July 20, 2016

Tooting The Episcopal Church’s Horn

When I matriculated at the University of Chicago as a physics major, I had no thought of joining a fraternity. Had I considered it, I would have thought doing so frivolous. When rush began, I found it easy to resist the promotions of most of the fraternities on campus. The advertising of one fraternity, though, was different. It was quirky and intriguing. A couple of my close friends and I had to check out the source. I am now a brother of Alpha Delta Phi.

It seems that my church, The Episcopal Church, is in a position similar to that of the Chicago fraternities. There are many denominations vying for attention. Many people have a hard time distinguishing one from another, and others are indifferent to the whole lot. I don’t think that we have been successful, either locally or nationally, at promoting our church.

And yet, I believe The Episcopal Church has much to offer. I admit that it is not for everyone, but I think it is the perfect Christian church for some folks, including some who aren’t looking for a church at all. On the other hand, if someone finds a comfortable spiritual home in, say, a Southern Baptist church, both God and I can rejoice.

Maybe The Episcopal Church could learn from the recruiting strategies of the Chicago Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi in the mid-60s. The chapter had not been too successful at attracting new brothers, and it was thought that only by trying something completely different could a seemingly inevitable decline be averted. Hence, the campaign that lured me in.

Does that situation sound familiar? Perhaps we can raise the profile of The Episcopal Church and draw in new people for whom our church is an attractive spiritual home, even if they are not actively looking for such a home.

With this thought in mind, I constructed some proposed Episcopal Church advertisements that highlight what I believe are some of our church’s special strengths. I worded these with the intention of contrasting with the “Christian” positions often seen in the mainstream media. I tried to be intriguing in the same way that Alpha Delta Phi advertising was intriguing when I was a Chicago undergraduate.

What you find below is my third set of advertisements. Episcopal friends on Facebook have my sincere thanks for helping me eliminate ill-conceived items and improve those that survived the bad-idea filter. I had intended to include additional advertisements involving liturgy and music, but my attempts resulted in arcane text or text of questionable generality. Readers are invited to help me out, on these or existing topics.

Until now, my advertising project has essentially been academic. However, I would be delighted if churches actually used what I have produced. I am even willing to customize advertisements for individual churches, substituting, for example, “St. Swithin’s in the Swamp Episcopal Church” for “The Episcopal Church.” If you’re interested in using these advertisements, please contact me (see contact link in the sidebar at the right).

Sixteen proposed advertisements follow. Click on any one for a larger version.

  1. This is one of my favorites. The Episcopal Church has avoided developing confessions of faith, remaining content with the most ancient ones.

    The Episcopal Church: Where it’s more important to demonstrate Christianity than to profess it

  2. This combines a notion popularized by former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning and the familiar “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” sign. One hopes that it is true of most congregations.

    The Episcopal Church: Where there are no outcasts, and all are welcome

  3. This is meant to contrast The Episcopal Church with those churches that read the Bible literally or believe it to be inerrant.

    The Episcopal Church: We take the Bible too seriously to take it literally.

  4. Some seem to think Episcopalians don’t really pay attention to the Bible. I originally asserted that we read four Bible passages at each service, but this is not technically true. Hence, what follows.

    The Episcopal Church: We hear the Bible read in church every Sunday.

  5. This idea is taken from Robin Williams, though I don’t know that he was the first to articulate it.

    The Episcopal Church: We don’t check our brains at the church door.

  6. Too many Christians, of course, show up in church only on Christmas (or Christmas Eve) and Easter.

    The Episcopal Church: It’s not just for Christmas and Easter.

  7. It is easy to get the impression that the “Christian” doctrine on homosexuality is that it is a sin and that homosexuals and should not be ordained by the church. This is not the position of The Episcopal Church, which welcomes LGBT people, ordains, and marries them. (See also #16.)

    The Episcopal Church: Where guys and women can be found both in front of and behind the altar

  8. Many Christians are obsessed with getting to heaven once they’re dead. Most Episcopalians aren’t too sure about what happens when we die, but they know that we have a mission to pursue before we die. This is another of my favorites.

    The Episcopal Church: Building the Kingdom of God, not waiting for it

  9. Unlike some Christian churches, The Episcopal Church has no problem with science. You can accept evolution with a clear conscience.

    The Episcopal Church: We celebrate what science can teach us about God’s creation.

  10. Episcopalians don’t claim to have all the answers. Maybe some us do, but, on the whole, we are modest about what we know. The suffering caused over the years by differences of opinion on religious issues that cannot be definitively resolved or that ultimately don’t matter is appalling.

    The Episcopal Church: We don¹t pretend to have everything figured out.

  11. Not every Christian needs to be an Episcopalian, which is something of an acquired taste. We can even respect non-Christian religions. (See #10.)

    The Episcopal Church: Loving our religion without hating yours

  12. I was very impressed with James Adams’ book So You Think You’re Not Religious. Adams argued that church rituals such as baptism and marriage can celebrate life’s milestones even in the absence of real faith. In any case, The Episcopal Church does a good job with these rituals.

    The Episcopal Church: Marking life’s milestones with dignity and grace.

  13. The most important ritual of the church is probably the Eucharist. The idea for this advertisement came from Eucharistic Prayer C. See my hymn, “Holy Eucharist,” and related commentary.

    The Episcopal Church: Where bread and wine provide solace and strength

  14. This was inspired by the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the fact that we are admonished to love our neighbors as ourselves.

    The Episcopal Church: Where you are our neighbor even if you are not one of us

  15. How can we require uniformity of belief if we acknowledge that we don’t know everything? (See #10.) We can still work on building the Kingdom of God. (See #8.)

    The Episcopal Church: Where unity of purpose doesn’t require uniformity of belief

  16. The Episcopal Church had gay and lesbian clergy before we began performing same-sex marriages. It took us a long time to get where we are, but we’re glad we made it.

    The Episcopal Church: If you’re gay or lesbian, you can get married in one of our churches.

Update, 7/25/2016. In the comments below, readers suggested additional copy for advertisements, and, in my own comments, I included links to ads using those suggestions. To make those ads easier to find, I have also put them in a separate post, “Three More Episcopal Church Advertisements.”

25 comments:

  1. These "memes" are wonderful! Thank you so much!

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  2. I love these! Shared and downloaded for use.

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  3. My favorites are #11 and #15. I hope some churches will pick them up soon! (You might think of offering these from CafePress or similar.)

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    1. Since I’m not selling these, I’m not sure that putting them in my store makes sense. I guess I could put them on tee shirts or something.

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    2. My favorites (they're all good!) are #5 and #8. #5 made me laugh, because Robin Williams (may he rest in peace) said it. #8 really says what our faith is about, however.

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  4. Excellent! Would you consider making one that says...where hearts are healed....

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    Replies
    1. Possibly. Is that the exact wording you would like to see? Do you have other suggestions?

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  5. Tee shirts are a great idea. As a marketing professional, I recommend 295Guys.com.
    The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. No Qualifiers. (Or)
    The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. Period. (Or)
    The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. PERIOD.
    (This might be a little strong, but you get the sentiment)
    TEC: Our faith is a guide, not a straitjacket.
    TEC: We allow questions, because we don't have all the answers. (Or)
    TEC: We don't have all the answers, so we allow questions.

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    Replies
    1. I think #2 has the standard “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” covered. Have a look at this one and this one (larger versions are here and here).

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  6. I'm a member of our healing prayer team and the daily lectio Art has been filled with healing stories for the past few weeks. It was the hearings that had people following Jesus.. I think it says it all- "where hearts are healed" I found healing when I joined the Episcopal Church and want to share it with others. I think it says it all. We all have wounds or limitations, but it is our hearts through Jesus Christ that need to be healed through his love.

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    Replies
    1. Really like these. That is what I want people to know about my church. That you can come there broken and be healed.
      I see that you’ve put your blog address on the image. Do you want any other attribution if I use the image)?
      Would you be okay with me converting to a JPG file? My blog images get picked up on the internet better if they are jpg rather than png.

      Thank you for doing this. I think our church is the way out of the mess the world is in and we need visual images to promote it.

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    2. Since my URL is in the image, no other attribution is need, but include it if you like. A png file should be sharper than a jpg file, but I won’t dispute the matter. I can generate a better jpg file from the source file than can be made from the png file. If you tell me what images you would like and what size you want them (in pixels), I will be happy to convert them for you.

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, but please leave a name next time, even if it is a made-up one.

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  8. Replies
    1. Notice that I said “in one of our churches.” :-)

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  9. Terrific! But i think you may have been bitten by your blogserver's auto-correct: Fundamentalists find the Bible inerrant, not itinerant.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for noticing this. Obviously, I didn’t mean itinerant, and I didn’t simply misspell inerrant. I made the correction.

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  10. How about: The Episcopal Church: We're not obsessed with your bedroom.

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    Replies
    1. I was trying to come up with something related to sex, but I wasn't happy with anything I thought of.

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  11. They're all great. My faves are 1, 9 and 11

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  12. Love them. Thanks for creating them.

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  13. I want them all as bumper stickers!

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