We hope you’ve had a chance to digest Carol‘s amazing article/post in Christian Century called “A Space to Dream.” It accurately describes what we collectively have come to know as the UNCO “it-factor.” It describes that space where we are more free to play, dream, and be creative than we are elsewhere, and yet also a place where it is about the things-that-get-made (ie liturgy link, Garden Church, etc) because of these vital conversations.
For anyone who has been to an UNCO gathering, they know that they are the most generative, fulfilling and inspiring days. As Carol so wonderfully puts it, “UNCO is a ministry incubator that creates and supports new ministry. It’s also the place where I’ve met the most innovative leaders and had the most stimulating conversations across all our denominations.” It is a place where we brainstorm, we discuss, and then we plan.
And together, as the newly formed Board of UNCO charged with encouraging that ethos, we know that we want to give it space to flourish. Yet it is not enough to just wait to see what could happen, and so we are taking positive action to move into the strange and unstable ground of building together.
Collectively the community of UNCO is about making things and we, the Board, have several dreams that we want to shepherd into a reality together. Our vision includes:
Believing that there is no clearer sign of our love for God than our love for each other, UNCO is an innovative community that creates an open space for ministry leaders to dream, resource, and equip movements of justice and peace.
One of our dreams has been lovingly named “UnShelved,” where we want to translate some of the many great conversations and learning that get shared at UNCO gatherings, to make them available in no-nonsense, feet-on-the-ground resources. We want to create ‘Wisdom that doesn’t live on the shelf, but lives in the world.’
“UnShelved” seeks to become an e-publishing platform that will rise to the unique challenges of this moment in time by providing practical resources for church leaders, community-builders and social justice workers. It will include guides for pastors, activists, peace-makers, urban farmers, bi-vocational ministers, and traditional worshiping communities. They are put together, not by people with large congregations and huge resources, but by innovators-by-necessity, who have little resources and a lot of ideas.
In another dream, we hope to establish a year-round presence through an ‘on-demand’ pastoral care initiative that provides care and support for UNCO participants. We are calling it ‘UNburdened.’ UNburdened would be a way to love one another in the midst of crisis and/or need, where UNCO would be able to provide intervention and compassion in the moments of greatest need for those innovating ministries.
Another collective dream of the community that we are in the midst of cultivating is FundCO. FundCO is a support network of new churches, worshiping communities, social justice organizations, and social enterprises that are related to UNCO. FundCO understands that part of re-imagining church is re-imagining our funding sources and methods. The way the world works is changing, and the funding for new expressions of church isn’t primarily coming from our institutions anymore. So how do we best support each other as we continue to build ministries that are vital to our collective future?
These are just some of the many conversations that have inspired us over the past six years. Each can be traced back to common themes and discussions over the lifespan of UNCO, and they are all on the slate for 2015 UNCOs.
Through the exploration of continued partnerships, and potential new ones, with organizations including San Francisco Theological Seminary, Stony Point Conference Center, Center for Progressive Renewal and Convergence, exciting things are in store for 2015 and beyond.
We invite you to come build this dreamscape with us.