WHAT IS AN EPISCOPAL CHURCH?
One of the questions that often emerges as we welcome new members into St. Catherine’s is something like “what is the Episcopal Church all about?”
or “How is it different from other Christian denominations?”
So, what does it mean to be an Episcopal Christian worshiping at St. Catherine’s Church? One of the first things that often gets said about the Episcopal Church is that “You don’t have to check your brain at the door.” Perhaps a more constructive way of expressing this, is to say that the Episcopal Church places a high value on each one of us having the freedom (and the responsibility) to think things out for ourselves. So, instead of a central authority figure saying “this is the way it is”, we tend to frame things broadly, we welcome a wide diversity of perspectives respectfully coexisting within the same community, and we do our best to live by the tenet that it isn’t necessary to agree with a given set of dogma in order to belong.
This doesn’t mean that the Episcopal Church forgets its
centeredness on Christ, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some rather uniquely “Episcopal” approaches to living out the Christian faith. What it does mean, is that we live with the understanding that the life of faith is at its most vibrant when each person has been able to explore the deep questions of the faith for themselves, recognizing that faith is a journey. Each one of us will ask the questions in a different way, and each one of us is in our own place on this mysterious and wonderful journey.Living with this freedom isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is hard to live with open ended questions, and sometimes we need to be reminded to be open to the different ways in which each person walks the journey. But in the end, this freedom is one of the first things that makes us “unique” as Episcopal Christians.
From the Vicar on the Actions of General Convention:
Dear community in Christ,
July 2015, General Convention approved two truly groundbreaking resolutions on marriage equality. In essence, resolution A054
eliminate language from church canons defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and authorize two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex and opposite-sex couples. (Click here
for complete article from Episcopal News Service)Instead of repeating the content of the ENS article, which I encourage you to read in full, what I would like to do with this column is simply share some of my own thoughts.
First, having the Supreme Court ruling take place just as our General Convention was convening was a truly unique opportunity for the Episcopal Church to respond in a dynamic and forward-moving way to the movement of the Spirit in the world. I am proud and thankful for the work done by the House of Bishops, and equally so for the difficult work done in the House of Deputies.Next, I encourage us to reflect on how these decisions emerged from theological reflection that grounds itself first in understanding God as dynamic love. Over and over, we have seen both the challenge and the gift of living into full inclusion. How amazing, that the work done by General Convention can reflect some of the work we would do at St. Catherine’s as we continue to live into a vision statement that is grounded in acceptance and welcome for all!Finally, my hope for St. Catherine’s is that we continue to work at making this a public and comprehensive component of our identity as a church. Let people know that St. Catherine’s is a place of profound and joyful and full acceptance of all people, embracing differences in sexual orientation simply as one of the many dimensions of difference that characterize both our world and our common humanity.This week? Amazing!
From the Vicar on the Supreme Court Ruling
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
This morning’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage throughout our nation is one that invites each person, and each institution, to reflect anew on issues that have seen an incredibly profound shift in an astoundingly short period of time.
Speaking theologically, this is a moment that invites us to live into the radical Good News of the profound acceptability of ALL people before God our Creator – a creator that created out of love, and who loves the entirety of the creation God has made.
Living into this vision is inherently radical. Regardless of sexual orientation, of gender identity… regardless of economic status, skin color, ethnicity, racial background, immigration status… regardless of all sorts of dimensions of human difference, the Gospel calls us to live in fully inclusive community, and to embody this inclusion at all levels and in all of the fullness of who we are as a church.
And the work always continues. July 2015, our General Convention, meeting in Salt Lake City, discussed (see above for outcome) how our theology of marriage needs to evolve as we discern a broader understanding of what it means to live within committed relationships.
And at St. Catherine’s? First, I want to thank you for your generous response to last Sunday’s sermon, where I challenged us to deepen our engagement on racism, and to be willing to embark on a journey that will include study, self-understanding around issues of privilege, and hopefully lead us into more intentional and focused action.
I also want to invite us to be more explicit and clear about our identity as a community committed to full inclusion, including full inclusion across differences in sexual orientation. In truth, we have already done much of this work, and this commitment is already there. That said, I think we can do better by being more explicit in our internal structure, and making this better known within our local community.
And today, I encourage us to celebrate the moment, to interpret these profound changes as an embodiment of the radical fullness of divine love, and to commit to living this out more fully at every level of our lives and of our church community.