Thoughts on the “Church and Post-Christian Culture” Conference (Part 1)

missio-allianceLast week, I posted about “Church and Post-Christian Culture: Christian Witness in the Way of Jesus,” a conference organized by Missio Alliance and held at the Carlisle Brethren in Christ Church on September 19-20. Specifically, I blogged about the way the conference was bringing together what I termed a “megachurch Evangelical” sensibility with Anabaptist convictions. In that regard, it was certainly an interesting gathering.

Of course, the gathering was interesting in many other ways, too. I appreciated the opportunity to hear from speakers I know only from their books: people like Greg Boyd, the Minnesota megachurch pastor who wrote one of my favorite neo-Anabaptist books, The Myth of a Christian Nation. (The Search for Piety and Obedience readers might remember Boyd as the influential pastor who considered aligning with the Brethren in Christ a few years back.) Boyd’s talk was — as I expected — quite engaging.

My former student Brooke Strayer speaking during a breakout session at the "Church and Post-Christian Culture" conference.

My former student Brooke Strayer speaking during a breakout session at the “Church and Post-Christian Culture” conference.

Yet I was particularly moved by some of the talks by folks whose names I’d never heard before, among them Meghan Good, pastor of Albany Mennonite Church in Oregon, and Samuel Sarpiya, a Church of the Brethren pastor ministering and teaching Kingian nonviolence on the streets of post-industrial Rockford, IL.

I also appreciated the opportunity to catch up with my friend Kurt Willems, a popular blogger and Brethren in Christ church planter in Seattle, Wash.

Finally, it was great to see and hear my former student Brooke Strayer give a truncated version of her history of the Brethren in Christ peace position at one of the conference breakout sessions.

And yet I have my reservations about some of what I saw and heard at the conference. A few thoughts are percolating. I hope to weave them into a semi-coherent follow-up post in the next few days.

In the meantime, here’s a round-up of some blog posts offering coverage and opinion on the gathering:

  • Over at MennoBytes, the blog of Mennonite Church USA publishing house MennoMedia, Amy Gingerich offers a positive take on the conference proceedings from the perspective of an “ethnic Mennonite”
  • At Pastor’s Post, a Church of the Brethren blogger meditates on some of what she learned at the conference.
  • This fascinating post from Staunton Mennonite weblog considers how conferences like this one encourage “Mennonite fanaticism” over “celebrity” pastors (like Boyd). The blogger calls this response “fall[ing] into the trappings of the broader society.”

I’ll certainly be blogging more about this conference in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!


About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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7 Responses to Thoughts on the “Church and Post-Christian Culture” Conference (Part 1)

  1. Jon Stanton says:

    I’m interested in hearing more thoughts from you about the conference, Devin. I was a bit shocked at the discussion I saw underway at MennoNerds! I heard Meghan Good preach at the 2013 Mennonite Church USA Convention and thought she brought a powerful message. Glad to hear that she is speaking to the larger Anabaptist body as well!

  2. Devin Manzullo-Thomas says:

    John, are you talking about the MennoNerds blog or on Twitter? I’d like to read what they’ve written. Could you send a link?

  3. Pingback: Brooke Strayer Continues Her Historical Activism on the Brethren in Christ Peace Position | The Search for Piety and Obedience

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