2013 6 December

CANA Wine – Moderator Gary Paterson

Posted in Steinbach United

CANA Wine – Moderator Gary Paterson

I had been planning to head home to Vancouver when the General Council Executive meeting finished on November 18; instead, I found myself on a plane to Washington, D.C., to participate in the CANA Initiative. The CANA Initiative brought together close to a hundred people who, in one way or another, are involved in progressive, emergentCana1Christianity – people like Brian McLarenDiana Butler Bass,Philip Clayton (a process theologian on faculty at Claremont Theological School),Doug Pagitt (minister atSolomon’s Porch in Minneapolis), Gareth Higgins, (Director of Wild Goose Festival– American offshoot from the Greenbelt Festival); along with people from SojournersFaith and Action, and many other justice-seeking groups; a handful of denominational and seminary experimenters and initiators; bloggers, “Revangelicals” and Christian environmentalists.

C for Convening (or Connecting)   Cana0

A for Advocating;

N for Networking (or Nourishing)

A for Action

The purpose of this gathering was to create a “network of networks,” so as to energize a new movement in the United States, wanting to counter right-wing, conservative, fundamentalist forces that for the last 40 years have been Christianity’s most dominant voice in North America.

At this CANA Initiative people talked about what is happening in their country – an economy rooted in materialism and consumerism, centered on the individual; a culture of violence; growing inequality between rich and poor; the destruction of the environment. Didn’t sound all that different from Canada, actually.

Cana2Now, as perhaps never before, a different Christianity needs to be heard from, one that is rooted in a moral vision of justice and peace, of hope and good news, that springs from our being followers of Jesus. Here’s how it got phrased at one point:


Post-evangelicals and post-liberals are coming together, in an emergent, progressive Christianity, with spiritual vibrancy, theological depth, and holistic mission, that offers a simple, compelling articulation of good news and life practice…following the movement of the Spirit, by seeking reconciliation with God, our neighbours, and the earth; making a fierce and constant commitment to God’s justice; nourishing generous Christian communities that unapologetically proclaim and seek God’s Kingdom in their shared life and in the world…. We can do more together than we could ever dream of alone.

Check out their website.

I am hoping and believe that The United Church of Canada, in our search for identity, will Cana3express something like this as the core vision of our denomination.

Diana Butler Bass wrote me a note during the conference, “The United Church rocks. Love you guys. You’ve given me many gifts in the last decade.” And so I ask myself, where are similar like-minded voices and groups here in Canada? Who do we need to network with, to build a generous, progressive, emergent Christian voice that focusses on the work of justice and care for the earth?

One thought – what are the possibilities of creating a “Greenbelt/Wild Goose Festival” here in Canada, where faith and the arts and justice collide, where experimental, edgy, and progressive voices come together to celebrate, network and organize?

By the way, one of the CANA organizers, Doug Pagitt, recently bought the rights to a website domain, “Andthatswhy” with a dream of people endlessly posting stories that begin and/or end with “I’m a Christian, and that’s why I….”

How would you end that sentence?


P.S. Please join us for an online conversation in this vein connected to the Comprehensive Review. “Digital Church?”, Thursday, Dec. 5 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. www.unitedfuture.ca/live. Hope to see you there!