The Spirit Hasn't Left the Mainline Part 2

Part two of three parts; click here to read part one.

Leadership, renewal, and missions
A number of renewal movements have formed to try to reconstruct mainline denominations to reflect their own more conservative, grassroots beliefs. Do you see the renewal movements taking over, pulling out, or coming together and forming another entity?

Hestenes:The renewal movements within the Presbyterian church are nonseparatist in intention. They seriously love their church. I see them as correctives to the denomination's headquarters and to extremes in the church. They see themselves in the center. They are threatening to those who would want to truncate or start off on a new direction contrary to the historic orthodoxy of the church.

Willimon:I'm troubled by the denial in my denomination to face some facts and by the ineffective leadership. There is a relentless determination on the part of our leadership to make sure nobody puts anything on the table to say, "We've lost 2 million members in 20 years. Are we doing anything wrong?" So I'm in favor of ferment. Out of that, leadership bubbles up, new ideas come forward. I've got to say, God bless you for agitating and complaining. That becomes a gift to an organization that is terrified of dealing with the issues.

Frey:What people call renewal movements are not "movements out of" so much as a rediscovery of the riches of the tradition. In my experience, people are not attracted to them because they see them as correctives for a national trend. They're attracted to them because they've discovered the power of the gospel in them to do something in their own personal lives.

Willimon:There is a deep nonchalance about bodily, institutional form. I worry about that. In my denomination, it's almost ...

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