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Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?

For a brief moment over the weekend, the secular media and the Episcopal Church social media universes melded into one. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s electrifying sermon, broadcast from St. George’s at Windsor Castle to billions of people around the world, ignited a Pentecost style firestorm. After a flurry of tweeting, retweeting, and quick commentaries from all manner of websites and media platforms, even Saturday Night Live got in on the act (and Curry retweeted). Anytime Buzzfeed publishes a sermon, it shows that the world is paying attention.

In light of refugee crises, school shootings, and political corruption, we desperately needed that sermon on love. Bishop Curry’s sermon was a powerful statement of God’s sacrificial and abundant love made known to the world in Jesus Christ.

While Episcopalians are rightly proud of how we were represented by Bishop Curry on Saturday, the question could be asked if we, the Church, heard that sermon. At this moment, the temptation for the Church will be to keep reveling in our brief celebrity status instead of hearing this sermon for ourselves. Did we hope only that Bishop Curry’s witness would simply bump our attendance numbers on Sunday? Or, is the Episcopal Church actually willing to listen and respond to this radical way of life that Bishop Curry imagined for us?

As we approach General Convention 2018, the Church needs to reflect on the many ways that we have failed to live into the fullness of God’s love. The Church Pension Group reports that the average total compensation of female clergy lags behind male clergy by 12%. We are still roiled with ongoing property disputes. It seems that lines are already being drawn over Prayer Book revision. Indeed, as Bishop Curry called on the whole world to reflect on the impoverished among us, the Church ought to reflect on the fact that our governance meetings alone are projected to cost millions of dollars over the next triennium.

Imagine what the Church would look like if we also rediscovered the love of God made known to us in Jesus Christ. That love would make this old Church a new Church.

 


image: Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gives an address during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, May 19, 2018. Owen Humphreys/Pool via REUTERS

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Linda Astala

Thank you for this admonition, Jimmy Abbott+. We Episcopalians have a LOT to live up to, as individuals and the congregations we’re part of, as we live into and share that LOVE the Presiding Bishop told the world about. Our response should be, as in our Baptismal Covenant, “We/I will, with God’s help!”

The Rev. Thomas C. Jackson

I am exasperated by the continuing calls for us to make peace with oppression by capitulating to those who in violation of church and civil law have attempted to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from The Episcopal Church. But perhaps what we are hearing today are echoes of those who aren’t quite comfortable with LGBT people and clergy, and are finding a less obvious way to oppose the continuing expansion of God’s love? Perhaps we could be honest and say there are some who really wish those who left are able to keep their buildings – and perhaps open a way for others to go and take a building – or a diocese – with them? Unless you want to repudiate the idea of marriage equality and a place in our church for LGBT people, why else would you recast an ego-driven, patriarchial schism into talk we should, out of love, ‘reconcile’ and abandon our court cases? Surrender is not reconciliation. It seems many in our church wich the last PB had not been as strong a leader in this area.

Rod Gillis

The title question queries the entire church. Bishop Curry’s sermon suggests an engaging itinerary. There is the social question.Curry applied the foundational Christian value of love to almost every arena of human interaction i.e. neighborhood, communities, business, society while referencing all the major social issues we face on the planet, violence, climate, war, poverty, immigration.

Curry’s reference to Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin warrants more attention. De Chardin, controversial as both a theologian and scientist, was a creative watershed thinker. Both Science and theology require creative thinkers skilled at dialogue. Certainly the stakes are high for Christians in terms of the credibility of both ethics and eschatology.

Curry’s lives under the big sky. The frustration with him on the part of social conservatives is palpable. Clearly, theological adventures will not be for everyone. The Shire is comfy.

Kenneth Knapp

I think our problems, some of which you have alluded to, are much deeper than can be fixed by a 13 minute sermon at a celebrity wedding. It is time we started to scale back the big, expensive conventions and started to focus more on our internal strife and divisions. I foresee us eventually shedding a lot of parishes and dioceses. Our episcopal governance model will need to be lean to the point that most diocesan bishops will also be the rectors of large parishes and the presiding bishop will simply be one of the diocesan bishops (either elected or simply the most senior by date of consecration). We will have to work on expanding our appeal to a broader segment of the socio-political spectrum and perhaps even reconcile with our more conservative brothers and sisters in ACNA. While that will be a bitter pill for some, I think that both ends of the spectrum are impoverished by the current lack of balance in our respective expressions of the Anglican faith.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Thank you for the realism.

At the GC this summer watch for HOD and HOB tensions over lots of these issues.

Tom Downs

Over the years I’ve known several small congregations. They don’t make much of a splash on the world scene, but they are faithful. They serve their communities as they are able. They build relationships and whole communities; in them the power of love is real. They understood the message before the PB preached it. He was affirming them not an institution, or a General Convention, or liturgical renewal. Why do we insist on proving love’s value and power by Nelson ratings or the power of our own principalities and powers?

Mary E Macomber

I come from one of those small parishes (Holy Spirit, Belmont, Mi) We are small, but we love God and our neighbors. We have a food pantry and house an after school reading program for struggling 2nd and 3rd graders. The people of my church welcome all with open hearts.

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