Editor’s note: In his doctoral dissertation, Pastor Pat Bailey of Telluride’s Christ Presbyterian Church is claiming the need for a re-visioning of the Christian church’s theology and its understanding of mission, the need for a more natural, integrative theology and for an earth-focused, contextual approach to mission.  Over the past year+, Pat has reviewed contemporary views in theology and mission and has proposed his own postmodern approach which he calls Inter-dwelling. This week Pat reviews the conclusions of his dissertation. Next week, he will present the project portion of his doctoral thesis, a retreat program called “Four Meditations in Nature.”

Pastor Pat Bailey in front his church

Pastor Pat Bailey

Many  living in Telluride region are disaffected with Christianity but seeking spiritual meaning and depth for their lives. I have proposed that the mission of Christ Presbyterian Church focus on an inclusive spirituality of life-integration and expansion of consciousness. Such a focus attends to the authenticity and multidimensionality of human experience, while recognizing the interdependent nature of existence within the inter-dwelling of Nature and Spirit, with the hope of effecting an increased wholeness of the individual and the world. This view of mission also intends to demonstrate that Christianity can inform, deepen, and enrich the spiritual journey.

As with many contemporary Westerners, persons living in Telluride are searching for spiritual meaning and depth in ways that tend to be pluralistic, experiential, and affirming of Nature.  Christ Presbyterian Church seeks to enact a mission that promotes, resources, and celebrates holistic spiritualities of inter-dwelling within Nature and Spirit and to provide accompanying community on the journey toward wholeness. It does so while upholding the integrity of the other, the plurality of perspectives and world views, and the rich spiritual tradition of the Christian movement. Enacting this mission will encourage the development of world views that are increasingly pluralistic, experiential, and affirming of Nature.

Many Telluridians are particularly concerned about what they perceive as a negative influence from Christianity upon the larger culture’s attitude toward the earth. By advancing a theological perspective of the inter-dwelling of Nature and Spirit, that Nature and Spirit have their home in one another, and that human experiencing occurs intersubjectively within that inter-dwelling of Nature and Spirit, Christ Presbyterian Church will encourage world views that integrate Nature and Spirit and humanity’s identification with the natural world.

Many Telluridians are concerned as well about a Christian world view that often is exclusive rather than pluralistic, authoritatively propositional rather than experiential, and dualistic rather than naturalistic. By advocating an inter-dwelling perspective of theology and a spirituality that emphasizes experience, integration, and expansion of consciousness, Christ Presbyterian Church will advance world views that are increasingly pluralistic, experiential, naturalistic, and integrative.

Christians in Telluride share many of the sentiments of their neighbors and struggle to integrate their spirituality with their tradition and to present a positive witness in their community.   With its focus on inter-dwelling perspectives and their enactment in spirituality and mission, Christ Presbyterian Church can help Christians better integrate their spirituality and tradition and so to provide a positive witness within their community.

A refocusing of witness and mission is needed both for the church’s self-understanding and its proclamation in a late-modern, globalized context.  Christ Presbyterian Church seeks to gather persons around a wager of faith that includes an inter-dwelling perspective of truth, a spirituality of wholeness, and a mission that promotes, resources, and celebrates holistic spiritualities of inter-dwelling. These emphases will not only refocus, but will help to transform Christian witness and mission in its late-modern, globalized context.

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