Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

Finding Our Way Into New Ways

by Sarah Erickson

“Hope” by Christina Saj (exhibit story inside)

The questions Diana Butler Bass raises in her writings and her public speaking echo the questions we ourselves raise in our congregations, our seminaries and faith-based organizations:

What is God doing in the world? What is God calling us to do, as people of faith, in this day and age? How might we as respond, given our particular contexts, mission, and ministries?

We all are seeking to be faithful – to find our way into new ways – at a time when church attendance and membership continues to wane.

Our challenge is to understand what it means to be called out of familiar ways of being faithful and called into the future God is already shaping, says Bass, author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture.

Come hear Diana Butler Bass during our 2012 January Seminars, January 24-26 on the seminary campus. For details, a schedule and registration information, click HERE

Over the course of her three lectures, Bass will trace what she is calling “the end of church and the birth of a new spiritual awakening” – which is the title and topic of her newest book, forthcoming from HarperOne in February 2012.

“We will explore how the Spirit might be leading God’s people to live into the future,” says Bass, who is currently a Chabraja Fellow with the SeaburyNEXT project at Seabury Western Theological Seminary.

“In the church, as in other institutions, change is often not the problem,” she says. Citing a concept from Ronald Heifetz, senior lecturer of public leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Bass points out: “Change is a historical constant. People don't resist change. They resist loss.”

In what ways might we step out from the familiar – without resisting inevitable loss?

In her published works and speaking engagements, Bass explores how religious trends reshape our understanding of faith, practice and community.

“While I am a church historian by training and vocation, I have no interest in limiting the church to the past – or even the present – ways of being the church,” says Bass. “Nor do I encourage people of faith to hold onto familiar forms, simply for familiarity’s sake.

“I’m excited to be in conversation with folks who will be thinking aloud with me about the implications of  these trends on their particular ways of being church – whether as denominations, congregations, or other new forms of faith communities.”

In 2007, Bass was one of the presenters during our event “Mainline Emergent/s,” with Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones and others.

“I’m excited to continue the conversation in the Atlanta area in January, where I hope to share some of the work I’ve been doing since my last visit. I fully expect this gathering to provide more fuel for reflection and my ongoing work.”

Besides Bass’ three lectures, the event will include workshop discussions organized around existing denominations or faith groups, to give participants time to explore what a vision for the future of their congregations or denominations might entail.

Bass holds a PhD in religious studies from Duke University and has taught church history; American religious history; history of Christian thought, religion and politics; and congregational studies at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and the Virginia Theological Seminary.