Dreams, Dreams, Dreams, Dreams, Dreams …

By Lauren R. Stanley

If you were to finish the following sentence – “I dream of a Church that …” – what would you say? Of what do you dream?

In an ad hoc meeting of the Acts 8 Moment Thursday night at the Westin Hotel, more than 120 people considered that question, and more than 40 came forward to share their dreams.

The Acts 8 Moment is the creation of three Episcopal clergy-bloggers,
the Revs. Tom Ferguson (Crustyoldean), Susan Snook (Goodandjoyfulthing) and Scott Gunn (sevenwholedays).

Ferguson, Gunn and Snook said their goal for the conversation was to replace “petty squabbles over turf in institutions that won’t exist much longer,” with a focus on “what the Holy Spirit is doing.”

Ferguson kicked off the gathering by calling it a chance to “study some Scripture, pray a little bit together, have some conversation and share some of our dreams and visions about what brought us here, the Church we love, the Church we want to bring forward.”

“I’m here,” he said, “because I love this Church, this Church that has transformed my life.”

People have asked him, Ferguson said, “’What’s your agenda?’ I wish I had a pile of torches and pitchforks, but we don’t. There is no agenda … other than bringing together folks who love this Church as much as we do, and to talk a little bit about it.”

Snook said that she wanted the Acts 8 Moment to happen because “I am tired of hearing negative stuff all the time (about the Church). I see miracles every day because I serve Jesus, and I believe miracles can happen. … In the spirit of Acts 8, I want us to listen to what the Holy Spirit is doing. Let us look and see what positive things God might be directing us toward.”

Gunn added, “We are trying to think of what we might do once we … create a vision of what our future might be.”

Then Gunn invited everyone present to finish the sentence, “I dream of a Church that …”

Without stating their names, 46 people, many with great passion and emotion, responded.

“I dream of a Church that …
…. has lots of opportunities to listen and share with each other.”
… where you can’t tell where the Church ends and the world begins.”
… shows love.”
… believes that the Holy Spirit will direct and is not afraid to go where it’s directed.”
… in which the spiritual life is lived intensely.”
… is not ashamed to proclaim Jesus.”
… honors its past without sacrificing its future.”
… where we are working freely and joyfully with ecumenical partners to do Christ’s work in the world.”
… actively engages in raising the dead.”
… whose members are not afraid to talk about how God has changed their lives.”
… where people can sing the song that is in their hearts and their souls.”
… is a home for the entire community.”
… has tattooed on its forehead, ‘Take a risk.’”
… is willing to take risks knowing that what God does not bless, God will redeem.”
… practices radical welcoming with joy for everyone.”
… where the answer is ‘Yes’ far more often than the answer is ‘No.’”
… where we understand that our own transformation not shared is wasted.”
… that’s at Starbucks or Panera or the Laundromat.”
… puts God first in everything it does and every decision it makes.”
… where people don’t say, ‘We always did it that way before.’”
… where the preaching is damned good every time.”
… believes it has good news worth sharing.”
… believes in missionary outposts everywhere.”
… actually acts as if the news of the reign of God is a good thing.”
… where the average age is not 62.”
… plays as well as it prays and learns from younger members how to do that.”
… where people come or don’t come, where the Church comes to them, where people expect to feel that tingle in the spine where we know the Holy Spirit is close.”
… made peace with the fact that it is not a kingdom or a corporation but is in fact a church.”
… sings the old hymns as well as the new hymns and we like them all.”
… where I’m not one of two (African Americans) in a room.”
… where we create altars in the community, where we’re even in burned-out buildings with plywood and sawhorses, a table is laid to feed the people who need to be fed.”
…. realizes the idols in front of us and don’t let them control us.”
… knows the most important thing is relationship, holy relationships that ground us and out of which we act.”
… is more worried about laying its life down for the life of the world than it is about its own self preservation.”
… puts its money where its mouth is.”
… loves and trusts Jesus enough that we can recognize, confront and confess the sins that we are engaged in, all of them.”
… removes all barriers of all people with disabilities and that they are fully included in the life and ministry of our Church.”
… in which the leadership reflects the diversity of the community in which it’s located.”
… is pregnant and expects to give birth very soon.”
… is passionate about reaching out to unchurched people, and equally passionate about reconciling post-Church people to God.”
… takes Jesus and the Gospel seriously and itself lightly.”
… is more interested in going out and doing mission than in studying it.”
… is where gatherings like this is where we make decisions.”
…. is where no one says to me, in a tone of apology, ‘I’m just a lay person, but …’”
… can involve mission using plane tickets and mission that doesn’t use plane tickets.”

Following the “dreaming,” there was discussion about actions that could be taken during this General Convention. Groups were formed to discuss the possibility of submitting resolutions; to talk about candidates for Church offices; and to discuss what can be done on the local level as a result of the night’s discussion.

Ferguson then summed up the gathering by asking, “Where do we go from here?”

“Does the Church look like the one we talked about in our dreams,” he asked. “In some ways yes. In some ways, we fall short. We need to transform it. Where do we go from here? I want you to keep these thoughts and dreams in mind as we move through these next few days.”

He promised that in the next few days, he, Gunn and Snook would find another time to gather again, possibly on the evening of July 11.

Categories: GC2012

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2 replies »

  1. I dream of a church people willing to release their sense of human privilege and entitlement, willing to understand that stewardship of earth still means oversight and control, and then join the planet as an integral participant in the biotic world, for the sake of healing creation.