The Reverend Nurya Love Parish grew up unchurched, called to ministry in the Unitarian Universalist Church, educated at Harvard Divinity.
Rachel Held Evans grew up in the Bible Belt, an evangelical Christian, an author of theological books.
Both were the daughters of college professors. Both have found their places in The Episcopal Church, Parish as a priest. Says Parish:
I don’t know which one of our teenage selves would be more surprised about that.
Parish reviews Evans’ newest book on her blog, Churchwork:
I had read and loved her two earlier books, Evolving in Monkey Town (now re-released as Faith Unraveled) and A Year of Biblical Womanhood. As I did, I kept muttering under my breath, “Rachel, you would fit much better in the Episcopal Church!” But since I didn’t know Rachel at all, and I hesitate to tell even the people I know how to live their lives, I never expected she would one day feel the same.
Searching for Sunday tells the story of that journey. The book is organized into sections based on the seven sacraments of the church. Each section opens with a reflection on the meaning of that sacrament. The writing is both well-researched and beautifully crafted. The book is worth the price of admission for these sections alone, particularly if you are a preacher who needs to explain the sacraments in contemporary language. But the book goes beyond this first strength.
And as she read, she found that the book was an opportunity for connection within her own parish:
As a priest in the Episcopal Church, I look out at a living, changing congregation every Sunday. A few years ago I started noticing that a significant number of new people weren’t coming from other Episcopal congregations. They weren’t coming from Lutheran or Methodist or Catholic churches. They were coming from evangelical, nondenominational churches, and they were discovering the liturgies and sacraments of the church for the first time.
I always wondered: what were the questions that led them out of their former churches and into the church I serve? Though our childhood experiences of faith were different, did we share any common experiences along the paths of our spiritual journeys? I longed for a way to cultivate a shared conversation about our very different stories.
Parish realized: “Searching for Sunday is that book.”
How is your part of the Church responding to this unexpected denominational migration?
See our April 12 post on this trend.
Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett