Miracle of the Mundane: The Continuing Legacy of Interdependence in the Estonian Baptist and Free Church Union (2022)
This article examines the origins of interdependence in the formation story of the Estonian Union of Evangelical Christian and Baptist Churches (EECB) and demonstrates how ongoing commitment to interdependence in the form of congregational partnership enables EECB congregations to pursue their missional calling. The consistent choice to embrace the tensions and challenges of what historian Toivo Pilli characterizes as a ‘mosaic movement’ have provided the Union with a rich theological legacy and an untapped well of strategic advantage for vibrant witness in challenging times. Evidence of this strategic advantage is presented by introducing a novel approach to the study of inter-congregational partnership networks. Closing remarks address critical concerns associated with network methods and weigh the promise and limitations of viewing and actively developing baptistic interdependency using relational network analysis.
The Space between: considering the church as relational subject (2019)
Much of our reflection on the nature of the concrete church has rightly been focused upon the people, practices, and contexts that shape ecclesial realities. Largely missing from our considerations is a substantial engagement with the relationships that connect and animate the church as a social and theological system. How are we to proceed in filling this gap in ecclesiology? On what grounds can we claim to observe relationships and not the points that they connect? How are we to gain access to the testimony of a relationship? And if this is possible, how might this information contribute to our understanding of local ecclesiology? In an attempt to clear the way forward, this article will examine the vision for relational sociology presented by Pierpaolo Donati and Margaret Archer in their book The Relational Subject, present a theological argument for applying their insights to congregational studies, and consider the implications of examining ecclesial relationships as an ontological subject in their own right.