Thursday, June 26, 2008

Winding Down and Wondering

As I wind down my time here in Seattle and my time at the Church Development Institute (CDI), I find myself with thoughts that are turning to the Episcopal Church and my own diocese and congregation. At the same time, I find myself with an inordinate amount of time and a high-speed Internet connection with which to surf the web for various and sundry tidbits about what is going on these days. While doing so, I came across a great blog entry from Fr. Tony Clavier which, among other things, includes this wonderment:
But have the losses [in membership in the Episcopal Church] we have sustained been largely the fault of "The 1960s Religious Establishment" or of our own lack of enthusiasm?
As someone who was born in 1968 I was largely a child of "The 1960s Religious Establishment." The only real memory I have of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is that of removing it from the pews so that the "new" prayer book could take its place. Perhaps the fact that this is the world I have lived in my entire life predisposes me to a more liberal-leaning worldview. On the other hand, I find myself theologically conservative on many issues. As both a centrist and a self-styled Evangelical, I wonder if Fr. Clavier has a point there: What if the numerical decline of the Episcopal Church is not due to theology but to our lack of enthusiasm for our faith?

I submit that if we as the members of the church cannot articulate why their faith makes a difference in their lives, why we come to church, and what is worth sharing about the Episcopal version of being Christian we should not be surprised when people don't beat down the red church doors clamoring to join us. Perhaps what Episcopalians need much more than a cohesive theological statement is both a competence and a comfort in articulating our own individual faith stories and an enthusiasm for what Jesus Christ means to us and what is means to be a Christian of the Episcopal flavor. If such an identity means nothing to us, we should not be surprised that it means nothing to anyone else, either. Perhaps the question might be asked of each of us: "What's your story?"

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