Anglimergent Planning Meeting Rundown

I just posted this on Anglimergent, so I'm double dipping. However, whatever. I just spent like three hours writing this, and I thought some of you might be interested.

Hi All,

I'm just back from a 'Y'all Come' gathering of the Episcopal Church (TEC) Anglimergent contingent in San Francisco, having completed an obligatory Facebook/email check and nap. While I was there I volunteered to write a blog (read unofficial, subjective, incomplete, etc.) report on the event so, coffee in hand, here goes for your edification, conversation and correction. More detailed minutes/attendance will be posted later, and you can probably find the Twitter feed that essentially functioned as live minutes if you (unlike me) know how to use that newfangled technology.

The meeting started on Sunday afternoon after beautiful and communal worship and lunch with St. Gregory of Nyssa, emergent before there was such a thing, and we were co-convened by Sara Miles and Paul Fromberg from St. Gregory's/Dio of California. Wendy Johnson from the Dio of Minnesota started discussion with a rundown of the history of Anglimergent as an organized group in the United States (follow the link for her report), and Phyllis Tickle and others provided contextual input about happenings in the wider emergent and Episcopal communities. Following on that, Dixon Kinser from the Dio of Tennessee Skyped in for a Max Headroom-esque presentation of a structural proposal for Anglimergent TEC. The rest of Saturday was devoted to a free-flowing conversation around structure, money, and Anglimergent identity. Phyllis Tickle closed the evening with a diaconal exhortation to 'not screw things up' on Monday, when she was not able to be present. On Monday morning, following breakfast and morning prayer facilitated by Sara Miles and Andy Shamel, the group moved through a focused discussion of identity and mission guided by Paul Fromberg. Following that process, several minutes were spent finalizing our conversation around structure. We then spent several hours considering questions surrounding the Anglimergent presence at General Convention 2009 in Anaheim, and concluded business with the formation of several 'working groups' that will be described below. The meeting concluded unofficially with a gathering for drinks and nachos at a Mexican restaurant in the Mission District.

Several Golden Nuggets that I would like to pull from the stream for you:

1. Anglimergent Identity?

Although (or because?) we came together to talk pragmatics, our discussion time was devoted primarily to the question of our network identity. This discussion took the form of an extended group brainstorm session, with an intentional focus on universal participation. Here are some of the most important themes that came up when we discussed what we are about as a network:

incarnation/the Kingdom of God/doing things
Anglican identity
openness/freedom
contextual mission
conversation/mutual support/nurture
creativity/play/experimentation
dreams/energy/passion
theological reflection/questions

2. Structure? No thank you.

The community gathered in San Francisco was of the opinion that our network structure ain't broke so we shouldn't fix it. We should remain as open and 'flat' as possible with the primary national organizing mechanisms being this website and ongoing 'Y'all Come' gatherings in shifting locations in the US. We do not desire that there should be any one 'voice' of Anglimergent TEC, nor should there be national Anglimergent officers, offices, boards, decision making structures, budgets, etc. We should continue to exist as a loose network, allowing freedom for creativity, prophetic voice, open conversation, etc. without encumbrances or official accountabilities beyond those implied by our own diocesan memberships/spiritual consciences, etc. If you look over Dixon's structural proposal (organized w/Fred Burnham), we essentially rejected the proposed 'cabinet' idea. We affirmed the idea that 'working groups' should be formed, so long as they were organized organically by network members and not regulated by a national committee, and we affirmed that it is wise that these groups should be task oriented and dissolved once their task was completed - although no national group will be regulating the way they function, so people can essentially get in groups to do whatever they want and call it 'Anglimergent'. Anglimergent TEC's structural vision, I believe we said, is to be a network of relationships and not an official department of the church that dictates or regulates anything. In that vein...

3. Money? No thank you, but...

The community also voiced the majority opinion that we don't want to pursue fundraising for an Anglimergent TEC budget organized through the website or through the group that has been meeting at these 'Y'all comes'. This group doesn't want the encumbrances that come along with money from the national church or elsewhere, doesn't have the mechanisms to deal with money in any case, and doesn't feel that a budget is appropriate for this type of conversational, open, networked organization.

However, there was interest in the formation of a discussion/working group to consider questions of 'budget' more carefully. There were strong opinions that contextual mission and fresh expressions of church need to receive wider financial support and resources from TEC (though this didn't seem to be a unanimous opinion). The idea that some form of independent Domestic Mission grant board should be formed, and that some members present at our conversation should be on the board, found some support - so long as that body was a distinct entity from Anglimergent. Karen Ward, Eric Erickson and Tim Mathis volunteered to start a discussion/working group around these issues (and I would invite any/all to join our discussion on this site, which should appear shortly!).

At the Seattle Anglimergent 'Y'all Come' in 2008, some participants thought that it would be wise and expedient for Karen Ward to find a way to organize a 2009 General Convention request for finances to support the kind of work that Anglimergent is doing. Karen plans to go forward with this request for national financial support for contextual/domestic mission pending input/support from interested bishops and other national leadership - though this will explicitly not be money for 'Anglimergent' per se, but for some TBD independent body. Whatever form this proposed body takes, it will be informed by Anglimergent sensibilities and perhaps populated in part by Anglimergent conversation participants, but will be neither accountable to nor responsible for Anglimergent as a network. Several conversation members advised "I hope this works. I hope you get a lot of money. I'm glad I don't have to deal with it. Don't screw it up and don't make us look stupid."

4. General Convention Presence: Yes please.

A working group has formed, co-chaired by Anastasia and John McAteer and Andy Shamel, to organize a GenCon presence for the Anglimergent Community (Can somebody clarify who else is on this/how other folks can get involved in this discussion?!). Rosa Lee Harden has access to a booth that she will make available for Anglimergents. General consensus was that this presence will take a relational/pastoral/prayerful/chaplaincy form in an attempt to serve the GenCon community and engage in conversation. We'll talk and we'll pray and we'll try to love people and we'll try not to communicate Anglimergent as a product that can be bought or sold. You are invited to be a part of this presence! Contact any of the co-chairs to find out more (You can message any of them on the site.)

I'm posting this to get an online conversation started. There seemed to be some stakes hammered into the (albeit sandy, unstable) ground with this meeting - primarily around the desire to avoid institutionalization and ossification for the network. I'd personally love to hear input from all comers, and particularly folks in the CoE who are further along in this conversation than we are.

Peace,
Tim

Comments

Mike Croghan said…
Sounds like it was a fruitful gathering, Tim - glad to hear it!

I don't have much of an opinion on most of these items, except I really like the proposed structure (as I said on the Ning when Dixon posted it), and I think eschewing money (for the most part) is very wise. As a friend of mine (and former PCA pastor) once said, "money almost always implies control". And another friend commented, "what do you mean, 'almost'?"

Also, I love all the identity brainstorming stuff, but of course I do. :-) It's all core "emerging church" stuff, except "Anglican identity" - and that, of course, is puts the "Angli-" in Anglimergent.

Finally: props on the "Ma-ma-max Headroom" reference. :-D
Tim Mathis said…
Thanks Mike. the emerging church core people just don't know they're Anglican yet :)

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