July 15, 2016 by Alan Bentrup

This past week you may have noticed herds of people wandering around neighborhoods, staring at their phones, and searching for something. Those somethings were Pokémon, and those people were trying to catch them in the mobile game Pokémon Go.

You can physically see the way Pokémon Go, barely a week old, is affecting the real world. Players are searching for, among other things, “gyms,” the game’s focal point for between-player competition. There’s a “gym” near me that is simply a tree in a park with no real benches or meeting spaces. Still, on a Sunday afternoon a dozen teenagers were there, at the tree, hanging out and defending the gym.

But what does this have to do with church?

Anecdotal reports from the game’s first week indicate that many of the game’s items are turning up in or near churches. Sanctuaries have unsuspectingly been tabbed as “gyms” or Pokémarts (where players buy virtual items for use in the game). In my neighborhood, it seems more than half of the landmarks in Pokémon Go are churches.

It’s not hard to imagine that well-meaning clergy and laity sitting in a church office might take a tone-deaf approach to a casual visit of a Pokémon Trainer (the name given to real-life players). That’s a wholly unimaginative and inhospitable way to treat our new Poké-visitors.

Instead, take a cue from this indie clothing store, which got into the spirit of the game by saying, “Come get your PokéBalls and previously rocked threads. Gotta catch ‘em all in style!” What if a church said, “Come get your PokéBalls with coffee and free wi-fi!”

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Topics: Evangelism
June 29, 2016 by Melanie Barnett Wright

Editor’s note: With the 4 of July celebration. 


We have found that when we take “us” out to meet folks where they are at—the result is usually a warm reception.

Last year, after seeing good responses to offering Ashes on Ash Wednesday at the college campus, and offering Pet Blessings near St. Francis Day at a local Animal Shelter day in the park—we began to look for other opportunities to go out and meet people “where they are at.”

So for the Fourth of July we did two things.

For July 3rd--we “bought” a spot for a booth at the downtown festivities known as “Light up Arlington.” We were there right alongside the other vendors of jewelry and back massages, restaurants and theaters. We had a display of various interesting “Episcopal things” like a thurible, a chasuble, a wooden labyrinth, a chalice and paten, prayer books etc. We also had a colorful tri-fold flyer that we had printed, there to distribute. And we had some little kids trinkets to give away. For July 4th—we set up two canopies along the parade route and invited our church folks to come before the parade and join us for a short morning prayer service focused on prayers for our Nation.

Results?

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Topics: Evangelism
June 20, 2016 by Linda Buskirk

The first acts of Christian evangelism occurred while Jesus was still with us in human form. For example, consider the centurion in Capernaum, as told in Luke 7. He was a representative of an oppressive force that often terrorized people. Yet he was kind to those who lived under his control, building them a synagogue. Perhaps he was simply shrewd, showing calculated mercy to keep the peace.   

Can you imagine approaching someone who has the authority to kill you to talk about your faith? Yet someone did tell the centurion about Jesus. I wonder how that conversation went…   

“Centurion, I was at a synagogue in another town last Sabbath, and I saw Jesus heal a man with a shriveled hand! Maybe Jesus can heal your servant.”   

“Why would this Jesus do that for me?”   

“Well, I heard Jesus preaching too. He said we should love our enemies, do good to them, without expecting to get anything back. He said if people do this, our reward will be great, because we are children of God who is kind even to the ungrateful and wicked. He said we should be merciful, just as our Father God is merciful.”   

What stirred in the centurion’s heart that made him understand the power and mercy of Jesus? I don’t know. But I do know that his faith came after someone told him about Jesus.   

Today we have grown complacent about evangelism. Sure, if someone comes into our church, we’ll welcome her.   

But what if that person lives next door and has a foreign sounding name and different color skin? Should we be politically correct and not risk offending him by sharing our faith story?   

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Topics: Evangelism
May 27, 2016 by Jay Sidebotham

“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace to this house!" And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you."

-Luke 10

So I'm sitting on the floor of the Phoenix airport, near the gate, waiting to board. It's crowded. The plane is delayed. Folks are grouchy. I'm wearing jeans and an old shirt so no one knows I'm an Episcopal priest. Incognito, I can be as cranky as I want without impeding the spread of the gospel. I'm focused on my laptop, in my zone. But for some reason I look up to see a guy in a clerical collar. He's got a big nametag that says chaplain. And then I recognize him. He's the Bishop of Arizona.

I'm not sure I'd ever met him in person, but he's well known and well regarded in the wider church. We have some mutual friends. So I yelled to him, "Hey, Bishop." I introduced myself, told him what I was doing in town (I was leading a vestry retreat for one of the local parishes) and mentioned the folks we knew in common. Having done with all that, I asked what he was doing.

He told me that he asks each of his clergy to spend time serving as chaplain somewhere in the community, usually one day a month. The venues come in great variety. He said that if he asked his clergy to do that, he should do it too. So he clears the bishop's calendar (loaded with meetings about meetings about the next meeting) and spends one day a month practicing a ministry of presence in the airline terminal of all places.

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Topics: Evangelism
May 26, 2016 by Tracy Johnson Russell

“It is not enough that we love God. It is not enough that we love one another. We must also love the world for whom Christ died.”

George Bernard Shaw once wrote:

If some enterprising clergyman with a cure for souls in the slums were to hoist a board over his church door with the following inscription: ‘Here men and women after working hours may dance without getting drunk on Fridays; hear good music on Saturdays; pray on Sundays; discuss public affairs without molestation from the police on Mondays; have the building for any honest purpose they choose on Tuesday; bring the children for games, amusing drill and romps on Wednesdays; and volunteer for a thorough scrubbing down of the place on Thursdays, he could reform the whole neighborhood.”

I believe George Bernard Shaw saw the church’s greatest need as well as its unlimited potential. My friends, if the church of Jesus Christ becomes what it was created to be, a place that truly seeks freedom and wholeness for God’s children, we must come together in unity.

So where do we begin?

We begin by acknowledging who we are. We are the body of Jesus Christ. We are temples of the living God. We are the company committed by a covenant and a cross. The writers of Leviticus knew that is where we must begin. The Lord speaks to Moses in the second chapter of this book of priestly laws and says to him, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for the Lord your God am holy.’” (Lev. 2:2)

The people of Israel never forgot who they are, though from time to time they needed a little reminding. That is how they have survived as a people for three thousand years under every possible adverse circumstance.

Whenever the church has forgotten who it is, it has lost its vitality and lost sight of its mission. However, our strength is renewed when we are rooted in our dependence upon God. And we dare not stop here; it is clear that Christ calls us to be more than a shrine. As we know, the church is not a place but a people – a people bound together in love and mission.

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Topics: Evangelism
May 9, 2016 by Linda Buskirk

“We see God in you!” proclaim the people of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon, a small city in rural central Indiana. This “people of prayer uniting in one Spirit” live the Gospel through many ministries rooted in heritage, such as a community garden and bee hives, and even the ancient tradition of the labyrinth.

But something modern is buzzing here too. It’s posted on the door leading into the sanctuary: a QR Code. Whatever gave them that idea?

Vicar Christopher R. Beasley says it really isn’t all that revolutionary. QR codes are seen everywhere these days, conveniently providing additional information to anyone with a smart phone or tablet. For instance, museums post QR codes loaded with facts about exhibits.

So in 2014, Fr. Christopher placed at St. Peter’s door a QR Code linking to the bulletin for the day. People can scan the code as they enter to download the entire service, including liturgy and hymns. He says the reaction has been positive as people see that technology can be seamlessly integrated into worship.

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Topics: Evangelism
March 4, 2016 by Tom Ehrich

The healthy church has a fundamental orientation: outward. Leaders don’t ask, “What do our members want?” Instead, they ask, “What does the world around us need?”

Leaders understand that a missional mindset is the heart of all church development. New constituents, for example, are rarely attracted by better and better worship. They want to know what a congregation stands for and what it is doing in the world for others.
Transformative leaders aren’t necessarily more adept at reading the signs of insider moods and keeping people satisfied. They are focused on sending constituents into the world, where they will transform the world and, in the process, be transformed themselves.

Spiritual development leads inexorably to mission, not to deeper and deeper conversations within the body. Jesus sent disciples out to serve. Stewardship development springs from crossing the wilderness, not from reading a clever slogan. People give to mission, not to facilities or salaries.

Younger adult ministries aren’t centered in worship, but in building houses, doing mission, putting lives on the line.

Mission isn’t a line item in the budget. Mission is people going out into the world to serve others. To do that mission, leaders and constituents need to engage with the world as it is and to give what they have to give.

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Topics: Evangelism
February 29, 2016 by Linda Buskirk

Priest Morris Thompson readily admits that, “All my life I have been afraid of evangelism.” Yet he and his fellow Christians at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Mississippi, decided that they wanted to be part of the Jesus Movement proclaimed by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in a video released they day after his installation. 

Before they got started, they stalled in the face of the unknown. HOW could THEY be evangelists? Father Morris, in his first year as Curate, reflected on his living in the old and diverse neighborhood of the church. He realized he talked daily with many neighbors, but he had never invited them to St. Paul’s. He shared his thoughts with parishioners.

Several in the congregation, including his wife Emily, had been raised Southern Baptist. With evangelizing experience, they bolstered the courage of others. 23 people went door-to-door last December, distributing parish-prepared candied pecans and flyers about Lessons and Carols and Christmas Eve services. Father Morris shared their experience in an Open Letter to Presiding Bishop Curry, which was posted on Facebook and published the diocesan newsletter.

The Lord blessed their efforts several ways…

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Topics: Evangelism
February 26, 2016 by Demi Prentiss and J. Fletcher Lowe

Our recent Vestry Papers article urged church leaders to shift their focus from “inside” to “outside,” and from church-sponsored outreach to individuals understanding themselves as “on mission” in their everyday lives. We’ve already offered ways to Break Out, Take Out, and Reach Out. Another one of the ways we Christians can “get the hell out of church” (the title of the VP article) is to Live Out – to be evangelists by carrying God’s Good News into every aspect of our daily lives.

Whenever I’m (Demi) dismayed by the idea of being the bearer of God’s Good News, I remember the disciples in Luke 10. That’s the story of Jesus sending them out, vulnerable and inexperienced, as his “advance men” for his upcoming campaign. Their assignment was to proclaim peace, accept the hospitality that was offered, heal people who were sick, and proclaim, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

These people, Jesus’ first evangelists, knew nothing about Jesus’ crucifixion, or resurrection, or victory over sin and death, or substitutionary atonement, or how to celebrate Eucharist. So what was their Good News? Basically, “Shalom! Peace and health be with you. God who loves us is right here, near us.”

Unlike them, we are Easter people. And each Sunday, as worship ends and we hear, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” we’re sent out into our worlds to do exactly what we’ve been called to do – offer God’s peace, healing, and presence to a hurting and angry world.

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Topics: Evangelism
February 15, 2016 by Linda Buskirk

On December 13, 2015, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Mississippi, put into action their response to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s reminder that the Episcopal Church is part of the Jesus movement. In January, they wrote an Open Letter to Presiding Bishop Curry to tell him, and all of us, about their experience. ECF Vital Practices reached out to St. Paul's to request permission to share this story of their experience

Dear Presiding Bishop Curry,

We, at St. Paul’s Columbus, MS, watched the video you released the day after your installation. The one that called us to take to the streets, leave the walls that so often enclose us, and seek our congregation in the world. When we first viewed it, we conversed with excitement as to how the Episcopal Church was going to become evangelical under your leadership as primate of our church. However, a few weeks passed and we found ourselves still worshiping in our pews, carrying on within our church walls. Nothing changed. Apparently evangelism wasn’t really coming to Columbus. The realization that YOU weren’t coming to St. Paul’s to lead us outside the church was a jolt. We concluded that if we truly believed in your message, WE would have to become the agents of evangelism within our community.

So, together, we organized an event called “Southside Evangelism.” Our church is located in “Southside Columbus.” It is a historic, diverse neighborhood bordered by downtown, the Mississippi University for Women, and the Tombigbee Waterway. This neighborhood, our neighborhood, became our aim. Our goal was to simply remind them that we are neighbors, and we would like to get to know them.

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Topics: Evangelism
February 12, 2016 by Demi Prentiss and J. Fletcher Lowe

Our recent Vestry Papers article urged church leaders to shift their focus from “inside” to “outside,” and from church-sponsored outreach to individuals understanding themselves as “on mission” in their everyday lives. Last week we offered ways to Break Out.  Another one of the ways we Christians can “get the hell out of church” (the title of the VP article) is to Take Out – to re-frame our habits of prayer and liturgy to offer a “to go” alternative. Can we shift our thinking – whenever and wherever we worship – so that we are focused on the Dismissal, which sends us out to be the Church in our worlds of home and work and community?

One “take-away” opportunity is to celebrate liturgy in a non-church setting. In recent years, commuters and college students have been treated to “ashes to go,” when clergy have appeared on train platforms, near elevators, and on college campuses offering to smudge foreheads on Ash Wednesday, reminding each person “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Eucharist in an outdoor setting or across the desk at a job site, baptism on the riverbank or in a swimming pool, and stations of the cross marking scenes of urban violence have all made news in the secular press. How do you expand your imagination to invite and welcome participation in such events, especially by those who are “not our flock”? How might you encourage reconnection once the event is over?

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Topics: Evangelism
February 11, 2016 by Nancy Davidge
If asked, how do you explain Ash Wednesday and/or Lent to friends? Our friends at Busted Halo are again sharing their video Ash Wednesday & Lent in Two Minutes. 

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Topics: Evangelism
February 3, 2016 by Nancy Davidge


Creating a vibrant and vital vestry is an ongoing task. The period following your annual meeting, when newly elected members join the vestry, is a good time to review and renew your congregation’s vision statement and to think about what putting this vision into practice looks like. This month our articles support you in these efforts, with our fourth article sharing a practice designed to free up meeting time to address these important issues.


What is your church’s purpose or vision? Why is it important for congregational leaders – and members – to have a shared vision? In “Fire First,” Robert Wright, bishop of Atlanta, reminds us Jesus was a man of purpose and encourages us to make explicit our fire – our common purpose - and to keep it “in front of us” as it will bless our common life in exciting ways.

Our presiding bishop calls us “To go into the world, let the world know there is a God who loves us, a God who will not let us go, and that that love can set us all free.” “Get the Hell Out of Church” by J. Fletcher Lowe and Demi Prentiss shares an approach congregational leaders can use to equip members for faithful witness in the world.

Do the things your vestry measures and reports on reflect the mission- and vision-driven aspects of your congregation? Frank Logue‘s “Reboot Your Reporting” encourages vestry members to consider shifting their focus from numbers of attendance, membership, or giving to something more elusive: transformation. To help you imagine what that might look like, he offers a resource from what may seem an unlikely source: the Harvard Business Review website.

Are your vestry meetings too long? Is too much time taken up on routine business? Ron Byrd’s introduction to using a consent calendar at General Convention convinced him to propose this approach to his vestry. He shares his experience in “The Consent Calendar.”

We encourage you to think about how the ideas presented in this and every issue might provide an impetus for evaluating and reflecting on what you might learn from the experiences of others. To help in your discernment, at the end of each article we offer a list of the resources related to the topic. If you have a resource to share, please email me at editor@episcopalfoundation.org with the link or add it to the site using the Your Turn feature. 

If you are interested in Spanish language content, please visit our searchable index for our Spanish content here

Please share this issue of Vestry Papers with your colleagues and to invite them to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices and Vestry Papers. Subscriptions are free. New subscribers are asked to fill out a short registration form to have Vestry Papers and ECF Vital Practices content delivered twice a month to your email inbox.

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Topics: Evangelism
January 29, 2016 by Dorothy Linthicum

When answering the question, “Who is your target audience?” most church leaders will say young people, or Millennials, or young families, or the unchurched. Very few will say their churches are focusing on people over 75. Yet look at the people sitting in the pews, or serving on altar guilds, or ushering, or pledging, or manning the food programs. Many are nearing 75 or are already in that age group.

Can a church be vibrant if it offers well-rounded activities for all ages, but targets older people? A church in Pennsylvania is exploring that question:

At a recent retreat, the lay governing body at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Montrose, Penn., decided to focus the church’s ministry on older people at the church, in the community, in two senior living apartment complexes, and in one nursing home. St. Paul’s, which was founded in 1831 and is housed in a historic worship space, made a gallant effort in 2008 to create a ministry for young people that included additional personnel, new furniture and redecorated space, curricula, and supplies. After four years, the vestry concluded that other churches in the area were better equipped to serve young families. St. Paul’s has decided to approach their new ministry to older people carefully, beginning by asking church members and people in the community what they want or need. They intend to begin slowly, and build a ministry that can be sustained.

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Topics: Evangelism
November 5, 2015 by Greg Syler

This past Sunday was a wonderful day for The Episcopal Church. Not only was Michael Curry installed as our new Presiding Bishop, he also preached an awesome sermon in which he laid out a dynamic, exciting charge for The Episcopal Church in years ahead. 

It certainly wasn’t the first time a major church service was televised or live-streamed. However, on this occaison, as I gathered with folks in my own community along with friends from many other places at a potluck viewing party in our parish hall, really did feel like All Saints’ Day this year was a great awakening across our Church!

The message Michael Curry delivered was one we’ve long needed to hear, and it has been high time for us to get on and get going as living members of the “Jesus movement." Combining a wonderfully straightforward, even traditional Christology, and a call to renew the common good, he offered a vision as well as a theology that will motivate many Episcopalians to participate and celebrate.

As I sat and watched the celebration, feeling myself moved to joy at times and tears and laughter at other points, I was also aware that I had one foot in two worlds. Earlier that morning, you see, St. George’s, Valley Lee – the congregation I have the pleasure of serving – just wrapped up a three-part series in which we talked about and discerned togheter the future of our congregation. We’ve been talking about collaboration and shared ministry and, perhaps, even striking out to find an entirely new model, a new way to ‘be church’ in our community for a long while now. Meanwhile, we’ve also been participating in and leading these conversations in our region of our diocese. Our neighbor congregation, Church of the Ascension in Lexington Park, Maryland, also had these same conversations on these same past Sundays, and we plotted the same talking points at the same places on the same three Sundays, culminating on All Saints’ Day. At St. George’s, we talked about by-laws and canons and who has the right to change the shape of the parish. We talked about money and committees and pro’s and con’s of different models of being church – from Do Nothingon one end of the spectrum, to Merge Everything (and Sell Real Estate) on the other. It wasn’t necessarily the most prayer-filled series of gatherings, and we weren’t always focusing on Jesus and the mission of the church, but you have to let people find their voice, I say, no matter where that initial voice comes from.

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Topics: Evangelism
September 24, 2015 by Anna Olson

You may have seen a Little Free Library or two in your neck of the woods. They are popping up all over the place -- a small creative mode of freecycling that allows strangers and neighbors to share books with one another. They are basically just boxes, placed at eye level, with a door and some shelves. They hold anywhere from a handful of books to a few dozen. The idea is that you can either take or leave a book, no questions asked, and no library card required.

St. Mary's recently installed a little free library in our prayer garden. It's a small always-open space with a couple of benches and an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. People come to sit, pray, sleep, chat, and smoke (judging by the cigarette butts we have to sweep up from time to time!). Now they can read and "shop" for books.

When we put in the library, I imagined it would take the neighborhood a while to catch on. There aren't any other free libraries in our area. It seemed like a good spot; it’s on a street with substantial pedestrian traffic and next door to an elementary school. Our congregation has plenty of readers, and book donations have poured in. We've asked people to focus on children's books, with our school neighbors in mind, but we have received a predictably wide variety of things.

The library has been successful beyond my wildest dreams. Far from struggling to catch on, it emptied almost immediately. The first week, we were actually suspicious that someone was taking all the books and doing something with them. Not sure what...resale on the black market? Hoarding them in a tiny apartment somewhere? Used books are really mostly good for one thing: reading! Our initial suspicions reminded me of how little experience most of us have with given things away truly for free, no questions asked. Seeing how hard it was to offer up our motley collection of books without suspicion turned out to be a spiritual lesson in generosity and offering, among other things.

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Topics: Evangelism
September 11, 2015 by Faith & Leadership

A bivocational Episcopal priest in eastern Kentucky shares his joy at being part of a changing church.

It’s a clear morning in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Mist is rising over the rolling hills and limestone fences. Horses graze on the dewy grass, briefly raising their heads as I drive down the narrow blacktop road.

No matter how long I live here, I give thanks each day for the stunning natural beauty that surrounds me.

Today I’m doubly blessed, because my destination lies two hours east. I’ll drive from the hills of the Bluegrass into the valleys and green mountains of Appalachia.

On the way, I’ll cross 500-million-year-old river gorges, swing around hairpin mountain turns, race down steep inclines and creep back up behind loaded logging trucks.

I’m a bivocational priest, and my work takes me all over the eastern half of Kentucky.

When my family and I came here in 2011, we had no idea what to expect. We were from the Midwest and were used to big skies, open landscapes and churches large enough to support full-time ministers.

What we found here was lush country, loving, welcoming people, and a network of small, vital but struggling congregations.

The church that called us -- St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harrodsburg -- was typical. Yes, they could pay a small salary plus benefits, but only for two years. They had a little money in the bank, but the congregation was aging, membership was declining, and unless something radical happened, the situation was unsustainable.

Something radical did happen. In four years, we’ve gone from about 30 people on a Sunday to about 70. We’ve doubled the size of the congregation, and we’ve doubled the amount of energy, passion and tangible resources.

This took a lot of prayer, a generous measure of God’s grace (that indefinable working of the Spirit that makes the unimaginable into reality), a lot of community outreach (“Yes, we’re here and we genuinely care about you -- you should check us out!”) and a church that actually wants to grow.

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Topics: Evangelism
July 23, 2015 by Sandra Montes

This article is also available in English aquí

Nota de la editora: para l@s que no conocen el significado de @ en una palabra, se usa la @ para usar un lenguaje inclusivo que representa el femenino y masculino de una palabra.

Sabía que iba a cambiar mi vida
Pero no sabía cómo
Sabía que iba a brotar lágrimas
Pero no sabía cuándo
Sabía que me iba a sentir incómoda
Pero no sabía por qué
Sabía que iba a aprender varias cosas
Pero no sabía cuáles
Estoy en una Plantación por primera vez
Sabía que iba a ver una Casa grande Blanca
Y cuartos para esclavos
Al caminar hacia la casa grande
Siento como si estoy en una escena de la película El Color Púrpura
y sonrío con dolor
Me paro cerca de una chimenea y respiro
Con los espíritus de chicos y grandes corriendo a mi alrededor
Mostrándome cómo sentirme y qué hacer
Cuando toco una huella del pie de un niño esclavo sobre un ladrillo
me imagino su risa (es mi hijo en mi mente)
Lloro.

Escrito durante mi tiempo de reflexión silenciosa después de haber escuchado tres narrativas de esclavos en una de las plantaciones más grandes del sur – Stagville Plantation.

La semana pasada tuve una experiencia transformativa cuando estuve en el evento de la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte, Alcemos cada voz/Viaje por la libertad (puede leer información sobre la semana en inglés: http://lifteveryvoice.dionc.org/). Fue un evento para jóvenes y jóvenes adultos que se centró en la verdad, la reconciliación, y la paz. Estuvimos más de 70 personas de varias diócesis del país y Sudáfrica. Como parte del liderazgo y la música tuve la oportunidad de planificar y escuchar las ideas de cómo íbamos a ayudar a las personas que iban a participar, y a nosotr@s mism@s por varios meses de anticipación. Desde el primer momento sentí el amor de Dios en cada persona del equipo – la mayoría jóvenes adultos. Aunque yo sólo conocía a la directora, a mi compañero músico y a mi hijo, sentí gran intimidad con cada persona que estaba presente. Nos unía una curiosidad, emoción, y pienso que también un poco de temor por esta semana que iba a empezar e iba a traer muchos sentimientos que tal vez ni sabíamos que llevábamos dentro. Oramos mucho y nos encomendamos a Dios.

Durante la semana tuvimos oportunidades de ir a diferentes lugares claves para la justicia social y la historia de los derechos civiles en Carolina del Norte. Tuvimos la oportunidad de conocer a personas históricas y también a personas que son activistas y dan mucha inspiración. Escuchamos muchas narrativas de parte de las personas invitadas, del equipo y de l@s participantes. Cada historia, cada anécdota, cada poema, cada video, cada oración nos acercaba más y nos daba esperanza para seguir adelante. Lloramos, reímos, recordamos, y vivimos.

Un momento alto fue conocer a Latinas Episcopales y entrevistar a algunas. Pude entrevistar a Cecilia Alvarez, Canóniga del ministerio de transición y desarrollo del clero, de la diócesis de Nueva Jersey que me enseñó sobre el tiempo diario en meditación con Dios, a la estudiante Fernanda Torres que me enseñó sobre el sentimiento de aislamiento cuando eres indocumentado y a la activista y maestra Elisa Benitez que me enseñó sobre la importancia de ser una activista para las personas que no tienen una voz o que no se les escucha. Fernanda y Elisa son de la diócesis de Carolina del Norte. Estas tres mujeres me dieron lecciones toda la semana sobre el amor de Dios y la importancia de tener una relación con Dios. (Nota: Puedes ir a los medios sociales y buscar #LEVNC para ver más videos, fotos, y pensamientos.) 

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Topics: Evangelism
July 15, 2015 by Greg Syler

Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.”

― Jaroslav Pelikan, "The Vindication of Tradition: The 1983 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities"


Today, many of us in the church take the term for granted, but “fresh expressions” only came into our lexicon as late as 2004. That was the year when the Church of England published their report, Mission-shaped Church, that said, among other things, “A fresh expression is a form of church for our changing culture established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.” Mission-shaped Church called for a “mixed economy” of traditional and new forms of church, realizing that it is no longer sufficient to rely on the established parochial system to receive new converts, raise them into the faith of Jesus, and send them out into the world to be missionaries of Christ’s love.

That was then. Or was it? Since “fresh expressions” is now a common term among church geeks, and since we’re so excited, nowadays, about church planting and getting out of our established inheritances and into our neighborhoods, it’s nice to look back and see how things have changed. Or have they? Really, have things changed all that much?

The reality is that things have begun to change, and there are exciting changes on the margins of our church. There are projects and really creative projects, at that, as leaders and communities begin to devise fresh expressions of our ancient, apostolic tradition. In certain, quite particular contexts The Episcopal Church has a new look that’s brimming with deep faith and artistic energy. And yet dioceses, as such, and that old parochial system aren’t changing much whatsoever, and the promise of a “mixed economy” in the church, today, is no more present than it was when we first started talking, now more than a decade ago.

But as I write there is a change, and a very real change for the church. In fact, it was passed with notable success in that most established of inheritances: General Convention. I’m not talking about all the money for church planting (though that’s great), nor all the resources for revitalizing established congregations (again, wonderful news), nor about digital evangelism. I’m talking about the most basic, most fundamental thing: freeing up our communities so when we gather for worship we are less beholden to the limitations of traditionalism (that is, the worship of the thing; not the purpose for which it exists) and more engaged with the process of carrying forward our ancient Christian faith in new, fresh expressions.

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Topics: Evangelism
July 8, 2015 by Erin Weber-Johnson

In the past few months, there has been a lot written about millennials. Namely, what they want, why/why not we should care about their characteristics as a generation, and conflicting information about what the Church should do in light of this information. 

In April 2015, a popular Christian speaker and author, Rachel Held Evans, published a Washington post blog that quickly went viral. 

In it she cited a study published by Pew Research for the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Research showed that over 25% of the Millennial Generation claims no religion affiliation. She described in detail the efforts made by churches to be relevant and to reengage this demographic. Evans suggests that instead of looking at market research to determine what is cool for the moment, millennials are looking for authentic worship.

“If young people are looking for congregations that authentically practice the teachings of Jesus in an open and inclusive way, then the good news is the church already knows how to do that. The trick isn’t to make church cool; it’s to keep worship weird.” Her blog’s thesis was to embrace what the Church does well instead of changing it to meet the culture. 

She writes,”I believe that the sacraments are most powerful when they are extended not simply to the religious and the privileged, but to the poor, the lonely and the left out. This is the inclusivity so many millennials long for in their churches, and it’s the inclusivity that eventually drew me to the Episcopal Church, whose big red doors are open to all — conservatives, liberals, rich, poor, gay, straight, and even perpetual doubters like me.“

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Topics: Evangelism