Dear Dick and Cornell: You know how much I value the development and existence of Vagabonds and what it represents - especially what it represents (serious but good natured enquiry by we ordinary people of God, free of institutional control and drag and seeking to address the concrete realities of the human adventure). Amidst the anniversary celebration, it occurs to me to ask...what difference does it make to our lives, and to the world (or even our immediate neighbourhoods)? (A friendly question to be sure). I hope we can have a little exchange, via the comments facility. Hugh
That [Dick's Memoir about the St James's Vagabond group] was great fun to read even without any familiarity with the Vagabonds. I am also happy now to have a reason to go dig through Songs of Experience. I'm a bit of a dunce when it comes to lyric poetry, but I'll do my best. You're not a pretentious plonker at all! We all need to remember the words and ways of the fathers and mothers of the church. Tim from North Carolina USA
‘I aspire to becoming a Vagabond when I retire and now I’m told I’m an honorary Vagabond it’s happy days J’
The Revd Andrew Tweedy, St George’s, Barcelona, Spain
I wish I could have met John--he'll be on my list as someone with whom I hope to have tea in Heaven someday! Perhaps I'll join all "The Vagabonds" for some tea someday in Heaven. Only thing is, in Heaven, there won’t be any theology to debate!’ Kate from Ohio USA
I feel I was actually there, sat on the pub window ledge, watching the meetings. I must confess, I went on two marches for Jesus. Waving this hideous 2M by 1M banner I made with my grandma. All whilst singing, “We are
marching, we are marching, we are marching, woah hoooooo! We are marching in the light of God". My defence has to be that I was thirteen years old.
The post charismatic fundamentalist syndrome is something that became a big part of me too. I wish I'd had a group like yours. Even the initial 'spill your guts' group would've been cathartic. I kind of ended up cast in the church wilderness, so to speak. If my past experience is anything to go by, I'm convinced the Vagabonds did/does so many people the world of good.
I'm more and more seeing Evangelicalism as a wolf in sheep's clothing or a tare amongst the wheat. It seems to have persuaded the laity and themselves that its tenets are not only true but the very truth of God. That it is the truth of Christianity since Christ; the only true restoration of the church from Roman deception etc.
Questioning is feared, since you're questioning the safety of certainty and the only remedy to these challenges seems to be violence to varying degrees, be it shunning people from the church, or the Bible Belt demanding we blow up Baghdad. I say a wolf because it looks like the church, yet doesn't seem to be what
Christ talked about establishing on earth. Wish I had a ‘church’ like Vagabonds near me.
Jessie from Bristol, UK
A great read. A number of things remind me of my own "pub-church" here in Melbourne, Australia. We don't have much of a written history on it at the moment, but CafeChurch (the name of our pub-church) was an initiative of the
'Christian City Church Whitehorse' in 2000, which is a charismatic (possibly Pentecostal?) church. The then Youth Pastor, Steve, led a cell-group of young adults to explore new expressions of church. That cell gradually developed a different culture and focus, and there seemed little need to remain formally connected. So CafeChurch amicably parted ways. After Steve left, Alister commenced facilitation of the group. His very pastoral, ecumenical, eirenic,
post-modern (though nicely orthodox) and erudite attitude towards God and others has done our little community well, I think – CafeChurch is a safe place for ex-fundamentalists, ex-cultists, the marginalised, the curious and even the stubborn heretic to work out this God-stuff.
We have a website up, but it's a being redesigned and may have some more resources/posts in the future. Your readers might find Alister's new blog of more interest. His most recent post (about doing church in a pub) is also a great read. Andrew from Melbourne, Australia
This page features some of the comments made in response to the St James's Vagabond group
What prompted them? See Dick Whittington's memoir here