With grandchildren and great grandchildren in mind, but everyone please enjoy and many blessings on your day. (This is a Beanscot video)
|picture by Stephen Larson|
|That place in Panoche|
Elliott goes further,
“There is a need to serve those in downtown (and other parts of Knoxville) who have ties to the traditional mainline church (i.e. were raised in the mainline church or have experience with the worship style) but who yearn for more connection, conversation, and authenticity during meeting times. This is not to say that worship or other activities in the mainline Church do not breed authenticity and connection, however, we need to be open to trying new things to reach more people. There is also a need to serve those who, while they enjoy the openness, creativity and informality of some of the new church developments, might find their theology too conservative and desire something more progressive.”
So the intention of this particular call for a new worshiping community is not that the sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus can be made known to those who are without the hope of the good news, but that those who are unsatisfied with any of the existing churches, including the Presbyterian ones, can find a more progressive theology in the midst of a new kind of community.
And then there is the confession that not only are there diverse shops, artistic attractions and diverse people in downtown Knoxville, it is also Elliott’s home, her place of familiarity. It is also the place of familiarity of those members of the team working to build the new community. Kally writes:
“We have lived in Knoxville for many years and find ourselves working and hanging out in downtown over any other place in Knoxville. Downtown Knoxville is our community. It is the natural place we would plant a church because we already feel at home here. We know the place and the people. To plant a church somewhere else in Knoxville would feel inauthentic to us. We care about downtown Knoxville and want to see the community grow and flourish.” (Italics mine)
While there is a great deal of good in loving your place, in caring about neighbors and neighborhoods, in attending worship in your neighborhood, none of Elliott’s reasons for a ‘new’ worshiping community have the authentic, (if I may use that word), ring of a biblical call. Elliott and her team want to introduce people who are similar to them to a Jesus who bears their image. Missing is the longing to introduce the people of downtown Knoxville to the one who loved them enough to tent in their neighborhood, walk among them and shed his blood for their salvation. The heavy cost of grace, to paraphrase Bonhoeffer, is missing.
The community will:
An inoffensive Presbyterianism meets in these communities. The Reformed faith will shape First creek, so states the proposal, and yet it will be changed by the community so states the proposal. The Reformed faith is needed for the Southside of Chattanooga, says the proposal for Mercy Junction, because they, the authors, are “proud of our Reformed heritage that reminds us that to know God, we must first know ourselves.” The proposal also points to “faith in mercy, justice and relationship with our Creator …” And even Presbyterian “discipline and structured accountability” of the tradition is lifted up. And, of course. Presbyterian polity.
But what of faith in mercy and justice? Poor cheated sinners, where is Jesus who gives mercy because of his cross. Where is Jesus who procures justice by way of his cross? Know ourselves? In Christ we are known and loved by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.