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Episcopal buzzwords, and how they fail

Episcopal buzzwords, and how they fail

Jesse Zink has a few thoughts on the various maxims, slogans, symbols, buzzwords and bromides that define, or, more often, fail to define the Episcopal Church, and its role in the Anglican Communion.

I don’t find many of these particularly helpful. I can never remember the Five Marks of Mission, mainly because they don’t really grab me. I think the Millennium Development Goals promote a shopping-list mentality among churches that prize dollars and cents over relationships. The Decade of Evangelism is very well-remembered in the non-western Anglican Communion (an archdeacon in Nigeria last summer told me, “The Decade of Evangelism saved the Church in Nigeria”) but I rarely hear anyone in the U.S. talk about it.

The thing of it is, despite our wonderful slogans we still seem to have difficulty articulating what the Episcopal Church is and is for (though we seem to have no problem articulating what it is not). And, we lack a clear sense of what mission is, which results in something like the Sauls’ resolution’s very thin idea of mission.

There is much to find depressing in all this but two stand out. First, these slogans replace genuine theological engagement with inconsistent and confusing sound-bites. Second, they betray the assumption that we all know what we’re talking about when we say something so we don’t need to bother figuring out what it means. This is never a good assumption to make.


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C. Wingate

Well, actually the out crowd uses “815”; the in crowd says “we” instead.

My one thing about DFMS is that it made the old website address a lot easier to type accurately.

Tommy Dillon+

And the in, in crowd loves to use the term “815”


I confess that when I hear the Five Marks of Mission or the MDG, the slogans/symbols pass right over my head without leaving much of an impression. I also had to look up DFMS.

When I first began attending the Episcopal Church and joined the Enquirers Class, it seemed to me that Episcopalians had much less of a sense of identity than – say – Roman Catholics (where I came from) or Baptists. I knew I liked the liturgy, the quality of the sermons, and the people. Now I have more of a sense of identity, but I don’t know that I’m good at conveying the identity of the Episcopal Church to others. I’m left with the thought that you have to BE present to know.

June Butler

Lois Keen

DFMS – oh dear, I had to look that up. And me a priest…

Ann Fontaine

And then there is the current ultimate in crowd – DFMS.

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