Earlier this week Mike Clawson posted a 50-page final paper he wrote for his studies at Austin Theological Seminary entitled “Loyal Radicals: The Intersection of Mainline Denominations and Emerging Christianity” (you can download a PDF of it here). I knew about this because Mike had interviewed many of us closely connected to Presbymergent and done a lot of online research as well. This is probably the first research paper on Presbymergent, and I found it to be a very interesting experience to read an academic paper written about a community that I helped to co-found. If you have some time, I’d highly encourage you to read Mike’s paper because it provides a very interesting look at Presbymergent’s history and possible future viability (but would also be of interest to those who are part of other hyphenated groups like Baptimergents, Anglimergents, Methomergents, etc.).
Reading through it, however, made me realize that I don’t write much anymore about Presbymergent here on Pomomusings – and I thought I’d offer “A Brief History of Presbymergent” for those who are interested in such things.
Presbymergent: The Early Years
In 2007 a group of mainline folks met at Columbia Theological Seminary for the “Mainline Emergent/s” event. Karen Sloan and I were leading a workshop together and during our pre-conference conversations, we tossed around the idea of starting up a Presbymergent website. We launched Presbymergent.org during the conference and the site really started to take off. People were writing blog posts, submitting articles for the site and the number of folks signing up to be “Contributors” grew to a couple hundred. We began to work on our online presence both on Facebook & Twitter (along with the presbymergent.org website), and today we have about 272 Contributors to Presbymergent.org, 783 followers of @Presbymergent on Twitter and 1,472 people “like” us on Facebook.
But I’m sure most would agree that one of the ways that Presbymergent grew the fastest was with Karen Sloan’s effort to travel around the states as a Presbymergent Party facilitator. Karen and others made sure that there were Presbymergent Meetups at most of the biggest PC(USA) gatherings during that first year and a half and that really helped Presbymergent to gain some traction. Being able to have those face-to-face “parties” was really helpful as we began to imagine what role Presbymergent might have in the envisioning of the church. With the amazing help of Brian Wallace and folks up at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, we even threw our very own Presbymergent conference and had a great time gathering with folks and discussing the future of the church. We also had a booth and meetup at the 2008 General Assembly in San Jose.
Things were looking up – we had folks who were passionate enough about what we were doing to sign up to be on the Coordinating Group and we eventually (after WAY too long of a process) got ourselves a snazzy new logo courtesy of Paul Soupiset. In February of 2009 we got the Coordinating Group together and met in Louisville for a few days. Over the course of those days we prayed and tried to discern what Presbymergent was going to be. It was great to get folks together, we even came up with quite a few interesting projects to work on over the course of the next year…
Connect with Presbymergent
To learn more about Presbymergent, you can connect with us in the following ways: