Where's the Beef?

I remember the day I read this quote from Walter Bruggemann, “The task of [the prophet] is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness & perception alternative to the consciousness & perception of the dominant culture around us.”[1] It was September 29, 2007, it was the day I “knew” I was called to ministry.  It was the day when I accepted that the call to ministry was one set not in peril but plagued with inefficiency of human effort as we all did the best we could with what we had to serve Jesus the Christ. That being a pastor, minister, faith leader or elder was not merely an office to stand in and maintain the status quo.  Rather, pursuing ordained ministry is accepting the call to be a prophet in a world where prophetic voices were hair pieces and demand money on late night cable access programs.  Even this image is fading into glory and what are we left with?

The answer is not simple if there is an answer at all.  There are more questions than answers and more uncertainty than certainty.  The only thing static is the white knuckled grip on institutional traditionalism and the demand for young people.

You see I am not your standard “Christian” nor am I a textbook case of ministry faire.  I have more questions than answers and I am more uncertain than certain.  The only thing I have in buckets is bravado and opinions and the bravado is probably more like fear or ignorance.

It is with in this geography that I entertained the idea of being called to ministry and it is also the geography that lead me to [D]mergent.  I came late to the party after my own little Rumspringa.  I came like Paul with a miricle laced entrance and always thought that was how God worked in these things.  God was hardcore and extreme.  God invaded my world as much as God invades the world others lived in.  There was no boundary for the God I knew and the world to which I sought reconciliation from.

I hold evangelical roots from the City of Angels.  I am a white boy that fights for his Native roots and feels at home with his Latino/a family.  I was a carny and a truck driver.  I have been baptized three times and have a weakness for altar calls.  I love high church and feel a deep connection to praise songs.  I am messy, complex and indulge in conversations.

I am seminary trained and barroom forged.  I am a student of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and North American Indigenous Spirituality.  I like to grill out and desire to be a vegetarian.  I love poetry and cuss words.  I hate labels and seek security in labeling the world around me.

I hope to see God in all that I do.  I trust that God is in all of creation.  I am not sure if I am even a Christian.  At best I am a poor example of a Christian but I try really hard.  I see the kingdom of God as a geography of hope, a nation of all that hunger for a better way.  I bring this thought to [D]mergent as I answer my call to ordained ministry with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

“The task of [the prophet] is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness & perception alternative to the consciousness & perception of the dominant culture around us.” It is my hope that [D]mergent may be the geography of hope for those the seek to be a ‘Disciple” to the generations that have no ecclesial home.  I want to gather and be a part of a tribe that nurtures, nourishes and evokes a consciousness and perception that is counter to the status quo.  I feel God is calling us all to a new way, a way that embraces the Other where they may be.  A call that is more certain than uncertain.  A call to wrestle together and answer those questions that challenge us to imagine a brave new world, a geography that penetrates the craggy surfaces of those long abused by the church and the others that have been left behind.

It is this misfit, outcast hope that I bring to [D]mergent.  I hunger for a place to witness the church, as I have known it.  That place where sinners dinner together in the glory of Jesus the Christ trusting that we are all in the same boat.  We are [D]mergent.

By Ryan Kemp-Pappan

Ryan is a minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at Douglass Blvd. Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a B.A. in Religious Studies from California State University, Northridge and a M.Div. from Austin Seminary (TX). He chairs the Faith Leaders for Fairness fighting for equal rights for all in the State of Kentucky. He delivers mad Esoteric Piracy. He likes to think of himself as a Royal Pain in the south end of a north bound donkey, Master of 3 of the 5 logical oceans, Beloved creation, 1985 Beer Chug Champion, Amateur Sock Puppeteer, Buckaroo, Reclaimer of lost treasures, Seeker of truth, Tamer of lions, Pugilist of toothless circus bears, Servant, & Tinker of convoluted ideas…

He blogs at The Fettered Heart. He is a host with HCX.  He dreams of one day fighting for lost souls in the dark, smoke filled rings of Mexico City  as a luchador por Jesus Cristo and hopes to walk this way following the footsteps of the grandest ADIDAS there ever has been.


[1] The Prophetic Imagination pg. 13 [Brueggemann, W.]