Off the Map Live: Kerry’s notes from discussion with Diane Butler Bass

My very RAW notes from a discussion with Diane Butler Bass.

Cultural Change to Post Modernism…what are the challenges.

Liberal Protestant…very proud of it.

1992 – Member of an Episcopal congregation in Santa Barbara in 1992…it was dying. (Trinity Church)…it changed Diane’s life. 40 people in attendance. Politically and theologically liberal. $30K a year in the whole. Fired the clergy. The State of California past the Earthquake law which required it to be retro fitted at $1.2 million dollars.

In March 1996 it was reopened, “blessed by the Bishop”…”let the doors be opened…let the doors be opened”

650 people reopened those days in March 1996…there was singing, shouting, dancing, African drums…

Trinity Church was the fasted growing church in those days in Santa Barbara County.

*What happened in that church that day? That question changed Diane’s entire life.

Diane feels like she has stumbled onto something counter to the research that only churches that grow are “conservative protestants” when in fact Trinity Church, a “liberal protestant” church began to grow.

Diane feels like they were reconnecting with tradition and a different pathway to life’s questions. Diane began to write about the rebirth of the mainline liberal protestant churches in America.

The Lilly Foundation in Indiana began to fund her work on mainline churches that are doing well. Diane studying 50 congregations within 6

Mainline Denominations began the ask:

1. Who are we in God?

2. What is God calling us to do?

What were these Mainline Churches who were growing…doing?

1. Congregations being renewed around Christian practices…that meet fundamental needs. (Head, Heart, and Hand)






2. Tradition

There was a real theological reflection going on.

A renewal of ancient voices

Tradition was really beginning to matter

3. Quest for Wisdom

Resurgence of people not looking for a destination, but looking for a meaningful way of life.

Safe place in which people could ask questions without someone telling them answers to questions they didn’t have.

They weren’t looking for answers, but love.

The question Diane asked was what have you been doing in your church these past 5 years? That was the question she asked to those 50 churches in the research project

The #1 answer Diane received from the 50 churches she researched was that they had been:

    • Practicing renewal of tradition and following a way of wisdom.

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