Along with the World Council of Churches' conversations about "the missionary structure of the congregation" back in the 1960s; Bonhoeffer's reflections on church, discipleship and ethics; the work of the Alban Institute; the Christian community movement; and base ecclesial communities (BECs) in Latin America and elsewhere, Hopewell is really one of the pioneers of all the change-agency based explorations of practical ecclesiology which have come so much into vogue in recent yearsAccording to Barrow:
At the time of his death in 1984, James F. Hopewell was Professor of Religion and the Church and Director of the Rollins Center for Church Ministries at the Candler School of theology, Emory University. Published by Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1987, his book 'Congregations' was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.
It would be interesting to know what Hopewell would have made of all the current talk of deep church, emerging church, liquid church, new ways of being church, fresh expressions of church - and the like, I expect he would have said that linguistic inflation is not a substitute for the hard slog of doing church as a conserving and emancipatory expression of the Gospel in action.
Barrow also discusses Communities of Liberating Conviction at his blog, Faith in Society.
So what can and should the church-as-witness be, in different ways and in different places? The answer is a vulnerable but hopeful group of people narrated together in the story and life of Jesus, in such a way that we find ourselves linking worship (the right designation of worth-ship), prayer (seeking the grace to live beyond our means), eucharist (the celebration of God in the fleshly and the material), common life (people-at-odds who surprisingly find each other in the face of Christ) and politics (re-rendering power in terms of giving rather than claiming).