Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia offers thoughtful reflections on church in this interview posted at “Patheos.com”:
A Chance for a New Creation: An Interview with Bishop Greg Rickel
One of the youngest and most dynamic bishops in the Episcopal Church reflects on the relevance of the Church in a post-Christian culture.
Greg Garrett: Greg, you went from working in parishes in the American South and Southwest to serve as the Bishop of Olympia, working in the largely Post-Christian culture of the Northwest. What have you observed about what is working for the churches and people of your diocese? How can the Church continue to be relevant and draw people into the life of the spirit as the culture changes around us?
Greg Rickel: Good question, Greg, and one I get from time to time. One answer is that people are people, and even more church people are church people. That being said, what works seems to be similar too, but even more important and even crucial here: authenticity, honesty, and contextual intuition. I find that people do not so much look for a place where everyone believes “like them” as much as a place where people are real, not afraid to ask questions, and can find a safe place to be in holy disagreement.
I experienced also in the South a last vestige of the social requirement to be in church, belief not necessarily being a part of that requirement. There is none of that here, which, in some ways makes it much more authentic.
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I think many who finally step in our doors step in because of their brokenness, looking for some community to recognize that, not avoid it, provide some ways to help with it, and teach them how to pray in the midst of it. Instead, sadly, they often find people who claim to know something a bit more and above them, and a church that sometimes majors in niceness, rather than reality. I sense the younger generations looking for a fun place, yes, energy, good conversation, deep reflection about serious issues, but also a place where diversity of thought is honored and where they learn the life skills to keep that greater conversation going in their lives. In the midst of all of that they know the power of mystery, and don’t necessarily want a place of answers, but more a place of reflection, meditation, silence. True engagement, instead of the veneer of much of our religion, would be the more subtle but short way of saying it.