This summer, as is the case every three years, the larger Episcopal Church is abuzz with activity, preparation and conversation—virtual and otherwise. The Episcopal Church has some two million worshippers in roughly 7,500 congregations over 17 countries. We are part of the larger worldwide Anglican Communion, and we seek to live our lives according to the promises in our baptismal covenant.
On June 23, some 10,000 Episcopalians will gather in Salt Lake City for nine days to pray together, listen, debate, discern, vote and recreate together—seeking together what it means to live faithfully in our day and context. In addition to seeking ways to restructure ourselves more effectively for mission, one of the major items will be electing a new Presiding Bishop to a nine-year term. It seems hard to believe, but when Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected just nine years ago “the iPhone had not yet been introduced, Facebook had just been made available to users other than university students, and YouTube and Twitter were still finding their core audiences” reminds Tom Sramek in a Living Church article. So much has changed in the world around us, and much continues to change.
For those interested, at GeneralConvention.org, you can find a wealth of information, including further links taking you to information about the candidates for presiding bishop, the ‘blue book’ outlining resolutions and other matters to come before the deputies and bishops during this time as well a listing of the service bulletins for each of the days of convention. I encourage you to explore the resources to experience a taste of what this amazing gathering is all about.
Occasionally throughout the life of the Church, members have come together and called on leadership to “read the signs of the times, to discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and to act with boldness to proclaim the gospel in new contexts and situations.” One concrete method that call can take is a Memorial to the Church. This spring a Memorial to the Church, drafted by a small group of people, has been circulating and is gathering signatures by an increasing number of bishops, priests, deacons and lay people. You can read the whole Memorial here, but I’ve included some parts below:
We believe that we have reached one of those critical junctures in the life of our church, and respectfully submit a Memorial calling for the church to recommit itself to the spiritual disciplines at the core of our common life, to go into our neighborhoods boldly with church planters and church revitalizers, and to restructure our church for the mission God is laying before us today…..
Like those early followers of Christ, we find ourselves being scattered out of familiar and comfortable places and ways of being the church. Rather than be ruled by memory and consumed by fear, we can embrace this crisis, trusting that the Lord of Life will give us everything we need to spread the Gospel, proclaim the kingdom, and share the love of God. May God grant great joy in every city and neighborhood into which we go.
I ask you to hold those gathering at General Convention in your prayers during this period, for wisdom and discernment. I invite your prayers for the whole Church, that we may be faithful and courageous followers of Jesus, actively seeking to spread the Gospel, proclaim the kingdom and share the love of God in and throughout our lives.