The State Of Christianity In Texas

I preached ( at three services of the 2,000 member First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, Texas (but not at the music band and bi-lingual services) and gave a lunch presentation on our Way of Life and a promotion of our Igniting the Flame Course. Then on to First United Fort Worth Methodist Church for a dinner, attended by their bishop, and a seminar on The Emerging church and New Monasticism. Both churches have projects that care for homeless, disadvantaged and young people locally, and education and medical care projects in several other lands. They have paid pastoral, youth, music, IT, catering and administrative staff. The chapel used for the smaller service is larger than Holy Island's parish church . The main sanctuary has a new $2million organ with 900 pipes. A fifth organ is planned. Initiative, energy, ability is everywhere. Yet the large auditoriums and family centers are no longer filled as they were. Fort Worth/Dallas has several mega churches larger than major football stadiums, but, although they are still huge, numbers are declining there, too.

I joined a student vacation outreach by Grapevine lake, played Sticks (lazy baseball), speed-boated and swam in 90 degrees, was given and photographed with dark glasses. Paul Martin and I had supper with Betsy, Len and their two boys, one of whom was named Walker after the boxer. This was a kind of rest day. Betsy had intuited that we want to bring our spirituality to a new generation.

I spoke to a lunch meeting at First Methodist Church Arlington. CA&H is committed to be culture friendly, so Paul and I then imbibed some classic Texas culture. Explorer and musician Emily Williams and husband Mike took Paul and I to the stockade where they do rodeo, then to Billy Bob with its forty bars, its stages, and dance floors. In the evening twenty leaders involved in spiritual formation met at the home of Annette and Jesse Sowell to explore how this fits into old-style church, emergent church, and a rhythm of life that works for both men and women in all stages of life. Another person asked to enrol on the Igniting the Flame course Anette will lead later this year.

We met at FUMC Grapevine, Paul Martin and I skyped with Professor Elaine Heath, a Methodist who explores new monastic expressions and the Great Emergence, and I had a private lunch with an ordained person who had things to share. Paul and I then met with Professor Timothy Robinson of Brite Divinity School who combines the history of Christian spirituality with the practice of ecological justice.

In the evening I co-led a Celtic Service at Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Worth, and gave a homily each on Aidan and Hilda. The music was beautiful – harp, bagpipes, violin and piano – all organised by Emily Williams. This church had windows dedicated to an early saint of each of the Celtic lands of the Britons and the Irish, but none to any English saint. This is strange since the church began with the English and Scots. With the publication of the books on Hilda and Aidan has the time come for USA to engage with these as they do with Saint Patrick? The last of the batch of books on Aidan was sold.

Last day. I speak at a 6.30 am Men’s Breakfast at IHop restaurant. These men are open, honest and warm; they don’t want the women to hog all the spiritual formation. I sense that as church transition takes place the heart of the neighbourhood will be members who live in the heart of Christ.

On the first day members and friends of Aidan and Hilda met at Emily's home. A real sense of expectation and growth was present, even though Annette, who organised all the Methodist meetings, had to stay with her husband Jesse who is recovering from major surgery. It seemed divine Providence overruled so that our US Guardian could stay and contribute to most of the meetings. We had two days driving together to get to Texas, which was like a faster and longer Emmaus Walk. Sorry my emails would not send. Now to fly, to sleep, perchance to dream.

Posted at 17:18pm on 11th August 2014
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