Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No Baltimore Emergent Meeting for July 2010

A Very Happy Summer to all of you! Just a quick note to say that the Baltimore Emergent Cohort will not be meeting this July due to numerous vacations and other summer activities in conflict with our regularly scheduled meeting on the first Tuesday of the month. So, please have a wonderful July, and we look forward to seeing you all back for our next meeting to be held 3 August. More details to follow

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baltimore Emergent Cohort Meeting - 1 June 2010

Greetings all! Our next meeting will be Tuesday, 1 June 2010 at 7:00 PM. Remember that we've permanently moved things up a half hour to give us all a bit more time to chat, and just maybe get us home a little earlier as well. Even so, it's never a problem if you have to arrive a late. We're an easy bunch and generally spend the first several minutes catching up on each other's lives. Which, I would assert, is just as it should be.

Also, over the past several months we've tried to change our monthly venue to Teavolve Cafe & Lounge, which is a terrific place to do this kind of thing, but Teavolve usually winds up hosting bands every Tuesday. Now, that's hardly a bad thing, but the music, as good as it may be, doesn't really allow for the sort of conversations we tend to have. Maybe one day we'll make it work but for now we'll hopefully continue to have great success meeting around the outside tables at Pasticcio Restaurant in the Can Company on Boston St. The weather has been dazzling the last couple of meetings and our waiter--who really does look like Harvey Keitel--keeps the food and drinks coming.

We're starting a new series this month that will be running over the two meetings. Given that we are having an ongoing discussion on all things Emergent, it's only appropriate that we'll be reviewing and discussing Brian McLaren's newest book, A New Kind of Christianity. The book is subtitled, Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith. Specifically, we'll be looking at Questions 1 - 5, but the truth is, we could spend the entire evening on just one or two of these, which include topics on sexuality, and one of my favorite subjects, plurality. Brian's book, perhaps more than his last several books, is topical, fairly direct, and, of course, always provocative. Lots more to say, but I think I'll save any further comments for our meeting.

So, grab a copy of A New Kind of Christianity, mark your calendar for the first Tuesday in June, and become part of the discussion. It should be a fabulous gathering, and of course, the best thing will be the pleasure of your company!

Look very forward to seeing you all!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baltimore Emergent Cohort Meeting - 4 May 2010

A friendly reminder that our next Baltimore Emergent Cohort meeting will be Tuesday, 4 May 2010 at 7:00 PM. In fact, from this point forward we'll be meeting 30 minutes earlier at 7:00 PM, which will hopefully give us a bit more time to talk and get home a little earlier to boot. Please don't worry if you have to arrive a bit late--that's never a problem and we usually talk a while before we get started anyway.

Also, while we were planning to meet at Teavolve Cafe & Lounge this month, to date we haven't received their Tuesday night schedule for May, so we're planning to meet at Pasticcio Restaurant in the Can Company, which just a few doors down from Austin Grill where we used to meet. During April's meeting we sat outside at Pasticcio, under a beautiful spring sky. We're still hoping to eventually migrate to Teavolve, however, in the coming months, so we'll keep you posted.

Last month we took a brief look at an article by Sara Miles, who gave her fascinating, and somewhat provocative, viewpoint on what living within diverse communities should be. Given that we have a rather diverse group, however, the meeting highlights seemed to flow from the lively, yet always respectful give and take we had regarding some fairly candid discussions on the nature of God, and how we can know if God is actually working in our lives. And I think it's fair to say that each of us had our own take on what this means, and for some of us, whether it's even possible.

This month we'll take a look at one of my favorite books from a uniquely relational author, Jim Palmer, a friend my wife originally met on THE OOZE, and whose. Divine Nobodies, subtitled, Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you), isn't so much interested in developing a new emergent-based understanding of theology as it is in simply trying to understand God's work in his life, which Jim learns can be fathomed through his relationships with, well, some very unlikely people. Jim has fashioned a deeply personal series of essays that I believe both traditional and emergent perspectives can read and draw meaning from, and which have certainly had a very positive impact on my life through the years.

Highly recommended! As always, we look forward to seeing you!

Maryland Cohort Meeting - 20 May 2010

Here's the latest meeting notice from our good friends at the Maryland Cohort, who meet south of us in Columbia:

Hello Maryland Cohort,

As the season is definitely changing, and emergence is all around us, I would like to invite us to come together on Thursday, May 20 for an emergent cohort gathering, connection and discussion. Some of us heard Brian McLaren last month and we see that he has a new book out (how does he keep turning them out so fast?) I suggest that we take a look together at: A New Kind of Christianity: 10 Questions that are Transforming the Faith. If you aren’t able to get the book, take a look at the synopsis or first pages on Amazon. This book is getting some strong reactions from folks. I would like to hear what you have to say. Is this the forefront of a new kind of Christianity or is he completely in left field?

We will be meeting at Donna’s Restaurant in Columbia at the intersection of Snowden River Parkway and rte. 108 just off of rte. 100. Here is the information:

Donna's on Snowden River Pkwy. in Columbia. Address is 5850 Waterloo Rd., Ste. 100, 21045; website is We'll be discussing Brian McLaren's latest book, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith

I look forward to seeing you then – and bring a friend who would like to explore their faith,

Happy Earth Day,


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baltimore Emergent Cohort Meeting - 6 April 2010

Greetings on the beautifully sunny, and somewhat windy afternoon of the last day of March. Just a brief reminder that our next Baltimore Emergent Cohort gathering is scheduled for 7:30 PM, Tuesday, 6 Apr 2010. As most of you know we've been meeting at Austin Grill on Boston Avenue for some time now. With the beginning of warmer weather, however, Austin Grill has begun their open mic series on Tuesday evenings, the noise of which tends to overwhelm the Cohort discussion. So, for this month only we'll be meeting at Pasticcio restaurant in the Can Company, just a few doors down from Austin Grill.

Starting in May we'll be moving the venue to Teavolve Cafe & Lounge in Harbor East (1401 Aliceanna St. Baltimore, MD 21231). Good space, yummy food, and a laid back atmosphere make this a terrific choice for our monthly event. More about this in our next update.

Last month we looked at an article by Sara Miles, who gave her perspective on what living within diverse communities means, or should mean to Christians regardless of denomination. This month we continue our discussion of church and community with an article from Kathy Escobar, a co-pastor at the The Refuge, a rather eclectic faith community in north Denver. Kathy characterizes herself as "... passionate about community, the marginalized, healing, spiritual transformation, equality, justice, 'church', relationships, diversity, and learning to love and be loved." That probably sounds rather familiar given the sort of discussions we've been having about community, but Kathy has something to say when it comes to the differences between what we generally think of as church and alternatively, healthy communities, and she's fairly convinced that the latter is considerably more involved.

We love to hear your comments on Kathy's article and any associated thoughts you might have on cultivating viable, long term Christian community. Hope to see you Tuesday!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maryland Cohort Meeting - 18 March 2010

Here's a meeting notice from our good friends at the Maryland Cohort, who meet south of us in Columbia:

The Maryland Cohort will be meeting up again on Thursday, March 18th at 7:00 pm, at Donna's on Snowden River Pkwy. in Columbia. Address is 5850 Waterloo Rd., Ste. 100, 21045; website is We'll be discussing Brian McLaren's latest book A New Kind of Christianity.

And just a reminder that Brian will be at St. Mary's in Roland Park on Monday the 15th for a workshop during the day, and for a lecture that evening. Although over 100 people are already signed up for the workshop there are still a few spaces available. For more information go to

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Brian McLaren speaking @ Ecumenical Institute of Theology 15 March 2010

Emergent-church leader, prolific author, chair of the board of Sojourners, and former pastor Brian McLaren will be speaking at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology of St. Mary’s Seminary & University on Monday, March 15, 2010. He will present a day-long seminar for pastors and other church leaders, and then give a free public lecture that evening entitled “The Gospel, the Post-Modern Conversation, and the Church that Is Emerging.” Thankfully the evening event was moved from a smaller venue to allow a larger crowd to attend. Accordingly, we've been told that more seats are available, so if you're interested please make arrangements as soon as possible.

You can get more information at

You'll find the flyer announcing these events at The third page of this flyer is the registration form. The fourth page, which announces the public lecture, is suitable for printing and using as a poster. Please consider attending either or both events yourself, and feel free to spread the word about this exceptional opportunity.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baltimore Emergent Cohort Meeting - 2 March 2010

Greetings! After an all-too-blustery February, March hopefully brings with it warmer temperatures, nicer weather, and of course, another Baltimore Emergent Cohort gathering, to be held 7:30 PM, Tuesday, 2 Mar 2010.

For the past couple of months we've been looking at The Justice Project (, a collection of essays from a diverse group of authors, each writing on some aspect of justice--some rather philosophical, with others more applied in perspective. The book is grouped into sections, each containing essays written along a particular theme. For March we had originally planned to discuss Section 3, Justice in the U.S.A., and were hoping to include the author of the essay, Just Liberals: What are the Strengths and Weaknesses of Liberal Politics in Light of Biblical Justice, as a attendee to contribute her views on this topic. Unfortunately we weren't able to make this happen in time, though we're still hopeful for April's meeting.

Once in a while, however, something comes along that seems exceptionally relevant to our continuing discussion of emerging Christianity, and such is a recent article from Religion Dispatches. Healed of the Sin of Religion: At Church with Sara Miles is an interview with Sara Miles, a women who, as the article notes, was a journalist and a chef who wandered into a San Francisco church one Sunday, got religion, and stayed to start a food pantry that now feeds 600 families a week. Far more than a simple appeal to help others, Sara Miles provides a refreshingly candid, yet cordial take on church, tradition, religion, community and what it means--and doesn't mean--to live as Christians within diverse communities, often well outside our comfort zone. Please read the below link and we'll discuss in-depth during this Tuesday's meeting. This will be in lieu of Section 3 of The Justice Project, which we'll resume in April.

A few of Sara's remarks struck me as particularly fascinating:

"As someone who is not a scholar of religion, there are a couple of things that struck me when I became a believer. One is, of course, that every religion claims that it has the inherent path to truth, when in fact it is a catalog and piling on of heresies. You pile the heresies on top of each other and the ones that last become orthodoxy. There’s a constant re-making of religion."

". . . you want a place that feels authentic and real and where you can be yourself. But what I see over and over again is this inability to tell the difference between tradition and nostalgia."

Compelling words, even somewhat provocative, and when taken as a whole I think her comments warrant serious consideration. We look forward to your feedback as well this Tuesday.

Thanks to everyone who came out last month during a very cold evening, and participated in a terrific conversation. And please note, you don't have to read or even have the material to participate. You'll learn a great deal from just being present and can easily join in. We welcome your involvement, and hope to see you!

Blog Resumption!

Greetings! My name is Tommy Gill and I will be assisting Joan Stiles with administration of both the Baltimore Emergent Cohort emails and the website, which we're working to reactivate this weekend. I've been a part of Baltimore Emergent Cohort for several months now, and look forward to working with Joan and others to keep things running efficiently, and disseminate timely information to our visitors.

As many of you have noticed the blog hasn't been updated for several months now. The good news is we are committed to keeping this site updated, and plan to post frequent articles and other relevant information. Please know that your comments are always encouraged, and please feel free to email me any time at this address with any questions, comments or suggested inputs. You'll be hearing more as we progress. Thanks for your patience!