One of the things that really excites me about the Dunker Punks movement is the way that we bridge tradition and innovation in our life within the Church of the Brethren. It’s no secret that our “Tradition” (with a capital “T”), as well as our traditions as a denomination, occupy a central place in our mind and in our worship.
Unlike many other Christian denominations, we have no creed (other than the New Testament), and our faith practice is comparatively light on rigid ritual and liturgy to shape and standardize worship. What we do have are our common faith heritage and our beloved traditions. Most of us know and treasure stories about the founding of the Church of the Brethren as well as the vital ministries of venerated “saints” along the way like John Kline, Sarah Major, Dan West, Anna Mow, and many others. And many of us are moved by traditions like foot washing, love feast, and, of course, ice cream socials.
That is a precious part of what it means to live in the Church of the Brethren. But what excites me about Dunker Punks is the way we merge tradition and innovation. Our ideas are “radical” in the sense that they bring us back to the very root of what it means to be a Chrisitan and a Brethren, but they are also “radical” in the sense that they are fresh, bold, and new, even edgy. Part of the Dunker Punks practice is about using tools and technologies sometimes overlooked by the denomination, such as social media and other digital platforms, to communicate in new ways, across new channels, and with new people.
Ultimately, part of what it means to be a Dunker Punk is to take the core (and ancient) ideas of Christianity, especially those that Jesus articulates in the Sermon on the Mount, and breathe new life into them as we seek to bring them forward for our generation and for a new century. We also look at how we can participate in established parts of Brethren identity, practice, and belief, but do so in new and innovative ways. We use old tools to break new ground, and we use new tools to stir up ground that hasn’t been touched in a long time.
That’s what excites me so much about innovative ministries that pop up in the Dunker Punks movement, such as the Dunker Punks Podcast. Twice each month, the Dunker Punks podcast airs audio episodes online, which are also available for download on iTunes and podcast apps like Stitcher. What a great idea! This is an innovative way to highlight the thoughts and ministries of Church of the Brethren folks from around the country, while also helping form a completely digital community that transcends geographic boundaries.
At the same time, of course, the Dunker Punks are far from the first in the Church of the Brethren to innovate or express their faith in creative ways. In the latest episode of the podcast, we hear from Ed Groff and Brent Carlson, the guys behind Brethren Voices, in a wonderful interview conducted by Kevin Schatz. Brethren Voices is a monthly video series that documents stories from around the Church of the Brethren. Based in Portland, OR, Brethren Voices plays on public access stations in communities around the United States, and it is also available on Youtube.
Like the Dunker Punks podcast today, Brethren Voices represents an innovative and creative way that people in the Church of the Brethren are rethinking church and ministry to connect our denomination and share our ideas with other folks in the Church of the Brethren and others around the United States and around the world. I know that I really enjoyed learning more about Brethren Voices, and I hope you take the time to listen to the podcast so you can learn about them too!
One thing that moved me in particular about what I heard about Brethren Voices is their underlying philosophy, which is that everyone has a story worth telling. I love that, and I couldn’t agree more! Speaking of Church of the Brethren traditions, one of the traditions that is most meaningful to me is our concept of the “priesthood of all believers,” this idea that ministry and witness are not the exclusive domain of the ordained and the seminary-educated, but that each and every one of us in this church has both a right and a responsibility to minister to one another and proclaim the name of Jesus, in our faith, in our speech, and especially in our actions.
That’s one tradition that I know energizes the Dunker Punks and both motivates and empowers what we do. We do things like blog and podcast because we know that each of us is invited and obligated to share our stories of transformation, struggle, faith, and discipleship.
I hope you’ll take time this week to listen to the latest episode of the Dunker Punks podcast. I also hope you’ll take the time to think about what stories you have to tell and commit yourself to tell them in some way to someone. One way that you can do so is by volunteering to write a blog post for DunkerPunks.com or joining the team of contributors at the Dunker Punks Podcast. Contact me to get started!
Emmett Eldred is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on Twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.