Friday, January 07, 2005

Denominational News

The Missoula Independent, of all places, has a lenghty profile of a local UCC congregation that's seen its weekly attendance rise from about 250 to somewhere between 325 and 350 people since the elections.  What was that I heard about liberal churches dying?

Chuck Currie carries UCC President John Thomas' warning about complacency, however:

The deeper danger for us is that we will grow content with a message of inclusion and welcome. An invitation to a community of amiable tolerance is certainly to be preferred to the mean-spirited exclusion around us, but as our prayer suggests, the hands we reach forth are to be an embodiment of the outstretched arms of Christ in his passion. The welcome we extend is to a baptism that names us children of God and members of the church, a baptism that does not bless us and the culture in which we live, but reshapes us for costly discipleship, resisting those elements of our culture that demean, diminish and destroy. The invitation we give at the Table is not an offer of friendly dinner conversation, but an encounter with Jesus, crucified and risen, and with a vision of the realm of God that contends with the violence and injustices of our day. The Jesus who never turns anyone away is the same Jesus who asks us to take up the cross.

Go read the entire letter.  Thomas is no piker at theological reflection.

And lest we be accused of slanting the good news, here's a story from the WSJ opinion page (via Amy Welborn) on rising enrollment at religious-affiliated colleges.  We're not so sure that the rise in quality & quantity of students can be attributed to these schools attractiveness--competition is up across the board--nor does this seem limited to just conservative schools.  But hey.  Good is good.


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