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7 Reasons for TEC’s Decline
Posted: 12 January 2011 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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From my weblog, Kevin on Congregations, in four posts: Reason 1, Reasons 2 and 3, Reasons 4 and 5, Reasons 6 and 7.

I want to build on my article in The Living Church to point to seven reasons for the continuing decline of the Episcopal Church. I am going to spend time in my blog covering these items.

#1 Our society is becoming increasingly more secular particularly among the people who we have historically attracted.

This may seem surprising to mention this when 82% of the population continues to believe in God and a very high percentage believe that Jesus was divine, but the numbers are secondary as to who believes these things.

The truth is that increasingly our society functions as a secular society and this is driven by intellectual leaders and opinion framers. Importantly for Episcopalians is that our demographic — highly educated people — are the most secular of all. In the U.S., the higher someone is educated the more they tend to disbelieve.

This is even made more difficult for us by what Peter Steinke calls “The Rise of Militant Atheism.” While only about 6% of the population claim to be atheists, those who are, particularly in the University setting, are much more openly critical of religion.

Recently Bill Maher was asked if he was opposed to building the Mosque near ground zero. His reply expresses the popularized atheistic view. “Yes, I am opposed to building a Mosque. I am also opposed to building a church or a temple of any kind anywhere.” He then went on to express that humanity needs to outgrow religion and a belief in God, and then he expressed the further belief that religions have become a danger to humans — a popular expression of Christopher Hitchens’“God is Not Great!”

This is all an expression of a growing hostility to religion in the public market place. All this hurts mainline Christians and especially Episcopalians because of our strong connection to education and the educated elite. So, the people that we often reach are becoming less and less likely to find any need for religion and especially the church.

What is needed in the face of all this is a more assertive proclamation of the value of our faith than many Episcopalians, especially clergy are comfortable giving. Certainly our “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” expresses the DNA of a once socially acceptable Church (dare we say DNA of a State Church) that sees little need to justify our existence.

What we should be doing, of course is reading Dawkins, Hawking and Hitchens and learning how to develop a current apologetic for the place of Christianity in our culture. What we seem to be doing is trying to strike some sort of cultural accommodation to this shift. Of course, a multi-cultural and inclusive church welcoming of all people is irrelevant to people who question the good of any church whatsoever.

Behind all this are both theological and mission issues too complex to go into here. What I am saying is this. One major reason TEC is in decline is because our society is becoming more and more indifferent to the church and in many ways hostile to it.

One modest proposal I keep making to folks is that we need to develop a post-seminary mission training center that prepares our clergy to be mission clergy in a secular world rather than chaplain clergy to a believing world. Maybe if I keep saying it, some will begin to listen.

The second and third reasons for the decline of TEC on my list of seven key reasons have to do with young people.

#2. The failure to keep and to recruit younger generations of people, especially younger than boomers!

#3. The failure to recruit younger lay and ordained leaders

Of course we have wonderful younger people in the Episcopal Church. Our own parish has some extraordinary younger members. The diocese has an outstanding ministry to younger people, as does my former Diocese, Texas.

However, nothing points to our continued decline more than this simple fact; for almost my entire life, I have been near the median age of Episcopalians. I joined the Church when I was 12 and I am now 64! This means that during this time span, our community has continued to age. Today, the typical Episcopalian is a 61 year old, college educated, white female.

Among some of the reasons for this failure to keep and recruit younger people, I would list the following:

1. The abandonment in the early ’70s of a National Curriculum for Church Schools.

2. The failure to have a unified teaching and age for confirmation, and the lack of emphasis by our bishops of the place on confirmation.

3. The moment toward ordination to an older and older age, along with making ordination almost exclusively a “second career” track for people.

These two reasons are closely related because it is younger leaders who have the best chance of reaching their own generation for Christ. So for a person ordained at 27, number 3 is critical. I was ordained in the year in which the Commission on Ministry System was instituted in the Episcopal Church. While I understand the reasons and certainly the rationale for such a system, I think it has not served the Church well. For example, we have greatly underestimated the dynamic of a committee selecting candidates for ministry. Simply said, a committee tends to recruit toward the median of the committee in age, education and experience.

A second dynamic is that this system was to be “advisory” to Bishops. Today, almost all bishops defer the decision making to the Commission on Ministry. Few would ever attempt to ordain a person against a majority vote of the Commission. So COMs are now “selection committees” in most dioceses.

Since 1971, I have listened to countless justifications for our current way of doing things, but the most common one is “Well, our system has flaws, but it is so much better than what we had before.” When I compare the extraordinary clergy who came into the ordained ministry between 1945 and 1970 versus today, I think such a justification is nonsense.

What I think is needed is a concerted effort of Bishops, Commissions on Ministry, and Standing Committees to recruit young leaders to ordained ministry. Let me be clear, I have no objection to ordaining people past 40, but these should represent a minority of our ordained folks, not the vast majority.

#4 Failure to reach out to new and ethnically divergent people.

#5 Failure to plan new congregations, especially among new and ethnically divergent people.

This is a very hard thing to point out to Episcopalians. We see ourselves as a church that is inclusive of all people. I do think it is true that most churches want to be open places, and many individual congregations have become more diverse in the past two decades. However, what I mean here brings us into that uncomfortable place between what we want to believe about ourselves and what we actually are.

I often say at clergy conferences that “I have been a priest so long at 39 years that I can remember when we had a significant number of African-Americans, even African-American congregations, and I can remember when we had a large number of blue-collar congregations. This usually makes clergy nervous because, of course, our self perception is that the Episcopal Church has become more diverse and more open to other people over the last generation. Simply said, we have not. As I said, I do think we have more congregations that have conscientiously added some ethnic and cultural diversity, but this is not what I mean. What I mean is that we have failed to form new congregations among the newer arrivals to America.

At the 2009 General Convention, the Joint Committee on Evangelism backed a proposed initiative from our Hispanic Leadership put together by our Hispanic Officer, Antony Guillan at 815. This was a visionary initiative aimed especially at the most receptive people in North America to the Episcopal Church, namely Latinos. If this initiative had been both embraced and funded by TEC, we could have seen considerable new ministry, new congregations, and new Latino members. Tragically, in the across-the-board slash of our tri-annual budget, most of the needed funding for this initiative was lost. This reflects a continued failure on our part to reach out to the significant number of immigrants now present among us.

Our strategy seems to be that if we have a sign that says “the Episcopal Church Welcomes You” or “We Are Here for You,” they will come. Another way to say this is that once people speak our language, dress like us, and are comfortable sitting in a church where the majority of those present are white, upper middle-class, Americans, they will certainly be welcome. This is poor mission strategy.

The denominations making considerable strides in reaching diverse people have learned to plant whole congregations made up of precisely the people they intend to reach. These are led by lay and ordained leaders who are from these groups.

We seem inhibited in trying this proven strategy because we are (a) insensitive to the needs of newly arrived people, and (b) so caught up in our own sense of being an open and inclusive people that we think it would be bad to plan such a strategy.

Ironically, what has happened to TEC in the last 30 years is that we are becoming less diverse, not more so. I commend all Episcopal leaders to read Harold Lewis’“Yet with a Steady Beat” to see documentation of our abandonment of ministry among African-Americans.

It certainly is true that we are becoming more gender inclusive. I would just point out that there are significant numbers of “other” people for whom we should develop an intentional missionary strategy.

If you have been reading my blogs, you will notice that if you consider younger generation folks as “new and divergent” than my items 2, 3, 4, and 5 are all inter-related, and I believe they are. They all represent our inability to develop an intentional missionary strategy to reach people different from our present membership.

If you are looking for good news in my blogs on this topic, here is some. There are a few dioceses that are learning to do exactly this kind of intentional missionary strategy. Let’s hope and pray that this becomes contagious.

#6 The failure to plant enough new congregations to replace aging, declining, and dying Churches.

At the General Convention in Philadelphia, the Standing Commission on Evangelism offered a resolution that the Episcopal Church aim at a goal of planting new congregations at the rate of 1% of our present number. Just two months earlier, I had attended a conference of denominational congregational development officers and heard Lyle Schaller offer that denominations need a 3% new church planting rate to maintain themselves. Of course, fast growing denominations such as The Vineyard plant at a much faster rate, and ironically some of our off-shoot Anglican groups in the U.S. are doing much better too. So Even if we would have been able to reach the 1% number in those days, approximately 76 new Episcopal Churches a year, we would still have lost ground. Of course, this is also connects to an earlier point about reaching new ethnic folks by planting new churches among them.

#7 The failure to develop a systematic approach to the revitalization of present existing congregations.

There is, of course, a great deal of information on congregational revitalization, and a number of places such as the Alban Institute that can help this process. My point is that seldom does a diocese create a systematic plan for this. When I studied the history of new church planting in TEC, I discovered that the most recent period of extensive church planting was in the 20 years following WWII. This means that many of these congregations went through a predictable life cycle peaking between 1975 and 1990, and that now we have a large number of churches that need planned revitalization. This is not the same as waiting until such a parish has a serious enough crisis to ask for help. This is creative and intentional intervention. A diocese should not wait for leaders in the local community to come to the realization that their church is in decline and needs revitalization or re-visioning.

As part of this, in recent years we have seen in TEC is a large number of formerly “Pastoral-size” churches (ASA of between 85 and 150 Sundays) decline to “Family-size” ones. This will have a number of other important impacts on our community. One primary example is ordination because the Pastoral-size church is one able to sustain the services of a full-time seminary trained clergy person.

One last word on these two items: leaders often pit these two issues against one another. For example, when we started planting new congregations in the Diocese of Texas, we got a great deal of resistance from clergy in present congregations. They argued that if we invested such money in them, they had greater potential to grow. However, studies have consistently shown that new plants grow much more rapidly than existing congregations. More importantly is the knowledge that new plants (a) reach people that present congregations will not reach, and (b) new congregations often discover critical information on reaching new people that, when shared, help present congregations do better at reaching new people. So, new church planting and present congregational revitalization are parallel and complimentary works not competitive ones.

Next blog: “If, Then” — what to do and where to start changing the future of TEC.
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Posted: 19 January 2011 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I think there may be parts of TEC which have not experienced a decline in membership, but I don’t live there.  So many groups to reach out to that we’re not reaching out to, like African Americans; I’ll have to read Harold Lewis’ book. And people in lower socio-economic groups.—Interesting what Kevin said about no longer being a chaplain to believers, but a missionary to non-believers.—I do have an idea for reaching people who like to think (often but not always already Episcopalians), are in the habit of questioning, etc. (whether you call them “intellectuals” or not).  The only really well organized program for doing so is EFM, and it’s very expensive and time-consuming (4 year commitment, over $100 per year I think—and tends, in some parishes, to drain people away from other ministries).  But the big attraction of EFM is that it’s organized and written by well-informed THEOLOGIANS who help people learn the history of the church and Christianity in general (some academic rigour) and to think through and discuss difficult questions.  I wish there were a much cheaper, more flexible version of EFM, which used the talents of seminarians and professors in seminaries all over the country, and which was available to whoever in the church wanted it and at convenient times.  FOR INSTANCE:  the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer sponsored a “Day to Pray” in the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2000.  All day long there was a terrific choice of workshops given gratis by professors from Trinity School of Ministry and perhaps Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, also.  It was very well attended, but took a lot of organizing.  The next year attendance was down (it conflicted with parish spring-cleanup days). —Those of us in AFP nationally are looking for a way to do our ministry which answers a need.  People really don’t seem to want to attend expensive conferences, even with excellent speakers.  But maybe there’s a way to do good teaching on our website on topics that people want to know about.  I’m wondering if there are seminarians out there who’d be willing to help design and put material on our AFP website for no remuneration other than that it would be a form of mission.  And maybe they could get some academic credit for doing so.  The topics would be tied in to prayer, which is the bottom line for our mission.  But I do think the major points of church doctrine are soundly grounded in prayer.

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Posted: 19 January 2011 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Thank you for some very good observations and suggestions.

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Posted: 19 January 2011 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Thank you!—Right now I’m looking for material for the AFP website (http://www.afp.org) for Epiphany.  I found some prayers I hadn’t seen before on-line, thanks to the Vanderbilt University Divinity School Library—they were part of the Revised Common Lectionary of Prayers, written in 2000.  I think I gave proper credit for their use.  But I wish I had access, also, to an original, fresh, academically sound, and cost-free teaching on some aspect of Epiphany that would intrigue people, make them think they’d learned something useful about the faith, and lead them to prayer and some type of service they might feel called to.  Then I could write to our whole AFP e-mail list and refer people to it, and when we wish bishops happy birthday, refer them to it and ask them to share it in their dioceses.

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Posted: 19 January 2011 08:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Kevin,

I think you left out the biggest reason for our decline.  The constant and highly public fighting between groups within TEC.  First it was about women in ministry to begin with (women on the Vestry, women as delegates to General Convention) then about women’s ordination and the new BCP.  Now it is about the proper use of sexuality and the nature of the Church.  We have been involved in an ecclesial civil war for the past 50 years and we wonder why we are bleeding members?

I believe that you indicated at a Diocese of Dallas Convention worship a few years ago that if you knew of serious conflict at a congregation, that congregation was the last place you wanted visitors to go.

Until we resolve our internal disputes about the nature of Christ, the nature of the Church and the limits of autonomy within community and the limits (if any) on the actions of General Convention, then all the other stuff will make only slight difference. 

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

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Posted: 19 January 2011 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Fr. Snyder, you are no doubt right.  Perhaps study—serious, academic study, and not for the purpose of argument, but for Christian formation and spiritual growth-and made available to all (without hindrances of tuition cost, transportation, etc.—done as a form of mission by seminary students and teachers and graduates, not to mention parish clergy)—prayer, and the devotion that goes with it—and service, doing what’s “in front of our face” in the way of helping others, visiting the sick, etc.—and not focusing so much on those areas of dispute would help lift us past them.

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Posted: 19 January 2011 09:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Phil,
I think the conflict a factor, but I wouldn’t say the biggest, after all most congregations do not sustain the level of conflict that our denomination has had.  Parishes tend to be places of greater harmony most of the time.  What our conflict has done is up the number of folks exiting the Episcopal Church.  We still have many congregations still counted as part of TEC that are no longer within TEC.  It takes a great deal of administrative effort, not to mention the canonical process, to remove congregations.  This also means that we will see the decline in numbers continue.  It is much harder to access is the number of folks reluctant to enter TEC because of the conflict.  This raises the question of what I like to call “our public profile.”  My question is this: While we have managed to make the papers in the last few years, how many people outside TEC really know about us, enough to know about our controversy.

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Posted: 20 January 2011 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Dear Kevin,

Two things:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/Episcopal_Overview_FACT_2008.pdf
This report looks at conflict and says in the section on conflict - worth reading - the bold emphasis is mine.

􀂾 90% of Episcopal congregations reported having
conflicts or disagreements in the last five years (up from 86% in 2000, but down slightly from 93% in 2005). 64% of churches reported at least one area of serious conflict.
􀂾 Declining congregations tended to have more
overall conflict and more areas of serious conflict.
􀂾 Conflict over leadership and conflict over worship
were the areas most strongly related to decline in
attendance.
􀂾 Of congregations that had serious conflict:
• Some members left the church: 89%
• Some members withheld funds: 45%
• A staff member was dismissed or reassigned: 18%
Conflict in Episcopal Parishes Over Last Five
Years
Multiple serious conflicts, 35%
Only minor conflict, 26%
No conflict, 10%
At least one serious conflict, 30%

􀂾 The ordination of gay priests or bishops was the
most frequently mentioned source of conflict.

􀂾 Other areas of conflict volunteered by congregations:
• Conflict with diocese or Bishop
• Music program or music director
• Misconduct by clergy or members

This would tend to support Phil.  The conflicts are rising somewhat and the “Issue” is out there.

Second I was confronted by a Peruvian colleague who was emphatic that the Anglican Church here is referred to by some of the RC folk as the Homosexual Church.  This is our “reputation” in a country that is over 80% RC and in fact we are as conservative and orthodox as any in the GS.  Our bishop has often publicly stated that the Anglican Church in Peru opposes these TEC and AC of C innovations/heresies.

So our conflict is having an effect on TEC congregations, and it has effected our reputation and missionary effectiveness here in Peru.

Blessings - Ian

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Posted: 20 January 2011 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Thanks Ian for correcting my impressions with the facts.  I had read the first part of this report.  I shall upgrade conflict on my hierarchy of reasons for decline. 

Let me also mention that in the Alban Institute’s work on new member ministry, they list “resolving conflict” as one of the primary works of the rector in attracting newcomers - saying that having a harmonious congregation is a key in attracting new folks.

So yes, the conflict has been important and I would not want to underestimate it.  I could write about the 8 reasons for decline, however, seven is a biblical number.  What I do wonder is if there is anything any of us can do about the conflict at the point of time.  I do think my seven reasons are things that we can do something about.

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Posted: 20 January 2011 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Kevin:  Thanks for your postings here and on your site.  I would tend to agree with the other comments that there are more reasons for TEC’s decline.  I remain in TEC because I am a clergy spouse.  But if that wasn’t the case, I doubt I would remain, even though I consider myself now irretrievably Anglican.  The reason that the vast majority of TEC parishes hold no appeal to me (and I have sampled a very large number) is that there is usually no Christian vision or imagination present in them.  I am not suggesting that they “aren’t Christian”, that is not my point.  What I am saying is that I am typically left wondering “why are these people doing all this?  What’s their purpose?”  It seems that most TEC parishes are very proud of their music program or of their historic building or of their prestigious membership or sophistication or of their potluck suppers.  But if you aren’t into any of that, there isn’t really much of a reason to go there.

Back in the day, when I was in graduate school at a major public university, I began attending the TEC college chaplaincy.  After a while, I found that it offered no solid food either intellectually or spiritually.  It seemed to me that the chaplaincy was there to babysit students and try to keep them in TEC’s fold with entertainments and attempts to be “hip”.  I ended up attending a local Christian Reformed congregation that had a heavy student and professor attendance and found that at this congregation, they addressed questions of faith in a serious and intellectual way, and the worship services were spirit-filled (though I hugely missed the liturgical structure) and had a purpose.  I still would attend the dry-as-dust (spiritually speaking) evening Eucharist though as that remained very important to me.

But I suppose that my overall point is that one of the reasons that I would advance for TEC’s decline is that there often is no “there” there at too many TEC parishes.  I don’t know quite how else to put it.

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Posted: 20 January 2011 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Thanks James for your observations.  I like to say it this way, in today’s world, one must build a congregation on vision and values.  Building on history or architecture or most things that hold churches together won’t work in today’s world. 

Let me add that conflict often divides folks because there is no real vision that transcends the conflict.

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Posted: 20 January 2011 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I was in a TEC parish in Ashland, KY for 11 years (1970s and early 1980s) where there truly was a “vision that transcended conflict.”  When we left Ashland, we were lucky to be going to the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where that same vision was present in many places. Sadly, the vision did not remain in strength in either place;  in Ashland, the rector who was able to help the congregation transcend those differences and carry out the vision in many ways left.  And everyone knows what happened in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.  Kevin’s article is very welcome to those of us (many had been active in Cursillo and other groups that helped build the vision) who want to build the vision back up here.  I found out about Kevin’s article on the Barnabas Fellowship blog, which I highly recommend to people who want to join and work with those who see hope in TEC.  One of the names for the Barnabas Fellowship is “No Plan B.”  We may be small, but we plan to keep going.  AFP these days is small, too, but we hope others will see in us a possibility for holding up the vision and that those of us with the skills I mentioned above—or who just care—will join us.

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Posted: 20 January 2011 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Celinda, Thanks for your good words.  You also allow me to clarify an important matter.  Because I have often written about the decline of TEC, there are some folks who believe that I want this to happen.  Nothing could be further from the truth. I have worked for 39 years as a Priest of the Church to strengthen and build up the congregations that I have served and in recent years to teach and build up other congregations.  I have a two-fold reason for writing about the decline.  First is because leaders need to start with the current realities; knowing where we have been and were we are helps us lead to the future.  Second is because if we diagnose clearly what is wrong, we can attempt to correct it.

I am sadly disappointed by much of our national leadership many of whom seem committed only to assuring everyone that “all will be well,” and seem to have such little interest in congregational vitality, let alone the great commission and the great commandment.  I do find great signs among congregations and even creative leadership on Diocesan levels, and many of our younger clergy are an encouragement to me.

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Posted: 29 January 2011 11:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Thank you for your post and observations on TEC’s decline.  As a permanent deacon in TEC on the younger side of the age spectrum (I’m 32-years old), I find myself concerned as well for the future of our Church.  Unfortunately, TEC does not have a strong culture of evangelism.  I frequently discuss church growth with friends who are active members of other denominations, and I find, unsurprisingly, that churches that encourage their youth or young adults to evangelize not only see an increase in numbers from new converts, but also tend to see more devout youth and young adults who want to serve their church.  This, of course, draws in even more youth and young adults, many of whom then get married in the church and subsequently raise children in the church.

To address this, I really feel that TEC needs to structure a serious domestic and overseas evangelism program in which youth and young adults are expected to serve as missionaries for a certain period of time (perhaps different programs ranging from a summer to a full year) to seek out converts.  I realize the concept of going out on missions to convert people to Christ does not seem very Episcopalian - but that’s precisely the problem!  If we don’t engage in the Great Commission because it doesn’t settle comfortably with our polite notions of etiquette, then it should come as no surprise that our Church is in decline. 

Does anyone on this message board know of a similar program that exists at the diocesan or even parish level?  If so, what have been the results?  I would love to pursue this idea or something like with other folks in TEC to try to make it a reality.

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Posted: 29 January 2011 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Coming up the day after tomorrow (January 31) is the proposed commemoration in “Holy Women, Holy Men” of a great Episcopal evangelist, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Moor Shoemaker.  I think of myself as an evangelical because of him. He was rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, in 1957 when my family moved to Pittsburgh and we attended that church (it was within walking distance).  I was 19.  Part of Calvary’s mission at that time was to send Dr. Sam’s weekly sermons to members of college age,  and I looked forward to those sermons every week while I was at Cornell.  For two years after I graduated, my future husband and I attended Calvary and Dr. Sam married us in 1961. —There is quite a bit of information about how he went about evangelizing—he did much of what you suggest, and he wrote several books.  He believed in the power of the Holy Spirit and talked a lot about it.— When Calvary celebrated his proposed feast day last year, a number of the “young people” he influenced in the 1950s—now in their 70s and 80s—told story after story about what his preaching meant, the small groups he started, the Pittsburgh Experiment, etc.  The same thing is proposed for the celebration this year.  His wife, Helen, started the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer.  Small groups were and are a basis of that, too.  I could go on and on about both Shoemakers.  It was quite a downer when we moved to a succession of towns and cities in the midwest for the next 11 years—Episcopalians we encountered either hadn’t heard of “Sam,” or they were leery of his evangelicalism.  But when we were in eastern Kentucky 1973-83 the rector of the church there had been influenced by Dr. Shoemaker and insisted that our parish be “Christ Centered.”  I could go on and on about that, too, and what it meant.  When we moved back to Pittsburgh in 1983 Bishop Hathaway had been fairly recently consecrated, and the spirit of evangelism was there again.  Sadly, many of those who kept it alive left the church a couple of years ago.  Many seeds that had been planted stopped being nourished when some of those leaders left.  But those of us who remain have not given up. —I think part of Dr. Shoemaker’s success in evangelizing was that he did not criticize others in the church, at least to my knowledge;  his witness for Christ was strong and positive and persistent and open.

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Posted: 30 January 2011 12:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Mrs. Scott - Thank you for sharing how evangelism helped strengthen the faith you and your husband had when you were young adults and in college!  I find it reassuring that TEC has pockets of experience like this in her history.  Let’s pray that experiences like yours can inspire a new generation of evangelists and missionaries in the Episcopal Church.

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