Friday 17 March 2006

I’m throwing in one last-minute addition to the churches I’ll visit in round 1. Another St Silesian emailed me the other day, and drew my attention to the very eye-catching, almost over-slick, website of Re:Hope, a church he had not himself visited, but which seems to be a new pentecostal church near where I live.

They introduce themselves as “a brand new church in Glasgow’s west end focusing on church for the next generation. This primarily twenty-something church is casual in feel, while being passionate about faith”, and on the About page (called, yes you’ve guess it, Re:Re:Hope) they launch into a diatribe about how “historically, Christianity is credited with more evil than good. Christians have made the mistake of mixing politics with faith and living unashamed hypocritical lives. Christ has been rejected because Christianity has made God look evil instead of emphasizing the good that He is. This is sickening.”

Phew. Controversial!

Well, re Re:Re:Hope, the mistake of mixing Christianity and politics? Oh yes, that’ll be the same huge blunder Archbishop Desmond Tutu is so universally mocked for; that made Jesse Jackson an international figure of shame; that sees Terry Waite booed everywhere he goes.

Good grief! Being socially and politically aware is exactly what Christians are called to do, to get involved in their world, to shape it, influence it, stand up and be counted in it, not to lock themselves away from anything political or difficult. Re:Hope seem to be apologising for, and almost reinventing, Christianity. Re:inventing it, if you will.

Slick design, bizarre message, and the name of their pastor, Brian Ingraham, reminds me of spoof TV news show The Day Today‘s feckless reporter Peter O’Hanraha’hanrahan. Chris Morris, The Day Today’s creator and presenter, must somehow be involved.

Re:Hope do seem very clear about their mission and purpose, though. They “are to be an enfolding community, quick to embrace as our own whoever walks in the door. We actively pursue forging relationships with everyone who comes.” It’s great to profess to be welcoming, even if coupled with the stress on their primarily twenty-something profile it all sounds more like a dating agency than a church.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across such an intriguing and bizarre church as Re:Hope. They’re controversial, confident and distinct. I like that, I think. They will definitely get a visit, but I’m sure I could either love it or hate it. Time will tell.

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