Many wonderful things “emerged” from the first gathering of Presbymergent’s Coordinating Group last month in Louisville, and hopefully you’ll get to read more about them in the weeks and months to come. One thing in particular that grew out of our discussions, shared interests, and dreaming was (surprisingly?) an organizational structure. Now, at this point I imagine the Presbyterian readers are cheering and saying to themselves, “It’s about time!” while those with more emergent sensibilities are dusting the dirt from their sandals and saying, “Well, it was nice knowing you.” However, it’s not as simple as that (it never is with us crazy post-modern types, is it?).
It’s true that many of us in the Presbymergent conversation have, over the past two years of our existence, cringed at the thought of becoming more structured, fearing that first step towards institutional irrelevance. It’s also true that the “Presby” side of our heritage embraces things done “decently and in order.” So the challenge for our tribe has always been to live in the tension between these two natures — the organized and the organic — being true to both and not letting one dominate the other.
When we gathered last month, there was energy around several things — some were proposed events, others were ideas, and some were goals for Presbymergent and related communities. We quickly realized that our dreams outnumbered our hands, so only those things which gathered enough hands, feet, and commitments were carried forward. Several “clusters” emerged, each with a point-person committed to shepherding the dream into reality over the coming year. More specifics on the different clusters to come soon!
The cluster I was part of named itself the Organ(ic)izing Group to reflect our dual nature (and because parentheses are just sooo emergent) — or just “OhGee” for short — and was given the blessing of the Coordinating Group to accomplish the following:
- Establish 501c3 Non-Profit Status for Presbymergent
- Establish bylaws, budgets, transparent record keeping and accounting systems as needed for non-profit status
- Constitute a new Coordinating Group through broad and open invitation, with concern toward diversity of gender, age, ethnicity and geographical location
- Develop a “Conceptual Document” for and about Presbymergent (kind of like a mission statement, but more flexible, organic, and living)
- Serve as a point of contact for inquiries about Presbymergent and for administrative decisions on behalf of the Coordinating Group.
Basically, while the other clusters are having fun being creative, the OhGee gets to do the “dirty work” of administration But not in a centralized, authoritative or controlling way, — rather with the desire and intent of empowering the other clusters to accomplish their tasks, mindful that our authority originates from and flows through the Presbymergent Coordinating Group.
There are eight members on the Organ(ic)izing Group: Jan Edmiston, Heather Grantham, Chad Herring, Carol Howard Merritt, Ryan Kemp Pappan , Neal Locke, Adam Walker Cleaveland, and David Williams. Members were chosen by interest and consensus within the Coordinating Group (some volunteered, some were drafted) to serve for one year until the next gathering of the Coordinating Group, which will take place next February in Atlanta, GA.
As a final thought on venturing into a new way of existing, I find the metaphor of Wikipedia helpful: On the surface, it would seem that wikipedia (and all wikis) are chaotic and ever-changing, where anyone has the power to contribute or change the content. But if you look one layer deeper, Wikipedia is a software application, written in PHP and MySQL. In other words, it has a framework, a structure, a scaffolding, that, rather than locking down and controlling the website, actually preserves and protects the openness of wikipedia, helping it to accomplish its open-source goals. We hope that we can do the same for Presbymergent, in an organized — but organic — sort of way.