2019: The Church as Politics


The 2019 Gathering took place at Techny Towers in Northbrook, Il from July 11-13. 


The Ekklesia Project began twenty years ago as an attempt to foster a network of friendships among communities that see the church as a politics, not merely as a social body that might choose to be involved in politics. The church as politics means rather than trying to make the church relevant to social issues of the day, as defined by the actions of the state, we practice faithfulness to the gospel by gathering through grace as Christ’s Body, knowing that our doing that is the greatest service we can offer to the world. We practice a politics of peace that is centered on Christ, not merely on support for elected officials whose positions are somewhat less repugnant.

Recently, political developments have drawn our attention back to our fundamental commitments. The rise of nationalism and the ascendance of populist figures, the widespread employment of racial and ethnic fears and grievances, attacks on governmental, judicial, journalistic and scientific institutions, and the increasing vulnerability of migrants, refugees and all displaced people – all these have encouraged us to examine just what God is calling us to do What do our practices of church as politics look like, in our various communities? What are our relationships to the US government, as providing some sort of rule of law? What is our relationship to the US government when its laws are unjust? How do we support fellow Christians in other places who are struggling to establish sufficient rule of law for them to live? How and when do we confront the abuses of Christian language in the US, in service to the violence of the state?

We envision this gathering as a time to reconnect to the core of our mission and gather from each other insights into how to continue. We hope, once again “to challenge ourselves and the Church to resist accommodation to America and analogous temptations globally. We humbly seek to be used by God so that together, as the Body of Christ, we might become more of what God has called us to be.” (Ekklesia Project website, “Who We Are”)

Available audio recordings may be found below. Some audio was edited for time and context. A full list of all audio files from this and previous Gatherings can be found on our Podbean channel. We also have the audio files available on our youtube channel. 

View photos from the Gathering. 

Hope, a poem by Ariel Dorman, read at opening worship. 

Nancy Varden preached at opening worship. 

Kelly Johnson introduced each topic and shepherded us through our discussions. Read her comments/notes HERE

Victor Hinojosa opened with a plenary entitled, “Church as Politics, but is the Church the Only Politics the World Needs?” Coming from his work on violence and migration in Latin America Victor reflected on basic rule of law functions of the state and how these functions affect the church’s interaction with the state. 

Redeemer Community Church has tried to live out the church as politics in the Bayview Neighborhood of San Francisco. They shared stories and helped us reflect on what it looks like, on the ground, for the church to practice a politics of peace centered on Christ. The slides that accompanied their plenary are here.


Mike Budde, the founding Coordinator of the Ekklesia Project offered a vigorous challenge for the church to resist accommodation to America in a plenary entitled “The Church after America.” He challenged us to to free ourselves from an empire in decline.

Joe Gunby preached at the Friday night worship service.

Stanley Hauerwas and Jonathan Tran conversed about our fundamental commitments in light of the rise of nationalism, attacks on governmental institutions, and the plight of displaced people.

Erin Martin preached at closing worship.