SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
In recent years cooperation between conservative and reformed evangelicals of various denominations has grown. Annual gatherings such as The Shepherd's Conference and Together for the Gospel have brought together names like C.J. Mahaney, John MacArthur, Ligon Duncan and Al Mohler just to name a few. While theological differences do exist between the respective denominations of these contemporary church leaders, the focus of a common bond in the faith has brought a newfound sense of unity to reformed churches across America.
But others outside the realm of conservative reformed Christianity have taken notice of the popularity of such conferences. Recently leaders of various liberal Christian churches from the United States and Canada gathered to discuss holding a conference in 2009 to be called Together for a Bunch of Other Stuff.
Liberal churches, which have seen their memberships dwindle over the past decade, have long searched for ways to slow their decreasing size. The conference in 2009 is designed to be a show of unity between liberal churches in North America with hopes of bringing about a "revival of reconciliation."
"It's a shame that we haven't moved faster on this" said Rev. Mark Anthony Tallis, Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in San Diego. "For the past ten years I've watched parishioner after parishioner leave our church for these so-called evangelical churches. It's high time that we put aside our differences with these other denominations and start standing together for what's important, that is 'other things.'"
"Gospel, gospel, gospel, that's all we ever hear about from the other side" said Rev. Peter Hawkes of First United Church of Christ in Newport Beach, Florida. "What we need now in the world is love, not all this gospel business about sin and salvation."
The conference will be held in May of 2009 in San Diego and will feature the Rev Canon Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Other noted speakers will include the Rev. Cecil Williams, pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, and the Dali Lama. Representatives from various other denominations will also be present.
"Our goal is to show that we are united for what's really important out there in the world" said Rev. Williams. "We liberal Christians are out to show love, and spread harmony and reconciliation with tolerance towards all."
The cost of the conference is yet to be determined. Entertainment and "worship" music for the conference will be provided by Alanis Morissette.