Toward a Hopeful Future: Why the Emergent Church Is Good News for Mainline congregations/The Emergent Psalter

Article excerpt

CONGREGATIONAL SONG IN THE EMERGING CHURCH Toward a hopeful future Why the emergent church is good news for mainline congregations by Phil Snider and Emily Bowen. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2010. 290 pp. ISBN 978-0-8298-1847-5. US $26.

The emergent psalter by Isaac Everett. New York: Church Publishing, 2009. 278 pp. ISBN 978-0-89869-617-2. US $25.

Two recent volumes give a peek at congregational song in the movement known as the emergent church. Toward a hopeful future: Why the emergent church is good news for mainline congregations is by Phil Snider and Emily Bowen, Disciples of Christ pastors who are leaders in "The Awakening" emergent worship experience at Brentwood Christian Church in Springfield, Missouri. The authors outline primary characteristics of worship in the emergent church, notably a passion for justice - seeking God's kin-dom on earth - postmodern thinking, and extravagant hospitality. Emergent congregations are quite diverse in their practices, since they attend closely to the contexts and communities in which they exist. Of four main streams of emergent church the authors identify, one flows in congregations of mainline denominations, sometimes converging with progressive evangelical watercourses. The stories Bowen and Snider report are indeed good news, not only in terms of vital congregations springing up, but also in the deep and creative Christian faithfulness from which they rise.

Of particular good news to readers of THE HYMN is a passion within emergent communities to sing and pray what is honest and authentic theology within the community, unafraid of questions, uncertainties, and new articulations of the truth. Thus it is no surprise that the sample worship outlines in the final section of the book feature hymns by Shirley Ereiia Murray, Brian Wren, Dan Damon, and myself. There are many selections from More voices, the 2007 United Church of Canada collection, including songs from the worldwide church. This care for the meaning of words and for truly diverse styles is indeed hopeful for the church. …


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