Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mesa Friends: All Are Welcome at the Table

MesaRecently I had the opportunity to be a part of an international gathering of Emergent minded Christians from Thailand, Malasia, Hong Kong, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, US and Canada.  Below is the narrative that we came up with to share our shared values and desire for deeper connections between us. What I was most impacted by was learning about the various networks around the world that link up the work of small faith communities. I am heartened by the attempt to connect our work globally and hope to see collaborations for change evolve out of this conversation.  I am most grateful to Brian McLaren for developing these relationships and then thinking to connect us.

The Mesa Story – October 31, 2013

Over recent years, many of us have felt something stirring in us …

a thirst for a more authentic, honest, and sustaining spiritual life

a hunger to do justice, to show compassion, to walk humbly with God

a desire to understand and engage with the critical problems of our world

a need for a space to grapple honestly with our questions of theology and practice

a loneliness for a sense of shared identity and belonging.

As Christians, we were searching for companions on a journey

a journey from many of the forms and assumptions that were no longer working for us

a journey toward something new that we had not yet seen.

The journey was often frightening and difficult. Whenever we found someone who shared our questions, desires, and dreams, we gathered around a table for conversation. Through conversation, we became friends on a journey. And from our friendships, we gained the courage to try new things.

Sometimes we met each other online. Sometimes we traveled great distances to be together. Sometimes we formed networks in a city, nation, region, or continent. We would share books, ideas, and websites. We would share our successes and setbacks. As our numbers grew, so did our confidence and so did our dreams. We found that we became better together than we were alone.

Soon, we realized that all around the world, similar tables and networks were forming:

in Africa and Asia

in North, Central, and South America

from Europe to the Middle East to Australia.

So we eventually decided to invite people to gather face to face in one place for the first time in Thailand, in 2013. About fifty of us traveled from around the world. We chose the name Mesa, the Spanish word for table, because it suggested a space of conversation, companionship, and nourishment for life, work, and action.

Our group included pastors, theologians, activists, authors, NGO leaders, and lay people from a variety of professions. We began by spending a few days in a poor rural village, sharing in the hard work and beautiful culture of our hosts. Later, in an urban center, we walked the streets where the sex trade is a major industry. We knew that whatever God was doing among us, it must be rooted in a concern for our neighbors who live in poverty.

Then we gathered at a retreat center for prayer and worship. We reflected on the Scriptures and we began to talk about what we thought we might be able to be and do together, with God’s help. We brought different gifts, weaknesses, and concerns to the table, but we shared ten deep commitments:

1. We believe in Jesus and the good news of the reign, commonwealth, or ecosystem of God, and we seek for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven by focusing on love – love for God and neighbor, for outsider and enemy.

2. We seek to know, serve, and join the poor in the struggle for justice and freedom … through advocacy, relationships, and action.

3. We seek to honor, interpret, and apply the Bible in fresh and healing ways, aware of the damaging ways the Bible has been used in the past.

4. We seek to reconnect with the earth, understand the harm human beings are doing to it, and discover more responsible, regenerative ways of life in it.

5. We seek the common good, locally and globally, through churches of many diverse forms, contexts, and traditions, and we imagine fresh ways for churches to form Christlike people and join God in the healing of the world.

5. We build inclusive partnerships across gaps between the powerful and vulnerable – including disparities based on wealth, gender, race and ethnic identity, education, religion, sexuality, age, politics, and physical ability.

6. We engage conflict at all levels of human society with the creative and nonviolent wisdom of peacemaking.

7. We propose new ways of encountering the other in today’s pluralistic world and we collaborate with other religious and secular groups in alliances for the common good.

8. We host safe space for constructive theological conversation, seeking to root our practice in theological reflection and seeking to express our reflection in practical action.

9. We value the arts for their unique role in nurturing, challenging, and transforming our humanity.

10. We emphasize spiritual and relational practices to strengthen our inner life with God and our relationships with one another.

Having affirmed these ten commitments, we prayed for strength and guidance. We prayed that others would join us. We prayed that goals, plans, and resources would be provided as needed. We decided to gather again in four years to see and celebrate what fruit will be born from our little seeds of faith, and to see what new dreams might take shape.

We have many possibilities ahead of us. We also have many unanswered questions and challenges. But we are beginning, and we invite you to join us. If your heart resonates with our story, we invite you to …

Invite some people to gather around a table. Get to know each other. Share your stories.

Talk about the twelve commitments and if your heart moves you, make them your commitment too.

Identify as a participant in Mesa.

Invite other individuals and networks to connect to the network too.

Make use of the resources on this website.

Let us know you’ve organized a mesa community so we can link to it.

Stay informed, participate, and contribute in any ways you can.

Let us know if we can help you.

Report what God does in and through you so we can celebrate together.;; #MesaFriends

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Planning the Party We Wish to See In the World

soil and hands copyIt is quite known in multicultural and social justice organizing, that if you want a diverse group of people at a party, you must have a diverse group of people planning the party.  Inclusivity begins on the ground floor and is part of a systemic shift in the dynamics of who envisions the party, gets funding for the party, plans the party, puts out the invitations to the party etc.

This November there will be a convening of initiators for the Collection Action Network Approach (CANA), a new incarnation of emergent and progressive Christian leaders, activists and organizations who will  be starting the visioning and planning for the party.  The invitation to participate is lovely and inclusive, with much intention put into casting as wide a net as possible. I  believe that the open invitation to help plan the party is an authentic and relational invitation and not simply an attempt to tokenize a few representatives.

To be honest, I have found myself  critiquing the lack of inclusivity of white cultured organizing for nearly two decades and I’ve grown weary. So in the interest of supporting this effort while supporting my dream of multicultural organizing emerging in this context, myself and some friends have decided to raise money.  Funds will go to interested folks from marginalized and impacted communities of color and will cover the cost of flights and hotels.  I know that money alone is not the answer, but for me, I feel that giving up my seat at the table to someone who can speak directly from their experience of marginalization is a step in the right direction.  Collectively, and with very little personal financial investment, we can be a part of helping to set the table for a broader, more diverse collaboration of progressive Christians in this effort to roll out powerful action for change. Will you join us?

If you think it’s important to have voices from marginalized communities in on the ground floor of national progressive Christian organizing for racial, economic, environmental and social justice, please give to this effort right now.

If you or someone you know wants to be at CANA and needs support to do so, please email me [email protected]

For more information on the CANA initiative, please visit:




International Womens Environmental Climate Summit

logo_iweci2Last month I had the opportunity to join the staff of the International Women’s Environmental Climate Initiative in helping to produce a Summit of 100 women from around the globe in addressing the global climate crisis. The weekend was awe inspiring and included powerful women activists like Jane GoodallVandana Shiva and Amy Goodman. We were joined by powerful male allies like Ted Turner and Larry Schweiger. As an activist who in continually disturbed by the whiteness of progressive movements and conferences in the USA, I was blown away by that the majority were women of color and their amazing presence and contributions. My job at the summit was to help set up and manage the live cast of the presentations. I very much encourage you to watch the videos archived here. Friday night features a conversation that Vandana Shiva and Jane Goodall moderated by Amy Goodman (embedded below):