Presiding Bishop: Following Jesus means being a living witness, not a slogan

House of Deputies president says General Convention planners watching Texas’ legislative actions on transgender people, refugees

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry tells Executive Council June 9 that Episcopalians are called to behave in a way that truly resembles the way of Jesus. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – San Juan, Puerto Rico] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council heard a call to authentic Christian action from its two leaders on the opening day of its June 9-11 meeting here.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry suggested that Episcopalian ought to look to the biblical hero Esther for a model. Set during the time of Jewish exile in Persia, she was initially seen as the beautiful, obedient, and relatively passive woman who was queen to the king of Persia. She came to believe that she was called to save her people and used rhetoric to persuade the king to save her Jewish people living in exile in Persia. Up until then, she had not revealed her Jewish identity.

“I say this with all humility, I really do: Perhaps this Episcopal Church has come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” Curry said.

“Maybe we have had a period of being part of the establishment, which is no longer the case, and maybe we have enjoyed the benefits of being part of that establishment, but it may not be the case much longer,” Curry said.

He said such a time as this is a “strange national, cultural and global moment – when things are being turned upside down, when old patterns don’t work anymore, when the old rules don’t even seem to apply anymore, truth doesn’t seem to be what the truth used to be, and all of a sudden what’s wrong is right.  All of a sudden, even Christianity is co-opted by injustice, by lack of compassion, by inhumanity, by indecency.”

Curry said part of the Episcopal Church’s vocation is to bear witness to a way of being Christian that actually looks something like Jesus of Nazareth. That way of being Christian is “not complicit with the culture, whatever that culture,” he said.

“It is not a way of being Christian that is in the pocket of anybody’s political party, left or right or center, but a way of being Christian that dares to follow Jesus, to love the way of Jesus,” giving and forgiving as Jesus did while loving justice and mercy and walking humbly before God.

The Church has had many slogans and campaigns, the presiding bishop said.

“Yet, I don’t believe this is not a new slogan, a new campaign, a new program. In fact, it’s nothing new at all,” he said. “The truth is what we’re talking about now is a way of following Jesus. It is about being formed as followers of Jesus and, out of that, making a witness in the world that makes difference and bearing witness to a way of being Christian, which doesn’t sound like much” but deeply matters when “even Christianity has been hijacked.”

Curry, saying he feared he might be treading on dangerous ground, urged Episcopalians to listen to political rhetoric with what might be called biblically-informed ears. “When you sometimes listen to voices that portend to represent Christianity in our public life and public sphere, listen carefully to what is said and what is not,” he said. Do you hear the words of the Sermon on the Mount, or Matthew 25, the summary of the law or Jesus’ words at the Last Supper about love and serving others, he asked.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies and Executive Council vice chair, tells council members June 9 that Episcopalians need to commit themselves to specific actions in the world as Christian witnesses. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings echoed those sentiments in her opening remarks. This, she said, “is a very difficult time in the United States to be a Christian committed to justice and peace among all people and the dignity of every human being, and it is good to come together in the midst of that difficulty.”

Jennings said she is especially paying attention to three things: the treatment of refugees across the world; the specific treatment of refugees in Texas, along with that state’s efforts to pass a so-called “bathroom bill”; and the Church’s on-going response to caring for creation and President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

The Episcopal Church is scheduled to meet July 5-13, 2018, in Austin, Texas, and Jennings said, “we are watching the situation closely with an eye to ensuring the safety and dignity of everyone traveling to General Convention next summer.”

Texas Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on what the bill calls their “biological sex” as stated on their birth certificate. The bill would also overturn local nondiscrimination ordinances in cities like Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.

The state Senate has passed the bill but the House has not acted. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called the legislature back for a special session beginning July 18 and said that he wants legislators to pass the bill.

Curry and Jennings wrote a letter to Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus in February, thanking him or his stand against the bill. However, the letter notes that the Church moved General Convention from Houston to Honolulu in 1955 because the Texas city could not offer sufficient guarantees of desegregated housing for its delegates.

“We would be deeply grieved if Senate Bill 6 presented us with the same difficult choice that church leaders faced more than 60 years ago,” Curry and Jennings wrote.

Jennings told council that she, Curry and others are also watching the legal challenges to Texas Senate Bill 4, which threatens law enforcement officials with stiff penalties if they fail to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The bill also allows police officers to question people about their immigration status during arrests or traffic stops.

Jennings praised Curry’s recent statement on Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the climate accord. She called on Episcopalians to ensure “that our decades-long witness to the stewardship of God’s creation and the compatibility of science and faith remain strong and steady during this perilous time for our planet.” She said it was appropriate for council to think about the issue in Puerto Rico, which she said is “one of the most vulnerable places on Earth to the impacts of climate change.”

The rest of the meeting

After the opening plenary on June 9, council spent the rest of the day meeting in its five committees. On June 10, council member Bishop Edward J. Konieczny of Oklahoma will lead his colleagues in a discussion of the recent Unholy Trinity conference, that was meant to find and commit to working toward solutions to the problems of poverty, racism and gun violence. Council, staff members and guests will travel to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist for Eucharist on the morning of June 11. That afternoon, council’s committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider.

The June 9-11 meeting is taking place at the Condado Hilton Plaza.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.

The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is senior editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Comments

  1. Pjcabbiness says:

    Amazing how our Presiding Bishop has managed to convert a faithful, Christ centered, thoughtful denomination into a generic, left wing, progressive, exclusionary social movement. If his objective was to eliminate a sacramental, atoning, theologically thoughtful and complex approach to the faith, he has succeeded.

    • Donald Heacock says:

      Amen

    • Susan Salisbury says:

      You said what I was thinking

    • G Cutbirth says:

      Agree. It is a sad day when good people get involved in politics which they know very little and in the name of my denomination. I don’t remember anyone shouting out for us when Obama took our jobs over and left us without or telling Putin he could be a lot more flexible after the election, or when we left our Ambassador and many others to die a horrible death in Benghazi and then lied about it……No, you did not. Why?

  2. Gayle Fisher-Stewart says:

    Pjacabbiness — Why do you believe that doing as Christ did — standing up for the oppressed, the marginalized, those who suffer is a “generic, left wing, progressive, exclusionary social movement?” Jesus did found a movement and not a religion. Why can’t it be “both/and” rather than “either/or” for those who want to demonstrate a Christ-like life?

  3. Lois Keen says:

    I’m with the Presiding Bishop and Jesus.

    • Marcia Matlick says:

      Me too. Interesting that the first comments are divisive, party line, and negative. Listen to Christ, not hate.

    • Carol Lamparter says:

      I also support the statements of our presiding Bishop. He is simply, but strongly, urging us to be involved with society…just as Jesus was.

  4. Everything that was spoken was I left christianity. Maybe it is time time come home and support the church as they attempt to walk Jesus’s path of love. Amen

  5. Mary Roehrich says:

    Jesus said: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Is it loving to demand compliance with tradition and practice against one’s principles? Is it loving to cast out the stranger? Is is loving to condemn our God given planet to destruction to accommodate our own real needs? We need to work on all these things. There are solutions out there. God gave us intelligence and flexibility and love. We need to use all of those gifts. Have faith!

  6. mike geibel says:

    Bishop Curry said: “Maybe we have had a period of being part of the establishment, which is no longer the case, and maybe we have enjoyed the benefits of being part of that establishment, but it may not be the case much longer.” What a sad eulogy for the once great Episcopal Church that I knew.

    I am quite sure that Bishop Curry and Rev. Jennings are faithful followers of Christ and good people, and I respect them both very much. But if they speak God’s “truth,” then why are the pews emptying rather than replenishing? Why are so many present and former members posting angry comments to virtually every ENS article? I think the answer is that the Leaders either are not listening, or they just don’t care.

    I have said it before in prior comments to ENS articles. The Church Leadership seems to be mired in the third stage of denial:

    1) denial that there is a problem;
    2) denial that there is a big problem; and
    3) denial that the problem has anything to do with them.

    I speak for no one but myself. For me, the message to “follow the teachings of Christ” by being a “witness” is the leadership’s call for political activism. They are much wiser than I when it comes to listening with “biblically-informed ears,” but I remain unpersuaded that Jesus was political.

    What apparently is not recognized in the Article or by the leadership is one undeniable truth: the political activism of the Church has polarized the membership and will continue to do so. “Teaching” the way of Christ has been replaced with using pledge dollars to finance the calls for resistance, denunciations of political leaders, sanctuary dioceses and protest marches where church leaders and members walk arm in arm with arsonists, anarchists and atheists, and presume to speak for all Episcopalians. If someone disagrees with the official position of the Church, then they are not only wrong, but un-Christian and evil. The dissenters are the goats rather than the sheep. (Matthew 25) I wish I was so confident in my political beliefs.

    I am not saying the Church is wrong on every political issue. I agree with some of the messages. But I am saying that when the Church only adopts and advocates leftists causes followed by the chant, “we are the Jesus Movement,” then the chant becomes nothing more than a partisan political slogan.

    Everything I’ve seen coming out of the corporate headquarters has the ship listing sharply to port. I have seen no ENS published report of bishops and clergy denouncing the violence and riots that have followed the call for “resistance.” We are 10 days from Memorial day, and I have seen no ENS article or Proclamation of Bishops praising the sacrifice of our soldiers who gave their lives to preserve our freedoms. I have seen my local diocese dedicate millions in pledge dollars to aid non-citizen refuges and illegal immigrants, but I have yet to see one penny allocated for wounded veterans or families without fathers. I have seen many calls to end poverty and racism, but I have seen no proclamation from an Episcopal convention that pledges support for a program which will create jobs for citizens so that they can live productive, happy and dignified lives. I apologize if I am wrong and missed such pronouncements.

    We live in the real world where bills must be paid, and someone has to pay them. It is not enough to denounce politicians or platforms in the abstract without offering specific alternatives and an explanation of “how much will it cost; who is going to pay for it, and what are the probable unintended consequences?” If Church supports the Paris Accord, then explain which Americans should loose their jobs, how will we replace those jobs, and who is going to pay the $100 billion fine to undeveloped counties? If the Church denounces an EO which targets immigrants who have committed crimes, then how does the Church plan to comfort the victims of violent crime, identity theft, and uninsured drivers when committed by undocumented aliens? If the Church supports transgender bathrooms, then how is the Church going to explain why the same arguments do not support a requirement that my 14-year-old daughter must share a shower room with an anatomically correct male who “thinks” he is a girl.

    The state of our Union is broken and ugly. We are all to blame. Rather than being a voice of peace and reconciliation, and a forum for finding common ground, I believe that the Church leadership has been complicit in the current civil war of rhetoric which risks escalation into a real civil war marked by violence and collapse.

    • Millie Ericson says:

      You certainly haven’t read the same gospel I have. Jesus defied the establishment by confronting their hypocracy, eating with outcasts and those deemed unclean by his culture, honoring women and children; calling all to love the poor, the foreigner the leper, the sojourner. He spoke of good husbandry and sewing seeds in good soil. These things are not political. They are the way of the Cross!

      • mike geibel says:

        Yes, you are correct in most of what you say, especially the part about not having read the same gospels that you have. But I was taught that Jesus spoke to the individual, never to government or government policy. Jesus preached personal responsibility not governmental control, and by teaching how we should live our lives and setting an example, he profoundly changed history and our lives.

        I am of the secular world, so I am sure you know and can quote the gospels much better than I can, but I obviously missed the chapter where he encouraged riots, railed against the emperor, encouraged followers to violate the oppressive Roman laws, or rallied the population into rebellion.

        • Ken Sandine says:

          Mike, your anger is palpable. In my personal experience, anger has a way of twisting things so that someone or something else becomes responsible for what I am feeling. A glance into a reflective surface, which might include the eyes of another, has made me realize that I am usually part of the problem. Have you made similar glances? Bishop Curry is on target. If you are able, look into his eyes and see what reflects.

          By the way, Jesus discouraged violence, but if you read carefully, he was quite political. That is why Rome executed him.

          • mike geibel says:

            Ken:
            I agree that the execution of Jesus Christ by the Roman state was politically motivated and was demanded by the religious leaders of that time. I also attribute the demise of the Episcopal Church to its political activism, at least in part. The difference is that the demise of the TEC is largely self-inflicted.

            I am an imperfect and sinful man, and I go to church for guidance on how to be a better husband, father, and person. I don’t go to church to be lectured on what or who I should vote for, and I will not pledge money for the TEC to use to support partisan political positions in the name of religion, some of which are contrary to my own political beliefs.

            My personal beliefs and “anger” are not the topic of this discussion board or appropriate for psychological analysis—the subject at hand is whether the executive Leadership should take positions on political issues, and the consequences to the membership when they do so. My opinions are really of little weight since I have left TEC–my comments serve only as my personal catharsis over the loss of the Church in my life. I do not regret having grown up in the Church, or the past time and capital I invested both on the Vestry and as a member of a local Episcopal Church, and I am sad to lose the weekly contacts with my friends and my pastor.

            My “anger” will pass. I have found a new place of worship that is not embroiled in internal and external political warfare: a place where we can again go home after church, enlightened and uplifted, rather than angry and frustrated. It is a small but growing non-denominational church that is a place where we put aside politics and personal differences, and where we socialize and welcome each other on the common bond that we all believe in God and Jesus Christ, and where we celebrate our blessings.

        • Carolyn Gutierrez says:

          Mike, although I disagree with you, I respect the manner in which you offer your opinions. I am what you would call an activist. The reason? Because when I exchange the Peace at church, I am acknowledging that each person there is my brother or sister in Christ (whether I like them or agree with them). So when the Constitutional rights of my fellow Americans are denied, that’s Mrs. Gonzales from church — my sister in Christ. Or a teen is told by some biased legislation that he or she is “less than” by virtue of color, sexual orientation, gender, that’s the acolyte carrying the Cross in the Procession on Pentecost. Our place as children of God doesn’t stop when we pass over the threshold of the church and go “into the world.” We never leave the world nor do we ever leave the church. When women’s rights are denied by politicians, that’s my life, my daughter’s life and my granddaughter’s future. That’s why I am an activist. Jesus taught love. He also was quite forthright with the money changers in the temple. no, Jesus did not as far as I know advocate riots. Neither do most activists. He did stand solidly with those who were being treated unjustly. That’s why I feel it’s right for me to stand up for my rights as a woman and hopefully to stand with the church to defend those who need the support against injustice. I’d like to think that you wouldn’t find it offensive to stand alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ and that we would do the same for you.

          • mike geibel says:

            Carolyn:
            I support and will defend your personal right to assemble, to protest and to voice your opinions. Believe it or not, I myself walked a union picket line in a former life, and most of the new hires at my firm have been women–because they were better qualified than other interviewees.

            My objection is not that the Bishop and pastors are wrong on every secular issue or wrong in participating in protests —the objection is that they fly the flag of the Episcopal Church and use Church money and their positions of authority to claim they speak for God and all one million plus members of the Church, when they do not. There are many members and many Republicans like myself who are quite orthodox in their Christian faith, who are fiscally conservative, who respect our Nation’s laws, and yet support many liberal causes.

            After one of the most divisive elections in history, the Episcopal Church lurched to the left and by doing so, lost the divine opportunity to be the voice of peace and reconciliation between the left and the right by encouraging both factions to seek common ground on social problems. The opioid epidemic is killing Americans at a rate equivalent to twenty 9/11 massacres every year, and nearly twice as many Americans die each year from opioid overdose as from gun violence, but I’ve seen only one ENS article showcasing the efforts of one local church. I would hope we all would support financial and pastoral aid for disabled veterans, but I have seen nothing from the Leadership. I don’t understand why the Leadership does not advocate preaching the Gospel on a personal level, and then focus the Jesus Movement on the causes that would unite us , and thus leave the divisive social issues to the ALCU and politicians.

    • Ben Hill says:

      Well said. I, too am conflicted by the activist stance taking over our church. Is any effort being made to find out why we have lost over 20% of our membership in recent years?

    • G Cutbirth says:

      Very well said and I agree.

  7. Lynne Taleff says:

    Some of us would never leave our ‘comfort zone’ and nice, uncontroversial worship without leader/prophets to remind us of God’s call and the evidence of the life of Jesus on earth is to be lived out today in our troubled world. I believe that God has called Bishop Curry and the Executive Council to stand up for truth, love and justice. I will follow, with God’s help.

  8. Pjcabbiness says:

    I am troubled by the unfounded assertion and belief by some that what the PB is teaching and promoting is somehow consistent with the truth of Jesus as revealed in scripture. This is simply not the case. The PB is constructing and disseminating a leftist narrative of our faith wherein Jesus has been reinterpreted through a political lens to the degree that a pseudo Marxist mythological Jesus has emerged and is now the object of the PB’s “movement”.

  9. Elena Noble says:

    I personally agree with the Presiding Bishop’s observations and call to action to walk in Love as Christ loved us. My interpretation of several quotes: 1) “I say this with all humility, I really do: Perhaps this Episcopal Church has come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” Curry said. “Maybe we have had a period of being part of the establishment, which is no longer the case, and maybe we have enjoyed the benefits of being part of that establishment, but it may not be the case much longer,” Curry said. “It is not a way of being Christian that is in the pocket of anybody’s political party, left or right or center, but a way of being Christian that dares to follow Jesus, to love the way of Jesus,” giving and forgiving as Jesus did while loving justice and mercy and walking humbly before God.” In my view, Bishop Curry is saying that because the Episcopal church aligns itself with the teachings of Christ and not any political party, the Episcopal community may now need to lead the way to continue to exemplify the teachings of Christ in a time where the establishment of Christianity has been used as a cloak by many with political and/or questionable motives.
    Second quote: “Curry, saying he feared he might be treading on dangerous ground, urged Episcopalians to listen to political rhetoric with what might be called biblically-informed ears. “When you sometimes listen to voices that portend to represent Christianity in our public life and public sphere, listen carefully to what is said and what is not,” he said. Do you hear the words of the Sermon on the Mount, or Matthew 25, the summary of the law or Jesus’ words at the Last Supper about love and serving others, he asked.” My interpretation of Bishop Curry’s statement is what the Bible said in Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” We should use critical thinking when we interact in daily life to determine if what is presented to us aligns with how Christ would have behaved or would want someone to behave in his name. John 13:34 makes it pretty simple: ” A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” There are no stipulations or conditions. Simpler still the Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” In my opinion, Bishop Curry’s quotes are a call to action for critical thinking, listening, and walking the talk as a living example in love, as Christ did. In my opinion, folks should not just believe and accept statements from politicians and news sources as facts without first fact checking /critical thinking. Folks can sometimes absorb unchecked “information” into their way of thinking which risks accepting and promoting propaganda. I do not attend church regularly, but do pray several times a day to give thanks for my many blessings, to pray for peace and kindness to envelope every nation in the world. I am very thankful for the Episcopal Church and its Pastors, especially our Presiding Bishop Curry. Peace be with us all.

    • mike geibel says:

      I agree 100% that we should look critically at what politicians say, both liberal and conservative, and question what we hear spewed daily by media hacks and on the internet. However, I read the Bishop’s call to be a “witness” in the context of the Bishop’s recent call for Episcopalians to “wake up” wherein Bishop Curry advocated an “ongoing role in the public square.”

      The Article’s report of the February letter by Bishop Curry and Rev. Jennings to the Speaker of the House in Texas threatened political action in the form of an Episcopal boycott of Texas. A more complete disclosure of the contents of this letter is reflected on:

      http://www.virtueonline.org/episcopal-church-issues-veiled-threat-move-gc-over-proposed-texas-bathroom-law

      This source confirms the ENS Article’s statement that the the Bishop’s letter stated:

      ” At our conventions, we are duty-bound to ensure that all of our people are treated with respect, that their safety is guaranteed, and that our investment in the local economy of our host city reflects our values. . . . We would not stand then for Episcopalians to be discriminated against, and we cannot countenance it now. We would be deeply grieved if Senate Bill 6 presented us with the same difficult choice that church leaders faced more than sixty years ago.”

      In my opinion, claiming the Texas bathroom bill undermines the “safety” of Episcopalians and then threatening a boycott, is political posturing. I have no objections to the TEC’s adoption of gay weddings, but there are two sides to the “safety” and “privacy” arguments when it comes to communal bathrooms and showers. Bishops and pastors have the right to express their personal positions on this issue, but not in the name of all Episcopalians or with pledge money from those who disagree.

  10. Carolyn Holmes says:

    Thank you, Bishop Curry, and all those who are seeking to come alongside the poor, the outcast, the oppressed, the marginalized as Jesus did in his earthly life. It is Jesus who spoke these words In Matthew 25 — “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me…I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Be wise, dear friends, and innocent as doves. We are the Body of Christ in the world; and we must bear accurate witness to him.

  11. Pjcabbiness says:

    To imply that acceding in any way to the Marxist mythological Jesus as presented by the PB in his “movement” is bearing accurate witness the the risen and atoning Christ as revealed in the Bible is utterly fantastic and factually void.

  12. Angustia Hamasaki says:

    We cannot be just like the observer, but a doer with God’s help. We try to maintain our prayer habit each day for the good of our church, evangelizing, and that our church are open for each one especially for all willing to be nourished and to grow as Christians and maintain it. I prayed that going church for God alone purposed, for his holiness and righteousness. We hope to include to our prayers, to solve the problems for Holy Trinity. That we may be all the instruments for peace, solutions and family of God in his churches. That God’s love is the color each day especially in our churches. Thanks for Presiding Bishop Curry and Rev. Jennings for answering Godhead’s calling. We need to respect God’s original gender creations. That the Lord God will heal the brokenness of our churches members, and gather the lost flocks, all in your God’s help Abba Father in heaven, the Spirit and in truth.

  13. Trish simonton says:

    Thanks for stating what is obvious to us all but people r afraid to speak it

  14. Marc Hembree says:

    Amen

  15. Terry Francis says:

    Marcia Matlick spewed the same tired accusations that those on the progressive left in this denomination are always accusing conservative Episcopalians of. We’re hate-filled, we’re divisive, we’re negative, yada yada yada. I guess in order to not be divisive in their eyes we have to agree with and walk in lockstep with their ideas and policies. Not gonna happen. Millie Ericson, you are right. The message of the gospel is not political but unfortunately progressives like yourself have made it very political. Constant protest marches, threats of boycotts, questioning the faith of anyone who dares to disagree with you and hating all things republican or conservative, oh yes madam, progressive Episcopalians have definitely politicized the gospel. Progressives in TEC have become more comfortable with the bullhorn than with the Cross. And here’s the thing that really galls me. People like me and Mike Geibel, and Pjcabbiness here on ENS as well as people in their individual dioceses have voiced concerns over the direction this Church is going policy-wise. Are the higher-ups like our PB, Rev Jennings and others even aware of this? Do they know this? Or do they know and simply don’t care? Do they think our concerns are so unimportant that they are not even worth taking the time to respond to? Conservative Episcopalians have for the most part, been totally ignored in this church. And that is an insult. We too are members of this church. We’re not potted plants. The progressive priests and bishops in TEC should at least have the decency to hear what we have to say, even if they don’t agree. I’m not going to hold my breath.

    • Doug Desper says:

      Terry, as an outlier on some issues let me say that we should all mainly focus on what’s local while voicing concerns about National Church trends. Yes, one would think that the next General Convention would be focused as an emergency session on the future of the Church and why our combined numbers keep auguring deeper into the ground while the US population continues to grow. It’s not likely to happen because as we write there are people sharpening their quills to propose and alter and amend for the Kingdom of God to come on earth through social activism. Those fruits are usually not concerned with numerical strength and baptisms as one finds in the Book of Acts where the numbers of believers were constantly added to. Anyone with a sense of this Church’s history (particularly around the American Revolution) can see that we are returning to those days when there was a collapse of the larger structures and the real life of the Church was found in the local Church – sometimes led by laity. We are losing the equivalent of half of a diocese a year. Our ASA is now less than 579,000 and most churches are finding it hard to support clergy, their buildings, etc. While these are realities it doesn’t mean that the Church will die. The local Church expressions will continue long after all else spins its way into the ground.

  16. Pjcabbiness says:

    Thank you Terry Francis. You are absolutely spot on correct.

  17. Judith Lane Gregory says:

    Well, You all have certainly given me much to digest and chew over. Nothing is ever one or the other. I wish we could get you all together in one space, take deep breaths, pass around the native talking stick and listen to each other rather than immediately begin to form a rebuttal. Could you all please read “Negotiating the Non-negotiable” and then come back to the table? What is the one thing we can all agree on and then work from there, allowing the Spirit in?

  18. Jawaharlal Prasad says:

    There is a push in many countries to adopt alternate lifestyles. I suspect this agenda comes from multi-national corporations; the upper management in religious and non-religious institutions is happy to do their bidding. It would help if the church was more active in areas concerning better life (jobs, decent salary, health insurance, housing, clean environment, etc.). Recently I received an invitation from a new non-denominational healing center to attend their programs. The email read…
    “We are completely multi-faith friendly and LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) friendly.”
    Will this be a good way to advertise the Episcopal Church?

  19. SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT

    There is something more important than dividing a church or a nation into conservatives and liberals. The two words have really come me to bother me for I think they are over used. I do not think that a Christian can be one or the other.

    ​They must be both. We must conserve and liberate at the same time. We can never severe our ties from that part of history which belongs to us.

    The teachings of the Bible —the rule and guide of faith —our faith, is just as relevant now as it was two thousands years ago. Just because we live in a new day and must continually interpret the meaning of God’s word for our day does not mean that we throw the baby out with the bath water. You simply do not cut off the past to get to the problems of the future or even to the problems of this day —here and now.

    There is danger in a closed mind. We must always look in both directions. Therefore, we conserve and liberate at the same time.

    Something More Important! Jesus was both conservative and liberal. He was open to the future but he did not destroy the past. He came not to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill them.

    Again and again he referred to the teachings as found in the law and the prophets. They served as the very basis of his sermon —even his Sermon on the Mount. And yet at the same time he offered something new.

    A new commandment I give you; that you love one another even as I have loved you.

    You have heard that it was said of old, but I say of you…

    Jesus conserved and liberated at the same time. He did not destroy the past but he always moved out in such a way as to give life to others and to set them free.

    The Pharisees were very legalistic in their interpretation of the Law and the Prophets. Jesus was adding a new light to that interpretation. They did not know how to cope with this Jesus so they moved out to destroy him. Eventually they were successful. They caught their game. Man can most always be successful in destroy another human being; but it is something else to be so free and at peace with yourself that you can give this same feeling of freedom and peace to others.

    SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT ~ Robert P. Starbuck, M.Div., PhD ~ August 9, 1970

  20. Jean Cavanaugh says:

    What is scary to me is that most young people these days do not even know who Jesus is or even know how to pray. The reason for the decrease in most all churches I feel is because we no longer share what Christ has done for us lately. In stead we are caught up in what the world is doing. No matter what anyone says or preaches or takes stand on it is just that. A person who is broken, a person who does not have the answers, a person who is hurting, a person who truly wants good for others. We are all still searching for what is right and good and we most times rely on our limited human experiences and knowledge. What we all need to do is look to God as Jesus did and pray for each other and for the hurts of the world. We cannot fix them, it is too far from us to fix it. We can only come together and love one another and pray for the peace of God’s Spirit to surround us and enlighten us so we are not talking from hurts, hear-say, anger etc. We need to come together and pray and love one another. We can reach out to our neighbor and help them up when they fall. We can love the unlovable. We can be a word of hope in darkness. We can bring joy to those who are down and under. We can accept one another as we are. When we do this we are able to see with new eyes and hear with new ears. Only God can see the true light that is within all of us. Peace and Blessings to all.

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