Over 65 participants took part in this month's second annual “State of the Church” conversation, convened by Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry on May 7, 2013. Attendees came from all over Washington and Oregon and included: denominational executives, individuals active in various types of ministry, students of the School of Theology and Ministry, and key leaders from faith-based community organizations such as--the Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission, Faith Action Network, Church Council of Greater Seattle, and Oregon Ecumenical Ministries. The purpose of this annual event is to: 1) Create a workshop that invites religious influencers in the region into a single room, in order to 2) provide an intensive networking environment that 3) aims at producing cooperative conversation and action for addressing shared challenges and opportunities facing the future of Christianity in a rich pluralistic sea of religions. These influencers and leaders have come to this conversation through Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's formal ecumenical partnerships, as well as through the school's emerging partnership relationships (I.E. with Progressive Evangelicals, Pentecostals, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and more). This year's second annual gathering focused on themes such as: homelessness in the community, shared building spaces, specialized ministry spaces, and the need for a coherent religious voice in civic discourse. The first spin-off planning session from State of the Church will take place in June on the subject of repurposing church lawns in order to cultivate food for feeding the hungry in the Tri-County Puget Sound Region as well as Portland. Students, faculty, and members of the school's extended community discussed how being Christian in the Pacific Northwest means that Christians share a minority-religion status that requires creative cooperation. Christians from varied denominational backgrounds already are working alongside one another in many cases, but during the gathering there was a significant desire expressed to deepen this cooperation. The State of the Church is not merely a conversation of Christians in a room “talking to one another” for the sake of building relationships. It was a truly vibrant conversation of learning, planning and strategy toward our shared future. A few attendees shared thoughts with us this month about their experience:
The third annual "State of the Church" gathering will take place May 5-6, 2014! More details to follow.
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