Patrick Burke participated in Bexley Seabury’s Learning from London course in January, 2017. He visited eight different communities that are experimenting with different contextualized fresh expressions of church, and explored the theology behind fresh expressions through lectures and course readings.
He then applied what he learned at his field parish, All Saints’, Indianapolis, by building a congregational team that is focused on innovative ministries that seek to engage individuals outside the established church. New ministries are being developed around historic church architecture in Indianapolis (“Old Churches Indy”), support for women leaving prison, and a coffee shop ministry that would discuss books and movies from an atheist perspective. The expansion of an existing Distilled Theology ministry has challenged the group to respond to theological discussion with new participants of a different outlook and ethos.
Through this experience Burke has come to believe that “we have a real opportunity to get outside of our existing buildings and communities and share the message of the Gospel through our passions, talents and relationships; we are transformed through [this] as well.” He also believes that the model of a lay-led group centered in prayer, support and teamwork, where failure can be celebrated and learned from, may be used in other congregational settings and connected via a network.