Get ready

I am sensing quite strongly a migration that is coming. I just have a sense that there will soon be a large number of American-Evangelicals and Roman Catholics who are fed up with the politicalization of Christianity in this country by the Religious Right who will soon be searching for something else. New churches, and with them new denominations, will arise, I’m sure. Where will these people go?
Considering the demographic trends of young people and what they are looking for in faith/religion/church/spirituality, I am convinced more than ever that Anglicanism is a prime location for them. The liberal-theological bent will not be so attractive, but the sacramental and liturgical aspects, as well as the broadmindedness and openness, of Anglicanism as expressed in the Episcopal Church will be.
We have to be ready, however. I don’t think we are any where near being ready. I want to be about getting ready – doing the work to be ready. I agree with many current observers of all things religious that there is a re-alignment of Christianity in this country and globally. I disagree with some who believe it will be between conservatives and liberals. In this country, I believe it will be between those who have politicized the Church and enmeshed faith with politics, both liberals and conservatives, and those who refuse to be co-opted by a political agenda. Again, I can see American-Evangelicals and Roman Catholics leaving their particular denominations and churches due to the demands of their leaders for adherence to not only dogmatic religious statements, but dogmatic political and social beliefs as well.
Rome is calling on all bishops and priests to demand adherence to Roman Catholic dogma by politicians, academics, and ultimately parishioners, or else they will be denied communion, excommunicated, or silenced. The Episcopal Church is already a repository for disaffected Roman Catholics.
Jim Willis and Sojourners is an example of the side of American-Evangelicalism that is fed up with the Religious Right. A reverse migration of Evangelicals back into the liturgical and sacramental Church began over a decade ago, and I believe it will only increase.
The Episcopal Church and Anglicanism are natural homes for these groups. A good portion of American-Evangelicalism can trace itself back to the good Father John Wesley, an Anglican priest even at his death. The Via Media needs to be reasserted over and against the reactionaries on the both the left and right, conservative and liberal, and the words “Evangelical” and “Anglo-Catholic” need to be rescued from the anti-church reactionaries.
We need to be ready!

One Down

I was supposed to leave today for a second interview with Old St. Paul’s in downtown Baltimore. Great church, great location, and I think very competent new-ish rector. I’ve been told that very few were called for an initial interview, let alone for a second interview. All set, car rented, shirts ironed, bags ready to be packed, and I got a call from the rector yesterday. It seems the search committee decided that they (and he) had found the perfect fit. I will not be going to Baltimore for a second interview. My first rejection on the long path of attempting to secure a ministry position within the Episcopal Church. (Unlike the Roman church, we have too many priests!)
I must say, however, that I had a great interview yesterday. Honestly, I think I would be better suited for the rector I interviewed with yesterday than with the rector of Old St. Paul’s – not that I suspected there might be a mismatch between him and me. There is so much potential for that church and the surrounding area. I pray that the new person is a great asset and the church is a good place for the new person. I am a bit disappointed that I will not be able to interview with the committee. You just never know, as interviewers (I know from experience), what may come through the door next.
It was coincidental that I just had a rash of thoughts concerning the kind of place and/or ministry I would really love to be involved with. Old St. Paul’s could have met some of what I ideally may want, but possibly not. How can I know right now? I can’t, so let me just speculate all over the place.
In the interview yesterday, the rector asked what my ideal ministry situation might look like. Well, I honestly do want to work with young people – college students and the like. Ron, as he was describing what type of ministry each of us exuded around the lunch table a number of weeks ago, referred to me as the “Evangelist.” At the time, that struck me as so strange, but as I think about it and as I interview I do believe he might be right. “Evangelist” would not look quite the same as it does in the Assemblies of God or Chi Alpha, but evangelist nonetheless. I want to be with the people who are outside the church, allow God to use me to draw them, and then be involved in their discipleship.