Thoughts on Cornerstone 2009: Seminars

July 15, 2009

emergent / emerging church / ministry

As I said earlier, this year’s Cornerstone Festival had a lot of great seminars. We spent a good deal of time in them, and got a lot out of them, and I want to look at this, as I looked at the music earlier.

The seminars are an amazing part of each Cornerstone for us. We have met and come to be in relationship with wonderful people through them, and this happens each year for us.

Brad Culver and his wife Mary are two of our favorite people. We have been able to spend time listening to and learning from them, and also just hanging out with them, each year for the past several years. They, their wisdom, and their hearts have become very dear to us. This year, Brad had a seminar on ancient doctrines and practices, similar to an extent to the things in his blog. His words are always wonderful.

Peter Wohler, and some of the others from Source in Minneapolis, have also been wonderful to us, opening their mealtimes and seminars and hearts to us. We have learned much from them, and feel a strong resonance with them as they continue to move in the 24-7 Prayer movement, seeking to engage the marginalized with prayer, creativity, and justice. We hope to visit them in the near future.

This year, Tony Jones and Phyllis Tickle did a wonderful seminar on the Emergence that is occurring in culture and the church. It was great to see them dialogue with each other and with us, and watch the wisdom and insight that they have. We also feel incredibly fortunate to have talked with both of them, and to have spent some time hanging out with Tony.

I try to talk a good deal about the links between the underground and Emergent, and this seminar continued to confirm that for me. I feel that it is an unknown thing for many on both sides. Many who spend their lives serving the marginalized or the alternative for the kingdom of Jesus don’t realize that Emergent is, in many ways, the continuation of that. It has broadened and deepened, but it is the same heart. Likewise, many within Emergent do not realize that their innovative ways of doing church and seeking the kingdom first emerged from university English departments in order to reach the punks and goths of the 70s and 80s.

Cornerstone has begun to be a place where this is evident. In recent years, the The Underground Railroad has started its own seminar tent, and the ideas about church and culture that its leaders have been sharing for years have begun to move into wider discussion. People like Tony and Phyllis, as well as people like Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren, Miroslav Volf, and others have led well-attended seminars that have taken Cornerstone in new directions theologically and culturally, and it is a beautiful thing.