If you haven’t listened to an episode of the Acts8 Collect Call podcast with Holli Powell and Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, you ought to give it a try. Â A review from Virginia Seminary’s Center for Ministry of Teaching.
Alleluia! Â The Lord is Risen!
During Holy Week, the exercise Acts8 proposed around The Top Ten List has produced several responses. Â Click on the links to the blogs to get fuller explanations of why they chose those ten items. Â Stay tuned to our site for future BLOGFORCE challenges.
David Simmons, BLOGFORCE Wing Commander
Steve Pankey writes:
Top 10 Signs of Resurrection in The Episcopal ChurchÂ (In somewhat no particular order)
2.Â Forward MovementÂ is growing, hiring staff, and generally rocking the pamphlet publishing world
4. Embracing Generous Orthodoxy at, among other places,Â Virginia Theological Seminary
5. The School of Theology at Sewanee approvedÂ my thesis proposalÂ on William Reed Huntington and Brian McLaren
6.Â Susan Brown Snook’sÂ voice on Executive Council
7. Nativity Church brings Dothan theirÂ first ever Mardi Gras parade.
9. People are engaging withÂ The Task Force for Re-Imagining The Episcopal ChurchÂ and they seem to be listening
Adam Trambley writes:
10. Alcoholics and addicts being saved in the sanctuary as well as in the basement.
9. Social media being used competently to spread the good news and strengthen the Body of Christ.
8. Senior ladies who, in the midst of change, still love each other, care for the poor, work hard, and go to their closets regularly to pray in secret as they were taught.
6. The numerous outdoor PalmÂ SundayÂ processions taking the church in all its quirky splendor to the community.
5.Â Lent Madness.
4. A full Catholic Holy Week lineup (with smells and bells), evangelical life transformation groups (with Bible study and accountability), and charismatic healing prayer (with speaking in tongues) all offered in the same congregation.
3. The Rev. Ben Campbell andÂ Richmond Hill.
2. St. John’s Family Kitchen. (For a video about it, go to ourÂ Diocesan Web SiteÂ and click “Launch Media Player” at the bottom of the page)
1. The Easter Alleluia boldly and joyfully proclaimed!
David Simmons writes:
- Episcopal Service Corps
- The New Monasticism
- The work on revising our Calendar of Saints
- The Tri-faith initiative of Omaha
- Forward movement
- Our Full Communion agreements with the ELCA and Moravian churches.
- Ashes to go
- The clergy coming out of our seminaries today.
- The Rt. Rev. Nick Knisely and others who are illustrating the dynamic interplay between science and religion.
Kyle Oliver writes for VTS’ Center for the Ministry of Teaching:
10. Fresh Expressions movement
9. Episcopal podcasters
8. Camping ministries
7. Lent Madness
6. Web wisdom from SSJE
4. Episcopal Youth Event
3. Ashes to Go
2. Episcopal Service Corps
1. Renewed emphasis on discipleship
Â Connor Gwin writes:
10. This list and the Acts 8 Blogforce
9. Church leaders who are not shrinking from the challenges of the 21st century, but are walking toward them full of hope for the future. Folks who arenâ€™t trying to maintain a church model that worked in 1950, but are working to build the Church in 2014.
8. Churches that are offering unique and inventive new ways to be the Church, like The Gathering at St. Johnâ€™s, Roanoke, VA, and the Come as You Are Service at St. Anneâ€™s, Reston, VA.
7. Ashes to Go, Palms to Go, and Prayers to Go â€“ happening across the Episcopal Church.
6. Folks recognizing that the way to reach young adults is not by adding a guitar to your evening service or dressing your priest in jeans, but by actually talking to young adults about what they want and need from church (Hint: its probably a lot more similar to what you want from church than you think).
5. EYE (Episcopal Youth Event) and other vibrant youth ministries across the church.
4. Episcopal Summer Camps.
3. Episcopal Seminaries that are (just now) starting to shake off the dust and realize that they need to do to train priests for 2014.
2. A small, but growing, group of Episcopalians who believe that the arrogance, pessimism, and cynicism that we have inherited fromÂ our church elders is not only unhelpful, but is downright destructive.
1. Easter Sunday, where we see that the Body of Christ has been killed and raised once before, so it cannot die again.
Brendan O’Sullivan Hale writes:
1. Reconciliation of a Penitent
2. The Easter People Podcast
3. The Restoration Project.
4. Media Coverage of Things that aren’t about Sex
5. The Liturgy. No Really, the Liturgy.
There’s a lot of talk about “decline” in everything; from the Episcopal Church to all the Mainlines, to Christianity, to all organizations that rely on voluntary membership in general. Â But we as Christians are a resurrection people. Â Even in the middle of Holy Week, we always live in the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus.
I think if we look at the church around us, we see signs of resurrection. New or re-imagined ministry in worship, outreach, education and discipleship that is making a difference in people’s lives. Â What are the top ten signs of resurrection you see in the Episcopal Church?
How do I participate in the BLOGFORCE?
Simply blog your answer on your own site, then:
1. Paste this code at the bottom of your post – note that it is code so you will probably need to switch to HTML view in your blog editor:
<p align="center"><a href="http://bf3.frdavid.org"><img alt="" src="https://www.acts8movement.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/blogforceparticipant.gif" width="290" height="73" /></a></p>
It will look like this:
2. Send the permanent link and just the 10 items (no explanations – that’s on your blog) to email@example.com. Â This should be done by no later than 5PM Central Time on Sunday. Â On Monday, the lists will be re-posted with links. Â At that point, the provided code will point to the round-up page instead of here.
The editorial board of Acts8 reserves the right to decline submissions that are deemed offensive or do not uphold the Guiding Principles.
David Simmons, BLOGFORCE Wing Commander
During the previous week, the exercise Acts8 proposed around The Elevator Pitch has produced a large variety of responses. Â The pitches are listed below in order received. Â It’s worth visiting the links with the pitches, as there’s often more on the original blog post. Â We would like to thank everyone who participated, as we think about the ways we share our faith in the world. Â Stay tuned to our site for future BLOGFORCE challenges.
David Simmons, BLOGFORCE Wing Commander
Evan Garner writesÂ in 204 words:
Have you ever wondered whether your life has meaning beyond itselfâ€”whether there’s more reason for living than just making it through one day at a time? I believe that part of what it means to be human is to ask that question, and I think it’s a shame when someone or some group of people suggests that they already have the answer for me. Life is about searching for the answers. And we should all be given a place where it is safe to explore that question and its many possible answers for ourselves.
I have found that the Episcopal Church is the place where I can ask that question and be given enough space to find the answers. For me, the most important answer is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Through his story, I’ve learned to recognize that God loves me no matter who I am or what I do. That unconditional love has transformed me into the person I believe I was created to be. Now, Iâ€™m not finished looking for the answers, but I know that Episcopal Church is willing to let meâ€”and everyone else on the planetâ€”join them as we search for lifeâ€™s answers together.
Linda Ryan writes in 249 words:
Ever walked into a place youâ€™d never been and felt at home almost immediately? I did the first time I entered an Episcopal church and it changed me for life.
Why was it so great? From the opening procession with the cross in front to the recessional again following that cross it was an exercise for all my senses. I heard and read prayers and liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer. I spoke to, shook hands with and occasionally hugged my neighbors. I smelled the beeswax and incense. I tasted the Body and Blood of Christ in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. It involved my whole body and spirit.
There was a wealth of scripture, three or four different texts every week, not just a single text for the sermon. The BCP is rich with scripture in which the whole assembly participates. Episcopalians take the Bible very seriously, just not necessarily literally.
The Episcopal Church encourages me to not just sit and listen but to engage with scripture, tradition and the community of the church plus my reason and experience to know what I believe, why I believe it and how to share it. It encourages me to be like the Samaritan woman at the well, running to tell everyone some good news. It encourages me to go out and serve others in Christâ€™s name and for his sake.
And it reminds me that I am not just some wretched hopeless sinner but Godâ€™s beloved child.
Katie Sherrod writes in 114 words:
I am an Episcopalian because The Episcopal Church is not afraid to explore what Baptism really means. When one is sealed as Christâ€™s Own Forever, there are no asterisks. Women, men, gay, straight, trans, black, white, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, mixed race â€“ all are acknowledged as part of the Body. Figuring out what this means in the context of scripture is hard work. At its best, The Episcopal Church calls on everyone â€“ bishops, priests, deacons, lay people — to work in partnership to figure it out. Â We donâ€™t always get the balance right, but what I love is that we keep trying, struggling to love one another even when we may not like one another.
Â David Kendrick writes in 228 words:
Much of my family has left this world too early. But in the Episcopal Church, I found a family not based on bloodlines. Iâ€™m part of a community, or communion, based on the truth that Jesus Christ, raised from death, feeds us with himself through bread and wine. As He feeds us, the risen Christ makes us all part of himself, and of each other. In the Episcopal Church, I am not alone.
And this communion is not just of the living in this world. The first witnesses of the risen Jesus handed on their testimony to the next generation. Many of that first generation died rather than deny what they had seen. And their testimony has been handed down from generation to generation. And each generation has had to express that testimony in different ways for different cultures. That handing down is normally called Tradition, but I like to call it timelessness. In our worship and governance, we are timeless, connected to the past and to the future.
And we pray together, in common, with a book of prayer that is scripture-based. This Book of Common Prayer reflects our deepest and most holy desires, while also helping us to learn how we ought to pray together, in common, not alone. All that is why Iâ€™m an Episcopalian. How do you meet Jesus Christ in your life?
Christina Wible writes in 210 words:
Looking for something? Perhaps it is something to fill that â€œGod-shaped hole.â€
The Episcopal Church is where worshipers and seekers of all backgrounds collide in a wonderful melting pot of Christianity. We fully admit that we donâ€™t always agree on everything, but what we do agree on is that we can talk, oh can we talk. Open discussion of both theological and sociological issues is our proud heritage.
You may not think you are looking for church, but know you are looking for community. That you can find in the Episcopal Church. Do you come from a Roman Catholic background? We have churches where liturgy is done with drill team precision or contemplative study in the tradition of Ignatius abounds. Do you come from an evangelical background? Well some of our churches raise their hands and shout halleluiah with the best of the evangelicals. Were you raised unchurched? We will help you sort through the morass of Christian thought and help you decide if Christianity is what will bring you a new life.
But above all, we are a place where you may feel welcome, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from or where you are going. Try us on. Perhaps you will find home.
Steve Pankey writes in 250 words:
Iâ€™m an Episcopalian because I think the Good News of Godâ€™s saving love in Jesus Christ can be found in The Episcopal Church. In the waning moments of his life, Jesus prayed for his disciples and for everyone who would come to faith through them. His prayer was as simple as it was impossible, â€œthat they may all be oneâ€ (John 17:20-21). It is in that prayer that Episcopalians find our mission. â€œThe mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christâ€ (BCP, 855). Our seeking after unity does not mean that we mindlessly follow unanimity. Instead, the depth of the Episcopal tradition affirms that while we might disagree, even vehemently, over issues of faith and morality, we are committed to the unity that comes from joining together in the common prayer of our faith. I love The Episcopal Church because of its commitment to diversity within the unity that comes from Christ. Our Prayer Book defines the rules of our corporate worship, but within those rubrics is amazing latitude for local expression and interpretation. Our Baptismal Covenant, the promises to which every Christian baptized in The Episcopal Church commits, with Godâ€™s help, invites us to seek unity beyond the walls of the church building, encouraging us to use our particular gifts of the Holy Spirit to strive for â€œjustice and peaceâ€ as we â€œseek and serve Christ in all personsâ€ and â€œrespect the dignity of every human beingâ€ (BCP, 305).
John TalbertÂ writes in 249 words:
Hi. Iâ€™d like to know your name, and Iâ€™d like you to know mine, but before I ask â€“ Iâ€™d like to tell you why. This might be my only chance to ask you, to learn a bit about you, and think about the kind of impact we could have on each other â€“ and on other people around us, you know â€“ if we worked together.
You see, Iâ€™m part of a team thatâ€™s made up of all kinds of people from all kinds of places â€“ so many places that weâ€™ve all never met in the same space, even though we all work together. We believe that the work we do is great enough and broad enough that everyone we meet has an import role in doing it. Thatâ€™s why we meet new people, like you â€“ and share our name.
Our team has leaders, even national leaders â€“ but everyone knows we are equally important, and no matter what skills we have to bring to the team, that there is good work for us to do, important work â€“ that is right for us to do.
We all follow the example of one man, who showed us a long time ago the best way to meet new people, and he even started some of the work that we are still doing â€“ and taught others how to know what kind of work we should be doing. His name is Jesus Christ, and my team is called the Episcopal Church.
Iâ€™m John, Whatâ€™s your name?
KA Carlson posted on our FB Page in 250 words:
What are you seeking? If youâ€™re wondering about God, how God might be working in the world, working in you, If youâ€™re curious about this guy Jesus, If youâ€™ve gone as far as you can on your own, with your faith and your spirituality and your relationship with God, If you want to be on this journey with other people who are wondering about God, how God might be working in the world, working in them, people who are curious about this guy Jesus, If you want to touch the holy, something bigger than yourself that cannot be named, If you want to be fed If you want to feed others If you want to think for yourself, in the company of others who are thinking for themselves, but hashing all that out with one another, with the sacred texts and stories, with breaking of bread, with prayer, If you think God means something better for this world that what is currently happening, If you want to be part of something ancient yet ever-new, traditional yet transformative, a part of something where people are still trying to figure out exactly what it means to love â€“ to love God, to love their very selves, to love every other person as a child of God, If you think you might want to follow in the footsteps of this guy Jesus, more than 2,000 years after he walked and taught and died and rose, The Episcopal Church welcomes you. Come and see.
Sarah McCarrenÂ wrote in by e-mail in 151 words:
I believe in the Jesus, as the Son & Second Person of the Triune God. I also believe that He teaches humanity what it means to be a good person. InÂ the Episcopal Church I’ve found meaningful worship and a worldwideÂ community of Christians who strive hard to discern what it means to followÂ our first-Century Jewish Carpenter Lord and Savior into the twenty-firstÂ century. Although we are not a perfect people, we are a people that tries,Â with integrity, to follow Our Lord’s way. CS Lewis said” I don’t go toÂ religion to make me happy, I always knew a bottle of port would do that.” IÂ am not an Episcopalian because it is ‘trendy’ or that the Church alwaysÂ makes me ‘happy. I belong in this branch of the One Holy and CatholicÂ Church because we are an imperfect people trying our best to follow ourÂ perfect Lord.
Holli PowellÂ writes in 235 words:
I came to the Episcopal Church because I was looking for a church home that blended a traditional church service with an open, welcoming theology. I wanted a place that helped me see the Bible through the lens of the world I actually lived in. I liked that the Episcopal Church didnâ€™t classify itself as Catholic or Protestant, instead calling itself the â€œmiddle way.â€
I stayed because I loved the fact that wherever I traveled in the world, I could stop into an Episcopal or an Anglican service and it would be very similar to the service I was missing back home.
I stayed because children are in full communion. My daughter has been taking communion in the church since she was old enough to chew the bread.
I stayed because services with incense, services with PowerPoints and praise bands, services with no music at all, and services with contemplation at their core were all happening within the same building.
I stayed because, when weâ€™re baptized into the church, we vow to respect the dignity of every human being.
I stayed because it doesnâ€™t seem weird to anyone that â€œUp From the Grave He Aroseâ€ is my favorite church song, or that I pray the rosary to Mary, or both.
I stayed because day after day, the church deepens my faith, my love of Jesus, and my desire to do God’s work in our world.
Anthony MacWhinnie IIÂ writes in 135 words:
Sorry for the outburst, but why am I an Episcopalian? Â Because itâ€™s been my home all my life. Â And itâ€™s filled with all sorts of people that are completely different, and some agree and some donâ€™t and somehow thatâ€™s all okay. Â Weâ€™re not perfect and most of us donâ€™t claim to be. Â Weâ€™re traditional. Â We have an ancient heritage, and yet we can still be fresh and meaningful, even today. Â And at the center of it all is this man Jesus who we strive to be like. Â We fail. A lot. Â But still we keep working at it. Â At our best, weâ€™re awesome. Â And at our worst, weâ€™re no worse than others. Â And still we keep at it. Â I guarantee, somewhere in the Episcopal Church, you can find a home. Â The Episcopal Church welcomes you.
Heidi Shott writes in 250 words:
In March 2014 millions of people around the world followed the news of Malaysia Airlines 370. We asked, â€œHow could a commercial aircraft with 239 people aboard simply disappear?â€
Cognitive neuroscience says our fascination with such mysteries is found deep in our brains. From the age of one, starting with peekaboo, humans seek to make sense of what puzzles us. We crave what researchers call the â€œpuzzle of realityâ€ and we thrill to the â€œzap of pleasureâ€ when a mystery is solved.
Though we never went to church, as a child I constantly wondered about the mystery of life and the existence of God. As a teenager I joined a church and was comforted by the caring people and the safety of a sure dogma. Then, in college, I stumbled into an Episcopal Church where mystery and faith instantly re-emerged. In the beauty of the prayerbook language, in the sense of community, in the welcome of questions and rigorous conversation on all facets of faith, I found a spiritual home.
â€œTaste and see that the Lord is good,â€ the psalmist urges. The Episcopal Church offers something else our brains demand: not only do we taste the bread and wine, but in worship we test each of our senses in turn and always in the company of others.
Taste and see. Allow your mind, heart, and soul to engage the mystery of life and the questions of faith. And perhaps youâ€™ll find the Episcopal Church to be the perfect flavor.
Nurya Love Parish writes in 250 words:
I was welcomed by the Episcopal Church as a seeker who wants to know Jesus and be his disciple in a difficult world. Jesus taught us to love God first and seek Godâ€™s kingdom above all else. In the Episcopal Church, I practice that way of life with others who seek it too. We practice hospitality, welcoming all. We practice curiosity, seeking truth and learning from all the disciplines including the sciences. We serve others according to God’s mission of reconciliation. We practice loving one another and the world beyond our walls.
The Episcopalians offered me a way of being Christian that enabled me to develop a relationship with God that includes my whole mind, my whole heart, and my whole strength. Life in this church is helping me discover the depths of the amazing grace of God in Christ, celebrated by the church from generation to generation. The Episcopalians practice a “middle way,” including both Protestant and Catholic expressions of faith, which continually inspires me.
The gift of being part of this community which lives not to ourselves but to God has been among the greatest blessings of my life. Through the Episcopal Church I have been grafted into the body of Christ. I have a sense of inner peace and joy and a meaning in my life that I canâ€™t imagine being able to find any other way. The Episcopal Church welcomed me and always offers me a way to grow as a disciple, just as I am.
Marilyn Engstrom sent in 142 words by e-mail:
I am an Episcopalian because the full-bodied worship touches all my senses, engages my mind, nourishes my spirit, heals my soul while challenging and equipping me to leave worship to love and serve others in my community and beyond.
We use real stuff (water and oil in baptism, wine and bread in communion, the touch and weight of hands in marriage and ordination) as windows into the mystery of Godâ€™s love. We believe that every individual has something unique to reveal a facet of Godâ€™s grace, Jesusâ€™ love and the Holy Spiritâ€™s transformative power.
Ideally, our worship is a communal gathering that takes the gifts, as well as hopes, dreams, fears, doubts and disappointments seriously; then offers the world signs of Godâ€™s reign, right now.
Iâ€™d like to have you experience this for yourself. How about coming with me on Sunday?
Kyle Matthew Oliver writes in on behalf of Virginia Seminary’s Center for the Ministry of Teaching in 250 words:
The Episcopal Church is a faith community for grown-ups. That doesn’t mean we exclude children or that we don’t sometimes act like them. It does mean we are comfortable with mess and skeptical of easy answers. We worship a God whose will is sometimes hard to knowâ€”but whose love knows no bounds.
We are not the one true church, not the biggest, hippest, or best organized. We’re a ragtag bunch united primarily by our firm conviction that praying together forms us into the people God is calling us to be.Â
What do we believe about Jesus? It’s a bit more complicated than we have time for in this elevator. Basically: (1) Being born into the world was the way God continued reaching out to it in love. (2) Living, loving, seeking, and serving as Jesus did leads us more deeply into abundant life. Not easy. Abundant.
Episcopalians share a hunger for justice, a love of beauty, a curiosity about the world. We know we need God to save, sustain, and transform us. We know God needs us to be the hands and heart of Christ today.
Life is hard, and the world faces many challenges. It needs as many reminders of God’s love as it can get: the Bible, yes, but also inspiring worship, service to others, loving relationships, respect for all persons.
The Episcopal Church welcomes you. Bring your whole self. Drink deeply from the well of God’s love. Help us be a sign of that love to others.
Polly HewittÂ writes in 250 words:
This is a love story. I am a third-generation Episcopalian. My identity as a human being and a believer was shaped by the gracious exuberance of the â€˜50s â€œGolden Ageâ€ church. I was confirmed in a lace doily and white gloves, proud to finally take my place at the Communion rail. Fifty years later, I still know every word of Morning Prayer, and cannot say the glorious General Confession without tearing up. In the â€˜60s, I learned that the Episcopal Church was capable of taking bold stands on important social issues and stood side-by-side with my clergy at anti-war rallies. Later, as an adult, I also learned that my beloved church was far from perfect. I witnessed first-hand the â€œmanifold sins and wickednessâ€ of institutional power. I also experienced many moments of transcendent beauty and grace in the company of exceptional, thoughtful people. Now in middle age, I feel like I am in a long-term marriage with the Episcopal Church: wistful for our youthful days, companionable, sometimes cranky and a bit restless. Over the years, weâ€™ve had our trial separations, but somehow, we always find our way back to each other. And hereâ€™s the best part â€“ I know dozens of these Episcopal love stories. The details are different, but the core narrative is always the same. This imperfect institution â€“ with its challenging liturgy, respect for reason, and commitment to social justice â€“ was the perfect place to encounter God. For this, my heart is unfeignedly thankful.
Brendan O’Sullivan-HaleÂ writes in 231 words:
I wasn’t raised religiously – for much of my life I was an atheist. But while I was in college a strange, powerful experience caused me to understand resurrection as the way God works, and led to a faith in Jesus. I hope we can talk about that experience sometime.
I chose the Episcopal Church as the place to learn about my newfound faith because of its profound sense of connection. Our worship is flexible, but it’s rooted in rituals and prayers established many centuries ago, adapted for the modern world. I love that our church offers a daily cycle of prayers that people can say in groups or alone, and know that literally thousands of other people are doing the same thing.
I love that the way we govern ourselves reflect that we believe that all people, men and women, lay and clergy, are equal before God. I love that when I walked away from the church for three years and returned, I was welcomed without judgment.
I don’t have a specific opinion about the afterlife, but it means a lot to me that virtually all of our prayers acknowledge the dead, and that future generations will do the same for me. I know that I am not very significant in the universe, but taking my place in the Episcopal Church constantly reminds me that I am part of something big.
Matthew Kozlowski writes in 249 words:
I donâ€™t know where I would be without Jesus. He gave me purpose, he saved my marriage, he changed how I look at the world and other people. I can love, because he loved me first.
Â Where did I â€“ where DO I â€“ find Jesus? In the Episcopal Church.
Â In the Episcopal Church we read the Bible. It shows us how to live, and it show us Jesus. You see, we donâ€™t worship a book, we worship a life: the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Â Our tradition goes back hundreds of years, back to the Anglican Church in England. Weâ€™ve been taking Jesus seriously for a very long time, and we invite you, whatever journey you are on, to come and see what heâ€™s all about.
EveryÂ SundayÂ our priest stands with bread and wine and tells how Jesus broke his body and shed his blood, for everyone. How he rose from the dead, for everyone. To forgive sins, to offer abundant life, and to help us become the people that deep down weâ€™re longing to be.
We eat the bread, drink the wine; we baptize people; we pray, sing, laugh, shake hands, hug; we nurture children.
Then we go out to make a difference in the world. We feed people, clothe people, help people speak up. Not because itâ€™s â€œthe right thingâ€ but because Jesus told us to do it, and because we see his face in every person. We love, because he loved us first.
David Simmons writes in 243 words:
Thanks for asking about my faith! I grew up in a household that didn’t attend church or spend a lot of time talking about religion. When I started attending church as a teenager, it was because my divorced parents started attending church separately. I ended up in the Episcopal Church, but I wasn’t a happy camper. You see, I grew up in a part of the country where my impression of Christianity was largely my friends telling me I was going to hell. In addition, I have always had an interest in science, which many of my Christian friends also seemed to devalue. I had a chip on my shoulder towards Jesus’ followers. The Episcopal Church in my home town loved me, honored my skepticism, and over time let me see Jesus in a different way. Through meaningful ritual, thoughtful preaching, and loving community, I encountered Jesus for the first time as the lover of my soul rather than the stern judge of my every fault; as one who rejoices in our quest for knowledge rather than demanding blind obedience. If you’re looking for a faith community that claims to be perfect, we’re not that. But if you are looking for a community that strives together to worship the divine with intellectual integrity, to celebrate life together in ritual rooted in ancient rhythms, and to change the world in the name of Jesus, we ARE that, and we invite you to join us.
Jared Cramer writes in 248 words:
Around ten years ago, I was hungry to follow Christ but finding the Christianity that surrounded me increasinglyâ€¦ insufficient.
Then I found the Episcopal Church.
I discovered a tradition that was concerned with more than the most recent fad in worship or spirituality. They prayed from a book! But the prayers in that book were rich and full, strained through hundreds of years of Christian experience. They believed God actually showed upâ€”actually showed up!â€”in water and bread and wine. And they believed structure was not just a necessary means to an end. They believed structure could be a way for the Spirit to move.
That is, they believed God actually showed up in Godâ€™s people. Though they clearly adored much that was old and beautiful, they knew that those rich traditions could not contain the God of Abraham & Sarah, the God of countless fearless martyrs and broken sinners that spanned thousands of years.
So when they saw God in gay and lesbian relationships, they were willing to acknowledge that those GLBT Christians actually had the Spirit. It made that young former-evangelical feel uncomfortable for a whileâ€¦ but then I spent time around some of those GLBT Christians and saw godliness.
I decided to stay. Not just because I liked old and ancient things. Not just because I thought it was important to listen to Godâ€™s voice. But because I knew that the Episcopal Church could help me see a God who was still saving me.
Susan SnookÂ writes in 301 words:
The Episcopal Church is where I met Jesus. I grew up Episcopalian, and from the time I was a child, the stories of Jesus became a part of my memory and my imagination. As a child, I â€œplayedâ€ those stories; as a teenager, I explored them, questioned them, and challenged them in the company of a terrific group of fellow youth group members, campers, and co-counselors.
As an adult, I left the church for quite a while, but it was here to welcome me home when I was ready. And my encounters with Jesus continued. I met him at my childrenâ€™s baptisms when there was no doubt he was standing at the font with us, and I met him and at the altar rail one particularly memorable Easter. I met him in a community of friends who became my family when I moved to a strange city where I knew no one. I met him in thoughtful and engaging sermons, and in study groups that took him seriously. I met him in careful and inspiring liturgies, and in theologically rich music.
I met him in more difficult ways, too. I met him when I was going through hard times, yet he was there to give me strength. I met him when I explored troubling and challenging Bible passages with a company of folks who were not afraid to ask tough questions. I met him in people who made me think in new ways about social issues. I met him in people who were not much like me at all, and who broadened my perspective on the world. I met him in people who called me into ministry and refused to let me fail. I met him in prayer and worship and song.
I met Jesus because he is truly present in this church. Thatâ€™s why I am an Episcopalian.
Malcolm FrenchÂ (From the Anglican Church of Canada)Â writes in 162 words:
I am an Anglican. I belong to a community of faith that invites and welcomes all people on a journey to meet and to follow the Risen Jesus. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve come from, wherever you are on your journey of faith, you are welcome to journey with us.
We worship a God who loved us enough to become one of us, to live in solidarity with us, to experience the joys and the sorrows of our human existence in order to reconcile us to God and to each other. We come to know him in our fellowship and in the breaking of bread. Our worship is rooted in the ancient tradition of the Christian Church, yet we are fully engaged in the modern world.
Our God washes us clean in baptism. Our God feeds us with his body at communion. Our God loves us. Our God loves you.
May you know God’s love as you continue on your journey today.
Alan Bentrup writes in 181 words:
If youâ€™re searching for the perfect church, youâ€™re welcome to keep looking. The Episcopal Church is broken and sinful, because it is full of broken and sinful people.
But we believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to heal our brokenness and restore usâ€“and all Creationâ€“to the perfect Image of God.
The Episcopal Church is a place where you can meet this Jesus, as we practice ancient disciplines that have served Christians well for more than 2,000 years. We meet him each week when we read stories about him in our scriptures. We meet him each week when we receive his body and blood in the Eucharist.
But we donâ€™t just meet Jesus in our old traditions. For those of us baptized or confirmed in this church, we meet him every day as week seek and serve Jesus in all persons.
The Episcopal Church isnâ€™t perfect. But Jesus didnâ€™t live, die, and rise again for perfect people. He came down here to heal me. And to heal you.
Would you like to meet him?
Robin WalkerÂ writes in 215 words:
I am an Anglican. Itâ€™s a historical faith, born out of the strife of the 16th century, committed by that strife to reach out to all people, bringing them into the reach of the love of God. We follow Jesus of Nazareth, who embraced the whole world by his death on the cross, and redeemed all humanity by that ultimate act of love.
In my early years in the church, I learned to love its ways â€” liturgy, scripture, prayer and service. In my latter years, I have come to question its historical identification of the Gospel with a particular cultural and ethnic orientation. Even though my forebears in this church have made errors, I stand with those today whose commitment to a new and Christ-like way of being are calling this Communion into Godâ€™s future.
We are a Church that has been in constant Reformation for almost 600 years, as we have striven to open our doors to all people in the name of Christ. Sometimes that has been successful, sometimes not. Sometimes the work we have done has borne appropriate witness to our Lord, sometimes not.
We are human, and like all humanity can only seek to follow Jesus in all or humanity.
This a warts-and-all church. Thanks be to God.
Don ReedÂ writes in 250 words:
Jesus betrayed me.
I was baptized by immersion when I was seven. In middle school I invited neighbors and acquaintances to revival meetings. In high school I proclaimed to friends my personal relationship with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
He betrayed me in an introductory world religions class my first year in college. Turns out, most of the great religions have at least some truth. But that meant that all I had believed was false, because it was not the only truth.
I was disillusioned and set adrift.
My relationship with Jesus was over. I still longed for something, though. So I searched for Being and Goodness among the philosophers.
In the Episcopal Church I found an approach that gave me space, and time, to come to myself. Episcopalians say, â€œpraying shapes believing.â€ Part of what we mean is that the crucial thing is not the beliefs we profess. Itâ€™s the praying itself. Get the praying right. The beliefs will come around.
Episcopalians see the presence of God in the beauty of holiness, so we make worship holy. We seek the Beautiful there â€” and then we seek the Holy in the faces of all Godâ€™s creatures.
I still canâ€™t sing the hymns from my youth without choking up. So I fake those. But there are other beautiful hymns, and many wonderful prayers. Plus, the sermons are shorter and there is less guilt!
And Jesus is taking me back, a Jesus more profound and mysterious than I had imagined.
As much as we seem to hate to talk about it, there’s a lot of overlap between marketing and evangelism. Â Both are an attempt to convey information in a convincing way. Â There are also many differences, but just bear with me for the sake of the exercise.
A standard marketing tool is the “Elevator Pitch.” Â The scenario behind this tool is that you step into an elevator with someone who is a possible client. Â You have the time between when the elevator doors close and when they open at the destination floor to make your pitch. Â You don’t have to get all the information across in the pitch – just enough to pique the interest of the person so you can then exchange information and follow up later. Â Salesmen and consultants write, memorize, and rehearse their elevator pitch so that when the time comes, they are ready to deliver it.
How does this relate to evangelism? Â In my experiences with this as both a lay and an ordained person, the opportunity to witness to Jesus from our Episcopal experience usually comes upon us at suddenly. Â At some point in a conversation, things turn to religion and people ask about my church. Â I then have a very short window to explain. Â I don’t have to explain everything in that short time. Â I need to get them interested, and usually put them at ease that even though I’m a Christian, I’m not going to start throwing bibles at them or insulting their gay friends. Â Deeper conversations can come out of this first encounter.
Therefore, the BLOGFORCE challenge this week is to write an “Elevator Pitch” of no more than 250 words for the Episcopal Church. Â This is an open challenge – we invite anyone to respond. Â Instructions on how to participate are below. Â We will be re-posting blog entries throughout the week on Acts8 Social Media and then putting up a “Roundup” post on Monday morning.
The Rev. David Simmons, ObJN
Acts8 BLOGFORCE Wing Commander
A couple of links on Elevator Pitches:
How do I participate in the Blogforce?
Simply blog your answer on your own site, then:
1. Paste this code at the bottom of your post – note that it is code so you will probably need to switch to HTML view in your blog editor:
<p align="center"><a href="http://bf2.frdavid.org"><img alt="" src="https://www.acts8movement.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/blogforceparticipant.gif" width="290" height="73" /></a></p>
It will look like this:
2. Send the permanent link and the 250 word or less pitch itself to firstname.lastname@example.org. Â This should be done by no later than 5PM Central Time on Sunday. Â On Monday, the pitches will be re-posted with links. Â At that point, the provided code will point to the round-up page instead of here.
The editorial board of Acts8 reserves the right to decline submissions that are deemed offensive or do not uphold the Guiding Principles.
The question posed to the BLOGFORCEÂ this week: Â “What does it mean to be a 21st Century Missionary Society?”
*We at war. We at war with terrorism, racism-but most of all, we at war
with ourselves.* – Kanye West, “Jesus Walks”
For quite a while now, the Episcopal Church has been at war with ourselves. Â Ever since I joined the church in 2004, we’ve been arguing about one thingÂ or another, from consecrating openly gay bishops to electing a womanÂ Presiding Bishop (who is either the devil or the second coming, dependingÂ on who is talking) to forcing the denominational headquarters to sell itsÂ building on Second Avenue in Manhattan. The official name of our church’sÂ central office is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of theÂ Episcopal Church, yet no one seems to know what it means to be a missionaryÂ in today’s society, where everyone knows about Jesus and many don’t reallyÂ have a great opinion of him.
Steve Pankey blogs:Â 21st Century MissionaryÂ Societies
After several years of hard-knocks, the term “Missionary” and “Missionary Society” are becoming all the rage again. At least in the dorky-Episcopal circles that I run in. The official corporate name of The Episcopal Church is The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.Â Over the years, the Church has taken on various nicknames and acronyms for herselfâ€¦Â Currently, she likes to be called The Episcopal Church or TEC, but the insiders, those who work to keep this giant multimillion dollar machine running and writing them paychecks have taken to calling her “The Missionary Society.”Â I, for one, applaud their chutzpah.
Adam Trambley blogs:Â Five Marks of a Missionary Society
A successful missionary society is going to include the following fiveÂ components as an essential part of its life: prayer; responsibility forÂ individual evangelism; focus on making disciples; accountability; takingÂ people from the harvest to work in the harvest.
David Simmons blogs:Â Assumed Ecumenism and the Missionary Society
Ecumenism is not a sexy thing. Â But the ecumenical movement has in some ways succeeded beyond its dreams. Â Many young people already live an “Assumed Ecumenism.” Â They see the essential unity of the church in Jesus. Â American denominationalism is a distraction from mission. If we approach the missionization of our culture from the vantage point of proclaiming “The Episcopal Church,” we will fail. Â We may succeed if we proclaim Jesus in a way that is grounded in the baptismal covenant and common prayer.
Megan CastellanÂ blogs: Sitting on the Floor of the Airport
Â As we contemplate the re visioning of the Church into a missionary society, we should take care to move to where the Spirit is already gathering people, even when this appears to be a place without status or privilege, like the floor of an airport.
Frank Logue blogs: A 21st Century Missionary Society
The only difference in a 21st century missionary society is that we need to let go of recent inventions like buildings dedicated to Christian worship called churches, or seats in those buildings called pews, or instruments in those buildings called pipe organs, and anything else that gets in the way of sharing the Good News. We just have to remember what the goal is and beginning with the end of sharing Godâ€™s love in mind, consider what tools best get us there.
Interested in blogging for the BLOGFORCE? Â This was a test run with limited invitation. Â Future BLOGFORCE questions will be open. Â See here for more details.
Acts8 is moving forward with a new project, the:
The purpose of the Blogforce is to pose questions that explore Acts8’s purpose of “Proclaiming Resurrection in the Episcopal Church.” Â This week, we’re running a test of this concept with members of the steering committee providing the posts. Â More about the Blogforce and how you can participate in future questions can be found on its page.
The question posed this week is, “What does it mean to be a 21st century Missionary Society?” Â Look for a post on Friday containing links and abstracts to the answers people have provided.
BLOGFORCE Wing Commander
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