Episcopal Identity: The Final Frontier

Last week a leader from a start up congregation dropped into St. Stephen’s to check out our space and to explore the possibility of their congregation worshiping in our facilities.  He called me later to schedule a visit with their preaching pastor.  The congregation is called Sojourner Church and they are currently worshiping in the Heights; they are part of the Acts 29 network.

The conversation with the worship leader was fascinating—he had visited our website and thought our congregations would be compatible.  Quoting Augustine he stressed unity in essentials, tolerance in diversity, and love in everything.  What was not to be open to here?

I told him that I would welcome an opportunity to meet him, but that he and his leader would need to know that St. Stephen’s did not hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, fully included women in all areas of ministry, and embraced the ministry of LGBT folks.  We scheduled the meeting.

And then they didn’t show…

This has led me to contemplate a new our identity as an Episcopal congregation.  Denominational ties are loosening across age groups in the U.S.  What does being “Episcopal” mean to us in mission now at St. Stephen’s Church?  What about to our School?

These questions will be explored by the Vestry of St. Stephen’s and the Board of Trustees of St. Stephen’s School next weekend.  As we prepare for common mission, this question of shared identity and core values is critical.  Our convictions shape who we are and what we do.  They inform our curriculum and our discipline.

We will welcome Dan Heischman, the Executive Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, to lead us in prayerful reflection.  I invite your prayers for this pivotal work.

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