's new book, Justice in the Burbs, the next in the Emergent Village/Baker Emersion line of books.

We will have hors d'oeuvres and drinks and Will will be on hand to read us some selections from the book and answer a few interview questions. Again, regardless of whether or not you're coming to the rest of the conference, feel free to come to the book release and to invite friends, pastors, etc. This is a very important book and an important topic for many of us here in the suburbs who are trying to figure out how in the world to live justly when we're surrounded by so much affluence.

The party will be held at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Park Ridge (1006 Gillick St) from 7-9pm on Saturday, July 21.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shayne Moore in Vanity Fair

Co-Founder of up/rooted.west, Shayne Moore, is mentioned in this month's issue of Vanity Fair. This is their special Africa issue, co-edited by Bono, and a short article features the ONE Campaign, which Shayne has been very active with in recent years. Besides the mention in print, Shayne also appears in the magazine in this picture with Senator Bill Frist, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Ashley Judd, Pastor Rick Warren, Matt Damon, Ugandan mother Agnes Nyamayarwo and N.A.A.C.P. chairman Julian Bond. (Shayne is the one standing directly behind Matt Damon.) The One Campaign was highlighted for their hard work narrowing the gap between Africa's have-nots and America's haves. Way to go Shayne and keep up the good work!

up/rooted.west recap w/Hemant Mehta

up/rooted.west met last night with Hemant Mehta, the eBay Atheist. We had a great time chatting with Hemant and hearing his story. I think it gave a lot of the Christians there more insight into what it's like to be an atheist, and really encouraged me with the fact that atheists and Christians can have friendly conversations.

Helen Mildenhall, manager of the Off the Map blogs and an "almost atheist" herself also drove out from Oak Park to be with us. She has an excellent summary of the evening at her blog so rather than restating everything she said, I'll just encourage you to go read her reflections.

BTW, up/rooted won't be meeting separately next month since we are hosting the Midwest Emergent Gathering. It's not too late to sign up to attend (only $60), and we especially need volunteers to help with some of the behind-the-scenes work. Volunteers get to attend the rest of the conference for free, so if you'd like to help, please email me at emergentmidwest(at)gmail(dot)com.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Up/rooted.north recap with Pernell

A big thanks to Pernell and Matt from The Freeway for joining us at up/rooted.north last night, and the 20ish people who came out. Pernell talked a bit about third places in general (recommending Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place): there must be no pressure to consume, there must be new people constantly, and there must be a consistent group of regular people. I confess, I kept thinking of Cheers through this whole section. Where everyone knows your name...

But the evening wasn’t as much about third places in general as it was about how the intentional third place of The Freeway is central to its life as a missional community. Seriously, if you want to know what being a missional church is all about, spend two hours with Pernell. The Freeway, in Pernell’s words, purchased a bank building on the busiest corner of Hamilton, Ontario that wasn’t for sale with no money. They turned it into a 5-days-a-week coffeehouse with volunteer baristas, regular showcases of local musicians and artists, and a growing involvement in their neighborhood. It is a place with no pressure to consume, created intentionally to be a third place in their community, where people can come and develop relationships. Community groups hold meetings there, people come in for coffee and wi-fi, the homeless come in for shelter from the cold and heat (and often are offered food and drink and to spend the night as well). The list goes on and on of the missional ways they are using this place.

Pernell said more than I can hope to summarize here, and I was just blown away at how the mission of Jesus to his people (or as Mark Van Steenwyk would say, the Jesus Manifesto) is driving all these creative ways The Freeway is responding to and serving their neighborhood.

Pernell stressed that a third place is not an add-on program, not a new fad for the church. It is central to the shape of The Freeway, and it can’t really be done any other way. But I can't help but think that those of us in churches not shaped around a third place can still learn from The Freeway. So for those of us in missional churches with traditional buildings (or no building of our own), what can we apply from the experience of The Freeway to our own local bodies? Can our homes or our local coffeeshops become third places of community on a smaller scale? What are creative ways to intentionally engage people in third places without buying and running your own coffeeshop?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Up/rooted.north gathers Thursday, June 14th with Pernell Goodyear.

Hey up/rooted-ers! Pernell Goodyear is coming to Chicago in the middle of June, and is spending an evening with up/rooted.north discussing third spaces. Third spaces you say? Eh? No way!

A third place is not a home, and not a business, but an informal gathering place that fosters friendships, discussions, and networking. Third places are incredibly important for churches who don’t want their front doors on a Sunday morning to be their only gateway in their communities. If our churches are to be missional and incarnational, third spaces are crucial ideas to understand and bring to life (or participate in) in our neighborhoods.

Pernell planted a church called The Freeway in Hamilton, Ontario, that has developed a coffeeshop as a third space, and will be speaking on what makes a good third space for community witness. We can also engage him on broader church planting issues/struggles. There is a fantastic write-up and podcast of an interview of Pernell by Allelon here.

I’d encourage you to read Pernell’s page on third spaces, and come on June 14th to engage in the theory and practice of third spaces for our churches in the suburbs, where third spaces, like all forms of hospitality, face unique challenges. Don’t miss this critical conversation about being incarnate in the places where we live.

June 14th, 7pm, at Life on the Vine Church. See you there!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

eBay Atheist coming to up/rooted June 18

Many of you will have already heard of Hemant Mehta, the eBay Atheist. Last year Hemant offered to "sell his soul on eBay" (really just go to church for the highest bidder), and our friend Jim Henderson from Off the Map took up on the offer. So last year Hemant visited ten churches around the Chicago area (including my own) and blogged about his experiences. He was kind of a "mystery shopper" for churches. Since then Hemant has been busy doing national media interviews about his experiences, maintaining his Friendly Atheist website, and writing a book about his impressions of Christian churches and how well they do at reaching people like him (appropriately titled, I Sold My Soul on eBay).

And now you have a chance to meet with Hemant in person to discuss his book and his experiences. up/rooted.west will be hosting a discussion with Hemant at the Socall home at 26w325 Torrey Pines Ct in Winfield on Monday, June 18 at 7pm. This is your chance to hear an atheist's first hand impressions of our best efforts to reach "seekers" like him. BTW, while not at all necessary, I'd definitely recommend picking up a copy of Hemant's book and reading it before the discussion. It's well worth the read.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jubilee Grassroots Conference

2007 Grassroots Conference

Jubilee USA will hold its Second Annual Grassroots Conference and skills training on June 15 to 17 in Chicago, Illinois on the beautiful Loyola University Watertower Campus.

Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman will be among the featured guests. The conference will include speakers from the Global South, skill-building sessions for grassroots economic justice activists (advocacy, media work, engaging congregations, etc.), and workshops that will deepen participants' understanding of debt and economic justice issues. And of course there will also be down time for networking and having fun with global economic justice activists from around the United States.

The cost of the conference is $35 before June 1 and $50 after June 1.

My wife Julie will be attending the conference and commuting in from Yorkville by Metra each day. If you are from out of town and would like to stay at our place and commute in with Julie, just email her at JulieClawson(at)gmail(dot)com.

For More Information Click Here.

To Register Online Click Here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Pulse Artist Gathering in Chicago

Larry Kamphausen from Reconcilers sent this invitation:

The Pulse Artist Gathering in Chicago

A city-wide gathering of Christians who are involved with the arts.
With Brennan Manning and Phil Keaggy.

Monday, May 21st, 7-10pm
at the Chopin Theatre
1543 W Division (1 block west of 94)
in Wicker Park
only $10

Hang-out, Network, Collaborate and Be Inspired!

Friday, May 11, 2007

up/rooted concert with the Psalters

You're invited to our next up/rooted.west gathering this coming Monday, May 14th at 7pm, the Socall house (26W325 Torrey Pines Ct. Winfield, IL 60190). We are again pleased to host the Psalters for a concert on their new tour with two new members joining the group.

You can find their music at and

About the Psalters:
As followers of El Elyon, the Suffering Servant, we seek not to make music for music’s sake, but for God’s sake; hrough His Grace, for His Glory. We wanna be like the temple musicians who first performed the psalms over three thousand years ago. Occasionally scholars refer to these temple musicians as ‘psalters’. They were people intending to glorify God through music. They did not perform for the sake of entertainment, utility, or artistic expression. These functions, though important, were subordinate to the primary vocation of making prayers to the God of the Exodus. Prayers of lamentation over the various enslavements of this world; and prayers of praise to the God who liberates and will continue to liberate us out of our enslavement. The artistically entertaining social functions, which are usually the main goals of musicians, were merely welcome by-products of the psalter’s music. Their music was prayer and song united into one word: tehillah (translated as psalm)

We pray to be psalters rather than musicians.

Join us as we make music and dance for His Glory.

This will be our monthly up/rooted.west gathering for May. I hope you'll also join us on June 18 for a book discussion of I Sold My Soul on eBay with special guest Hemant Mehta, the author of the book and original eBay atheist! Location TBD. (BTW, I'd definitely recommend picking up a copy of the book and reading it before the discussion, but feel free to come even if you don't.)

Book cover

See you soon!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

P.S. Don't forget to register for the Midwest Emergent Gathering. You only have a few weeks left to get in at the reduced rate.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Bob Webber: Into your hands we commend his spirit

Bob Webber passed away late last week. I know many of you, like me, knew him personally, and many more knew him through his writings and tireless efforts for the church. He'll be truly missed. Dave Fitch has written a fitting post on his blog if you'd like a little more information and reflection.

Peace of Christ,
Jon Berbaum
-coordinator, up/rooted.north

Washington D.C. Events this Summer

If you're passionate about poverty and social justice issues and want to visit our nation's capital this summer, then the following events are for you:

The first is Sojourners/Call to Renewal's Pentecost 2007. For more than ten years they have been convening a major conference of church leaders, service providers, anti-poverty advocates and "emerging leaders" from across the country to mobilize the church in the fight against poverty. This year Pentecost 2007: Taking Vision to the Streets will be held from June 3 – 6 at National City Christian Church in Washington D.C.

There will be a presidential candidates forum with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton & John Edwards at the event (candidates are not doing bi-partisan events yet, so a forum with the Republican candidates will be later in the year). This year they've also added an emerging leaders track with special guest Shane Claiborne.

Then, the following week (June 9-12), also in Washington D.C., Bread for the World will be hosting their annual Gathering: Sowing Seeds - Growing a Movement. From their site:
Activists with decades of experience will join with young people just beginning their public life and political involvement. Rural leaders—newly energized with a heart to help hungry people—will meet longtime urban anti-poverty workers. Parents will bring their children to show them that anyone has the chance—and the responsibility—to speak to their representatives in Congress.

Campaign leaders from developing countries will meet with development practitioners, to share stories and successes in fighting poverty worldwide. People will reach out across the religious spectrum—evangelical and Catholic, ecumenical Protestant and historic African American denominations, Latino Christians and other people of faith—and join hands with other people of faith at the Interfaith Convocation.

Everyone has a story to offer. Visionaries, theologians, academics, church social action directors, and leaders from student, grassroots and national movements are coming together to build and to strengthen relationships, and to learn from one another.

Friday, April 27, 2007

ONE Campaign & up/rooted - update

Annie Gill-Bloyer's presentation this past Monday at up/rooted was informative and challenging. As we talked about the reality of extreme poverty and what we can do about it, I was personally struck by the simplicity of the solutions. For a relatively tiny fraction of our federal budget we can save the lives of millions. Over 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day, and thousands die every day from the effects of poverty, hunger and disease. And these things are entirely preventable!

One of the key points that we discussed the other night was that the solutions to extreme poverty have to include both governmental and faith-based involvement. We all expressed our desire to see the church lead the way with giving and service and compassion for the poor. However, Annie also made the point that governments are too powerful of a tool to leave out of the equation - not to mention the fact that when it comes to things like debt relief and trade justice, there are certain structural/systemic things that have to be changed on the national and international level beyond what individuals and churches are able to do. As we learned, the Millenium Development Goals, which are the United Nations' blueprint for eliminating extreme poverty by 2015, include both issues of charity and justice - i.e. addressing both structural injustices and material needs. The eight Goals are:

Goal 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Target 1: Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day

Target 2: Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

Goal 2. Achieve universal primary education

Target 3: Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling

Goal 3. Promote gender equality and empower women

Target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015

Goal 4. Reduce child mortality

Target 5: Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five

Goal 5. Improve maternal health

Target 6: Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio

Goal 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Target 7: Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

Target 8: Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

Goal 7. Ensure environmental sustainability

Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources

Target 10: Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water

Target 11: Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020

Goal 8. Develop a global partnership for development

Target 12. Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system Includes a commitment to good governance, development, and poverty reduction — both nationally and internationally

Target 13. Address the special needs of the least developed countries Includes: tariff and quota free access for least developed countries’ exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for HIPCs and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous ODA for countries committed to poverty reduction

Target 14. Address the special needs of landlocked countries and small island developing States

Target 15. Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.

Target 16: In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth.

Target 17: In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries

Target 18: In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications

To achieve these goals, every member of the United Nations (including the United States) pledged a certain portion of their national budget towards these projects. The ONE Campaign's purpose is simply to hold the United States accountable for actually doing what we said we would do, which is to devote an additional 1% of our federal budget towards these goals. (Right now less than 1/2 of one percent is given towards global poverty reduction.)

The good news is that even if you weren't at up/rooted this past Monday, you can still get involved simply by going to and signing the petition to our government, as well as making your own personal contributions towards the goal of ending extreme poverty in our lifetimes. You can also obtain resources to inform others at your church or school about these issues at Bread for the World.