How ‘Unapologetically Episcopalian’ came to be

By Ronald D. Pogue
Posted May 22, 2012

[Episcopal News Service] On April 22, 2010, I published an article offering ideas for raising the profile of the Episcopal Church. I was thinking that it’s not only about raising the profile, but also about how the profile impacts people. Is it positive or negative? For what will the Episcopal Church be known on the community grapevine?

On the following May 1, I decided to practice what I was preaching and launched a facebook fan page called “Unapologetically Episcopalian.” It is an online, interactive, gathering place to celebrate the many positive ways Episcopalians in 16 nations are spreading the Gospel of Christ. Our conversations are guided by the wisdom of St. Paul, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8).

Today, two years later, we have more than 20,000 friends. I am amazed but not entirely surprised by the response. The extreme ends of the spectrum often seem to control the public image of this church. The vast, vital, moderate center has had difficulty in finding its voice. We seem to have discovered a way for that voice to find expression.

It’s not that the Episcopal Church doesn’t have a public profile. We do. However, it has been out of balance. Many Episcopalians have felt they needed to apologize for their church because internal conflicts and angry voices have been the topic of the community grapevine. It seems to me that it’s time for the public profile to change, especially at the local level where most of the day-to-day mission is being carried out.

• When people in Bronx, New York, think of the Episcopal Church, will they think of the Healthy Aging Program at Grace Church?
• When people in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, think of the Episcopal Church, we want them to remember that Christ Church has an AIDS Care Team.
• When people in Kentucky think of the Episcopal Church, maybe they’ll think of Reading Camp, an intensive remedial literacy education program founded by the Diocese of Lexington to serve children who are struggling with learning to read.
• When people in Kansas City think of the Episcopal Church, they’ll think of the St. Luke’s Hospital system and its hospice or St. Paul’s Church, which has a remarkable ministry of feeding hungry neighbors.

While we continue to work through our differences in this church, God’s mission continues on a daily basis. 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” (Romans 12:15) without the angst that comes from protracted, polarizing conflict. Unapologetically Episcopalian is place where that can happen.

I’m not suggesting that the issues and convictions of our members are not important. They are important. What I am suggesting is that the world is watching to see how we treat one another when we differ. Jesus told his disciples that our love for one another, not our differences, will let everyone know that we are his disciples. Our diversity is our opportunity to be light, leaven, and salt.

So, I thought it would be helpful to shine the spotlight on Christ’s love at work among us. Friends check in for Morning Prayer and Evensong, request prayers, ask questions, and share photos. We have several albums, including one with 154 photos of red doors of Episcopal churches. We ask questions that draw out positive responses about life in the church we love. In celebration of our second anniversary, we entered into collaboration with Forward Movement to develop several initiatives that will positively impact the profile and witness of the Episcopal Church.

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.

— The Rev. Ron Pogue is interim rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Ashland, Kentucky. He is the founder and moderator of the Unapologetically Episcopalian Facebook page.


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Comments (8)

  1. John Wyman says:

    Our church fan page makes regular use of content provided by Unapologetically Episcopalian. We are grateful to the Spirit for blessing their ministry!

  2. Lang E. Lloveras says:

    Dear Father Pogue,

    A member of the vestry of our church, St. James in Leesburg, Virginia, sent me a link to Unapologetically Episcopalian, and I am very grateful, both to Chris for sending me the link, and to you for starting this wonderful site.

    God bless you in all that you undertake.

    Sincerely,

    Lang Elizabeth Lloveras (National Cathedral School for Girls, Class of 1963)

  3. Stacey Carmody says:

    I’ve belonged to the UE Facebook page since its inception. I love it!!

  4. John McCann says:

    I am Gloriously Proud to be an Episcopalian!! Since my confirmation on Pentecost Sunday in 2011, I have had a profound experience of religious awakening, and after 30 years of not having God or the organized church a presence in my life, it came as a surprise,a shock, and a wondrous experience….. I have been anti-church, I would probably fall into what I call “progressives’ … I believe that science and religion can live side by side, that all the hate-mongers and intolerant fundamentalists turned me off of “church.” It all happened so quickly and so powerfully to have my life turned upside down, by a friendly invitation from a priest after a Good Friday service to attend Easter Eucharist, an then a confirmation class at Trinity Wall Street, and was blessed by Bishop Andrew Smith, within a year, I have found my vocation (exploring missionary work in China, exploring working in Jerusalem, for the SSJE, studying the wonderful seminarian course for laymen, EFM, learning to give away my life to God, to take pleasure in the ancient rites, the incense , the ancient chants, those moments of comfort and joy when it’s OK to appreciate stained glass windows, the slightly worn velvet pews, the warm wooden stalls, to help confront the reality of today, with the BCP, the feeling I had when I first offered my services as a lector, and read in a strong voice, as if God, not I, were doing the reading, to experience the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center, when our St. Paul’s Chapel, a block away, stood, and has since become a site of pilgrimage, to Remember to Love. From feeling broken for a few years, to suddenly have my life to have its meaning, its purpose, and I have my vocation that has lifted me to heights previously unknown and unrecognized, by becoming a member of the Fellowship of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, which has helped to discipline my times of prayerfulness … I could go on. But I think the UE Facebook Page is wonderful and keeps me reminded of Gratitude and to always pray the “General Thanksgiving” every day!

  5. I love the Facebook site. Love morning prayer, the music and Evensong.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Barbara de la Cuesta says:

    I am a student in an EFM course at Christ Church Toms River, NJ. For two years I’ve kept a blog recording my thoughts on the experience of reading the Old and New Testaments along with readings provided by the Divinity School at the University of the South. I’d like to connect and share this blog with other students in this program and any others interested The blog is posted at barbdela.wordpress.com

  7. Ann Bakis says:

    My daughter is on Facebook, but I eschew social media. She introduced me to the wonderful Unapologetically Episcopalian feed, but at present I have to logon to her Facebook site to access it. Is is available by email to folks like me?

  8. Pastor Ken Suetterlin says:

    Greetings and peace! I am a retired UMC pastor/organist/music educator/liturgical artist/vocal accompanist…..I grew up in NW Missouri, in Maryville, did a Mus. Ed. degree at Northwest State U., have played piano since I was 5, organ since I was 13, have sung all my life beginning when I was a little guy. Old First M.E. as it was before ’68, was a large church, 1800 members, graded choirs for kids, and a 40 voice adult choir. Being a ‘university church’ the level of music and preaching was always invigorating. I cut my newly-minted Bass teeth on “Messiah” when I was 12 and a half. I started organ lessons at 13 in March of ’58; that Holy Week, both my teacher (the organist) and her assistant fell ill, and I was asked to play for Holy Thursday Eucharist. So there I am, 13 years old, 250 people in church, HOLY WEEK…..and I haven’t stopped. I grew up singing the Communion Service from the 1939 M.E. Hymnal — John Merbecke’s setting — and, as Maryville was/is a large Catholic community with Immaculate Conception Abbey 30 miles east, my introduction to Gregorian chant, and traditional liturgy was no big step……When I entered Seminary at Garrett (Evanston, Ill) I had everyone thinking I was a Lutheran, because I knew how to sing the liturgy. The Dean and Faculty at Seabury-Western were most welcoming to a group of us who were at Morning Prayer and Eucharist most every day. I’ve always used traditional worship forms in my parishes, served the Iowa Annual Conference as Chair of the Worship Division for 8 years, helped introduce the 1989 Hymnal to Iowa. I was granted a disability leave in 2001 because of depression and COPD. We came to the Marshalltown, Ia. area, I attended worship at St. Johns-by-the Campus parish in Ames; where a close friend of mine was choir director. I subbed at the organ, and sang in the choir, and was even invited to participate as a clergyperson in the liturgy from time to time. In 2004 I accepted a position as organist in an ELCA Lutheran church here in town, and have been there ever since. My liturgical/theological/musical/doctrinal life has always been centered (even as a UMC) in Wesley’s heritage. That hasn’t always been acceptable in our Annual Conference. I’m one of about 30-40 clergy who never apologized for wearing our collars, and traditional vesture. It’s raised any number of eyebrows in my congregations, esp. in southern Iowa, where some claimed I was trying to make Catholics out of them (sigh) At any rate, a close friend of mine, now in Florida, is a UCC pastor, also an organist and choral director. We met here in Iowa in ’87. He’s posted links to you on my facebook page now for probably two years, so I figured I’d go to the source! My old Anglican heart is wonderfully satisfied. Thanks very much. Now — How do I post/share things on friends’ facebook pages?…… Blessings upon your ministry….I LOVE it! Pax. Ken Suetterlin

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