The prodigal Paul Fromont [SPACE,
New Zealand] stops in to talk wind chimes.
welcome to our virtual coffee shop. Pull up a chair, take the load of
your feet. Let's chat.
who are you, where you from, what do you do in life?
I’m a Kiwi,
a small flightless bird, active after dark. Seriously, I am a “kiwi,”
but not a small flightless bird, living in Cambridge, Aotearoa New Zealand
- the bottom of the world, or the top, depending on your perspective.
If I were to describe my Christian practice as a piece of art, it would
be an eclectic (multi-denominational), fluid (integrating movement and
water); earthy coloured sculpture, comprising solid and open components.
Comprising ancient and contemporary symbolism. Wind chimes would be cool.
It would be set high on a cliff overlooking the ever-changing expanse
of the Pacific Ocean, open to the elements. Free. Changing and unchanging.
I don’t have a PhD or any formal academic theological training or qualification
and am super-cool with that. I explored Anglican pastoral ministry…but
that’s as far as that got, an exploration!
I get you a drink? Cappucino, earl grey, dandelion and burdock, pale ale?
It’s probably a case of what don’t I drink. Anything from Emerson’s
Brewery in Dunedin, Belgian Trappist beers (e.g. Chimay), to Cappuccino,
and everything in between.
you like a doughnut or pastry to go with that?
A pastry would be just fine, unless it’s wine or beer, then perhaps something
a little more savoury might be appropriate.
if you had to describe the church/project/experiment/thingy you are currently
involved with in one sentence, what would that sentence be?
SPACE, an experiment in spiritual formation and prayer coupled with an
exploration of church as the hermeneutic of post-Christendom mission (listen
for the echo of Lesslie Newbigin) on the edge of a more traditional church.
you an instigator? / new recruit? / have absolutely no recollection of
how you got involved?
A bit of an instigator, but one that gets a lot of inspiration from a
wide range of other friends living in the borderlands between what is
and what will be. I’m not all that original. Too many other voices, lives,
and images serve as the orchestral sound that plays quietly in the background.
I’m most comfortable among those on the creative, growing edges of church
and culture; in the presence of critics, dreamers, and creatives. I’m
shaped in ways I don’t even notice, and perhaps I shape and influence
in the same way, in ways I’m seldom or never aware of.
do you value most about being part of it?
The opportunity to experiment, to learn, to discover, to blend ancient
and pre-reformation practices of prayer (the so-called “inner disciplines”),
liturgy, ritual, poetry, image, sound, spiritual direction (especially
in terms of the place of questioning & reflection, of learning to deeply
listen) etc. with more contemporary experiments in ‘doing’ church and
excites you most about it?
Becoming deeper - more deeply in relationship with out triune God and
those God calls me into relationship with. I’m excited about the ways
in which my un-chosen past is funding and broadening who I am today, my
hearing of the gospel, and my sense of growing into church
anyone ever turned up out of the blue not knowing what to expect?
What did they say?
Yeah. Early days yet, but comments range from “cool,” “a really wonderful
experience - keep going” to “it’s boring like traditional church,” or
“it’s a bit ‘new agey’ isn’t it?
words that describe your attitude to 'being church' in the big wide world:
“Jesus-centred”, “holistic”, “subversive”, “missional,” “loving,”
“spacious,” “multi-dimensional”, “deepening,” and “becoming.”
words that DON'T:
“Audience”, “inward looking” (oops that’s two words), “lifeless,” “boring,”
“one-dimensional”, “constrictive,” “shallow,” and “not-becoming”
have this weird dream - you meet Jesus face to face.
Where does it happen, what does he say to you?
I can’t remember dreams, but the thought of a long road trip…lot’s of
conversation, nice sounds on the CD…space to just hangout.
the big secret you're itching to share with everyone?
I’m not a particularly secretive guy, but…sssssh…. nah. It’s secret, so
I’m not telling.
would your 'emerging church survival kit' contain?
My ‘emerging church’ survival kit would contain: paradoxes - sounds and
silence, image and text, large and small spaces, and virtual and embodied
friendships with key people who nourish, fund, and stretch my sense of
what church might become in practice, in my context. It would contain
the First and Second Testaments. It would contain “A New Zealand Prayer
Book” (‘He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa’).
else you'd like to share with us before you have to rush off?
“Keep surfing the edge of the wave!” (An expression Mark Pierson, co-author
of The Prodigal Project used when he signed-off an e-mail to me. It’s
evocative. I like it a lot). Keep placing under your feet the questions
that will serve as stepping-stones for your respective journeys toward
Good to see you. Have a good day!
exists to share stories, thoughts, ideas and other tasty things
from the emerging church - and we want yours!
your story to us: