No two ‘emergent’ congregations look alike
|A UMC.org photo
artistic display focuses on Jesus' last seven words as part of a Holy
Week worship experience at Antioch United Methodist Church.
June 15, 2005
A UMC.org Feature
By Amy Green*
What does an “emergent” congregation look like?
almost impossible to answer,” says Mark Oestreicher, whose San Diego
company has organized national conferences exploring the topic. “It's a
movement driven by theology, so the application is different at each
two emerging churches are the same. For some, the worship feels New Age
with candles, chanting and meditation. They include Taize or compline
services rooted in old Christian traditions. Others use spiritually
inspired rock music by artists such as U2. And others make no outward
change at all.
Rev. Jay Voorhees describes his Nashville congregation as a typical
United Methodist church – and an emerging church. The average age among
his 300 parishioners at Antioch United Methodist Church is about 50, and
the worship is traditional. But Voorhees, who has lectured on the
emerging church at national conferences, says his ministry is
is a place where you can ask anything,” he says. “You can articulate.
‘I'm angry with God!’ and that's OK. ‘I don't agree with this dogma,’
and that's OK. ... This is a place where you can question all of those
boundaries, and you can question what is the truth.”
the week before Easter, Voorhees and his church organized an art
exhibit focused on Jesus' last seven words uttered on the cross. The
exhibit, an example of “emergent” philosophy, was designed to encourage
contemplative examination of each word.
the emerging church is led especially by young adults, Voorhees says
his church's older members are just as eager for a deeper understanding
of their faith as they approach their final days.
heart, he says, the emerging church is about a stripped-down service of
worship that holds true to the Bible's teachings without embellishments
added by today's culture.
“You can do the form, but it only goes so far if you don't have some of the theological understanding behind it,” he says.
*Green is a freelance journalist in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Matt Carlisle, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This feature was developed by UMC.org, the official online ministry of The United Methodist Church.