Showing posts from August, 2008

Manchester August 31

[pics of urbis centre: Michelle Coram]

Another plane, from Belfast to Manchester - thankfully these are 30 minute plane rides. Blissful compared to 22 hours. Instead of resting, we went for a walk to the city centre. There is a real mix of old and new buildings, possibly more than the other cities we visited, possibly I only noticed it here ...  We went to Urbis exhibition centre, which is a triangle shaped building with a glass lift that goes up on an angle - we walked up and took the lift down, which was a new experience. There's a different exhibition on each floor, and since it's a triangle, the floors get smaller each level up. When we were there they had manga art (which made me think of my sister's friends who love the anime spin off of manga), urban gardening (in which i read about an interfaith project, different groups, i.e. Christian & Muslism, are coming together for a common ecological goal), ten years of a local fashion designer who has achieved global reno…

Drinks in Manchester 31 August

We had dinner at a pub set beneath the railway line - sounded like thunder every time a train went over. Was gorgeous, another quintessential British pub, which is so stereotypical but it was. Then we were off to drinks at Laura & Marks - Laura is one of the leaders of Sanctus 1. Some of the other leaders and members of the Sanctus community were gathering to share stories with us. Mark came and met us at our hotel, to be our guide over to their place. As the rain had eased - it was really only drizzle, but all day - we went the scenic route, along the canals. Interesting to see how old Victorian Industrial Revolution buildings, once warehouses, have been transformed for cafes and inner city appartments. We walked along the areas where industry had been - ships coming into the warehouses for loading and unloading goods. Now, there are appartments and chic restaurants where those goods were once traded and stored. The canal water is still filthy, so we were cynical of advertising f…

Black Cab tour of Belfast

[pics: rooftops in belfast, Craig Mitchell; Catholic murals, backyards and the wall in belfast & black cab tour group, Michelle Coram]
We met some people from Ikon for brunch at  the St George's Markets, then four of us went on a Black Cab tour of Belfast. There are three groups who run these tours, which tell the story of the Troubles. A Catholic, a Protestant and an impartial group. Without knowing it, we had booked a Catholic cabbie. His was a raw and personal telling of the story, as we saw the graves of people he knew, including a teenager who was his neighbour. This struck me as the story of an oppressed people, who still feel oppressed, marginalised, dispossessed and mistreated, and I wonder if Northern Ireland, particularly Belfast, will ever live in harmony? There are still gates between working class Protestant and Catholic areas, some of which are closed every day, some of which still stand because of the imminent threat of riots during which they would close.  We saw …


[pics: Duke of York, Craig Mitchell]

This afternoon Pete came round to one of our appartments for a chat, and we heard his story and that of Ikon. Essentially, Pete had been with an evangelical church, gone to uni and done philosophy, become dissatisfied with faith as it was lived out where he was and wanted to do something different. Wanted to create a space where people might discover, might be moved, challenged, transformed. He was in a bar with a friend and the friend said 'do it here - go and ask.' So he did, the manager said you're on in three weeks, people responded positively and they've been going for 5 years. Ikon happens once a month in the Black Box, around the corner from the historic Duke of York pub in the centre of Belfast (this is where I would drink my first Guinness, later that night). They also have some groups that meet more often - Last Supper is 12 people gathering over a meal to hear an invited person speak and spark conversation, the Omega Cours…

Birmingham airport

My bag weighed in at 19.8 kg, so I think I'll be getting a back pack to get some of the weight out of there soon. And, I'm not buying anything else. Until the Globe ... We made the girl's day who checked us in, with Kylie's name (do you have a sister called Danii? - she gets it all the time ...), 'no worries' (I had no idea I'd have such an effect with these two words, which she kept repeating, then chuckling), kangaroos, and friends who act in neighbours!

telford - Safe Space

[pics: dinner at Mark's & drinks with Mark in Ironbridge, Craig Mitchell]

We've finished at greenbelt - i've got a few more things to write about that, and will when there's time.
yesterday and today has been in telford, where there is a small community who gather around the meal table, reflect on faith, and encourage each other in the living out of their faith. worship is all of life, meditations are the focussed parts of their gathering. new monasticism is something that this community looks like, and i'll find some websites to link to eventually.
telford is an intentional city, forty years old. ironbridge, a town that is part of the telford area, has tudor and victorian buildings, and grew most dramatically with the industrial revolution. this difference is part of a difficulty in determining the wider community's identity, and the safe space community live within that.we met with Mark Berry, who is employed by CMS and the Anglican Church to be here offerin…


This has little to do with emerging church really, but was something of a pilgrimage for me, was part of the trip, and to be complete, it should be blogged about too. 
Photos: Craig Mitchell (with much thanks, as my camera died five days into our 14 day trip ...)
How can I put into words the being in that place, that place i have walked in imagination and dream? 
First task was a kitsh Shakespeare souvenir challenge! We never agreed on the winner, but of the entries we later saw, there was a thimble, shot glass, an eraser with 'out damn  spot' written on it, Shakespeare insult gum, several magnets ... much to choose from! Heidi and I got ours on a first walk up the main street while clothes were washing at the laundromat. 
After we settled in, not without drama as some rooms were not ready at their specified check in time of 2.00 pm, I showered (mine being one of the rooms that was ready), changed and headed back up the main street. 

I went to the Birthplace. First you walk through …

greenbelt 10

Monday - final day
Was Jesus a jazz musician?  this was the first session I went to on my last day of greenbelt.  Philip Roderick is involved with a group called contemplative fire, who had led some worship sessions that I had missed and it was too late by now to do anything about that. However, coordinating a jazz church space as I do, I thought I would hear someone else's reflections on Jesus and jazz.  Really there was nothing new in what Philip said, using language for Jesus and jazz such as flow, zone, grace and swing. there is a dance between structure and freedom in jazz, as there was in the life of Jesus, in what he was teaching the disciples. As he, as we, allow the Spirit to speak/flow through structures, the both/and-ness of things is beautiful.  All of creation has a melody - we just need to hear. As we interact with others, Philip suggests that it is helpful to find the melody of others and thus be able to walk in time with them.  improvisation is hugely underestimated acco…

greenbelt 9

MondayWhen it comes to blogging/emailing etc., I am really missing my computer, and the time to do those things at my leisure. 
I sat down to lunch by myself yesterday - really did do a lot of greenbelt alone/separate from the group - but was joined by a bloke from London. He worships at one of the hillsong congregations in London, and was enjoying the music at greenbelt. We were joined a little later by a lady who knew Adelaide - had visited here with her husband during their time living in PNG. 
After lunch I went to hear John Bell. I could listen to him all day. He was repeating a talk I thought I had missed, on dangerous hospitality (had technical hitches first time round).  He offered some interesting observations on the way that some foreigners find it easier (or have in the past found it easier) to settle into British communities: if you are white and european, you're less shockingly different. And the chinese people, with less threatening religious difference and cheap food, …

greenbelt 8

Sunday morningHugged an emo this morning! Just gorgeous.  Bought a greenbelt chair/stool, fold up, to save my back. They think of everything here. 
I'm a little overwhelmed by it all today, so am taking it easy.  There is a lot of fair trade stuff here, lots of products made by people in poor nations, empowering themselves out of prostitution, etc., and being supported by Western friends. Is this not living out the mission of Christ? This festival is fantastic!  I'm in the internet cafe, charging my phone and waiting for the computer - where i will blog greenbelts 3–6.  There was a lot of rain last night - kept me awake for a while, though I did sleep better than the night before. The wind rustled the tents so much that I thought people were moving around - Cheryl and I both thought each other was moving about in the tent! 
Worship yesterday:  Cheryl and I finalised the ending, and were both happy with what we worked out, when the others joined us. Nic, Ben and I set up a production …

greenbelt 7

[pics: Michelle Coram]

saturday night
my back is rooted. pain i would expect, though, after flying to london, not sleeping two nights in a row, stressing over presenting worship and sitting on the ground for too many hours [sunday morning, i have bought a little stool to help with that].
after worship - will blog about that separately later - we went to hear julie lee - jazz, soul, blues. gorgeous voice.
then we got tea and went to the jesus arms organic beer tent. they had a massive hymn singing experience. the tent is huge, really long, and it was packed to overflowing, especially because rain was falling, so those on the edge pushed right in. people were singing at the top of their lungs, lifting beers to God in approval or endorsement of the sentiments in the songs (bad theology notwithstanding). now that's church! [NB - this was my initial reaction, see a later post for further reflection on the experience ... ]
as we sang here i am lord, i felt connected to my church back home, w…

greenbelt 6

saturday afternoon

wow, i'm powering through my reflections here - should keep you all busy with reading for a few days!

Sitting in the performance cafe waiting for Les Passagers to begin. I met up with some of the group in the session - greenbelt 5 - but i do feel a little like i'm doing this on my own a little.
this hour or so should be a nice moment before the mania of worship set up i think. still need to rehearse a little more.

Les passagers have a huge rain stick - the size of a small didge! i'll put a photo up eventually - sorry, pressed for time here.
did a beautiful version of sos/message in a bottle, and a lovely cover of u2's still don't know what i'm looking for.

the cafe has black material draped as a lower ceiling, and they've sat fairy lights on it. looks like a starry night. will have to use that idea!

my sister bec would love the violin in these songs.

[went too late to buy their cd, so will have to look for it in aus]

greenbelt 5

Saturday morning - later
heard a couple of the leaders of an anglican church in san francisco speak about their worship. it is focussed around the alter table, which has some lovely words about welcoming all around its edge. most of what they shared of the premise of their worship, the central element of offering communion/eucharist to all, no matter who, was not so striking to us uniting churchers from aus. that's our policy. then we remembered that in the anglican church the rules say baptised / confirmed members of certain protestant denominations are welcome to take part in the eucharist. most don't question, but more out of politeness than an intentional breaking down of boundaries between the members and non members, viewing the searching through eucharist as a valid entry into relationship with Christ. as i say - not so striking for participants in uniting church communion. they also described this theology of open communion as a theology of creation - to omit some peopl…

greenbelt 4

Saturday morning

from my journal: i am sitting in the sun - SUN - and it is warm - WARM!!! up earlier than planned, but i was awake, so why not?
There is african worship happening in the tent to my left. people are flowing out every entrance. the music is wonderful, so joyful, ooh and the harmonies! the YMCA cafe tent i'm sitting outside keeps putting their music on, now off. can't make up their minds what to do.
They have a portable climbing wall out here as well, i'm watching them try to tell a deaf person (from africa or england?) to push the button now he's reached the top! He got it, and is beaming as he comes down!
i'm rewriting my opening words for this afternoon, refining a little.

greenbelt 3

[pics: Michelle Coram (tents & tiny tea tent), Rob Hanks]

Friday - Greenbelt day 1
i didn't sleep well last night. wonder when that will catch up with me ... a couple were having a monumental row in the street in the early hours, which i had to hear. mmm.
i got up early, showered and packed, then read some more of the sally vickers novel miss garnet's angel. i'm not going to make it to her session after all, looking at the program. that's the greenbelt experience apparently.when the other girls (heidi, naomi & kylie) finally got up, we went for breakfast. met up with john on the way, and then found a gorgeous little place in a side street - straight out of the 1930s, complete with war propoganda posters and lime green walls ...we were sad to leave the appartments - very nice.filled in time while others were being dropped off with the luggage by browsing a bookshop, and sat on their verandah in the sun. so nice! i was hoping to thaw out here. i found a couple of Sh…

greenbelt 2

these aren't in order - i'll fix it all and add photos when i'm back in australia and time isn't limited.
have an hour today, so might be able to put up a few thoughts from what i've been engaging with so far at greenbelt.

21 / 08 - thursday
we spent most of the day planning the worship space for saturday afternoon. went to a gorgeous, very english cafe first up - having ditched another because we couldn't get service with the girl on her break and the chef not willing to take our order ... . then off to B&Q - hardware store bigger than the big bunnings stores, if you can believe it - a woolies type store and to the racecourse.
My first impression at the racecourse was how big this festival is. there are literally thousands of people involved in the organisation alone - 25,000 people all up will be at the racecourse this weekend. 10,000 tents/caravans. ours were already up and ready for us, out there on their own! after the visit i did feel a little overwhelme…

greenbelt 1

Saturday morning:
25,000 people are gathering on the Cheltenham racecourse for a unique festival of arts - music, literature, visual and performance art - and justice, worship, fun, etc.
We commented last night that we've never been anywhere where the crowd is so diverse. and i mean diverse - age, culture, sub-culture, everything.
ah, running out of internet cafe time.
yesterday i was invited to a round table discussion between alt. church leaders from uk, usa and australia. felt a bit out of place, coz these people are doing what i'm only dreaming of, but i met someone who is doing research into the communities of first century and twenty first century followers of Christ, which ties in with what i hope to research eventually. hopefully we'll have a conversation during the weekend in more depth.
saw a one woman play called elizabeth's last stand - captivating mime. very funny, especially interactions with audience members. more on that when i've next got time to blog.

colour change

liked it better this way on reflection.

colour change

is the white background better? let me know ...

fresh expressions of church in the uk

So I've finally had a minute or two to sit and think about the forthcoming trip to the uk to experience Greenbelt and to meet with alternative church leaders and communities. I found my way to the website for Fresh Expressions, which is an initiative for emerging church communities in the uk. they have this ad for ordained ministers, inviting people to engage in this new, multifaceted, multidimensional, emerging experience of church. i'm tempted to join. it is inviting. more inviting than the uniting church which at the moment seems to privilege a frightened conservative traditional approach to being church, as much as there are those of us trying to move in new directions.  as i leave australian shores for a few weeks, i'm feeling despondent about church here, about candidating for odained ministry within it, about where we are headed. i hope the things i discover in england rejeuvenate my enthusiasm for church here, rather than invite me to leave it behind for longer.  tha…

storytelling experience

while I'm here, i presented a gospel passage yesterday. it wasn't quite biblical storytelling as i would usually do it, as i had the words in front of me, but it was close. a short passage, i had just about learnt it during the morning as i prepared. anyway, as i told this story of the Canaanite woman who Jesus insults by referring to her as a dog, but who takes the insult and uses it to teach Jesus something about his own kingdom, i saw tears in someone's eyes. there are tears in my eyes as i remember.  this is why i tell the Sacred Stories - they move people, they invite the Spirit to stir our souls.  i wish i could impart this knowledge, this experience, i wish i could get all people who read the Sacred Stories aloud for the gathered people to tell the story from their heart, even if they are reading the text. it's when you look into people's eyes as you tell the story that each person is moved, is changed, is connected through the story, in the Spirit.

preparing for greenbelt

I should be preparing for class tomorrow, but I am increasingly drawn in my thoughts to next week's trip to the UK. The more we talk about new models of training candidates at college, the more i get to dreaming about the shape of the church in the future. it's a big dream. it's a tough one to realise. i don't even know exactly what it looks like.  but yesterday i was reminded of the sketched outline in my head, because the shape of church i have a vision for includes a new shape for ordained ministry. it's something like a picture alan hirsch and michael frost described in a book they wrote - i'll update with details later. instead of bigger churches only, where we compromise the shape of worship to cater for many, might we have many smaller worshipping / church / faith communities, whose worship / gathering is an authentic experience for a few. these many smaller communities might have predominantly voluntary & lay leadership, and form networks for the exp…

recent thoughts

It's been a while between blogs, but that doesn't necessarily mean I haven't been thinking anything. In fact, my brain hurts with all the thinking I've been doing. 
I've been involved in planning two worship spaces simultaneously, one for blackwood (home church), one for the hold :: this space worship space at greenbelt.  My sisters and I were putting together worship for the contemporary worship space at Blackwood of a Sunday morning. We have received positive feedback for the way the worship hung together around the theme, balanced contemporary and traditional elements (the congregation is quite diverse), and was both thoughtful and thought provoking. Some of the prayers were unspoken, using music and/or pictures to speak the prayer. This room for reflection and space to think were welcomed. I wove the 'sermon' around the prayers, with short reflections on the Gospel story for the day: Feeding the multitudes. I'll post some of the thoughts I shared late…