An Acts 8 Mo(ve)ment

Nurya Love Parish blogged the following after the Acts 8 Moment meeting on the last evening of the General Convention:

The run-up to the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church was full of drama. There was one proposed budget. Oh-oh, the proposed budget was in error. There was another proposed budget. The fact that the new proposed budget was from the Presiding Bishop was unprecedented. It was like a soap opera, except (for those of us who care about these things) infinitely more frustrating, because it was real life.

But we give thanks to God even in our trials (Romans 5), because what causes pain also brings endurance, courage and insight. In this case, a trio of bloggers (Susan Snook, Tom Ferguson, and Scott Gunn) decided to convene a new gathering at General Convention. (Here’s Susan’s original post describing the Episcopal Church as experiencing an Acts 8 Moment.)

I couldn’t go to the first Acts 8 meeting, because I wasn’t in Indianapolis yet. But as I followed the legislative conversation online, I had no doubt that Susan, Tom, and Scott were accurate in their description of the current state of the church. Approving a task force to review and recommend restructure of the church, approving a move of the Church Center, and approving same-sex blessings… all were signs that the Episcopal Church is in a new moment.

I did attend the second Acts 8 meeting, which was held last night. As before, the agenda began with the study of Scripture (Acts 8:26-40). It continued with people finishing the sentence “I hope the church will…”  And finally, there was open conversation on where to go from here. A suggestion for a corporate Bible study on Acts was greeted with enthusiasm, and a commitment from Scott Gunn that Forward Movement could provide one. A summation of the conversation by Susan Snook produced the tweet: “What we want: spiritual renewal, prayer-led and Bible based. #Acts8 #gc77”

As in every gathering, there was the meeting and the after-meeting. As people dispersed, there became two unconnected groups of people talking in two different corners of the room. As we overheard one another, we realized that with no (human) coordination, we were both talking about the same thing: developing a common Rule of Life.

At the same time we realized that Acts 8 met for the second time on the Feast of St. Benedict. (This wasn’t intentional, but it was certainly a happy accident.) St. Benedict was the person who developed a lasting rule of life for monastics, beginning with the words “Listen with the ear of the heart…” and continuing to prescribe prayer, stability in community, and conversion of life.

Here’s what I hope for Acts 8: I hope the Acts 8 Moment we’re experiencing turns into an Acts 8 Movement. I hope that movement is characterized by the values of discipleship to Jesus Christ and accountability in community. I hope there are others who would be willing to join me in these commitments:

  • Daily prayer and reading of Scripture
  • Weekly corporate worship, preferably Holy Eucharist
  • Monthly online gathering (via twitter or Google+ or whatever works)
  • Ongoing work for spiritual and corporate renewal at every level of the church

The aim of these commitments would be allowing ourselves to be used by the Holy Spirit for the renewal of the body of Christ. This is scary stuff. It leads us by a wilderness road. It means taking risks and it probably means failing along the way. That’s why a community of support and accountability, as we work in our parishes and dioceses, and at the national level, is so critical.

St. Benedict’s genius was recognizing that Christians needed to come together to share a common life in Christ and making a way for them to do so. My prayer is that Acts 8, inspired by his spirit, can do the same.

(I am sure Susan, Tom, and Scott will be blogging about Acts 8 soon… Scott and Susan are both delegates still on the floor at General Convention and otherwise occupied. And Tom couldn’t be at last night’s meeting, so he may be waiting for  a report before writing a post.)

What do you think about these commitments? What do you hope for from Acts 8?

7 thoughts on “An Acts 8 Mo(ve)ment”

  1. My hope is that the energy, passion and imagination that I heard and felt in the first Acts 8 gathering will continue to inspire and transform us.

  2. I wish I’d been able to be with you all at the Acts 8 gatherings (I wish I’d been at the Conventon!) but time, distance, and other factors dictated otherwise. From tweets, blogs, and Facebook postings, however, one got a sense of something new happening at Convention; one did not get that sense from the legislative sessions nor from the most of the elections. My hope is that the Spirit moving in the Acts 8 Moment will not get bogged down by necessary work everyone now will take up again on their return home, nor dissipated by distance. Daily individual prayer and meditation, frequent contact via social media, and regional and local gatherings can help to prevent that. (I also pray that the entrenched structures and leadership of the church do not co-opt the movement.)

  3. Hi friends,
    I’m honored this was posted to the Acts 8 site. I’m also wondering where we go from here. Some thoughts:

    –It would be great to have an invitation to send your site to be part of the blogroll. Blogging about Acts 8? Why not be part of the blogroll. Right now it looks kind of like “this is it” and I am sure that is not true/intentional.
    –If people are wanting to make the 4 commitments I suggested, or if they aren’t, then how do we discuss/decide? I know Scott was talking about hosting an internet chat sometime soon. Looking forward to seeing what comes next!
    –Also, I heard from Susan that she is on vacation with her family next week, as am I. I promise not to forget about Acts 8 even if it takes a couple weeks for us to get our ducks somewhat row-like.

  4. Nurya,

    Absolutely, let’s expand the blogroll. I only put the ones I had handy, but will add all who ask me to do so. It is neither true/intentional that the current list is anything other than a slow start (appearances notwithstanding). So how do we inprove that?

    A chat soon to follow up will be great. I’m in.

    If anyone wants to post to the site while we figure things out, just send an email to theteam[at]acts8moment[dot]org and it will happen. The idea is crowdsourcing/networking/collaboration rather than control.


  5. The Acts 8 message will be carried to the Diocese of New York.

    I can well imagine that most of us are going to need some r&r, even if not on vacation pee se. My spirit is willing and excited but my mind is exhausted, not to mention my b*** being dead from setting on it for the last umpteen days. Glad to be a part of this very hopeful moment in the church.

    Blake Rider
    Christ Episcopal Church
    Poughkeepsie, NY

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