May 15, 2015

Another View of Reimagining the Church

In a surprise development, a new Web site made its debut on May 14, 2015, Ascension Day. The Web site is Episcopal Resurrection: Calling the 78th General Convention to Proclaim Resurrection. The site includes a memorial, a kind of letter to the church, and a set of proposed resolutions for the upcoming General Convention. The About page of the site explains the origin of the site:
At the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, several Episcopalians gathered to encourage prayer at the heart of General Convention. That gathering resulted in the Acts 8 Moment, a movement that is devoted to fostering prayer within and for the church.

The Acts 8 Moment is about prayer, not legislation. Still, some of us who grew to know each other in this effort wanted to work together to encourage our church to recommit to spiritual disciplines, to find its life in Jesus. We gathered at the Bexley Seabury campus in Bexley, Ohio in April 2015. There we drafted A Memorial to the Church along with some enabling resolutions, ways in which the General Convention can incarnate a vision of a renewed and revitalized Episcopal Church. We have also asked a number of people to sign on to the Memorial, and you can add your signature too, by emailing Signing the Memorial does not necessarily mean that you agree with the resolutions, just that you share the vision of the Memorial.

Those of us who have worked on these materials offer them to the church in the hope that they will spur conversation and prayer. Our hope is that our church can be ever more effective in proclaiming resurrection and in sharing the riches of God’s grace with the world.

Susan Brown Snook
Tom Ferguson
Scott Gunn
Frank Logue
Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale
Steve Pankey
Adam Trambley
Dean Tom Ferguson, one of the authors, has written about what this group has done on his blog, which is worth reading. This new Web site contains a lot of material, and I am not yet prepared to say much about it. My overall impression, however, is much the same as that offered as a comment on Dean Ferguson’s blog by the Rev. Eric Funston:
The real difference between this memorial and the TREC report and recommendations is that this is a new vision of mission for the church, whereas what TREC produced is management reorganization. A friend has characterized the Memorial as an attempt to design a new ship for new seas; what TREC produced is a plan for rearranging the deck chairs on the old ship. I have signed onto this as an alternate deputy sponsor; I cannot support the TREC material.
Of course, the authors of this Web site were not limited by the charge to the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC). They were really free the reimagine the church as a whole.

I am impressed that this small group of Episcopalians was able to put together this well-thought-out material in what appears to be a very short period. Suddenly, deputies to the General Convention will find that the resolutions of TREC are not the only game in town. This should be interesting.

The authors of Episcopal Resurrection have put their memorial and resolutions in a PDF file that readers of the Web site could easily miss. It is available here. That file is almost helpful. It lacks internal links to facilitate navigation, is missing one heading, orders the material in manner that some may consider unhelpful, and does not contain the material on the About page. Readers may prefer to read my own edited version of this file, which contains bookmarks that provide a virtual table of contents and the About material. You can find that here.

I expect to say more about the Episcopal Resurrection material soon.

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