Our world is rapidly changing, and our church is changing with it. Trying to stay relevant for the sake of relevancy might lead us to betray our basic beliefs and tenets. Yet we feel a deep need to serve the world around us, and in order to do that we need to understand it, and let our understanding shape our practice when we act to engage our neighbors.
Our learning communities come together to ask questions, not necessarily provide answers. None of us are experts. We’re simply journeying together, and sharing our hopes, dreams, and anxieties as we explore what the world is becoming.
The Ministerium of Ideas
What do our faith communities need to learn about in order to better serve the world around us? Twenty-four clergy and lay leaders gathered in April of 2014 to answer this question and form a new group in Columbus that we dubbed “The Ministerium of Ideas.” The twenty-four clergy were from a variety of mainline denominations, and from the Jewish and Buddhist faith traditions as well. We ate lunch together and switched seats every fifteen minutes, using a World Cafe format for our discussion. Our initial question generated many more questions. How do we build diverse communities? Are we failing at critical thinking? What would it be like to participate in communities of creation instead of communities of consumption? What are the armageddon type fears of the moment? What will it be like to create bridges between physical & tech-based communities? We asked many more questions, but of all the questions we asked, the one that touched me most deeply was, “how do we even define our current culture?” Over this past academic year, we began to explore many of these questions, and have, of course, discovered many more questions to ask. Professors Columbus’s many college, universities, and seminaries have joined us, helping us think about and refrain the questions.
Whether it’s a regular weekly meeting, like the one in Portsmouth, or a special event, like the time that Jane, the Bishop, and Walter Brueggemann walked into a bar, pub theology allows us to take our deepest thinking and meaning making into the public sphere. For those who are new to the church, it allows for a safe, explorative setting to ask the most important questions. For those who are immersed in theology and hungry to meet and talk with those who share their passions, it provides community.
Lenten Film Series
Restorative Cinema partners with Confluence to curate an annual Lenten Film Series. The series is hosted at St. John’s Franklinton on Sunday nights during Lent, screening films with the intent of exploring the spiritual discipline of lament that “not only allows us to see the depth of the world’s brokenness (including our own and the church’s complicity in it); but also shapes resurrection as a journey that involves grief, truth, conversion, and forgiveness.” Each film follows a necessary path into an unknown – with a respect & hope that new life will emerge through the mysterious tension of pain & grace. Each year the films explore a different theme. Past theme’s include grace, sacrifice, freedom, fathers, and identity. We seek films of all genres from all over the world, from Japan, Europe, and Hollywood, dating back to 1921 up to present day. Attendees are invited into a discussion following each film, allowing for new interpretation, understanding, and community to arise from the shared experience of cinema. Visit http://restorativecinema.blogspot.com/ to view last year’s films, and lookout for the release of the 2016 Lenten Film Series schedule in early January.