Jan 2012 – Thought-provoking new books

Barbara briefly reviews recent books by Philip Gulley, John Shelby Spong, Jeffrey Sachs, and Val Webb.

Feb 2012 – Opportunities for explorers

This issue describes 3 excellent new opportunities for exploring the Christian faith: Darkwood Brew, presented on the web by Omaha UCC pastor Eric Elnes; The Challenge of Jesus, a new DVD-based series from the Dykes Foundation, featuring John Dominic Crossan; and recently revised DVD-based studies from Living the Questions.

Mar 2012 – The subversive way

In The Underground Church, UCC pastor Robin Meyers reminds us that the earliest church was fiercely anti-Empire, and that the Empire recognized Jesus as a dangerous subversive.

Apr 2012 – A movement or an institution?

In his book Back to Zero, church consultant Gil Rendle urges mainline church members to help their churches become more like movements rather than more like the institutions they now are.

May 2012 – An amazing congregation

First United Methodist Church in Omaha has a long history of being on the cutting edge. Led by 4 outstanding women and other progressive leaders, in many ways it is a model for how a congregation needs to function.

June 2012 – Members need to know

Members of mainline churches need to stay informed about what their denominations are doing, yet many United Methodist congregations apparently haven’t let their members know about last month’s session of General Conference, the worldwide UMC’s top governing body.

July 2012 – What can Christians do?

In his book Why the Christian Right is Wrong, Robin Meyers bemoans the theology that puts more emphasis on believing things about Jesus than on doing what he did.

Aug 2012 – Assorted topics

“I’m not a guy!” Barbara observes, “and I don’t think God is.” Yet women and girls often get called guys now, and God still gets called “he,” unwittingly engraving into us the mistaken view that being male is more valuable than being female. Churches need to discuss openly what God is like.

Sept 2012 – Beacons in their communities

In his 7-26 e-newsletter, retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong describes four UCC congregations that are like beacons of light in their communities. He feels that the UCC may be the denomination that will inspire, bring about, and participate in the reformation needed to break the Christian faith out of its dying patterns. But all congregations need to be this kind of beacons.

Oct 2012 – Similar concerns from all over

Many of the 200 participants from 16 states, at the gathering of progressive Christians hosted by Barbara at the end of Sept, express similar concerns about what they wish for and don’t find in congregations in their local areas. They emphasize wanting support, wanting to hear current information, wanting help in combating injustice, and wanting help for connecting with conservatives.

Nov 2012 – Granddaddy or Jesus?

When a church member berated Clarence Jordan for advocating racial integration, and cited her granddaddy as the authority for her opposition to it, Jordan warned her that she would have to choose between her granddaddy and Jesus. That choice is even more urgent for today’s Christians.

In this issue of Connections, Barbara reports on the Connections Live! 2012 gathering.

Dec 2012 – A new Christianity emerges

In her book Emergence Christianity, Phyllis Tickle reports on new forms of Christianity that have been emerging since the late 1800s, as part of an upheaval like the others that have happened in the Western world about every 500 years. She describes the characteristics of these new forms and urges Christians to become aware of them in order to discern how to serve the kingdom of God today. She wants us to become active architects of what is happening, not passive observers.