3/1/12

THEOLOGY PUB - UNIQUE SPACE

After a year of hearing about monthly "Theology Pub" events hosted in Capital Hill by Simon Cunningham, pastor of Roots, I finally attended one in February, along with two other Emmaus Road members. This particular event included a lecture connecting the field of epistemology with the study of, and debate around, the rationality of faith. Without getting into details (you can read more here), I recommend future events based on this: it was a great learning event in a very unique social (and spiritual) space. I heard a relevant, substantive presentation, followed by a lively Q&A session among a crowd of some forty Seattleites, including committed atheists, religious believers, and people in between. Together, we considered the ideas presented without indulging in combative, acrimonious squabbling. There was definite disagreement; people had different responses, thoughts, and feelings toward the presentation. For the most part, though, it felt to me like a productive and honest exchange in pursuit of understanding. In cyberspace, people seem quick to insult, dismiss, and stereotype each other over religious disagreements; it was refreshing to enter this alternative space, where face to face, there was more accountability to listen and speak with consideration for the other.

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The Emmaus Road Story

In the winter of 1997, we began as a small team of about 10 people, committed to gathering and growing a church that would connect with others like ourselves; people interested in connecting with God, in the person and work of Jesus Christ, but disconnected from the activity of many mainstream congregations. With the financial support of a larger church organization, our pastor was able to work full time with the team in planning, leadership development, and meeting people in the community.

Our first meetings were open discussion forums. We talked about prayer, scripture, spiritual discipline and the issues with which we all struggle. As friends talked to friends, the first group expanded and we multiplied into two.

Inspired by the journey process as a metaphor for spiritual growth, we searched for a name which would reflect that idea. In the resurrection narrative of Luke 24, we found our name "on the road to Emmaus."

After our first worship event on Good Friday of 1997, both groups began to gather together for worship once a month. In various coffee shops and rental spaces, we gradually increased our worship times to twice a month, and in September of 1998 we decided to gather every Sunday. Since the beginning, numerical growth has been gradual but steady, most often through the personal contact of friends talking to friends.

Today, several small groups continue to meet for open discussions on prayer, scripture, and the process of encountering God in daily life; we all gather for worship each week.