A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
By The Rev. Paula M. Jackson
OK, since we're in the news, what if some of our parishes took out an "open letter" ad someplace -- or let one circulate on the web or wherever it might go, to witness, while others are noticing us?
We could start with a freebie, a letter to the editor in the local papers, and see where it goes from there. If we can have an agreed text for vestries to approve, we can have clergy and congregations listed at the end. Someone might take it from there to look up our websites, and check us out! This could be a unique moment for us to reach out to those who have been burned by exclusivism or judgmentalism in their experience of the Church, yet want a community of faith. We have the opportunity to say, "We will stand with you!"
Here's some thoughts, not the polished product which might want to be briefer, but what do you think?
We're the Episcopal Church. Perhaps you've heard about us in the news.
We've heard from some folks that we're heretics who have abandoned faith for trendiness. From others that we're head-in-the-clouds theorists who are out of touch with the rest of the world.
Well, here's the reality. Episcopalians don't all agree on everything. We don't believe that any person or group has the authority to tell all of us what scripture must mean, or whom God can call. It's hard to live with strong disagreements but we do, because we value community over uniformity.
Episcopalians care about scripture, tradition, and the reasoning of a prayerful community as it breaks bread together and attempts to follow Jesus. We care about seeking justice, loving compassion, and walking observantly with God. We care most about the people God has put in our midst, in our church and beyond.
Jesus said, "No one has greater love than this, that one lay down one's life for one's friends." We will not turn our back on our friends -- regardless of their status, or importance or lack of it, in the eyes of others-- for political posturing or to save ourselves. And we will still seek reconciliation with the people who would cast us out for that!
If you are looking for a spiritual home that values who you are more than how you make us look, the Episcopal Church will welcome you.
If you want a community of faith that cherishes your friendship more than what we can get out of it, the Episcopal Church will welcome you.
If you want to know that you are included --and so is everyone else whether they are like you or not-- the Episcopal Church is here for you!
The Rev. Paula M. Jackson
The Church of Our Saviour, Mt. Auburn, Cincinnati
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