Day 10: Bishop Greg and Dr. Dwight Friesen

This morning I met up with Bishop Greg. After I was invited to visit COTA by Karen I wrote to Bishop Greg to let him know about why I was coming and he asked to meet up when I was here – so today we did. I said earlier in the week how large a diocese this is, and Bishop Greg is very talented person and needs to be to run a diocese like this.

I met with the bishop for about half an hour and he was interested to know my story as well as knowing about what I was doing in England.  I then spoke to him about his vision ofr emerging and pioneering work in the diocese and it is clear that he wants to encourage it and bless it as much as he can. One thing in particular that he was keen on was working on training ordained pioneers in the diocese of Olympia using the skills of people like Karen. That’s a pretty good vision to be having.

I realise how fortunate I have been to spend some time with the bishop of the diocese I have been visiting. I want to thank him publicly for giving up time in an amazingly hectic diary to see me. It’s clear that he has a passion for mission and engaging with those outside the church. I hope he is able to continue to support emerging church here, and particularly able to look ahead to see what investment is needed now to ensure the future looks good for churches like COTA.

This afternoon we spent time with Dwight Friesen of Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle (which has no connection and thankfully a very different theology to Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church). Dwight came to talk about Network church and he said a few things that have really made me think; and things that I have noted down in my ever growing mind map so that I may reflect upon them later.

When talking about community he spoke of the Trinity and how each member of the Trinity perpetually empties themselves to raise up and support the other.  This is known as kenosis.  He then went on to say as a church they were askign what does this perpetual pouring oneself out for the sake of others look like in our community. The Trinity gives the image of perfect community, and so he was looking to that for guidance.

I find that amazingly simple yet profound as well as an impossible image to come close to. But … there surely is a lot of truth and sense. If we are to consider how to be community as church we need to look to the perfect community, the Holy Spirit, and ask how can we act in a way similar to that?

I was then very surprised with his response to be asked ‘if starting again, what would you do?’ His response was that he would not pioneer something new. Instead he would look for a small or stagnating church and work with them, find out what their passions are or used to be, and work with them on becoming mission focussed in a contextual way in their neighbourhood. That’s quite an interesting response to make to a group of seminarians who have signed up for a week to experience emerging church and church planting. It is also a fresh challenge to me and causes me to ask ‘am I doing the right thing?’ or even ‘when my curacy is up should I be looking to take on a church in this frame of mind?’ All questions to reflect upon.

The day is not yet over – its pub theology at 9lb hammer with Jon Myers tonight.

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