Lydia & the Ladies Library Association

A few weeks ago I drove to our diocesan office for a meeting. As I turned onto the main street of Kalamazoo, my eye was immediately caught by the signs attached to the light poles. On each one was a picture of an old-fashioned brick building with a horse and carriage in front of it. Under the picture were the words “Ladies Library Association, est. 1852.”

I confess that when I saw these signs, my first thought was “This organization looks really outdated. Why are they paying for this publicity?”

I had a few minutes before my meeting, so I went to their website. I got my answer quickly: they’re having a capital campaign. I still had time, so I clicked on the History link in their sidebar. And that’s when I discovered there was more to this story.

In the days when colleges only admitted men, the Ladies Library Association was known as “college for women.” They founded the first library in Kalamazoo. They were the first women’s organization in the nation to gain the right to finance and own property.

Against all odds, the Kalamazoo Ladies Library Association imagined and worked for a future where women and men had equal rights. They were willing to dare, to dream and to risk to bring that future into being.

In Acts 16, we meet Lydia, a Gentile who worships the God of Israel. She shows up for prayers on the sabbath day, and hears Paul. She is so moved by Paul’s testimony about Jesus that she decides to be baptized, and her household with her. She is fully welcomed into the church, and she fully welcomes the church: she urges Paul and his companions to come stay with her while they are in town. Not long after, Paul and Silas are arrested for preaching Christianity. They are stripped, beaten with rods in public square, and locked in jail. As soon as they are released, they return to Lydia’s house. She must have quickly realized that being Christian comes with a cost.

The first Christians stuck with the mission they had received from Jesus: to welcome everyone who wanted to live in God’s way, and to teach them the ways of God. They didn’t let anything get in the way of that mission. Being arrested and beaten by the authorities? A minor setback, quickly overcome. Seeing that being Christian can get you thrown in prison? Yup, that comes with the territory.

Against all odds, the first Christians imagined and worked for a future where all knew the saving love of Jesus Christ. They were willing to dare, to dream and to risk to bring that future into being.

At some point in their past, the Ladies Library Association of Kalamazoo made a choice. They decided that preserving their heritage was just as important – or maybe more important – than their original mission. Why do I think so? Their logo includes a horse and carriage, not a woman reading a book. Their capital campaign is to restore their historic building. Once, they focused on creating a new future; now they appear satisfied to preserve a noble past.

On the wall of the Scottish Parliament are these words: “Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.” That’s how Lydia and Paul and the apostles lived. As a result, you and I know about God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Once upon a time, that’s how the Ladies Library Association of Kalamazoo lived, and as a result, a better nation was born.

What would you do if you worked as if you lived in the early days of a better nation?

What would we do if we worked as if we lived in the early days of a better church?

Acts 8 Conference Results

I think everyone who attended would probably call the initial Acts8 Conference a success. Besides the chance to network, a lot of visioning for the future of the Acts8 Moment was done and organizational details were fleshed out. They were posted to our twitter stream and Facebook page as we worked them out, but here they are in one blog post:

Vision statement: Proclaiming Resurrection in The Episcopal Church.

Mission statement: Changing the conversation in The Episcopal Church from death to resurrection; equipping The Episcopal Church to proclaim resurrection to the world.

Acts 8 Guiding Principles:
1. We follow Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit, grounded in prayer, scripture, and worship.
2. We challenge The Episcopal Church to proclaim the good news of Jesus in effective ways.
3. We encourage and equip local missionary communities.
4. We carry out our work with hope, optimism, and good humor.
5. We consistently and transparently communicate to achieve dialogue across the church.

Acts 8 strategic directions:
1. Fostering prayer for mission.
2. Communicating effectively.
3. Developing Acts 8 resources for dioceses and parishes.
4. Hosting conferences to equip missionary leaders.
5. Facilitating conversations about the future of The Episcopal Church.

Acts 8 Moment Executive Committee for the first year, chosen by acclamation and by drawing lots:
Convener: Adam Trambley
At-Large Member: Susan Brown Snook
At-Large Member: Megan Castellan
Secretary: Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale
Treasurer: Holli Powell

Acts 8 in Lent, by Steve Pankey

It was my pleasure this year to teach the Lenten Series at my parish, Saint Paul’s in Foley, AL.  Following up on our Acts 8 Gathering at our Annual Parish Meeting, I decided to take four weeks to dive deeper into the amazing thing God was doing in the 8th chapter of Acts and developed the series, “An Acts 8 Moment: How God does the impossible through his servants.”  Below you will find my lectures as well as the handouts for our four sessions.

Acts 8 4 Part Lenten Series

Acts 8 Mission Gathering – April 22-24 in Scottsdale

Re-Creating a Missionary Church!

a09F000000FxZPCIA3_1Come be a part of a new generation of leadership in the Episcopal Church as we pray, work, and grow into the leadership of a missionary church. Within the beautiful surroundings of the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, we will build on the momentum of spontaneous gatherings that started in the summer of 2012. They created a movement that has since spread around the country.

Acts 8 seeks the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the creative renewal of the Episcopal Church. We take our inspiration from the church’s great historic missionary societies, but with a greater flair for modern communications.

resized_CamelbackSMOur movement is not yet fully formed. At this mission gathering, we aim to more clearly discern our specific mission and determine what we are uniquely called to do to help renew the church. Discernment sessions will be interspersed with workshops on missionary prayer, reinvigorating existing communities, and planting new church entities. And of course, plenty of time for prayer and community building.

Lay and clergy participation is encouraged. Prior involvement in Acts 8 is not required or expected.

The conference will begin the morning of Monday, April 22 and conclude at lunchtime on Wednesday, April 24. For attendees coming from the East Coast, planning to arrive on the evening of Sunday, April 21 is recommended.


Acts 8 Flyer

Preliminary Gathering Agenda

Superbowl-style Commercials, by Frank Logue

For our recent 192nd Convention of the Diocese of Georgia, I created some videos to show some things underway in the Diocese like in our Peer Coaching Initiative video. I also created some that were just fun. We showed them right before heading out for a break and then when we started again, we would start with a short video catching Episcopalians doing good so to speak like in the story of the Heaping Hands Ministry. But here are two of the just for fun videos:

Resolution to the Task Force, by Frank Logue

Four priests in the Diocese of Georgia have proposed a resolution to that diocese’s upcoming convention which is intended to make a recommendation to The Episcopal Church’s restructuring task force. The resolution states:

Resolved, that this 192nd Convention of The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia request that the Special Task Force on Church Structural Reform, created by the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to present a plan to the next General Convention in 2015 for “reforming the Church’s structures, governance and administration”, include as one of its recommendations a proposal the the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church adopt the tithe as the standard of giving and as the funding forula for diocesan support of the budget of the Episcopal Church and,

be it further Resolved, that this resolution together with its accompanying Explanation, be forwarded to The Executive Council for it information.

The explanation is contained in a PDF file online here: The Tithe as the Standard of Funding PDF. There is no mechanism in place for input into the task force and so these clergy are attempting to create one. How this means of recommending actions to the group remains to be seen. First, the resolution would need to be approved by the convention, which meets February 7-9. What do you think of this approach?