What is your dream for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Church Universal?By Emily Hope Morgan
I am convinced that the only real failure the church is experiencing today is a failure to dream. Have we become so enthralled with nostalgic ideals of what the church “used to be” that we have lost the ability to envision a future different from our present? Have we lost sight of the Holy Spirit’s movement? Have we lost the ability to dream?
No! While our dream-supply may be running dangerously low, and while institutional support may be lacking, we have not lost our ability to dream. Across many denominations a movement has sparked. Some are calling this awakening “the Mainline Summer”, but I prefer to think of it as the Summer of Dreaming. It all started when the United Methodist Church created a Twitter account @DreamUMC after their nation-wide General Conference earlier this year. Now the Presbyterians are getting involved.
I had the opportunity to visit the PC(USA)’s General Assembly in July and see the good, the bad, and the hopeless. The Saturday GA ended, I saw people using the hashtag #dreamPCUSA to share their dreams for the church, express their hopes and frustrations, and to get organized.
I created the Twitter account @WeDreamPCUSA in response to what I was seeing, and a youth director from New Jersey named Angie Rines created the Facebook account facebook.com/dreampcusa. Within eight hours, we had over 100 “likes” on Facebook and over 200 followers on Twitter, as we gathered for a prayer tweet up*. As of July 27th, we have over 200 “likes” and 440 followers. This may not mean much to some, but to me it says that people are thirsty for engagement and hungry for a place to dream together.
Next, we saw a DreamUCC and Acts 8 (the Episcopal version) emerge. We started a blog at dreampcusa.org with the support of seminarian Mark Smith. We have had Rev. Dr. Kirk Jeffery write about his unique ministry of being a pastor to pastors, Rosella McQuain write about living her faith in the workplace, and co-facilitator Angie Rines write about whether or not we are paying attention to God’s actions in the world, along with several others. We are also planning on developing a more organized way to share our dreams. We hope in particular to launch local (probably presbytery-based) Dreamer Fellowship groups this fall.
People have been tweeting and sharing on Facebook as well as other venues their dreams. Some are specific, some are general, and some are opening up questions that there are no easy answers to. Here are a few from Twitter that represent some of the main themes I am seeing:
Most of us are not sure exactly what will happen, but we have some strong dreams. Our Mission and Vision Statement begins with a quote from the Confession of 1967: “In every age, the church has expressed its witness in words and deeds as the need of the time required” (9.02). We are in a time when the church has a wonderful opportunity to prepare a place for those who will come after us through innovation and support for dreams, both new and old—dreams whose time has come or come again. We are not looking to destroy the structures which support us, but it is time to start dreaming about how they can be adapted to fit modern realities.
Unbound is a great example. It used to be a print magazine called Church & Society, which was shut down because of lack of funding. It has been resurrected, and transformed, as Unbound: The Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice. It is a new way of doing ministry. The Church even ordained Rev. Patrick David Heery, fresh out of seminary, to serve as the journal’s Managing Editor, a blessing in good faith of what this ministry was dreamt to be. Now, as Unbound approaches its one-year anniversary, many of the dreams which supported its creation have come true; new dreams are being dreamt to take it even further.
It is my hope (one of my dreams) to see Dream PC(USA) saying the same thing around its one year anniversary. I hope our Dreamer Fellowships will have given people a space not only to dream together but also to organize as communities of faith. I hope our social justice passions find support through dreaming together and putting those dreams into action. I hope that, through particular denominational structures, we can lift up the church universal.
I ask Unbound‘s readers to join us whether or not you are a member of the PC(USA). Dream PC(USA) is a grassroots movement, and the more people who are involved, the more we can do. Join us on Twitter for prayer at 8pm EDT on Saturdays using hashtag #dreampcusa, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, bookmark our blog, share your dream with us, and/or sign up for more information about our Dreamer Fellowships.
Share your dream for the church below as a comment and then share it on Twitter!
Emily Morgan is the creator and co-facilitator of Dream PC(USA). She is a student at Princeton Theological Seminary and a Candidate for Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She graduated with a BA in History in 2009 from Drury University and plans to pursue congregational and college ministry. She also recently started a website designed to ponder faith issues and get young adults and others thinking about issues in the 21st Century and how they relate to spirituality and religion. Read more at www.fightthebees.com.