Thanks to the UCC's use of technology, I, too, attended General Synod this year - that is, I attended via the internet. What a great gift to those of us who could not physically be present - the ability to participate in the denomination as a whole, to engage in worship, hear the speakers, participate in the life and process of our church. Even though Synod is over it's not too late - you haven't missed it; the videos are still available at ucc.org/synod and well worth watching.
Like Douglas Anders, I, too, found Peter Kageyama's talk engaging - and a great way to think about The Gathering. To paraphrase Kageyama, The Gathering UCC can't "compete" with the established and plentiful large churches in San Angelo - they are amenity-rich, financially secure, numerically stable. Obviously, if we try to do what they are doing, we can only fail. What is possible, and what The Gathering is actually doing is engaging in San Angelo in creative and meaningful ways. The result is that despite our small size, The Gathering has a remarkably large presence in San Angelo via our reputation and "good works". In the last few weeks, it has been The Gathering the media has contacted for comment on the Supreme Court DOMA ruling, The Gathering that's been contacted re: Texas women's health care issues, and The Gathering that's been contacted by people seeking a public response to the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Our small UCC new church start community is becoming known as a mighty faithful Christian presence confronting local, national, and global issues of justice and inclusion.
As Douglas pointed out in his article, "the good news about meaning-rich cities or meaning-rich churches is that they rely on ordinary, average, grass-roots people to make things happen" - which is exactly the situation with The Gathering. I may be considered the spokesperson for The Gathering, but our life and vitality is because of the vision, efforts and love for San Angelo and The Gathering by Gatherers. We are truly a collaborative community seeking to join with God in the holy work of creating not just a church, but a community.