How do we deal with the negative image of The Episcopal Church?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Discussion' started by Anna Scott, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    I'm growing more and more concerned about the public perception of the Episcopal Church and what "Episcopal/Episcopalian" brings to mind and how our witness to the Gospel of our Lord may be affected.

    What can we do to let people know that orthodox Christians still exist in The Episcopal Church?

    Anna
     
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  2. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Anna, with respect I don't think it's wise to rely on sites like "jesus-is-savior" for an accurate mirror of what orthodox Christians believe. They condemn every Christian church, practically.

    Being firmly evangelical in opinion, I rather think the Episcopal Church needs to reform its own heart before the public image can be changed. Anyone who supports sin is going to Hell unless he repents, and the Episcopal Church does officially support "LGBT" initiatives now. To continue to be affiliated with that organisation, giving witness to its validity as a church, is not a good idea - unless you self-identify as an orthodox Christian who is desperate to save it from itself. Even at that, people like those who run "jesus-is-savior" and other sites will say Episcopalianism is a false religion because its people kneel for the Eucharist, or because its members use organs and incense in worshiping God. There will always be vile excuses from vile people to continue vile hatreds.

    The only way to let people know that orthodox Christians exist in TEC is to perhaps form parish groups and pressure groups (though the term is so dreadfully political). The only way the people of the world will know that there are true Christians in TEC is if they see them combating those in the hierarchy who are not doing the job of Christ's shepherds.

    In the end, the only one whose "opinion" matters is God. He does allow some to be hard of heart, sadly... even in the best of the Episcopal Church's days.
     
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  3. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    I changed the subheading on my blog to refer specifically to the Episcopal Church so that readers may know that there is at least one orthodox churchman left therein.
     
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  4. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    Anna...

    I agree with Consular--please do not worry about what is said at the links you posted. They will say their say this week about the Episcopalians, next week they will have their say about some other group. Best advice--ignore them and do not draw attention to them. Even consider deleting the links from your post. Why give them what they want--free advertising.

    I also agree with Consular about the need for there to be a cleansing of the heart. Remember the message of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel.

    Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! (Ezekiel 18:31a; NRSV).

    And finally, consider the words of St. Paul:

    . . . but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13b-14; NRSV).

    ...Scottish Monk

     
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  5. Andy Cothran

    Andy Cothran Active Member

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    Consuar i agree with you about that site ..one one hand it speaks a great deal of truth but you are right they condemn almost every Christian Church ..so no i wouldn't put too much stock into it either . Without meaning to to be argumentative if it is true that anyone who suports sin is going to hell then you will have very few people in heaven for in various ways sadly many many Christians support sin in one way or another ..
     
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  6. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    Anna...

    Another thought for dealing with the negative -- Raise an Ebenezer!

    Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah,and named it Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’
    (1 Samuel 7:12)

    What is an Ebenezer?

    An Ebenezer is a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the Sacramental Elements, a cross, a picture, a fellow believer, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, God’s Real Presence, and God’s assistance are "Ebenezers."
    ...Irving, Texas

    You may remember the lyric "Here I raise my Ebenezer" from the hymn Come Thou Fount of Many Blessings (sung by Chris Rice, listen and read the lyrics at YouTube).

    [​IMG]



    ...Scottish Monk
     
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  7. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This is a great insight into the problem. The Church has gotten itself so far involved in social issues that the media are beginning to think of it as a social institution. They certainly treat it exactly like it was a government ministry. Every little bizarre thing a priest (MP) or bishop (cabinet minister) does is immediately leaked to the press. A great story is had to shock people for a few 24 hour cycles, and then it's forgotten about. Meanwhile you poor people in the Church are left to clean up the effects such a storm of propaganda leaves.

    It wouldn't be half so bad if all the looney stuff wasn't immediately published by a media become greedy for sensation. Just living in the United States of America is a problem! :p
     
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  8. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    I am going to probably be howled down for this comment but here goes...

    Ignore what is being said by every one else, show what being a Christian is all about in the way you live your life, and the way you deal with people. Annas signature line puts it very simply and accurately in my opinion:

     
  9. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Andy and Consular,

    You are right about that site. They do condemn many Christian Churches.

    Scottish Monk,
    I took your advise and deleted the links.

    Hackney,
    I think that's a great thing.

    I remember Sean had mentioned the need for positive things associated with Episcopalian (Sorry Sean--probably poor job of paraphrasing).

    So, Hackney, to that end, I have changed my profile from Anglo Catholic to Episcopalian.

    Thanks so much for all the comments and suggestions, everyone.
     
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  10. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Gordon,
    No "howling down" from me. This is good advise for every situation in life.

    Adam,
    I think we have all been thinking about this for some time now. The GC just made things more difficult. I remember reading one of the news reports (wish I had the link) in which a liberal Episcopalian made the comment to the effect that all who wanted to leave TEC, have already left. The context of the comment (which was the passing of the rite for same-gender blessings) made it sound like we're all in agreement. Of course we are not.

    The thing is, I have found a beautiful and faithful expression of the Gospel in my Episcopal Parish, and I don't want to lose it. I think it's time for me to fight for what is right, to fight for the Gospel, to fight for the call to Holiness---and to fight for orthodoxy in The Episcopal Church.

    What I've just realized is that I've fallen into a "victim" mentality regarding what has been happening in TEC. I need to change that--like. . . right now.

    Anna
     
  11. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    That's the way Anna fight them all the way - it is the only way to make a difference. :)
     
  12. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Gordon, why-ever should you expect howls of protest at such a statement?

    Giving attention to, and focusing on non-Episcopalians who deride "the Episcopal Church" or "Episcopalians" is giving them the victory. They want attention. I think people who have feelings of hate deep within themselves will find reasons to slander anyone they perceive to be a manifestation of the thing they hate.

    Atheists who make fun of "Christians" are an example: these assume that every Christian is the same, and has the same level of integrity. They label the Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, or Presbyterian as "just another stupid Christian" because they see the "Christian" label on the bottle, not the content or the bottle itself: the human being.

    Ask those who take an automatically negative view of the Episcopal Church whether they love Man or men; whether they want to help humanity or individual humans. I think you'll find that those with the knee-jerk negative attitude to Episcopalianism, will say they prefer to help "man", and "humanity" (abstract values) rather than "men" or "people" (specific relationships). It's because their minds focus on the abstract label that they prefer Man, humanity, and labels of "Episcopalian", rather than individual Christians. I think it's mostly fear about confronting the other, and an existential fear they have of loving an enemy.

    The EPISCOPAL CHURCH is not ONE organism or entity, but is all the human beings within it: each one the image of God; each one a sacrament of the beauty, oneness, and relationship that IS GOD. Deriding "Episcopalians" generally as if they were mindless members of a single machine is the very problem behind their negative attitude.

    To summarise all my Dominican philosophical complexity using Franciscan simplicity: do what the quote in Anna's signature says! :p If you live Christ you are Christ for those who see you - you are the first image of Jesus they see. If you are a godly and orthodox person (by the grace of the Lord), they will want to go where they assume you learned your virtuous ways: your Church.

    Christianity shouldn't be about public relations and checking the polls, but bringing individuals out of their stupor and to the GLORIOUS Jesus. The prejudice of an anti-Episcopalian Baptist, say, will not be banished except by a personal encounter with Jesus in an Episcopalian. No amount of nice words, blog posts, titles, or news stories will ever turn their heart, but I'm sure that will.
     
  13. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    An important way might be to build lots of links with likeminded local churches,(perhaps even going so far as working with baptists :p ) organising joint ventures, outreaches, holding events where the members of the different congregations can meet up and socialise etc. By building bridges you're making yourself visible among the other local congregations and you will become known for being a gospel centred church
     
  14. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    Because some people just don't seem to get simple.... :)
     
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  15. mark1

    mark1 Active Member

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    As our assistant rector said today in his homily, we need to worry less about what others say and do. My Baptist mentor taught me this great lesson decades ago. For him, he was often worrying about the effect of his words or actions. It is a most difficult lesson. We need to let the Spirit show through. We need to be about being Jesus to the world. Of course, if we do, folks will indeed ask us the reason for our Hope. As we all know, we are Christian evangelists/examples each day of our lives, whether we choose to admit it or not. Sometimes we are good examples, sometimes not so much.

    And yes, Episcopalians and local Episcopalian churches should work with other churches as was suggested. There is much that we can do together in our communities. There are many in need. For many, "other churches" includes other Episcopalian churches (they seem that different). And yes, we should work with Episcopalians in our own church, ESPECIALLY those that disagree with us on what we think of as important issues.

    I have a final word that goes against so much of what we have been taught. We should spend much more of our time with the unchurched and the non-Christian. 90% of Americans believe in God, and they are seeking him in all of the wrong places. There is much work to do. As a side effect, we will learn much as Jesus teaches us (and speaks to us) through our encounters with the poor and weak. And yes, Jesus will use those of other churches and even other faith walks to communicate with us. God's ways are not our own.
     
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  16. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Unfortunately Scottish Knight, the Episcopal Church is run by a hierarchy of bishops: the election and management of which the laity do not control. Having local parishes connect to non-Episcopalian churches via the Gospel is awfully individualistic - dangerous! :p

    Given the contemporary vision of how the Church ought to be governed, tyrannical bishops can easily run about without the input of the laity. "The Episcopal Church" will always be moved by the actions of its bishops, yet the actual fallout for their ideological experimentation affects the good name of every little parish bearing the Episcopal title - i.e. the poor little people who had nothing to do with the grand votes of far-away synods!

    Unless episcopacy is totally abandoned and each parish made a good name for itself based on its own merits, it'll always be this way; of course, it wouldn't be episcopalian then, would it? :p

    Compare TEC to the UK Parliament. You can vote for the Party in your area represented by an MP, but once they get in office the PM can shift them around, sack them, do a million things that are unrelated to what the proles voted for. That's pretty much the situation in churches with episcopal polity. You may vote for Episcopalianism, but your MP is pretty much unrelated to your community, vision, or beliefs. He comes to you by permission of the Washington National Cathedral, and you can do bugger all.

    The only solution is to live, act like, and be a Christian so the face of God may shine in you. This is the only way anti-Episcopalians will see that it isn't all awful apostles, boring biships, callous clergy, dreadful deacons, and egregious evangelists. Hypocritical windbags always climb to the top of any hierarchy - it's the individuals they meet in the aisle that really affects people!

    Gordon, simplicity is... so... it's just not for serious people, but for the little childr... er, I mean it just won't do! :)
     
  17. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    You mean like Gods Troubadours, the Friars Minor...?
     
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  18. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    The website and support group "Unapologetically Episcopalian" is a group that i've stumbled upon that looks to reclaim the name "Episcopalian" from the extreme elements of the Church. The group started off with almost nothing and in just a short time is 16,000 strong! We are not alone in thinking that our image is out of balance.

    The following explanation of the group was written by its creator, Rev. Ronald Pogue. I highlighted the most important parts:

    http://ronpogue.typepad.com/unapolo...unapologetically-episcopalian-came-to-be.html

    How Unapologetically Episcopalian Came to Be

    On April 22, 2010, I published an article in which I provided several ideas for raising the profile of The Episcopal Church. I was thinking that it's not only about raising the profile, it's also about how the profile impacts people. Is it positive or negative? For what will The Episcopal Church be known on the community grapevine?
    Then, on Saturday night, May 1, I decided to practice what I was preaching and launched a facebook fan page called "Unapologetically Episcopalian." It is a gathering place to celebrate the many positive ways Episcopalians in 16 nations are spreading the Gospel of Christ.
    In four and one-half days, over three thousand people subscribed. One year later, we have 16,000 friends. I am amazed but, to be honest, not entirely surprised by the response.

    During the last three years, I've had opportunities to communicate with Episcopalians of all walks of life and all kinds of places. The one theme I have heard more than any other is that people on the extreme ends of the spectrum seem to have control of the public image of The Episcopal Church and the vast, vital, moderate center has experienced difficulty in finding its "voice." Like many of them, I have dear friends and colleagues on both ends of the spectrum. Whether I agree completely with their views or not, I respect them and desire to walk with them "in love as Christ loved us."
    It is not that The Episcopal Church doesn't have a public profile. We do. However, for a number of years it has been out of balance. Many Episcopalians have felt they needed to apologize for their Church because our internal conflicts and many angry voices have been the topic of the community grapevine. It seems to me that it's time for the public profile to change. It needs to change at every level, but especially at the local level where most of the day-to-day mission is being carried out.
    • When people in Lawrence, Kansas think of The Episcopal Church, we'd like them to think of the Trinity Interfaith Food Pantry, the BackSnack program, and the outstanding music ministry, all of which we share generously with our neighbors.
    • When people in City Island, Bronx, NY think of The Episcopal Church, will they think of the Healthy Aging Program at Grace Church?
    • When people in Raliegh, NC think of the Episcopal Church, we want them to remember that St. Mark's Church there has an AIDS Care Team.
    • When people in Tuscaloosa, AL think of The Episcopal Church, maybe they'll be aware of the Arts and Autism after school program they sponsor.
    • When people in Kansas City, MO think of the Episcopal Church, they'll think of the St. Luke's Hospital system with 11 hospitals and a hospice program, or, maybe they'll remember that St. Paul's Church just across the state line in the Diocese of Kansas, has a remarkable ministry of feeding the hungry.
    • Maybe all of those Episcopalians who have found their spiritual home in this Church will be salt, light, and leaven in their communities in ways that make a difference.
    While we are attempting to work through our differences in this Church, God's mission and our ministries continue on a daily basis. The stories and experiences of ALL sorts and conditions of Episcopalians who are rolling up their sleeves and transforming lives need to find greater expression and form more of the public profile of our Church. Episcopalians who are trying to find ways to accomplish Christ's work need to hear from other Episcopalians who've discovered solutions. We need to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep" without the angst that comes from protracted, polarizing conflict. Unapologetically Episcopalian provides a place for that to happen.
    I am not suggesting that our issues and the convictions of our members are not important. They are important. What I am suggesting is that the rest of the world is watching closely to see how we treat one another as we work through those differences. Jesus told his disciples that our love for one another, not our differences, is what will let everyone know that we are his disciples.
    So, I thought it would be a helpful thing to let the spotlight be on the love of Christ at work among us. Please join us. Check in often, post comments and stories about your journey of faith in The Episcopal Church. Let us know what is happening in your congregation and spread the word.
     
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  19. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    agreed!
     
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  20. nkygreg

    nkygreg Member

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    May I offer a little different thought? The mega-churches know how to market themselves and make themselves known. They do what they call servant evangelism. They stand on street corners and hand out free water. Sounds like a little thing but pays giant dividends. Little things make an impact.
    One of the most exciting things I saw last Lent was "Ashes on the Go". People in Clerical Collars offering Ashes to people on the street. A great way to offer something in a unique way. The EC is involved in so many political causes yet it's the common people on the street that will make a difference. Thats who Jesus hung out with.
     

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