Christian blogger-author Rachel Held Evans, who has a huge following among millennials, will speak next month at Charlotte’s Christ Episcopal Church.
The Tennessee-based Evans, 34, will sit down for a public conversation with the Rev. Chip Edens, the church’s rector, at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, in All Saints Hall.
High on their list of topics, I’m betting, will be Evans’ decision to leave evangelicalism for Episcopalianism. It’s a move that’s made her controversial in some evangelical circles.
She hails from Dayton, Tenn. – site of the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 that pit fundamentalist Christianity against science on the issue of evolution. In her first book, “Evolving in Monkey Town” (2010), she wrote about her openness to evolution even though she was taught to believe in a literal version of biblical creationism.
Evans went on to question other conservative evangelical views – particularly those opposing women in church leadership and gays and lesbians in the pews – and wrote more books. Her latest: “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church.”
At last count, Evans has about 64,000 Twitter followers and about 50,000 fans on Facebook. There’s no charge to see her at Christ Episcopal, and the church will live-stream her talk. Details: www.christchurchcharlotte.org/ministries/adult-formation/faith-forum/.
New progressive evangelical church
It used to be that “progressive evangelical” was an oxymoron.
No more. Or so say the founders of Missiongathering Christian Church, who plan to launch what they’re calling “A New Church for the New South” this Sunday (Oct. 25) in the Optimist Park neighborhood of NoDa.
First a little background: In 2012, Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego put up a billboard on Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte apologizing for Christians who pushed for passage of Amendment One, the North Carolina ban on same-sex marriage that was subsequently thrown out by a federal court.
“Missiongathering Christian Church is sorry,” the billboard read, “for the narrow-minded, judgmental, deceptive, manipulative actions of those who denied rights and equality to so many in the name of God.”
The then-pastor of that California church, Rich McCullen, has moved to Charlotte and will, at least for now, be the preaching pastor the new “sister” church here – Missiongathering Christian Church Charlotte.
McCullen is gay, as well as a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination.
Sunday’s kickoff service begins at 10:30 a.m. at 420 E. 15th St., in a building that used to house Duncan Memorial United Methodist church.
Besides McCullen’s message, those who show will get modern worship music, a free post-service lunch and a greeting from Antonia “Neet” Childs, a former victim of human trafficking who supports other survivors.
The new church has already gotten a shoutout from Rachel Held Evans, the blogger-author mentioned at the top of the column.
“I’ve been really blessed by Missiongathering Church in San Diego and am thrilled to learn they are launching a church plant in Charlotte, North Carolina!” she posted on Facebook this week. “If you’re from the Charlotte area and interested in a loving, inclusive, progressive-yet-orthodox church (that, in my experience, mixes mainline worship and evangelical worship in a really unique way), check it out.”
More details: mgclt.org.