Admin’s note: This is the introductory post for our new submergent category. Posts in this category also automatically appear on submergent.org under “Submergent Friends” as part of the wider submergent conversation.
About a year ago, as a known fan of emergent style communities and a young staff member of Franconia Mennonite Conference, I was asked to be a part of a newly developing conversation and relationship between Mennonite Church USA and Emergent Village. The hope was to find a way to connect Emergent churches who were discovering they had an Anabaptist theology with an Anabaptist denomination that could help those congregations find their identity in Anabaptism . . . a few months later, “Submergent” emerged. Submergent is not a project of either Mennonite Church USA or Emergent Village; it is an idea sparked from people who met at this original conversation that is becoming a connecting community.
The name “submergent” is intended to reflect the essence of the 500-year-old Anabaptist movement and the newly budding Emerging Church movement. Both yearn for a faith that reflects the vitally prophetic impulse that sparked when Jesus began his movement 2000 years ago, he called his followers to a radical way of peace . . . a way of loving enemies . . . a way of embracing the outsider . . . a way of forgiveness and transformation and reconciliation.
As it states on our website, submergent.org, “We affirm the spirit of the early Anabaptists as we emerge into a new way of being and doing church. Both Anabaptism and the Emerging Church traffic in subversion. We embrace a counter-cultural identity as we seek to be faithful to Jesus Christ in the shadow of the Empire. We are Submergent.”
This group aims to…
…actively explore ways to embody the Gospel of Jesus Christ in North America. We aren’t interested in mere ideas…we want to live this stuff out.
…foster dialog between the emerging church movement and the Anabaptist movement.
…develop partnerships between Anabaptist denominations/organizations and emerging church organizations.
…and, informed by an Anabaptist vision, to live into the Kingdom of God in a postmodern, post-Christian world. Together, we will re-baptize the Christian imagination.
For the last six months, five emerging Anabaptist leaders have been in conversation and action around building a network of Submergents. These five leaders are:
* EliacÃn Rosario-Cruz – Husband and Father/artist/communitarian/provocatuer/ and organic intellectual. He and his family are part of The Mustard Seed House, a neo-monastic/intentional community expression in Seattle, where they eat, play, work, garden, pray and conspire for a new reality. EliacÃn enjoys hosting conversations about alternative living, intentional community, new monasticism and subversive Christianity. He is the Program and Community Catalyst at Mustard Seed Associates. (Bio taken from www.eliacin.com) EliacÃn lives in the beautiful tension between being an Episcopalian who also considers himself an Anabaptist – go figure!
* Joel Shenk – Director of Learning and Service Ministries at the Center for Anabaptist Leadership and Conference Administrator for Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference. Joel is currently working toward an M.Div degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA.
* Lora Steiner – Communications Associate and writer for Franconia Conference. “I became interested in the Emergent Church when I started getting involved in discussions about young adults and the future of the church–and I realized that if I was serious about those conversations, I needed to know something about post-modernism. I’m currently a full-time M.Div student at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and I have no idea what I’m going to do when I graduate.”
* Mark Van Steenwyk – Writer, speaker, and grassroots organizer. He is the founder of Missio Dei, a new monastic community on the West Bank of Minneapolis and the editor of jesusmanifesto, a radical Christian webzine. He and his wife Amy are expecting their first child on April Fool’s Day.
* Jessica Walter – Initiatives Coordinator for Franconia Conference’s School for Leadership Formation, leadership cultivator, writer, and editor for the print publications of the conference. I am also working on my MDiv at both Eastern Mennonite Seminary and Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pa. My reflections on everything from cooking to daily encounters with faith can be found at redoraclejess.blogspot.com.
“We haven’t been meeting to engineer a movement,” states Mark. “I’m a critic of centralized attempts at fostering a movement. Our conversations have been focused on finding existing people and groups that represent the emerging Anabaptist movements. This isn’t an easy task. After all, it is hard enough to define ’emerging;’ defining what makes an ‘anabaptist’ is difficult. So, we’re proceeding carefully.”
Submergent started with a group on Facebook inviting potentially interested friends and new contacts to the group. Conversations began to arise about meeting together as a larger group to brain-storm and share about ways to practically live out our faith perspective, about creating seminary curriculum that would be helpful for leaders of the emerging church, and about creating an on-going directory of submergent churches. Soon after we launched the website which has an aggregate of submergent blogging voices, a place for discussion and events, and will have a list of submergent communities. If you’re interested in having your blog listed on submergent.org check out the website or contact Mark Van Steenwyk.
We are looking forward to a few upcoming events…
1. Submergent will be at the New Conspirators Conference in Seattle at the end of this month and intend on hosting a lunch “table talk” for those interested in Submergent. We will be introducing ourselves, discussing what the emerging church and anabaptist tradition needs from each other, and dreaming and scheming about the future of Submergent.
2. On May 9-10 Submergent will be co-sposoring Brian McLaren’s “Everything Must Change” book tour stop at Goshen College.
3. There are plans for a future networking conference so stayed tuned.
We welcome any concerns or feedback or ideas, so please share them. Our goal with Submergent is to provide a place for emerging anabaptists to connect and move toward a shared kingdom vision.