“A Way Forward” is a step forward for the Episcopal Church

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The Episcopal Church recently published “A Way Forward: Reflections, Resources & Stories Concerning Ferguson, Racial Justice & Reconciliation” on its website.

It’s exciting to see the church responding to a pressing social issue in a timely fashion, and I hope this is what we can look forward to from some of the recently-hired staff members like Heidi Kim the missioner for racial reconciliation and Charles Wynder, Jr., missioner for social justice and advocacy engagement.

Two suggestions for future efforts: 1. Enlist someone with some editorial sense, an eye for design and a feel for social media in the project. (In fact, consider collaborating with Episcopal News Service in order to make the whole presentation more visually accessible, timely and interactive.)

2. Please stop using the phrase Missionary Society, as in: “The clergy and laity of congregations in Greater St. Louis joined the people of Ferguson, Florrisant, and St. Louis County in deep solidarity. The Missionary Society and Episcopal Relief & Development provided a significant grant to assist local parishes in their local mission of justice, transformation and reconciliation.”

God bless the staff–which is the entity described by the peculiar, obfuscatory phrase The Missionary Society–but it doesn’t provide grants. The people of the Episcopal Church, through the General Convention budget, provide grants. The phrase Missionary Society suggests that the staff of the church is not a group of employees who are accountable in some fashion to the organization that pays their salaries, but an independent body of limited membership doing work in which the rest of us take no part, and over which the General Convention has no control.

The church is well served by efforts to make itself and its work accessible to a wider audience, as the folks behind “A Way Forward are Doing.” We are much less well served by unnecessary and politically problematic efforts to brand the staff.

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Chris Arnold
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My dear brother Jim, I'm strangely delighted to find myself agreeing with you again. This is, I think, twice in a week! Someone will of course pop up to say that we are all members of DFMS, but this hardly helps the confusion you rightly highlight.

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