The New Ecumenists

Gen-X Christians are reinterpreting the meaning of church unity.
If you ever go to the Vine, bring your Bible, some business cards, and a good pair of walking shoes. But, most importantly, bring your voice, because those who attend this conference—mostly Gen-Xers—like to talk. They talk in the hallways, they talk over lunch, and they talk in panel discussions that cover topics from "Glorifying God in the Arts" to "The Soul of the Internet." Everyone serves as panelist, commentator, or moderator for at least one panel discussion. At last year's event, one especially lively panel explored "The Silent Priests: Media and Culture." A Princeton seminarian held forth about popular Christian icons, and a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago explained why evangelicals make such lousy movies. Carlos Aguilar, a performance artist-cum-Talbot School of Theology student, explained "What Aristotle and Snoop Doggy Dogg Can Teach Our Youth."

Visitors to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, a rustic resort community about 40 miles north of Chicago, usually come to enjoy a variety of leisure activities, horseback and carriage rides, boat cruises, and hot-air ballooning. But over Labor Day in the past two years, a group of about 150 men and women have gathered at Lake Geneva for the Vine. With a name inspired by John 15, this unique conference brings together an assortment of Christians, including clergy, scientists, students, and stay-at-home parents, for a three-day weekend of prayer, fellowship, and lots of conversation.

The conference's panel presentations are kept to five minutes per person, leaving plenty of time for debate and discussion, which inevitably spill into corridors and continue over dinner. Listen carefully to what the participants are saying and you may arrive at a surprising conclusion: Among ...

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