December 16, 2017

A Gift of Affirmation

If you are discouraged about the long-run sustainability of your congregation, or the overall Episcopal Church, or even if you’re not, give yourself an early Christmas present and read My Church is NOT Dying; Episcopalians in the 21st Century, by Greg Garrett.

Garrett, a professor, writer, and licensed lay preacher, weaves an uplifting review of the most enduring traits and values of the Episcopal tradition. Part history, part love letter, part review of our blessings and challenges, Garrett points us to our strengths as a people united in prayer, community, beauty, evangelism, and justice.

In these days when many have written off “mainline churches” because of lower attendance, Garrett reminds us how the Episcopal church offers deeper attendance. He begins with a history lesson of our Anglican spirituality and the enduring relevance of the Book of Common Prayer, rooted in its brilliant penning by archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer.

My Church is NOT Dying presents the scholarly wisdom of dozens of writers and theologians, using their insights to evoke many “ah hah!” moments about why, yes, we do love our church so much. That, in turn, can enliven our invitations to others.

Helpful “Questions for Discussion” appear at the end of each chapter, filtering the rich content into hearts and minds. Imagine your Vestry reading the book and holding discussions around questions such as:

  • What does the Book of Common Prayer offer to those in the Anglican and Episcopal traditions? Does our orientation around common worship differ from what holds other denominations together?
  • How have you found it possible to avoid being an extremist on issues that don’t truly matter in the long run? How have you found it possible (or impossible) to be in close proximity to those who don’t think as you do?
  • How has God spoken to you outside the bounds of traditional religion?

In this season of seeking light, My Church is NOT Dying glows with the gift of affirmation about ourselves and what the Episcopal Church offers others who are seeking too.