The Emergent Village Theological Conversation 2012 will carry forward some of the best aspects of previous conversations. It will also feature some innovations that appropriately reflect the topic of this year’s gathering.

Here are some highlights of what you can expect:

  • Process Theology emphasizes an open-ended and relational view of faith. The 5 sessions will integrate a format that is thoroughly relational and open-ended.

It is important that the information being presented match the organization of the conference. We want the content to match the container.

  • Process Theology introduces new concepts and vocabulary. Each of the 5 sessions will begin with a ‘keynote’ presentation from a scholar, who will then be in dialogue with two other practitioners and thinkers.  The conversation will then be expanded to the gathered participants – with each session utilizing an appropriate format for the themes of that session.

Use of technology like the Twitter-Tumbler and an empowered moderator will facilitate real-time interactions with the presenter during the session.

  • The structure of the five session are organized in a chiastic format. Monica A. Coleman will lead us in session 1 and 5. John B. Cobb will host session 2 and 4. Philip Clayton has agreed to provide the ‘hinge’ session 3.

Session 1 is Introduction with Monica Coleman
Session 2 is Expansion with John Cobb (Christian Belief and Pluralism)
Session 3 is Dissection and Doubt with Philip Clayton
Session 4 is Application with John Cobb (Economics and Ecology)
Session 5 is Construction for Ministry with Monica Coleman

  • Julie Clawson, veteran of Emergent Conversations, pointed out that most conferences don’t build in a time to question, disagree, and push-back. Great ideas are presented and insightful questions are asked … but the real wrestling is done either individually or after hours.

We still want personal wrestling and after-hours conversation, but we have also purposefully built in a session for wrestling out loud. Session 3 will let us debrief with Philip Clayton who navigates the worlds of Emergent and Process, Church and Academy in a masterful way.

  • Each session will be followed up with related break-out tracks. One will focus on ministry specific issues. Jeanyne Slettom, director of the Center for Process & Faith and co-Pastor of a process-centered congregation will be helping us with this. Another track will be theological-conceptual. The third will be a wild-card showcase.

Five times we will come together for the main sessions to hear a presentation, listen to a dialogue, participate in a conversation, and then disperse for break-out sessions.  These four expanding levels of engagement will allow for both learning and expression in each of the five chapters.

Here is a potential picture of Session 5: Monica Coleman will present ideas and stories about her ministerial experiences and context specific opportunities and challenges for ministry with a Process framework. Then Danielle Shroyer and Bruce Epperly will join her to tell a bit about their context and their engagement of Process in ministry.  Next, we will break down into smaller circles to compare notes in order come into the Question & Response time. This main-session conversation will propel us into the the breakout sessions. One breakout will have two pastors talking about preaching Process. One will be about comparing theological vocab & concepts between different schools of thought. Another will address sexuality in the church & community.

For John Cobb’s session 4 on Ecology and Economy, a conversation partner like Julie Clawson (author of Everyday Justice) and another thinker would be followed by  breakout sessions that correlate.

This is going to be a wonderful time – come to the registration page and sign-up now. Put it on you Christmas List! you might surprised who wants you to be there.