The Emergent Village Theological Conversation: A Brief History

This week, EV is hosting a synchroblog on our upcoming Theological Conversation.  There have been some great posts that have come out of our theme of “Creating Liberated Spaces in a Postcolonial World,” so be sure to check the bottom of the post for links.  Rather than discuss the idea of postcolonialism, I want to talk instead about the idea of the Theological Conversation itself, and particularly why this year is a groundbreaking year for us.

The EV Theological Conversation is my hands-down favorite event of every year.  And that was true even before last year’s event with Jurgen Moltmann.   Eleven-ish years ago, a group of people sat around and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could foster some conversation between the academic world of our seminaries and the practical pastoral lives of our churches?”  And out of that thought, the EVTC was born.  The first year, we hosted Nancey Murphy from Fuller and Dallas Willard in three days of conversation- no papers, no lectures, just two theologians and a roomful of pastors and Jesus followers talking about the questions we most long to discuss.  I distinctly remember sitting in a chair, listening to the delightful volley of ideas and thoughts bouncing around the room, and thinking, “This is the best idea anyone has ever had.”

And I still feel that way.  The academy and the church are two deep loves of my life, and to see them brought together in a way that brings so much LIFE and vitality to both places is a fantastic thing to experience.  Pastors return to their communities with ideas so loudly buzzing in their heads they might expect honey to come forth.  Theologians return to their offices and ivory towers with a renewed focus on the immediacy of the needs of the people their work is intended to help.  This is what a mutually-sustaining conversation does.  I beamed last year (as you can well imagine) when Professor Moltmann remarked to me something like, “I very much like the questions and energy that I am experiencing from your Emergent people.  I see much hope here for the future of the Church.”  And we left hope-filled as well, because he took time to share with us not only his theology but his life Pokies over three casual days of conversation together.

The EVTC is remarkable every year, but this year it is remarkable for another reason.  It is the first year we are hosting theologians who are not only male or not only white, or both.  And we should not underestimate what a significant and refreshing shift this will be.  As delighted as I have been in years past to tell fellow participants that we are hosting Stanley Hauerwas and Miroslav Volf and Walter Brueggemann and yes, Jurgen Moltmann, I am beaming every time I tell people that we are hosting Musa Dube, the rock star New Testament feminist scholar from Botswana, and Richard Twiss of the Lakota/Sioux tribe and a church practitioner and thinker extraordinaire, and Colin Greene, UK theologian who navigates the postcolonial landscape with the aplomb of Fred Astaire on a dance floor.  This is going to be a fantastic conversation, having these three in a room together along with pastors and Jesus followers from across the US, talking about ways to be free together.

The conversation of how to create liberated spaces together- how to live in community with one another by sharing power the way God has called us to share power- this is a question that is as important now as ever it has been.  It is critical for all of us as we live in a world where globalization continues and polarization nips at its heels.  To have the liberated space to participate in three days of deep conversation about these matters with three fantastic conversational partners is quite a gift.  And that’s not even counting the legendary, post-conference, into-the-night-at-the-local-pub conversations with Emergent Village friends from around the nation.

I hope you’ll come.  I hope you’ll support this landmark year with the gift of your presence and with the wisdom of your voice.

You can find out registration info here.

Other synchroblog participants:

– Annie Bullock at Marginal Theology

– Julie Clawson at onehandclapping

– Nelson Costa (in Portuguese) at

– Natanael Disla (in Spanish) at

– Carol Howard Merritt at

– Dave Ingland at

– Mihee Kim-Kort at first day walking

– Crystal Lewis at Jesus Was A Heretic, Too.

– Katie Mulligan at The Adventures of Tiny Church

– Ann Pittman at


  1. oops – I meant to say “Thanks for participating in The Emergent Village synchroblog. I was reading both the Big Tent and Emergent Village contributions today. Sorry for the mixup.

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