June 2009 – Rector’s Ruminations
Over the course of the past year and a half, several of you have expressed an interest in having an “inquirers’ class”/confirmation instruction to explore the nature of Anglicanism and what it means to be an Episcopalian. I have sensed in such requests the desire to explore who we are, what we believe and where and how we see ourselves as Episcopalians/Anglicans in relation to other Christian denominations. I am also aware that several of you are interested in exploring your Episcopal identity even though you have already been confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church.
Given such interest, I offer the following proposal: a series of early evening gatherings to explore who, what and how we are as Episcopalians. Topics that have been suggested to me include: “what is Anglicanism?” a brief history of the Episcopal church in the U.S. and perhaps the Northwest; what do we as Anglicans believe given some of the similarities and differences we have with other Christian churches let alone the divisions we know of within the Episcopal church itself; what constitutes appropriate authority in the Episcopal Church, i.e. what is the relationship of Canon Law, Episcopal jurisdiction, congregational/parish identity and by what authority do we engage in ministry; how do decisions get made within the Episcopal church – what is the purpose of General Convention, Diocesan Conventions, clergy conferences, annual meetings, Vestry meetings as various locations where decisions are made; what do we mean by referring to ourselves as a church that tries be the via media?; what do we mean by the term “Anglican spirituality”? How is it that we do not consider ourselves a “confessional church” when each Sunday we confess the Nicene Creed? Why are we considered an “incarnational church”? Is the Episcopal Church along with other mainline churches dying? How do we as Episcopalians view other Christian church bodies and other world religions?
The list could certainly go on but these are some of the questions I have heard. Importantly, are there other questions or areas that you would like to explore? Hearing from you would be most helpful in framing such a series of presentations and discussions.
What I have in mind is four or five weekly two-hour early evening gatherings during the month of September. I would also envision that we would invite members of the community who may be curious about the Episcopal Church or might want to become members. Some light refreshments before, during or after the program.
Given the foregoing proposal, I invite you to give me your thoughts and ideas and also hope that you will attend these classes to deepen your appreciation and understanding of our church. Having a better sense of who we are will also help us, I believe, in talking and working with other religious groups in sharing ministry.
September seems a good month in that we still have many of our members who are here from other parts of the country. It is also a time when we reconnect as a community after summer vacations and travel.
In Christ, +Craig
By Bishop Craig B. Anderson