Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Introduction to the Episcopal Church?

Over at Seven Whole Days, the Rev. Scott Gunn asks for help in solving a pressing problem:
For whatever reason, we’ve been encountering lots of seekers lately at the parish I serve. Often these folks are completely unchurched. Sometimes our seekers have some church experience, but almost never in the Episcopal Church. My first real conversations with people is usually by email. Maybe they write to us first, before they visit our church, to find out if it’s the kind of place they’d like to check out. Or perhaps the blinking cursor of an email message seems safer than the scary conversation in the after-church handshake line.

I love encounters with those who are seeking God. I love people who have been moved by life’s vagaries to seek out a faith community. I love the open questions and the fresh desire of seekers. But there’s a challenge for me. It’s hard to give someone a sense of what the Episcopal Church is all about by email. If they want to meet with me over a cup of coffee or stop by the office for a chat, it’s pretty easy. I wish I could point folks to a fantastic website where they could get a sense of the Episcopal Church. It does not seem to exist. Alas.
Well, Fr. Gunn, while technically it may not be one site, I would modestly suggest that one could do worse than begin right here, and simply follow the links provided over to the right. Blogs (mostly) about the Episcopal Church (USA) are conveniently divided into categories, from Left to Right, and Right in the Middle, plus Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic blogs to boot. They may not be a comprehensive collection, but they are representative.

It would be misleading, however, to point prospective Episcopalians to any one or more Episcopal blogs without giving them some background, both historical and political, to help them understand where the Church is now. And for that purpose, I would refer them to the Guide to this site, where they can browse pages of links about ECUSA's structure, polity, history, and -- rather crucial these days, I would submit -- finances; about the culture wars in which it finds itself; and about the epochal events of 2003 and their aftermath, not least of which is the all-consuming litigation which is slowly bringing the Church down and tearing her apart. Then, because we must not omit to provide perspective on the larger picture, they should learn from this page about the conflicts in the wider Anglican Communion, which mirror those in the Church itself.

Oh, yes, one can certainly go to sites like Peek through the Window for an overview of what the Church professes to be. But if you gave them only that link, or ones similar, you might well run the risk of being charged with misrepresentation after they discovered the reality of what the Church is, as opposed to what it professes to be.

Honesty is the best policy. This site and its links may not make for pleasant reading, but then the truth is best taken straight, without sugar-coating.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Haley,

    And for those who have difficulty taking the truth "straight" (what I would term "neat"), it can also be taken with a bit of still (i.e., non-carbonated) water, preferably consecrated, also termed "Holy," water.


    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer