Spiritual Ecology: Was it only last week?

Okay, finally a brief report on the Spiritual Ecology Day in San Francisco. It seems like it was a long time ago, but it's really been less than a week.

I think it was set up because a number of emerging church leaders were scheduled to be in the Bay Area at the same time for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t very organized, just enough to be functional, I’d say. And I mean that in a good way.

It was held at Mission Bay Community Church: an alternative format church in an industrial space, which also happens to be a branch of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Who knew such a thing existed? Not me, but they appear to be a going and growing group. Note to SF Friends: we should know about this group and this meeting space. I met the pastor briefly: a nice guy AND he has a very hip blog. Among other reasons, he wrote about the day way before me.

In the beginning, I felt a little lost, but I just sat down at one of the tables where people were eating made-on-the-spot crepes and met Justin and Scott. Justin, I found out later, is part of an intentional community in Palo Alto that does some mission work at Stanford. Scott is the director of an urban experience program in SF for a Santa Barbara seminary. We talked a bit about Quakerism – he asked good questions and was a REALLY good listener. I found myself answering with more personal depth and honesty than is customary with someone you’ve just met. I was just recovering enough to ask about him when we were called to join the circles of chairs that had been set up.

Mark Scandrette acted as general host. The morning was devoted to these conversation circles, each hosted by one of the visiting emergent folks or a local person with a specific topic to explore. There was one about connecting microenterprise in poor countries with evangelical consumer dollars in rich countries. There was one about ancient spiritual traditions in the modern world. There was one about what to do when your job is in a church and God is calling you in another direction. The first one I went to was about spiritual ecology: how to achieve a balanced, mature, all-sided spirituality. It was interesting to me, but the local facilitator didn’t really engage most of the people in our group. Maybe someday I’ll get to talk to her another time.

The second one I went to, and you could just choose whichever one you wanted, was with Mark Scandrette, about the SEVEN community and Re-Imagine’s Jesus Dojo. I was really glad for this because I always wish I could join more of the Re-Imagine/SEVEN discussion/learning opportunities, but they almost never work with my schedule. I may have to make more time for them in the coming year. But more on that in a later post. In any case, SEVEN is a loosely organized vowed community, dedicated to following Jesus in San Francisco today. The Jesus Dojo is now called Community Learning Labs or something boring like that. But Mark talked about how they work together and I had just read their most recent newsletter about their Lab on Obedience. They have committed themselves to addressing the issues of debt in US culture and deeper/sacrificial environmental action at the very personal level. All very intriguing to me.

At lunch, I went with the Presbymergent crowd. Fascinating to hear others within a denomination talking about why they stay and why be emergent – so many parallels to the discussions of convergent Friends. Also, another three or four posts to come.

At the very end of the day, I bought Karen Sloan’s book, Flirting with Monasticism (book review to come) and Doug Pagitt and Kathryn Prill’s book, Body Prayer: The Posture of Intimacy with God. I bought Pagitt’s book mostly to share with my Friend Elizabeth, who wrote an article in Friends Journal some years ago about the relationship between physical posture and mental attitude in prayer.

But that night, when I got it home, I realized that this is the tool I needed for my work as Friend in Residence for the Junior Gathering at FGC. It bridges Friends who are more comfortable with yoga practices and the mildly Christian/definitely God language that expresses my religious experience. I will probably use some every day at the worship I’m facilitating.

So. I had a good time. I’ve spent the last week thinking and talking about it, and unfortunately, not writing so much. I do want to post more about some of the people I met, and some of the things I already mentioned above. Hold me in the Light that I may get this all typed up and formatted and some of it published each day this week.


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Blogger Martin Kelley said...

Hi Robin,
Among other things curious to hear what ideas the Presbamergents (okay I mangled that, right) have for organizing. Interesting to see that they are organizing parties in conjunction with planned Presbyterian and/or Emergent gatherings, much like the Convergent Friends are.

They're also more structured, with a defined A-list of bloggers, a more blog-centric approach (rather than aggregated) and talk of legal incorporation just six months after site launch. Does the Presbyterian world has the critical mass to be more organized or do hireling ministers tend to default more quickly to a legal structure? Definitely stuff to watch. Thanks for your report.
Your Friend, Martin

6/25/2007 8:52 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Martin, I think it's a little of both. Critical mass and legalistic default settings. But they made me think more about how resistant I've been to anything centralized, and about whether I ought to take this more seriously.

6/26/2007 1:11 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

sounds like great fun and good experience. I really wish I could have been there!

I look forward to your reflections on the presby/converg things and your book reviews.

I know Ryan really digs the body prayer, we talked about even doing it in class at some point, and it sounds like it can be really useful. But I have never read it so I wait to hear more.

Thanks for the report.

6/27/2007 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey - that was wess as you probably guessed, not emily...

6/27/2007 2:52 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Ok. I was just trying to figure out, who is emily l.? Now I get it. Chris and I have the same problem.

I liked doing the bodyprayer last Tuesday. The posture Doug led was called A Prayer for the Rhythm of God: Stepping Forward.

If you're looking to use it in class, I know he's offering a deal on bulk sales right now!

6/27/2007 3:04 AM  

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