Brueggemann on “Radical Hospitality”

For those who may be interested, we’ve received word from Georgetown United Methodist Church in Jenison, Michigan (near Grand Rapids) of an upcoming conference this month featuring Old Testament scholar and author Dr. Walter Brueggemann, along with Bishop William Willimon, Professor of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School at Duke University in North Carolina.

The conference is scheduled the weekend of January 25th-26th, 2013 and is titled Radical Hospitality: Israel, the Church, and the ‘Other’.” If you are interested in attending this special event, visit the Georgetown UMC web site for additional information and registration materials.

Fountain Street Church

The roots of Fountain Street Church, the “liberal church of Grand Rapids,” date back to 1824, when the region’s original Baptist mission established itself “to convert the Ottawa Native Americans.”  A lengthy history of institutional squabbles with other area Baptists eventually culminated with the separated factions reuniting in 1869 to create Fountain Street Baptist Church.

In the late 1890s, the church leadership effectively converted the Fountain Street Baptist Church from orthodox to progressive, reflecting the spirit of the University of Chicago Divinity School.  Leaders that followed, many of whom were also graduates of the same school, permanently set Fountain Street Church on a liberal path.

Around 1960, the church formally separated from the American Baptists, dropping the Baptist name and even shedding any explicitly Christian identity.  Part of no denomination, the church promotes intellectual freedom with spiritual integrity and a commitment to serve others – especially the poor and the oppressed, and to work for a world of “liberty and justice for all.”  Christians, agnostics, non-theists, and those with other or even multiple religious connections become members.  Its current motto is “Free the mind.  Grow the soul.  Change the world.”  According to the Senior Minister, anyone who supports these goals ‘belongs’ to FSC.  Their job is to help them all do it, whether they are actual members or not.

How well does the above work, to be the liberal voice in a conservative community? Senior pastor Dr. Fred Wooden will help us understand more of the history of the church, its strengths, successes and difficulties and the very practical challenges it faces as it functions day by day in its community.

Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan

New Perspectives attendees may be interested in another SPECIAL EVENT taking place in mid-September 2008, on a theme that will be familiar to any who attended the Jesus Seminar this past May: “Jesus in the 1st and 21st Centuries“.

Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan are leading the seminar at First United Methodist Church in Downers Grove ( a western suburb of Chicago). The dates are September 12,13 & 14, 2008, and the cost is only $30.00.

Here’s the lineup:

Friday 7:30pm Free lecture: “The Gospels, Then and Now”

Saturday 9:00am “The Kingdom & the Way: The Message & Activity of Jesus”
Saturday 11:00amExecution and Resurrection: Good Friday & Easter”
Saturday 12:30pm Lunch (included in registration)
Saturday 1:30pm “Following Jesus Today: Being Christian in a time of Empire”

Sunday Morning Marcus Borg will preach twice during worship services (8:15 am, 9:30am, 11:00 am) and Dominic Crossan will be teaching SS class (9:30am & 11:00 am).

This is a great opportunity to hear these two exciting speakers at very reasonable cost for the two-day seminar. Borg and Crossan have done seminars together before; they enjoy working together, and it shows! If you are interested in this event, additional information and registration can be found on the Downers Grove church’s web site:
You can register online and reserve your spot for this event. Also let us know if you are interested in carpooling to this seminar — we may be able to help coordinate that through our listserv and web site here.

John Shelby Spong

In the first meeting of New Perspectives, we were introduced to the ideas of John Shelby Spong, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark (New Jersey). Here are links to additional sites and writings by and about Rev. Spong: