Read Mark Milkamp’s Essay, “Belong. Behave. Believe.”
Read Kenita Ruth Harris’ Essay, “The Immediacy of Justice – The Fierce Urgency of Now”
Read Kathleen Edwards-Chase’s Essay, “Ministry Navigation in a Spirit-ed Windstorm”
A NOTE TO OUR READERS: The Journey Group learning experience is close to my heart, as I took part in its genesis at Western Theological Seminary (a shout out to readers who have taken part in former Journey Groups!). This week, participants in a current Journey Group at Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI, will be posting on Social Justice and the Church, the learning goal they have chosen. Today, Carol Ann Bailey, who staffs this group of pastors in their learning journey, describes the Journey Group process. The conversation this week continues with perspectives from pastors participating in the group. For more information on the Journey Group process, go to www.westernsem.edu and click on the Journey icon on the front page. I hope you enjoy this week and look forward to your perspectives. Cynthia Holder Rich, Director, ecclesio.com.
The Social Justice Journey Group is a group of peers, learning together around the theme of Social Justice and they are discovering how important it is for Social Justice to be intertwined with our theology and ecclesiology, not just a program added to what we do. This week you will hear from different members of this peer learning group who recently met with Brian McLaren and Diana Butler Bass.
Journey Groups: Peer Groups for Focused Pastoral Learning, kicked off in January 2004 through a generous grant from the Lilly Foundation for Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) given to Journey, Center for the Church’s Learning at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. The six groups consisted of peers (pastors or pastoral agents) who learn together over a period of time (for three years meeting five or more times for three-four day gatherings), around a common theme. Some of the themes explored for the first Journey Group grant were: Missional Church, Women in Ministry, Emergent Church, and Ministering in Transitioning Communities.
Each group has a facilitator who serves as a guide to the learning process, but the group covenants together and is responsible for their learning. The learning is spread as each Journey Group member facilitates a cohort of learners from their ministry context. The ministry cohort learns alongside their leader and joins in one of the Journey Group gatherings. In a final celebration gathering, Journey Groups share their learning with the wider church.
This model of peer groups for focused pastoral learning is a transformative process for the peer learners, congregations and denominations they serve. In 2009, Journey, Center for the Church’s Learning at Western Theological Seminary received a sustainability grant to continue the learning process. Currently, Journey facilitates two Journey Groups every two years. The Social Justice Journey Group is facilitated by Wesley Granberg Michaelson (former General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America) and just completed their second of five gatherings. In September of 2011, the group went through their Formation Gathering, sharing their life narrative and from their stories, developed their learning goals. To begin their learning, the group desired to look at Social Justice through a theological and historical lens, so for their Cultivation Gathering they had the privilege of meeting with Brian McLaren and Diana Butler Bass earlier this month after reading Brian McLaren’s book, A New Kind of Christianity and Diana Butler Bass new book Christianity after Religion. The Social Justice Journey Group will meet for three more gatherings – Exploration, Transformation (with their cohort group) and end in May 2013 with a Celebration Gathering where they share their learning with others.
Kneeling – Diana Butler Bass, Kathleen Edwards Chase, Jes Kast-Keat. Standing – Carol Ann Bailey, Mark Milkamp, Louis Ford, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, Mike and Krista Kopchick, Brian McLaren, and Kenita Harris.
Carol Ann Bailey serves as Continuing Education Associate and Journey Group Administrator at Journey, Center for the Church’s Learning at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI.