Monday, November 29, 2010

putting legs on the local: an aussie take on Fresh Expression vision days

Putting legs on the local, held on Saturday, went really well. About 25 folk, gathered around input from multiple voices, networking, food, worship, interaction. One person drove 6 hours from the Eyre Peninsula to be there (it’s Australia!), other’s drove two hours from Murray Bridge or an hour from Strathalybn.

Here in South Australia as a Uniting Church, we’ve had a fair few overseas folk talk to us about fresh expressions and new forms of church.  It’s one thing to hear from overseas, it’s another to have a genuinely local conversation. So Putting Legs on the local was an attempt to gather around an ongoing local conversation. The concept was to some extent based around the UK Fresh expressions vision days but it needed to have a local South Australian flavour.

The day kicked off with an hour introducing concepts and thinking around fresh expressions. This included the Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? of Fresh Expressions and what fresh expressions mean in light of Uniting Church.

We then broke for lunch, which was based around the invitation to all participants to bring local produce to share. This was a stunning success, with all sorts of creative local flavours being brought and shared. Free range eggs, olives from the backyard, citrus tarts from the neighbours tree, donuts from local bakeries. A tasty reminder of the value and diversity of being local.

We then listened to three local fresh expressions tell their story.

  • Eco-church, 9 years old, meeting outdoors with a commitment to the body in worship and a desire to bless the city and think ecologically
  • a yet to go public group wanting to plant a faith community in a local school, meeting to pray, to experiment, to spend time being human within their local community
  • Esther project, using story and alternative worship to engage the arts community.

Again, a wonderful reminder that there is some fine local produce, which is so easily overlooked when the overseas guru comes visiting.  Again a reminder of the uniqueness that is fresh expressions, of the ups and downs, of the importance of experimentation and being open to change.

This was followed by time in groups, exploring what we’d heard. Three types of conversation – the stakeholders, the dreamers, the doers – talked about what they needed to flourish and what they’d like to say to each other in light of fresh expressions. Getting back to share once again we were nourished by the reminder of the diversity that is in the body of Christ and the need for us to value the vital roles of different folk.

We then finished in worship, led by a 4th local fresh expressions. Candelit Reflections had created a beautiful space and offered music, reflection and meditation and it was a fitting reminder, once again, of the richness that is local.

Plenty more to do, but Saturday was a enjoyable beginning.

Posted by steve at 09:18 PM

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