Ian Mobsby, Emerging and Fresh Expressions of Church

(2007: Moot Community Publishing: London)

Can ‘Fresh Expressions’ be described as genuinely church and authentically Anglican?  Answer: Yes and Yes!  This little book comes out of Ian’s masters research in which he interviewed some key leaders of four different Anglican Fresh Expressions: Church of the Apostles (USA), Santus 1, B1 and Moot (all UK).

All four examples demonstrate strong, theologically articulate, self-understandings of ecclesiology within the context of the immediate world in which they live and have their being.  There were emphases on Trinitarian Theology, Church as mystical communion, Church as sacrament and Church as holistic spiritual community.  Using  There was less clarity around theological understandings of leadership and a complex picture of catholic leaning (apostolic authority) and reformed leaning (priesthood of all believers) concepts of leadership and authority emerge. When considered in light of a variety of scholarly and traditional definitions of church these emerging christian communities all ‘pass the test’.

In relation to Anglicanism, all four Emerging Communities placed a certain amount of importance on their Anglican heritage even when relationships with the Diocese were unclear or problematic.  In particular these communities drew strongly on the liturgical and spiritual resources from the breadth of the church’s history.  Ian also makes a good argument for Fresh Expressions within a Mixed Economy of Church to be considered as a contemporary interpretation of the writings of Richard Hooker.

What I appreciated most about this book was the clear and concise descriptions of the various streams of Fresh Expressions (ch 2) as determined by their interplay with the philosophical and cultural issues of (post)modernity, which clearly differentiates Emerging Anglicans as those who are engaging the more post-modern elements of our fragmenting western world.  This helped me to be much more articulate about the Australian Anglican Scene and it’s fragmented relationship to the cultural shifts in our time and place.

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