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Space and the Formation of Missional Communities

In a highly mobile society, the importance of “place” often gets overlooked in shaping identities, both personal and communal. For instance, most of us drive past several congregations before we arrive at the one we “attend.” Factors like worship style, doctrinal preferences, or age-tailored programs often make location or neighborliness irrelevant in choosing a congregation. Of course, this mirrors the loss of neighborhoods in general. Our garage door openers have turned our houses into fortresses and our neighbors into strangers. Our inattention to “space” has cost us in terms of human connection and awareness of how our actions impact other people’s lives. Our congregations are a loose aggregation of religious consumers who give an hour or so a week to being formed as Christians, much less communities called into the mission of God. As one writer observes, “In North America, worship has become a substitute for Christianity.”


There are, however, voices and movements reminding us of the importance of space in the formation of missional communities. And we’ve invited some of them to Streaming to help us imagine again what it means to be God’s people in a new missional era.

Join us for this important conversation, October 4-6.


Tentative Streaming 2018 Schedule 

12:00  Registration Opens
2:00 Opening worship (Ali Kaiser)
3-5:30  Elaine Heath, Spark Talks
5:30-6:45 Dinner (provided)
7-9:00 Passages and Prayers
8:30  Gathering and continental breakfast
9-12:00 Elaine Heath, David Leong, Spark Talks
12-1:15 Lunch (provided)
1:15-5:30 Panel Discussion, David Leong, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Spark Talks
5:30 Evening free
8:30 Gather and Yates Cider Mill goodies 
9:00-11:15 Speaker Panel, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
11:15-12:15 Closing worship (Mark Love)



Elaine Heath Elaine Heath is Dean of the Divinity School at Duke University. Her work integrates systematic, pastoral, and spiritual theology in ways that bridge the gap between academy, church, and world. Her research interests focus on evangelism and spirituality, evangelism and gender, the new monasticism, and emergence in church and in theological education. Elaine is the author of numerous books and monographs, the most recent of which is Five Means of Grace: Experience God’s Love the Wesleyan Way (2017).  She is also the co-founder of the Missional Wisdom Foundation, which provides opportunities for clergy and laity to learn how to live in intentional communities and how to develop missional communities and social enterprise in diverse social contexts.



David LeongDavid Leong is Associate Professor of Missiology and director of the Global and Urban Ministry program at Seattle Pacific University and Seminary. David’s research and writing is at the intersection of urban geography, cultural studies, contextual theology, and community development. His newest book, Race and Place: How Urban Geography Shapes the Journey to Reconciliation (InterVarsity Press, 2017) explores how structures and boundaries in our cities create patterns of exclusion, but also invite us to cultivate communities of belonging across those boundaries. David and his family live in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, one of the most ethnically and socioeconomically diverse communities in the U.S.



Jonathan Wilson-HartgroveJonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a celebrated spiritual writer and sought-after speaker. A native of North Carolina, he lives with his family at the Rutba House, a Christian community and house of hospitality, in Durham, North Carolina, where he directs the School for Conversion. Jonathan is an Associate Minister at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church, and serves on the Steering Committee of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. His most recent book is Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom From Slaveholder Religion.



Ali Kaiser Ali Kaiser, along with her husband Mark, lead an intentional Christian community in Itu, Brazil, that welcomes people leaving addiction. She also serves, alongside her parents, on the ministry staff of the Itu Church of Christ. Ali and Mark will welcome their first child any day now. She is an alumna of Rochester College’s Master’s in Missional Leadership, and we are proud to have her back on campus.




Mark Love is Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Rochester College and director of Streaming. Mark served congregations in Texas and Oregon for seventeen years before shifting to teaching ministry, first at Abilene Christian University, and for the past nine years at Rochester College. In addition to his teaching at Rochester College, Mark is an affiliated consultant with Church Innovations, helping congregations thrive in the rapidly changing environment of a new missional era.