As more than 200 people flowed through the doors of Plymouth Creek Center on February 29, many were asking each other exactly what is a “progressive Christian revival”?
Throughout the next three hours, they got a good idea, with soulful and uplifting music and inspirational testimonials about faith at the intersection of despair, hope and action. It was, conveners said, an experiment in joy, a collective response to a yearning to “take back Jesus,” and a call to love-led action in a world hungry for hope.
MN Alive is the brainchild of clergy from First Congregational UCC in Mankato, Macalester Plymouth United Church in St. Paul, Mayflower UCC in Minneapolis, Peace UCC in Duluth, Peace UCC in Rochester, and Robbinsdale Parkway UCC in Robbinsdale.
The goal is to bring the revival to several locations around the state before the November election.
In the tradition of religious revivals, a 10-piece bluegrass band from Robbinsdale Parkway UCC and the 10-person Mayflower Men singing group offered plenty of rousing and moving music, and clergy brought passionate words to the people. Rev. Adam Blons reminded those gathered that we are a “Christian movement in a pluralistic world.”
The first part of the revival spoke to a “Season of Lament.” Rev. Christian Briones (pictured above) implored us to “choose to make our world clean,” just as Jesus chose to heal the leper. Rev. Laura Cannata urged us to understand the paradox she and many other people with disabilities face of “being completely seen and completely invisible at the same time.” Nathan Holst read a powerful treatise about white male privilege, Rev. Dana Mann illustrated the unfair distribution of wealth in this country through a powerful, staged exercise (pictured below), and Rev. Sarah Campbell lamented the slide of our country in a destructive direction.
The second part of the revival moved to a “Season of Hope.” Corinne Freedman declared that “hope is to give yourself to the future.” Teen leader Anna Grace Hottinger asked the crowd “What would our climate look like if we did take action rather than what it will look like if we don’t?” Rev. Gary Titusdahl reminded us, in the words of “Amazing Grace,” that there is hardly anything more powerful than being found, and Rev. Jane McBride spoke of the springtime—a remaking of our world—that is coming to the earth.
The revival wrapped up with a call to action. Rev. T. Michael Rock asked us to be “slayed in the spirit,” and to answer the call to be fully alive. Rebecca Voelkel told us our faith makes us fearless, that it is necessary for survival, and Rev. Sarah Campbell got the crowd on its feet with a rousing chorus of “We shall not, we shall not be moved!” The event ended with an invitation for the crowd to be blessed and prayed for at individual stations around the room.
The revival planners will evaluate this first pilot as they make plans to take it on the road over the next few months.