Everything matters: Local author publishes second book on ‘Slow Church’

June 2014 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, People
John Pattison is co-author of "Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus ."

John Pattison is co-author of “Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus .”

An OurTownLive.com Web Exclusive

By Melissa Wagoner

At the age of nine, John Pattison already knew he was a writer. When his mother gave him purchasing power at the local store, he often chose a new notebook and a pen.

“I loved the smell of the paper,” Pattison said.

A Silverton resident, Pattison has had a successful career as a grant and freelance writer and in 2010 he co-authored his first book, Besides the Bible.

“It is 100 essays about 100 books that every Christian should read,” Pattison said.

After the publication of Besides the Bible, Pattison began doing freelance work for The Englewood Review of Books, published by Englewood Christian Church in inner-city Indianapolis.

“The Englewood Review of Books publishes a quarterly book review with a heavy emphasis on theology based out of a church. It publishes high quality and serious reviews,” Pattison said.

Pattison began researching the church and discovered that, although it has “a lot of inner-city challenges to get through it is a hub of neighborhood flourishing.”

Englewood is deeply connected to the surrounding neighborhood, hosting a community garden and bookstore as well as buying abandoned houses in the neighborhood then renovating them to be sold or rented as affordable housing. But these community acts are not what drew Pattison to the church.

“On the website, it is difficult to find the name of the pastor. He stays in the back and brings other people to the front. It is a very humble place,” Pattison said.

While researching Englewood, Pattison was working on ideas for a second book based on a church movement similar to the slow food movement that began in Italy in the 1980s to maintain traditional cuisine, food quality and a slower pace of life.

“People who know who grew and prepared their food are no longer consumers. In slow church, we have the opportunity to be co-producers of God’s story, not just consumers. Everything matters. Sunday morning matters but so does Saturday morning. And what is a parish? A community that is large enough to live life but small enough to be known,” Pattison said.

At the same time Pattison was toying with the slow church concept he was contacted by InterVarsity Press, a publisher of Christian books. Pattison pitched the new idea and the publishers loved it. The next step was to write it.

“I thought who is doing slow church? I immediately thought of Englewood church and Chris Smith [the editor of The Englewood Book Review],” Pattison said. “You should pick a co-author that is smarter than you.”

Smith, who has a background in computers and philosophy, ran the church’s bookstore before editing the book review.

“It has a small readership but a big reach,” Pattison said.

Pattison and Smith spent more than two years writing Slow Church.

The book looks at churches around the country that are connecting to the community in a way that is similar to Englewood, including Salem Alliance which owns Broadway Commons, an LEED (leadership in environmental energy and design) certified building housing Salem Free Clinics, Broadway Life Center and community meeting spaces.

“They were given the idea to move outside and become suburban, but they made the decision to double-down with the neighborhood, one of the poorest and most diverse in Salem,” Pattison said.

John Pattison meets with friends at Gear Up Espresso in Silverton – where he wrote portions of the book.

John Pattison meets with friends at Gear Up Espresso in Silverton – where he wrote portions of the book.

Although on different sides of the country and writing solo, Pattison and Smith have maintained a unified voice by sending chapters back and forth. Now that the book is finished they will be travelling the country together to promote it.

“Ten days in the Pacific Northwest. Ten days in Canada. Chris can do a lot of stuff in the Midwest. Anything within a three hour drive we’ll say yes. This is only going to happen for a time. Between now and mid-September we rea

lly need to push,” Pattison said.

Slow Church was released on June 2 and can be purchased in bookstores and online. In keeping with the community aspect of the book, Pattison is hosting a book launch onFriday, June 6, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Gear-Up Espresso in Silverton, where John wrote much of the book.

“I think of this place as a community living room where people from all kinds of sub-communities gather. I like being interrupted. One day 25 people came and sat down in the course of two hours,” Pattison said.

The book was written for the masses and is meant to be accessible to everyone, he said.

Quoting the title of the last chapter of Slow Church, Pattison said, “We see ‘church as dinner table conversation.’ People getting together around a table is a practice that encapsulates everything in the book.”

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