I forgot what site I was on where I first saw this ad for George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Now, I have many friends who are alums of George Fox and I’m pretty sure I know some folks who have gone through the seminary program there. I love the fact that George Fox was founded by Quaker pioneers and is still influenced by that tradition. But…as far as an ad campaign…really?
Anchored + Emerging. I get it. Ancient + Future. Creeds + Coffee. Yup – we got it. You’re rooted, but you’re also open to new things. Yet, what is that new thing…? A 30-something white male looking like he’s filled with postmodern angst, has a goatee, a semi-funky haircut and count ’em, not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 piercings (both ears, a stud under his lip and an eyebrow ring!). It’s like they were TRYING to fit the parody of “You Might Be Emerging If…”
Now we’ve all heard of the stereotype of Emergent being a thing for 30-something white males (and the “white problem” that has gotten a lot of publicity recently), so why continue to perpetuate that with the above image being the very first image we see on George Fox’s website?
Having been a part of the emerging church conversation for quite awhile now, I can safely say that it’s NOT just something for 30-something white males. Do we need to constantly be aware of issues of diversity and inclusiveness? You bet. But to say that only a small sliver of a generation is interested in rethinking church and being open to ever-progressing theological commitments? That’s just false.
From where I sit, I see the church is emerging in all its different forms – sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. Evangelicals care about the environment now. Mainline Protestants are talking about evangelism. The United Methodist Church has just launched a new effort called RETHINK CHURCH and is rethinking the way it does church and structures its denomination. Presbymergents, Luthermergents, Anglimergents, Methomergents (though they really should pick a different name) and Baptimergents are all striving to be loyal radicals within their own traditions. During an alt.worship installation at my church during Holy Week, some of those who enjoyed the service the most were 70-80 year old women. And last week I sat in a bar with an 84 year old Presbyterian discussing faith and sexuality – and that was church.
So George Fox…do I applaud your effort to be anchored and emerging? Sure. I get that. But why do we need to continue to perpetuate a false image of “emerging” as being limited to a specific generation and ethnicity? Or am I just reading too much into this advertisement?