The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.


Discussion and Planning Next Sunday

This Sunday we will meet to discuss future direction and ideas for the Cohort. We will meet at Nancy Jarosi's house in German Village (750 South Lazelle Street) at 2:30 p.m. until 5:00. In the first half hour we will share communion and a time of prayer and then move on to the planning discussion.

As you go about your week, Jesse offered some great questions for us to consider:

1. What do we value?

2. What are my spiritual goals?

3. How could the Cohort help in my growth?

I'm very happy to host this Sunday. If it is nice outside, we can think about walking down to Schiller after the prayer and communion portion. We'll see how that goes.


Tracy said...

I imagine taking a walk to the park might change the sort of get together we'd be having. It could make it harder to hear one another in conversation, and invite different sorts of activity. And it would delay getting into the discussion. So it doesn't appeal to me.

Angela Harms said...

Thanks for hosting, Nancy! :) I've been looking forward to talking about this stuff. I love this community so much...

Those questions aren't really the direction my thoughts have been going. I've been asking myself things like

* What do I love about the cohort as Christian community?
* How can my needs for Christian community be met more completely?
* Should/can that happen within cohort?

Here are the things I long for, and ways in which I'd love to see the cohort grow. I'd love cohort to be...

* a place where kids can come to have fun & learn about love in community.
* a place where people are safe & welcomed, whether happy, sad, giddy, depressed, scared, manic, or depressed and wearing pajamas.
* a place where no one goes hungry while another is fed.
* a consistent place & time, so I can invite people & so I know it will be there when I need it.
* a community that serves together, not just separately.

I'm really curious to learn whether anyone else is longing for that sort of community.

In my fantasies, we meet in a consistent place on Sunday evenings with a room for kids and food available for anyone who is hungry. And we have mid-week stuff too, like discussions or whatever.

These things seem really natural to me, like not much of a shift, really. But maybe it'd be more of a change than I realize. I'm looking forward to hearing what other folks are thinking.


Adam Newby said...

I think those are big changes. I think that is "church", and frankly, I don't want church. I want a community of friends whom I love and who loves me. Who challenges me. Whom I can share life with. And I think I have that. So I guess I'm happy. I really don't want any changes right now, if I may put it so bluntly.

Adam Newby said...

1. What do we value?

I value my wife. I value my son. I value family. I value my community. I value living life with my family and community and learning about God as I live life. I value the teachings of Jesus, although admittedly I do not live by them. But I value being challenged to live by them by living life with my family and my community. I value the ever-changing understanding and interpretation of those teachings as I explore and see them from different viewpoints along my journey.

2. What are my spiritual goals?

Do I need "goals?"

3. How could the Cohort help in my growth?

I don't know what the "Cohort" can do. But any of you reading this can help me by letting me love and serve you, and by loving me and serving me.

I guess you could take away the name "Central Ohio Emergent Cohort" tomorrow, take away the scheduled meetings, take away the blog, take away the structure … and I would be happy so long as I continue to have wonderful individuals in my life that make up my community.

Jesse said...

Adam said:

"2. What are my spiritual goals?

Do I need "goals?""

I LOL'd as I read that. I love it. It challenges me to my core.

Thanks, Adam, for that question that I'll be mulling over all week.

Angela Harms said...

Adam, I am so confused! What I described is basically what we do on Wednesdays. If you don't want that, why do you come?

Adam Newby said...

Because I LOVE LOVE LOVE you and the rest of my community. It's a time to be around my community. I don't care what venue it is. Also I will support whatever those in my community are doing. I LOVE what you want to do. I think it's beautiful! Even if it's not my vision. Your vision is beautiful to me. And I LOVE YOU for it. And if you bought a building tomorrow and started having 10:00 AM meetings every Sunday, I would probably come.

Angela Harms said...

I'm still pretty confused.

And I'm not sure how "no changes" would work. We are always changing. Meeting Joe was change. Meeting on Wednesdays is change. Deciding to have more game nights or more discussions is change.

When we do planning, we say "what do people need/want?"

What I hear when in your answer, Adam, is a "no" without telling me what you want instead. If you don't want a place where kids are welcome , does that means you think I should continue having a sitter for Frederick or else leave the cohort? Are you planning that for a few years from now, when Henry's bigger?

If you don't want a consistent place and time, can you tell me what you like about the variation?

What do you want *instead* of the things I want?
* a place where kids can come...
* a place where people are safe...
* a place where no one goes hungry...
* a consistent place & time...
* a community that serves together...


Adam Newby said...

I guess I should put something up here, not leave it hanging. I sent Angela a message saying I think I misrepresented my own thoughts. I guess I just wanted to say that I'm very happy with our community and I feel like my needs are being met. That's what I was thinking. But the more I think about it, the more I think it is more important to listen to what others need and think about how I can serve you. So I'll sit back and listen.

Zack Schroeder said...

I love the discussions and think discussions are an important part of the group. When we told Brian McClaren about the cohort at the Everything Must Change tour his one piece of advice was to "keep the on-ramps open" to those who are just now either losing their faith in religion or getting kicked out of their local church or pastors who need to ask questions and explore what it looks like to be emergent in their context etc. I feel like we've been moving away from that a bit, and although I like that we are becoming a closer more committed community I think we're becoming more exclusive.

I'm just thinking of like if a strongly conservative Christian who thinks homosexuality is a sin, but is struggling with the concept of hell came. I think they might have felt more like they belonged and loved, accepted and challenged by the group two years ago then they might be today. The discussions have felt more one-sided lately, and I think the main unique purpose of the cohort has been to provide a welcoming place for people to talk out their struggles with spirituality. This is what the cohort provided to me when I started coming, and I think one of the main ways the cohort has helped me to grow spiritually.

But then there is the problem that that's not really enough for those of us who consider the cohort their community. I think it'd be great to have a consistent place and time, but don't like the idea of that place being someone's house because that puts a big burden on that person, and then what happens when they leave, but also think a more intimate setting then a public place would probably be better. I currently enjoy the variation because I think it keeps us from getting in a rut of just doing things because that's what we do.

The kids thing is big Angela and for a while we've been wondering what to do with kids. I don't know, but I'm glad you brought it up.

I think part of the problem is that a lot of us don't want the cohort to become just another church because there are thousands of other churches throughout the city.

Angela Harms said...

Thanks for all the comments, Zack.

I *so* agree about the house thing. Yuck. Too crowded, too much work. And also it makes shared leadership harder. And we can't not show up! I'd like to be able to not show up once in a while. :)

I love that the cohort is welcoming to people coming *from* scary churches. But the thing I'm trying to figure out is if it's also welcoming to people who are coming *to* Christianity because Emergent makes it possible. Like us!

I wrote this post a couple of years ago, and it still feels really current for me. It made the rounds back then, got posted on Emergent Village, etc., but I never really got an answer to my question. Maybe you guys can tell me... Where Does the Emergent Road Lead? This is the question I've been asking all along, and I can't seem to stop asking it.

Adam Newby said...

I know where the emergent road leads! Perry Noble told me. It leads to Hell. :)

Zack Schroeder said...

hehe it even made it onto Jesse's blog http://jaschroeder.blogspot.com/2009/01/this-is-really-good-too.html

So yeah I'd really like for to be super open and welcoming to people coming from atheism etc. as well, but feel like things like Rob Bell's Mar's Hill Church or The Refuge etc. require lots of things like full-time staff, money, a place etc. things we don't have, and i'm fine without. let's take what we do have and do what we can with it.

Also Angela I think this is awesome, and one of the reasons why you and Tracy are so great to have in the cohort because your lives really do: "sing about how wonderful he is, how grace is the most beautiful thing, how following him is what life is all about." and I hope the cohort can be a place where we join in that song together.

NancyJ said...

I agree with Zack that it is worth considering whether we are becoming more exclusive.

We may be a safe place for someone who is struggling with homosexuality, but perhaps not for the person who firmly believes that homosexuality is sin. Are we safe for the wandering Christian any longer? Are we welcoming to agnostics, atheists?

Those are wonderful questions to ask. But in turn I ask…do we believe we will be all things to all people? Do we need to be?

The Cohort is not only a safe place for me, but it is the right fit at the right time. Maybe this is transitional for me and I will move on. For now I am very content and feel strongly to continue. I think our community lends itself to people coming and going and I like that. I like taking our turns at different times and different homes.

Angela, one thing I do want to say. I know you wrote this a while ago, but this statement is pretty strong…“To tell you the truth, it’s getting kind of boring. I’m tired of hearing about how somebody used to think this or that, but now they are beginning to wonder…”

I don’t know if you have an idea of how life changing and frightening it was for me to step away from Christianity. It was such a dramatic loss and change—not easily put aside while quickly moving on to the next subject. If that became boring for you, I’m truly sorry. It probably did. And perhaps you are right—people with nonChristian backgrounds are not interested.

I’m not quite where I would like to be, but I’m better. I’m also not sure I’m quite through that transition. That’s just me being very honest.

Different people have different needs. And our community will be able to meet some and not others. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’m really fortunate and very blessed that I found people who love me and are meeting mine.

Angela, I love you. I’m all about hearing how you want to sing about how wonderful Jesus is, how grace is the most amazing thing and how following him is what life is about. As I think about the direction of the Cohort, I don’t ever want to lose sight of that.

Angela Harms said...

You guys keep saying Tracy and I want a church. I can't figure out what you mean by that. Sometimes, it seems like an ok word, and other times it has started to feel like an attack. We've all agreed a zillion times we don't want "church" at all.

Zack, I had no idea you thought the Refuge was like Mars Hill. Mars Hill has at least three services on Sunday, and a few preachers/teachers who stand up and tell you how it is.

The Refuge doesn't have a place, a preacher, or a full-time staff. They found a way to get cheap access to an old, ratty Grange hall. They provide food because otherwise, some of the people who come couldn't afford both dinner and gas for the drive to the meeting, so they have to choose.

I'd like to suggest that we stop using the word church, and talk about how we want to do community instead. Would that be ok?

Oh, and you said that there are already lots of churches in Columbus. As far as I can tell, there is not one here for me and Tracy. Unless Cohort is it.

Angela Harms said...

And Nancy, I was bored when it was strangers, was theoretical. I have never been bored with you, sweetie.

Jesse said...

Lots of great comments and great conversation! So much could be said....sorry if this is long....

I appreciate Zack's reminder of B.Mac's words: "Keep the on-ramps open." I think of spirituality on a larger scale like the cities and regions around the world. There are many different people in different places, and they are moving to different places at different times. Some start in conservative Christianity, some start in atheism, some start in other religions or liberalism, or whatever. And throughout life, we move to and through different places. I think the emergent conversation is one of those "places," just like a Baptist Church and a Zen Dojo are one of those places. It may be appropriate for some people to "move into" emergent, and others might be "moving on" into something different, and others might still be sticking around for awhile for different reasons.

It's a good reminder that we aren't the only ones hurt by church, or baffled by the idea of religion, or looking for something different. Some might be coming to emergent for the first time, looking for the same things we were looking for years ago. I want to be there for those people, whomever they might be. (Angela, your post was a great reminder that different people come for different reasons. Thanks for that :)

In my opinion, varying the location and setting each week provides flexibility, creativity, and requires us all to have some involvement and work in the planning. Personally, it's one of my favorite things about the cohort. However, I understand the pros and cons of both sides, and I think it could be interesting to experiment with a consistent time and place.

I appreciate Nancy asking the question, "do we need to be all things to all people?" This is something I struggle with in American churches - I feel it is an impossible goal. But I also want anyone and everyone to feel comfortable in the cohort. Like I said, I struggle with this :)

On that note, one concept has been ringing in my head today. Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch talk a lot about being "incarnational," and I think part of what that means is recognizing where you are and what you are. And inversely, what you are NOT. The cohort is something unique. There are some unique characteristics about Columbus. For example, geographically we are all very spread out, even up to a full hour drive from each other. But we make it work by changing locations every week. (Again, that's something I like, but understand there are negatives as well).

One other unique aspect of the cohort is that we do not have a singular vision or purpose. We share and collaborate and support the activities and visions of each other. That just simply has been our makeup for the past several years for various reasons. As Zack and Eve said on Sunday, living into the kingdom of God sometimes looks different to different people.

Perhaps that is starting to change? Are we are finding a collective vision? Do we feel a collective calling into something together? I'm not sure I know yet what that means, or if it means something different than what we are already doing.

What I do know for sure, is that I am incredibly proud of the fact we are having this discussion at all. I appreciate and value everyone's input, and I think it is the process of discovering the kingdom together that is itself the very kingdom of God ("in the seeking, you'll find.")

Jesse said...

Just in case you thought I couldn't possibly say anything more...I'm also blogging some of my thoughts here:


:) Love you all :)

Angela Harms said...

I'm so glad the blog has got the discussion moving. (Thanks, Nancy.) It will mean we're ready to *talk* when we gather on Sunday.

I want to say that I really want to hear what people love about we're doing, and how you'd like us to move forward as a community. You, meaning each of you. I love collaboration in community, and there's a real opportunity for that here, if we choose it. There's just nothing like working together to create beauty.

What I keep hearing (on & off the blog) is something like
* "Your needs don't matter"
* You should keep quiet because you & Tracy want ______, and that's not ok.
* Please don't speak up; it scares me.

I continue to search my heart & pray about this a lot. I keep asking whether the loving path is to keep silent when speaking my truth scares people. So far, the answer seems to be no.

We're trying to hang in there. It's hard when people keep telling us we're wrong for reaching for stronger community.

I'd like to request that folks talk about their own desires for this community, rather than criticizing our desires. Maybe then we can get to a starting point.

Angela Harms said...

P.S. Thanks for talking about what you like about having different locations each week. I've been mulling that over...

Zack Schroeder said...

One thing I desire is to continue to have an online presence. Thinking ahead to when Eve and I are not in the country it would be helpful for us to stay connected, and feel like we are still a part of the community if there were more online things.

When I was looking for where I had read that old post Angela I stumbled upon or "intentional day of blogging" it'd be cool if we did more of that stuff or I really appreciated that Jesse posted the stories the re-tellings of the feeding of the 5,000 while we were gone.

Adam Newby said...

So, I guess I'll jump back in here. Thanks for pushing me to be more specific, Angela. I feel so horrible that you feel unheard or like others want you to "keep quiet." It makes my heard hurt to hear that. So here are some INITIAL thoughts on the points you made (thoughts can change).

a place where kids can come...
Love it. I hate to think than anyone with kids would have to get a babysitter to come to a meeting. I would love to hang out with Frederick during meetings together. Of course, we could also explore the avenue of including Frederick (and other kids in the future) in our together time, at least some of the time.

* a place where people are safe...
I want that too
* a place where no one goes hungry
I hope anyone who is hungry would feel safe enough to tell me. This brings up the question of meals at every meeting and works into the next point
* a consistent place & time...
Feel uncomfortable with this one. But not unmoveable. I've given it a lot of thought over the past year or so. I feel the same as Jesse does. I also feel uncomfortable with paying for space. If it was free, I'd feel better about it. I really need to verbally talk this one out. There's a lot layers to uncover other than those 2 sentences. I do see how it would bring tremendous advantages to the type of ministry Tracy and Angela are devoted to.
* a community that serves together...
Possibilities are endless. I look forward to hearing what people have in mind.

So those are my initial thoughts. And I really like your questions. Here is my knee-jerk reaction to them:

What do I love about the cohort as Christian community?
The people. Each individual. I love getting to know them. I love seeing the similarities and the differences between me and each individual. I LOVE talking about theology and what it means to each of us individually. I love swapping stories and learning from one another. I love laughing with others.

* How can my needs for Christian community be met more completely?
I'd really like to hang out with individuals (or individual couples) more often. For me, that's how I really feel connected to someone. I really feel like they are my friend(s). I love our group gatherings, but I would love to make more of an effort to really spend time with people outside of group gatherings.

* Should/can that happen within cohort?
I think so.

Angela Harms said...

Thank you.
Imma go cry now.

Angela Harms said...

Did anyone else miss Jesse's blog post yesterday? (I saw the previous one and didn't realize there was another.) It's beautiful! Here's a snip:

"I bring all that I have to the table, and it collides with everything that everyone else has - and the result can be messy and challenging, but also life-giving and encouraging."

I can't believe I'm surrounded by such amazing people.

Stephen Smith said...

Thanks for putting ther U2charist on the page

Stephen Smith said...

Thanks for posting the U2charist on the page