Where ancient & modern Converge to create a new future.

At Pangea we are very modern. We use video, a worship music band, and are pretty laid back. Our sermons are taught in series that connect with the realities of everyday life. And we incorporate ancient forms of worship such as liturgy and the Eucharist.

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One of the Values of Pangea is: Mystery – "Ancient faith fosters wonder and refuses to put God in a box." Amongst other things, this value reminds us that we are part of a narrative that started in Creation and finishes with [re]New[ed] Creation. God invites the church to improvise its missional role toward that eventual future. The best way to discern how to move forward is by immersing ourselves in our sacred past. This is what we do in liturgy.

Robert Webber, at the turn of the century, began writing about an evangelical shift back towards the ancient rhythms of Christian worship and spirituality in post-modernity: 

Ancient worship . . . does truth. All one has to do is to study the ancient liturgies to see that liturgies clearly do truth by their order and in their substance. This is why so many young people today are now adding ancient elements to their worship. . . . This recovery of ancient practices is not the mere restoration of ritual but a deep, profound, and passionate engagement with truth—truth that forms and shapes the spiritual life into a Christlikeness that issues forth in the call to a godly and holy life and into a deep commitment to justice and to the needs of the poor.[1]

Webber argued that the way forward from Modernity into Postmodernity would be to discover an ancient-future faith. This would be ancient, in that it invites emerging Christians into the patterns of worship of the historical church: the Christian year, lectionary readings, reading/enacting God’s story through liturgy, and spiritual disciplines. This transcendent piece roots Christ-followers in the ancient story of the Scriptures and places us in continuity with the early church. This is a story bigger than just “I.”

Churches taking this posture would also be a forward-looking movement, a church with a focus on the future. Such a church is on a mission to various peoples of post-Christendom by re-imagining the arts, social justice, spirituality, and community for the 21st century. Webber reflects on this:

How do you deliver the authentic faith and great wisdom of the past into the new cultural situation of the twenty-first century? The way into the future, I argue, is not an innovative new start for the church; rather, the road to the future runs through the past. These three matters—roots, connection, and authenticity in a changing world—will help us to maintain continuity with historic Christianity as the church moves forward.[2]

This is part of the ethos of Pangea. We are: Anabaptist in theology/tribe, missional in orientation, contemporary in the arts--including music, charismatic in our openness to the work of the Holy Spirit, and liturgical in our worship rhythms. If you worship with us, you might compare our "style" to the following fusion: Mennonite theology (ya, we're kind of peaceniks), Anglican liturgy (or "ancient-future" worship), contemporary music (and not cheesy either), and engaging preaching (relevant and hopeful). We seek to create sacred spaces.

Some areas that are shaped by this ancient-future liturgical impulse include: 

  • Liturgical readings within worship.
  • An embrace of the "real presence" of Christ within the Holy Communion (not to be confused with the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation). The Eucharist is a means of grace through which the Holy Spirit empowers us as community to join God's mission in our neighborhoods, workplaces, families, city, and world. Therefore, we take the elements every Sunday. This is perhaps our one major departure from historical Anabaptist practice and theology.
  • Reading the Scriptures aloud, often guided by the Revised Common Lectionary.
  • Situating Worship within the Christian Calendar: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.
  • Reciting the Lord's Prayer and the Creeds.
  • Bodily prayer such as kneeling and the sign of the cross.

 

[1] Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative (Baker Books, 2008), 109.

[2] Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year (Baker, 2004).