A group of General Convention deputies who came together as “The Acts 8 Moment” have created a “memorial”– a cross between a petition and a manifesto–inspired by TREC calling for the church to act decisively on what they see as a unique moment for a renewed and revitalized Church.
A group of General Convention deputies, bishops, and others have released A Memorial to the Church, calling for The Episcopal Church to “act with boldness to proclaim the gospel.” One member of the group, the Rev. Adam Trambley, deputy from the Northwest Pennsylvania said, “We hope this letter to the church will jumpstart significant action both at General Convention and among Episcopalians across the church.”
Inspired by the conversation begun by the Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church, the memorial calls for the church “to recommit itself to the spiritual disciplines at the core of our common life, to go into our neighborhoods boldly with church planters and church revitalizers, and to restructure our church for the mission God is laying before us today.”
General Convention typically considers resolutions, but The Episcopal Church’s canons and rules of order also provide for memorials, which are written in the form of letters to the church. The Muhlenberg Memorial of 1853 is perhaps the most famous of the the memorials, and while its immediate effect was slight, it changed the conversation inside the church in a way that later led to liturgical change and other shifts to meet the needs of that time. The hope is that this memorial will lead to change within our church to promote evangelism and discipleship.
In addition to the Memorial, the group has proposed nine resolutions.
The Rev. Susan Brown Snook, deputy from Arizona, said, “In addition to the memorial, our group is offering several resolutions to enable the call to discipleship and transformation.” She added that signers to the memorial do not necessarily support any or all of the nine resolutions.
The package of resolutions includes action
— Encouraging a significant commitment to church planting
— Promoting revitalization of existing congregations
— Amending the Constitution & Canons to permit more structural flexibility
— Clarifying roles of churchwide officers
— Creating a task force to look at episcopal elections
— Eliminating the provincial structure within The Episcopal Church
Here is a portion of the Memorial:
In the eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the newly formed church of disciples of the risen Savior found itself in a new situation. No longer could Christians depend on traditional ways of following Jesus and traditional places in which to do it. Driven out of their comfortable existence praying in the Temple in Jerusalem and waiting for the kingdom to come, they found themselves in new and unexpected neighborhoods, developing new ways of proclaiming the Word. Yet they found that the crowds were eager to hear the Good News of Christ and welcomed it with joy. The very loss of the old ways of being the church gave them opportunities to expand and multiply the reach of Christ’s loving embrace.
Our beloved Episcopal Church is in a similar situation. We must find new ways of proclaiming the gospel in varied and ever changing neighborhoods. Old ways of being the church no longer apply. We can no longer settle for complacency and comfort. We can no longer claim to dominate the political and social landscape. We can no longer wait inside our sanctuaries to welcome those who want to become Episcopalian.
We have a choice before us. We can continue, valiantly and tragically, to try to save all the rights and privileges we have previously enjoyed. We can continue to watch our church dwindle until it someday becomes an endowed museum to the faith of our forebears. We can continue business as usual until we lose our common life entirely.
Or we can lose our life for Jesus’ sake so that we might save it.
Read the rest here.
The proposed resolution may be found here.
Tom Ferguson, aka Crusty Old Dean, one of the framers of the memorial, writes:
Crusty finds it timely that it is released this week, when some of the flutter in the twitterblogofacesphere has been on a new report from the Pew Research Forum….
…For anyone who’s been following the work of sociologists of North American religion, there shouldn’t be anything new in the latest Pew report. The percentage of people affiliating with Christianity is declining, and it declining even more rapidly among younger Americans….As much as we like to lament that the church doesn’t change, we also need to realize it does, and often does so rapidly. Bishops showed up at the Council of Nicaea in 325, paid for by an emperor who had legalized and openly favored Christianity, showing the scars of a brutal persecution they had lived through. Bishops who had been exiled to the salt mines in the 310s were now guests of the emperor in the 320s. Anglican clergy in the 1770s in Virginia enjoyed a church supported by taxation and by the 1780s had seen the church disestablished, huge tracts of church land taken away, and the church beginning to dwindle almost to irrelevance. We could go on.
We are in a similar process, probably have been for decades.
According to the groups media release the memorial and the resolutions were written by a drafting committee consisting of Trambley and Brown Snook, along with the Rev. Tom Ferguson; the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, deputy from Southern Ohio; the Rev. Canon Frank Logue, deputy from Georgia; Mr. Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, deputy from Indianapolis; and the Rev. Steve Pankey, deputy from Central Gulf Coast.
The Memorial provides a space for Bishops, Convention Deputies, and clergy and laity from around the Church to add their signatures.
Posted by Andrew Gerns