Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Festival spirituality, mission and ministry
I’m speaking tomorrow at the National Uniting Church Rural Ministry Conference, at Barmera, which is about 3 hours drive north of Adelaide, in the Riverlands.
My topic is festival spirituality. It’s a significant development of some ideas I sketched in my The Out of Bounds Church?: Learning to Create a Community of Faith in a Culture of Change. I will begin by looking at Old Testament patterns of gathering and how it relates to worship, mission, community and interconnection. I will then do a drive by of a number of articles from Rural Theology, contemporary research on belonging and participation, along with research into current festival patterns in the UK.
Here’s my conclusion.
I have wanted to engage with two problems. First, the perception of Christianity as urban, a move which can downplay the vitality of rural ministry. Second, the perception of church as building, geographic and Vicar led.
I have deployed the Old Testament to suggest different modes of gathering, around sacred sites, on pilgrimage, in festivals, around tables. I would suggest these are more congruent with the needs of rural folk, in current patterns of belonging, in ways of participation and the existence already of festivals.
Finally, two examples have been provided, which show current examples of rural churches embracing these new/old forms. My suggestion is that these patterns are more likely to be life-giving for a rural church. Rather than a weekly habit, they provide ways to participate in the rhythm of a community, to embrace sense of place and to offer spirituality for the road trips so integral to rural life.
It should be a fun day.