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Adventures in branding: What it means to be ‘the Missionary Society’

Adventures in branding: What it means to be ‘the Missionary Society’

“Apparently The Episcopal Church is now all set to become The Missionary Society,” the Rev. Torey Lightcap writes. “No more 815. No more Church Center. No more PECUSA. No more The Episcopal Church. Henceforth, this enterprise is The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.” He goes on:

I have to say this is tiring, but nevertheless it’s a conversation worth having.

The immediate issue this presents is twofold, with two geographic centers of concern. To put these succintly,

1. In the spiritual-but-not-religious United States, “missionary” is a term freighted with deep-seated psychological baggage, specifically the image of Christians so blinded by zealotry as to be immune to the actual needs of the world but instead intent on creating Jesus delivery systems. (Did you, for example, have a chance to take in “The Book of Mormon”?) It’s a term that smacks of knowing you’re in the right and others had ought to get out of the way. …

2. In many other areas of the world, the term remains even more deeply problematic, even more deeply entrenched. It smacks of imperialism, colonialism — genocide, warfare, germs, defenestration of kings, cultures, systems of self-governance, ideas, whole libraries, ways of being. It has yet to be effectively separated from colonialism as a category, yet we no longer live in that age.

So there are your two prongs of trouble, and they’re guaranteed to cause heartache down the line if this new name is adopted into common use. However, these prongs are attached to a more current systemic issue holding them together — the precise point at which this decision was made.

Read his full post here.

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Eric Bonetti

It would be great if the crowd at 815 really got out and about and heard what is going on in TEC. Whether it is the recent ill-fated ads or the gulf of understanding between the PB and some laity, one of the best ways to foster growth and reconciliation is to meet face to face. Far better to put resources behind this sort of effort than these silly, “crabs in a basket” exercises.

So, +++ Katharine, if you read this, consider this your invite to come visit us here in Northern VA. The last few years have been bumpy for us, we’d love to see you, and my parish is gloriously beautiful at Christmas. Just sayin”….

Ann Fontaine

I find it amusing that the “new” linkages to Dioceses is news. We had that in place in the 80s (maybe before that too) — each staff member was assigned to a diocese – and showed up at Diocesan Convention and regular communication with a diocese (or maybe 2 or 3). Can’t remember that much came from it nor who ours (Wyoming) was but it did make us feel like someone knew we existed (an ongoing issue for Wyoming – often believed to be a myth)

seantmcconnell

I have heard presentations on how the new staffing structure is supposed to work and have not once heard it said that this is a re-naming or re-structuring of The Episcopal Church. This is about the staff of an entity that was incorporated in 1821 as The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (try fitting that on a business card… or a billboard for that matter).

As acronyms start becoming a thing of the past (Thank God!), why continue to refer to the staff of the incorporation (or the incorporation itself) as DFMS. Also, after D010 at 2009’s General Convention, the whole church agreed to remove references to TEC as a U.S. or “National” entity. So, actually, striking the words “Domestic and Foreign” from the name of the incorporation should have been done four years ago, but hey, this is the church, and things do still happen in church time.

I do agree with Torey that the word “missionary” is loaded, but it’s not like it came out of nowhere as a new branding ploy… It actually seems like evolution is moving in the right way, albeit very slowly.

As to the structure, this is a new way for the staff to work more closely with dioceses to be responsive to the needs as they are declared by those dioceses. To hear Ranjit Matthews talk about how he will begin developing relationships with California, Northern California and El Camino Real, and how excited he is about those relationships says nothing about polity or governance structure and everything about relationship and connection.

I do hope that we can all work on our relationships, as we all continue to fulfill our baptismal vows which are all about relationship, and as we continue to be in the world as The Episcopal Church… all of us together… which includes the staffing structure now referring to themselves as The Missionary Society.

Liz Zivanov+

I totally agree with Mike and with Torey. If anything, I’d drop DFMS completely. It’s anachronistic and no one outside a small inner circle even knows it exists, let alone what it stands for. But the larger question: By what authority was this change made or “suggested”? Not enough to do at 815? Someone needs some instruction in branding. We are The Episcopal Church.

Liz Zivanov+

I totally agree with Mike and with Torey. If anything, I’d drop DFMS completely. It’s anachronistic and no one outside a small inner circle even knows it exists, let alone what it stands for. But the larger question: By what authority was this change made or “suggested”? Not enough to do at 815? Someone needs some instruction in branding. We are The Episcopal Church.

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