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TransFORM 2014 and Revisioning Communities of Christian Faith

April 2, 2014

What a wonderful experience I had at TransFORM 2014, just this past week-end (March 27-30)! I think most or all other attendees would say the same… at least those I was around near or at the end.

I don’t know if my phrase, “revisioning communities of Christian faith”, captures the central thrust of it or not.  We covered lots of ground! “Sacred” ground.  (While celebrating the truly unified nature of all “ground”.)

And I didn’t get the feel that it was mainly about the Christian “Church” (or churches).  Also, more was dealt with than being community in a variety of ways:  contemplation and activism (how the two actually belong together… a refreshing perspective); issues surrounding power, privilege and justice; healing from “religious” wounding, and much more.

Now, theology is always an issue (rightly so, in my mind)…. How we conceptualize God, Jesus, God’s revelation (whether in the cosmos, the Bible or both), etc., tends to ground and guide our affiliations and our actions.  But at this conference I seldom heard, or cared, just what specific theology other participants or speakers held to

In many cases that may be because such concepts are in flux for the person.  (While I have a very few “core” things relatively settled, to personal satisfaction, I purposely leave as much as possible open and fluid myself.)  This sense of “We’re all on a journey, at differing places and stages, seeking wisdom and understanding, knowing we also have responsibility to serve and uplift others” was palpable… largely a collection of “wounded healers”.  Folks conscious of both our woundedness and our call to be healers, to be bridge-builders, to be advocates and to stand in deep solidarity with others who have both similar and different kinds of wounds and needs.  (Kathy Escobar, a co-pastor of The Refuge near Denver, was there with co-pastor Karl Wheeler, leading a session.  She has posted a wonderful call for people to “stand in the gap”, partially inspired by her time at TransFORM, on her blog, here.)

So who were these people in terms of their jobs, roles, positions? A really diverse bunch! Therapists, pastors, writers, artists, activists, seminary staff or students (often in one role or another, additionally), and many more.  (Total attendance was somewhere around 125.)  At least through the optional sessions I went to, I didn’t get the sense that church pastoral issues or “church” in general predominated, although pastors and pastors-to-be may well have been the single biggest group.  This wasn’t about methods as much as meaning.

So not about how to grow a church… more about how to be a church, and in the sense of a community of people following Spirit together.  Most following Jesus, specifically, and Jesus was often spoken about.  But Jews or seriously skeptical ex-Christians, or others, trying to re-sort their categories and commitments and find new relationships of support and cooperation were welcomed as well, and at least a few were present.

I’ve been to lots of conferences of varied types.  I wish I felt I could effectively convey the feel that I had, I believe shared by others, that this one was unique… was special, not only in the week-end experience, but in the ongoing effects.

Just a few words attempting to get at it:

Centering; Connecting; Celebrating.

Growing; Going (where called)

Hurting (together); Hunting (we’re not always sure what).  

Mediating; Meditating.  

Playing; Praying.

Resting; Restoring.   

Yearning; Learning. 

If you were there, what did you experience? Bring away?

If you weren’t there, what might you want to hear more about?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2014 4:47 pm

    Howard, so glad to have met you at TransFORM – wish I could’ve attended more of it! Hope to keep in touch and grateful for your thoughtful work.

    • April 6, 2014 6:46 am

      Colin… yes, it was great to see what you and the other “community” members are doing… you’ve reminded me that I’ve not checked as much into what your community is about as I intended… and still want to do. As to permaculture, I don’t know a lot about it yet, but am fascinated about it and so glad more people are working on it and related things. And this area has so much potential in terms of climate, soil, land still available, etc.!

  2. April 6, 2014 6:13 am

    howard, it was so great to meet you in person! i love those words at the end, too. so good. look forward to staying in touch and somewhere buried in my bag is the handout you gave me that i look forward to reading, too!

    • April 6, 2014 6:34 am

      Thanks, Kathy! I also sent you an email… and I imagine you’re flooded with them after being gone, then back to kid and community demands, etc. I don’t imagine you have much time for theological discussions, but if and when you may, I’m eager to participate more and deeper with those who believe that we are “behind”, as it were, in Christianity, in good, realistic and helpful ways to conceptualize and speak about the creative, redemptive processes we all do experience, whether we have “categories” for them and the God behind them or not. (There… that’s my momentary attempt to say “doing theology” in a way that may connect better with most people, though I imagine “doing theology” DOES resonate with YOU.)

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