Stumbling Into the Digital Reformation | Forum for Theological Exploration

Stumbling Into the Digital Reformation

By: Courtney Cowart
April 04, 2011

Do you have a story about the digital Reformation? Share your links to new places Christians are gathering online for mission, ministry & fellowship in the comments at the bottom of this page…

Our “Theo-Epicurean” social experiment began with a few simple acts. My brother Simon created a Facebook group page. We took a picture of the homemade chicken pot pie we had just made, used it for the masthead, and uploaded all our food related photos from our cell phones. Voila! The Episcopal Foodie Network was born. Within days over 500 foodies of faith had joined and were posting like mad.

The hospitality was pretty breathtaking. Jamie Roberson commented, “Fellowship hour just got kicked up a notch…or 12.”

William Davis in Sitko, Alaska said if we came for a home cooked meal he’d prepare a feast of Alaskan King Salmon with a side of King crab legs, wild rice, some of Bernadine’s bread, and apple jelly his son made last summer.

A faithful foodie from Afghanistan, Britt Farbo, uploaded photos of a meal shared on a large colorful blanket around a fire and invited us for a dinner of beans, rice, and Naan.

Another foodie wrote, “Please come to Delaware in the summer: crab cakes, white corn, beefsteak tomatoes, fresh coleslaw, & homemade sweet tea.”

Kansas City wants to take us to their favorite barbecue joint. Erlinda Bevins in San Antonio, Texas wants to take us to The Cove, “a funky laundromat/car wash/bar & grill with delicious Portobello mushroom burgers and fish tacos. The immediate community formed among total strangers was strangely moving.

It didn’t stop there. The Justice Foodies weighed in and linked us to Slow Food USA “working to change the food system through a network of volunteer chapters all over the country.” We learned about church-sponsored free farmers markets for neighbors with food insecurities. ONE Campaign supporters linked us to articles like “The Minimalist Takes Action on World Hunger.” We saw the Japanese Tsunami through the lens of food rationing.

We’d found a way to host “digital potluck,” as another foodie observed. Nightly, scores of folks began to post what they were making for dinner – from meals for homeless communities, to cooking with children, to “Lentetarian” menus – “$ 2.00, low fat, incredibly tasty.”

Discussion boards sprang up covering topics such as “Simple & Creative Ideas for Coffee Hour,” “Favorite Mealtime Prayers,” and “Gluten Free Altar Bread.”

Elizabeth Drescher, a professor at Santa Clara University whose field is “contemporary spirituality at the intersection of new digital social media and ancient Christian wisdom,” an early contributor to EfN and “lurker” as she describes herself, named what had happened: we had inadvertently stumbled right into the heart of what she calls the “digital Reformation.”

What is that? Here’s how Drescher describes it, “The digital Reformation is a renewal of the church inspired by new practices shaped by the participatory, co-creative, collaborative, and distributed culture of digital social media.” With it comes a “dramatic global shift in the nature of faith, social consciousness and relationship” that these digital social media are ushering in.

To see how truly this religious network represents the possibilities for new kinds of Christian community gathering online I invite you to visit www.facebook.com/episcopalfoodies and observe this highly co-creative, self-organizing network, as we “gather to share recipes, hospitality, and euphoric photos of food and the gatherings around it.” Join the throng of folks posting everything from favorite recipes, to announcements of sustainable food events, to links covering just about every topic related to food and faith imaginable.

Come and see how the Internet can become a collective of all kinds of otherwise less visible grace & share links with us to your favorite flocks of interactive faith community.

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