What would happen if Episcopalians and their church put Jesus at the center – really?

Curry and Jennings challenge Executive Council as it opens four-day meeting

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Posted Oct 18, 2017

Diocese of Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen presides at Holy Eucharist on Oct. 18 as the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council opens its Oct. 18-21 meeting. The Rev. Deacon Geof Smith, the Episcopal Church’s chief operating officer, assisted during the service. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] It would seem obvious that Episcopalians have Jesus at the center of their lives and that the Episcopal Church centers on Jesus. Yet, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry challenged the church’s Executive Council Oct. 18 to reflect deeply on whether the church and its members are truly answering the call of Christ during these times of challenges from outside and inside the church.

Curry’s remarks came during the opening session of council’s Oct. 18-21 meeting. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies and Executive Council vice chair, joined him in that challenge. Council spent nearly 90 minutes listening to and discussing Curry’s challenge. The members and staff will continue that work Oct. 19, albeit from a different angle, in a session Jennings will lead on council committee reorganization.

Curry acknowledged that recently released data from the 2016 parochial reports from each congregation and diocese show that membership in the Episcopal Church continues to decline. The pace has slowed some, he said, but the trajectory remains downward. There were 6,473 domestic parishes and missions in 2016 compared with 6,510 in 2015. The number of baptized members who were active in 2016 was 1,745,156, compared with 1,779,335 in 2015.

While it may be tempting to despair and search for ways to return to a church that Episcopalians believe existed in the past, Curry said, he believes that if the church concentrates on making and forming disciples who truly live the way of Jesus, “we won’t have time to worry about average Sunday attendance; that will take care of itself.”

“If we continue to navel gaze, then we won’t survive, and probably shouldn’t,” he said. “If our concern is being the church of the 1950s, maintaining an institutional reality for the sake of the institution, maybe we don’t need to continue.”

But, if Episcopalians are concerned about keeping Jesus at the center of their lives, then “that’s church that has a reason to exist and will have a future.”

The presiding bishop asked council to consider the story told in Acts 16:6-10, known as the Macedonian Call. Paul, “having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia,” according to the passage, has a vision one night of a man pleading with him to come help him and his friends in Macedonia. Once there, Paul meets and converts Lydia, her household and many others, and plants many churches on what is now known as his second missionary journey.

Curry insisted that the Episcopal Church might be experiencing its own Macedonian Call. The attendance data he cited is “either a cause for despair or a call to go to Macedonia.” The despair comes from feeling as if the church is blocked from resuscitating “the church we thought we once were.”

“Macedonia” needs Episcopalians, he said, in a time when “there are voices in our culture that masquerade as Christians.” However, those voices “do not even show basic humanitarian concern and care,” much less echoing Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness.

House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing, center, makes a point Oct. 18 as council members and others discuss ways to ensure that Jesus is always at the center of their lives and of the church. Council member Russ Randle, right, and Barbara Miles, chairwoman of the Joint Standing Commission on Program, Budget and Finance are among those listening. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“I really believe that the way of Jesus, the way that is gracious, kind, loving, just, good – that way and that Jesus – is what the world is hungry for and God help us, we’re getting a Macedonian Call,” Curry said.

When Episcopalians answer that call, they will be a church reoriented around the gospel in the way, as in most congregations, the gospel is processed into the midst of the people and they turn to face the person who proclaims it, the presiding bishop said.

Curry acknowledged that his description of the world in need of authentic Christianity was an echo of what Jennings evoked for council in her remarks earlier in the session. Jennings reviewed a litany of what she has said is a “difficult season for Christians in the United States who are committed to doing justice, protecting God’s creation and safeguarding the dignity of every human being.”

“The situation feels unstable, and to many Americans, it is downright frightening,” Jennings said.

“I am encouraged that many Christians, and many of you here this morning, are mobilizing to resist the onslaught of policies and pronouncements – and tweets – that run counter to our gospel values and our vision of the kingdom of God,” she said. “People of faith have played important roles in opposing several unsuccessful attempts to take health care away from millions of Americans, and we are also committed to defeating the current attempt to deport hundreds of thousands of young ‘dreamers’ who were brought to this country without documentation as children.”

Jennings anchored that advocacy in the public policy actions taken by the General Convention, and she praised the support of the Office of Government Relations in Washington D.C., for helping mobilize the Episcopal Church, especially when legislative remedies are sought.

“We are working hard; the issues come at us fast these days. But we are organized, we are mobilizing more quickly than in the past, and we are resisting for the sake of the most vulnerable people in our communities and our congregations,” she said.

Episcopalians must “counter an impoverished and vindictive interpretation of our faith with what my friend here calls the loving, liberating and life-giving message of the Jesus Movement,” Jennings said, referring to Curry.

Given the gravity of what Jennings described, she admitted that council might think it odd when, on Oct. 19, she leads a session on the group’s committee structure.

“Now, I realize that the kingdom of God is not like a committee meeting, or at least I hope not,” she said. “But the work we do here to fulfill our canonical responsibility – which is to provide board-level oversight and direction to the work of the DFMS as defined by General Convention – makes it possible for the rest of the church to do its work. In our tradition, governance does not stand in opposition to mission or even detract from mission. Governance, done efficiently, transparently and collaboratively, makes mission and witness, prophetic witness, possible.”

The rest of the meeting

After the opening plenary on Oct. 18, council spent the rest of the day and the morning of Oct. 19 meeting in its five committees. Later on Oct. 19, council members will get an update on the recent work of Episcopal Relief & Development, and they will have the Jennings-led discussion on possible ways to reorganize their work on council. Committee meetings will also take up most of Oct. 20 and, on Oct. 21, the committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider.

The Oct. 18-21 meeting is taking place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center.

Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 laypeople) are elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one layperson) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seats and voice but no vote.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.


Comments (47)

  1. Susan salisbury says:

    This piece says to me that anyone who does not think that Jesus was First and foremost @ progressive politician is not welcome in the Episcopal church. It says I& you voted forTrump you are a bigot and a hater and are not welcome unless you promise to vote for and contribute to Democrats. This isn’t Jesus. This is literally using the Lords name to promote a powerful central state that has the ability to crush individuals like the cockroaches the progressives think we are. It allows no debate at all on what policies are actually most beneficial for poor people and ignores , for example, the tens if millions who cannot afford Obamacare, and the rising tide of euthanasia in European countries that provide. Universal health care. It frankly says I am not welcome in the Episcopal church

    1. Not sure how you came up with that take. Can you explain?

      1. Bud Sherwood says:

        Not sure? Read the words.

        “difficult season for Christians in the United States who are committed to doing justice, protecting God’s creation and safeguarding the dignity of every human being.” – Apparently it wasn’t a difficult season before.

        “The situation feels unstable, and to many Americans, it is downright frightening,” – What about the Americans that don’t feel it’s unstable and aren’t afraid?

        “I am encouraged that many Christians, and many of you here this morning, are mobilizing to resist the onslaught of policies and pronouncements – and tweets – that run counter to ‘our’ gospel values and ‘our vision’ of the kingdom of God,” she said. I doubt she is talking to Episcopalian that are Republicans here…..

        “People of faith have played important roles in opposing several unsuccessful attempts to take health care away from millions of Americans, and we are also committed to defeating the current attempt to deport hundreds of thousands of young ‘dreamers’ who were brought to this country without documentation as children.” – Sounds like a Democratic Party position here….

        Politically in polling or voting 60 – 40 would be a huge landslide. So let’s assume the average congregation fits that model. So when the church as a whole, or its leadership, right down to the parish priest takes a policy position, at best you are telling 40% of the congregation, diocese, national church they are wrong… “counter to ‘our’ gospel values and ‘our vision’ of the kingdom of God. ” Would you go to that church?

        The PB says… “However, those voices (“voices in our culture that masquerade as Christians”) “do not even show basic humanitarian concern and care,” much less echoing Jesus’s message of love and forgiveness.” Why take a shot at other Christians? Is he saying the 40% or whatever are “masquerading as Christians.” How does he know what’s in their hearts?

        Here’s an idea. How about concentrating on connecting people to God and Jesus. Let’s concentrate on making them good Christians. Good Christians will be good citizens. Good citizens will do right by our country and their neighbors, etc. When I see the church pushing policies and advocating, it tells me we don’t really trust God and Jesus. Jesus can change hearts. Trust him. Then the 40% or more will come back. Jesus is for everyone.

      2. Rev. Steve Bailey says:

        Yes Please explain. Your comment seems like a total non-sequitur, Susan.

    2. Jack Cummings says:

      Susan, it is certainly not clear to me how or where your judgment about being welcome in the Episcopal Church relates in any way to the article. There is no talk of Republican or Femocrat but rather of those whose Christian love is lived every day. I pray the scales on your eyes will bewashed away and you can see the message as a call to live as Jesus did. Blessings to all

      1. Denise Unger says:

        Jack Cummings , ever able to speak with clarity. Love you and love listening to your Christian strength. God bless you!

    3. Alan McKeeman says:

      While I’m a political liberal I am disturbed by the tendency in the Episcopal Church to expect members to walk lock-stop in a liberal political direction. Christian reality as it pertains to politics is far more nuanced than that. Far better that the church morally inform our consciences in a general way and allow us to translate that information politically.

    4. John Martin says:

      I have seen members of my own family leave the church because of the liberal view and political activism. Susan makes an excellent point. Bishop Curry continually makes his political stance known. Based on the election result, I would say that better than half of all Episcopalians don’t agree with his stance.

      1. John Martin says:

        What does “awaiting moderation”

        1. Mary Frances Schjonberg says:

          It means that the comment is the first one posted by that person and, per our guidelines here https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/comment-policy/, that comment must be approved. After that, the person’s comment publishes automatically.

    5. Judy Hedin says:

      I live in Europe and do not see the “rising tide of Euthanasia” of which you speak. Instead, I experience governments by the people and for the people, providing such things as low-cost or free healthcare AND education, paid-for maternal leave, and decent vacation time. This is what is important, not hand-outs to already rich and bloated corporations and billionaires.

      1. Annette Smith says:

        As you know nothing is Free. Those people are willing to be taxed 40-50% to
        Receive those benefits.

  2. Curt Zimmerman says:

    More than membership statistics, I’m more interested in average Sunday attendance. I think that’s probably a better indicator to watch each year.

    1. Gloria Hopewell says:

      If they are using the Parochial Report, they may well be using ASA because that is reported. ASA, though, is losing its usefulness as well in this time when the trend is attending church less than every Sunday. New metrics are needed.

  3. Martha Richards says:

    I believe we need to leave politics out of this – we are called to be a caring, loving and helping community of faith. We need to show love to all – to feed the hungry and cloth the naked, console the grieving and minister to the ill. If you really look, the work of Jesus is happening – sometimes its not being tweeted or on the internet. But some of us are remembering that we must be a loving people of Christ and reaching out to those in need.

    1. Paula Pavanis says:

      Always will there be individuals, maybe even discreet parishes, who do. Problem is: the corporate and historical politics and what TEC as a whole supports. My personal experience has always been that Episcopalians are handshakers who either make a big fuss about any philanthropy they engage or feign humility falsely from their (oft invisible to them) privileged positions. Good at writing checks: perhaps: hands on not forthcoming. Try volunteering or showing interest in being trained for Episcopal Relief and Development versus say The American Red Cross to be a hands on boots on the ground disaster volunteer. The larger systemic zytgeist becomes crystal clear. I was asked to write. check instead.

  4. Paula Pavanis says:

    I am grateful that this is showcased and sad that, as usual, the time frame for action and movement likely promises to follow an all too familiar pattern: groaningly glacial and lost in committte. Michael is right, if TEC continues doing things the same ol same ol, it is probably best it dismantle. Sad. Those in power, AKA purse string holders, are all too often sadly and maddeningly stuck.

  5. P.J. Cabbiness says:

    We can put Jesus in the center by recommitting ourselves to the sacred observance and deep theological understanding of the Sacraments with emphasis on our Baptismal Covenant and the Holy Eucharist. If we correct our denominational error and become B.C.P. people again, Christ will be at the center. The progressive drift we are currently suffering from must be corrected.

  6. Regardless of who one supported with one’s vote in the last election, I think that there is universal agreement that we live in a very unstable and fearful age. It is also the case that we can find ourselves captivated by (and in captivity to) a political position, a theological assertion, or a liturgical form rather than being captivated by Jesus. Yes, there are things that follow from that–even political positions that follow from that–but the center is and must be Jesus. All Jesus followers are and should be welcome in the Episcopal Church. All those not interested in following Jesus, whether liberal or conservative, have plenty of other options available to them.

  7. gordon fuglie says:

    I am excited about Presiding Bishop Curry’s leading in changing the ECUSA into a “Jesus Movement,” and where the particulars of this tendency are addressed by Canon Spellers. I take this to mean creating formational/transformational pedagogy in each parish that gets a core of parish members learning to more and more “have the mind of Christ.” Out of such emerging Jesus communities, the Holy Spirit will direct the reflection and action out into the world. Not everyone will buy into this calling, which, by the way, comes from the mission found in the back of our BCP. So be it. Behold, God, makes all things new.

    Second, our Jesus Movement will certainly be active in the world — but remember: we are NOT a social service agency, duplicating the Red Cross, or taking overt political stances — especially in a polarized country like the US. We are called to be the loci of the Kingdom of God, changing minds, hearts, and purifying our souls — together. This will commence the reconciliation of our broken world. And on a lesser and closing note, in the political realm, I am a registered Democrat, but my primary calling is to be a disciple of the suffering and risen Jesus, the Messiah,

  8. Donald Heacock says:

    I for one glad for the Jewish Revolt of 70 AD. They set out to kill Paul when he brought alms for the church poor. You can read the story in Acts 21: 26 following. This Jewish Church while Paul was in his gentile church constantly sent people to attack Paul over eating with unclean people & becoming Jews. Only the distruction of this branch of The Church. The ethics of the early church was deeply personal. The Romans were horrified because it had not interest in public ethics. I pray this Jesus Movement will also die. The Episcopal Church deserves to shrink as long as it makes the man who died on the Cross for our salvation into a left wing agitator. The most radical thing he did was over turn tables in the Temple. He never attacked Rome in any way. You have heard a prosecutors can convict a ham sandwiche. We Jesus was there ham sandwich

    1. Charles B. Allen II says:

      Would someone be good enough to enlighten me as to what the deficiencies were in TEC in the 1950’s and why they feel we are in a better place today? As a product of a low New England Church during those days, I fail to see how the ‘modern’ broad Church has been an improvement. Attendance and general participation would seem to belie this ‘progress”.

  9. Sarah M. Fox says:

    What happened to God?

  10. Joshua Hill says:

    Here’s where we are: Our PB has to remind us that Jesus is the reason we exist. What Had we thought it was? Why? Does Pizza Hut need its CEO to remind employees to sell pizza? Sad.

  11. The Rev. Fred Fenton says:

    The Presiding Bishop is right. Christianity is not a spectator sport. Brian D. McLaren, a recovering Evangelical, has written an important book I recommend to all, “The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian.” McLaren writes: “What would it mean for Christians to rediscover their faith not as a problematic system of beliefs, but as a just and generous way of life, rooted in contemplation and expressed in compassion, that makes amends for its mistakes and is dedicated to beloved community for all?”

  12. If anyone thinks the “Good News” will lead the institutional church to “success” I have some bad news for you. It won’t. The Good News is not transactional. If you “do it” it is not guaranteed to increase either your ASA or your plate and pledge. The Good News is not transactional but it IS transformative. It WILL change your life. More importantly, it will transform The Episcopal Church into something none of us will recognize. And, my friends, therein lies the rub.

    I am reminded that Jesus did not have a “church”; neither did he have an “office”. People did not go to him for great liturgy and music, much less a magnificent building with amazing art. He went to where they were to bring healing and hope in preaching the Good News of the Realm of God. In so doing, he said some hard things, made people – especially the governmental and religious leaders of his day – very uncomfortable and angry, and challenged every dearly loved and closely held religious and cultural teaching and tradition. That is not a recipe for increased ASA, much less plate, and pledge – especially in TEC where we often worship our worship. That is, however, a recipe for faithful Christian life and the raising up of leaders for Christ.

    I don’t know – I’d love to be proved wrong but I don’t know – if being faithful to the life, teachings, and the power and spirit of the mystery of the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is even compatible with the goal of the “success” of the institutional church. That said, if our beloved institutional church is, in fact, dying, then being more faithful to Jesus is a wonderful way to go.

    1. Alice Sawyer says:

      Finally, someone gets it! There is always a price to pay for following Jesus. Btw Jesus was socially a pretty liberal guy in his day. Can’t escape that reality no matter what party you’re in.

  13. Kenneth Knapp says:

    It kind of sounds like they are doubling down on a strategy that hasn’t been working.

    1. Donald Heacock says:

      I suggest you read the 10 chapter of Matthew. He does not sound very liberal. V5 Do not go into the way of gentiles nor inter the city of Smaritans. We are Christian today because of Paul. I am a Christian because Jesus did not fully grasp God call tell after his Resurrection. Matthew 28 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… Of course John writing around 100 AD paints a very different view of what Jesus knew.

      1. Kenneth Knapp says:

        I have read the “10 Chapter of Mathew” hundreds of times. What is your point?

  14. Jerry Emerson says:

    Oh WOW! There you have it. Presiding Bishop Curry calls for following Jesus, and

    President Jennings calls for specific nationwide social actions. This apparent

    conflict between calling for political sounding social actions and following Jesus.

    continues in our congregations. It’s the means and motives which are in conflict,

    not the actions called for. And as Curry clearly says the motive should not be ASA

    or number of churches, or even the survival of ECUSA, but whether or not we are

    living up to the Christ part of our Christian name. I believe, personally have

    seen, and history proves (Luther, Wilberforce, Wesley, Bonhoefer, King), that

    change really comes when we apply Jesus’s teaching one on one to each other and

    everyone we meet. The one on one starts when we go to the Word, share, and start

    to ask one another what does this really mean. When we stop saying to ourselves;

    “Surely God couldn’t mean that.” and instead say “What if God really means that.”,

    and then act accordingly. Amazing things can happen when this occurs, because

    God’s methods, IMHO, are always paradoxial to the World’s classroom. So instead of

    large political social action groups, we start with very small Jesus led groups,

    following His call. Thereby we can change the World and Nation. Wesley called it

    the “Method”, and for it we kicked him out of the pulpit. And remember Jesus didn’t go to the Sandhedrin, the Pharisees, or the Romans, he went to the lowly fishermen, local terrorist, and hated tax collectors. The ECUSA perhaps because of it’s typical makeup of local leaders, businessmen, politicos, military Officers(me), etc., has a proclivity toward plans, programs, consultants, budgets, executive councils, and management schemes. I think it is hard for us to believe the Holy Spirit will move from small ways, like from the original 12 minus one. Maybe it is almost sinful when we in our pride think we have answers, rather than, in faith, turn it over to Him. It’s not the Church or Nation God wants us to maintain, but it’s our fellow man, through Jesus type Love. Keep on preaching Bishop!!!
    – – – and sorry, but this, to you, may mean in the next coffee hour, you must

    welcome that smelly, homeless, bedraggled person that comes to get a free donut,

    rather than arrange a luncheon date with the Chair of the newest highly thought of

    non-profit in town. WWJD??

  15. mike geibel says:

    As an Episcopalian who has left the Church, my reaction to the article is colored by my angst over the church of my birth. Feel free to reject or disagree—I am not infallible—but my comments may provide a window into why I think the Church is shrinking.

    Mixing politics and religion, and then adding in the actuarial tables, is a lethal recipe for the Episcopal Church. Expect the numbers to be worse in 2017—the referenced Parochial Report was compiled before the effects of the November 2016 election. The TEC is 80% percent white, 60% over age 55, and an estimated 40% of the ASA members regularly attending church are conservatives, many of whom probably voted for Trump, or alternatively, voted against Clinton. Gay marriage has been passé after the revolt several years ago, so the next great exodus can best be attributed to deaths in an aging membership, failure to attract young families, and divisive politicking that has alienated many members.

    No doubt Bishop Curry and Rev. Gay Clark Jennings are compassionate and faithful followers of Christ. I think the Bishop is right when he said: “If the church concentrates on making and forming disciples who truly live the way of Jesus, ‘we won’t have time to worry about Average Sunday Attendance; that will take care of itself.’” The problem is that the Leadership believes that to “truly live the way of Jesus,” clergy and members must be political activists. “Disciples” means troops that the Church can “mobilize” in a culture war against anything Trump or conservative. There is nothing nonpartisan or hopeful in Rev. Jennings’ quoted battle plan.

    I am no fan of Trump, but the the Leadership has been decidedly Alt-Left, confrontational and deeply divisive. Jesus made disciples by changing hearts and minds, but he did not do so by denouncing the Emperor, by calling for economic boycotts over bathroom rights, by hiring attorneys to advocate gender neutral locker rooms and showers, or by leading “resistance” marches falsely claiming to speak for all Episcopalians. Uncompromising religious beliefs give rise to uncompromising political beliefs, which quickly degenerates into hateful name calling and empty pews.

    The Leadership has no monopoly on deciding what politicians, churches and laws are, and are not, truly Christian. It is not an “impoverished and vindictive interpretation of our faith” to support enforcement of our immigration laws or to advocate for health care that is fiscally sustainable. We are not anti-stewards of the earth if we acknowledge climate change but oppose the Paris Accord as a bad deal when it requires Americans to pay billions in ransom to China and India. The charge of “white privilege”—a term which is inherently “racist”—is not the cause of every societal injustice, and it is deeply insulting to those who have succeeded in life through ambition, personal hard work and the blessings bestowed by God.

    I expected the politics of my pastor to be more liberal than mine—she is more compassionate. I’ve always appreciated the fact that members of my church have represented a cross-section of society and political parties. I left the Church because I recoil when Christianity is used as a political weapon. My experience with ardent supporters of social justice politics is that they are simply intolerant of any opinion but their own. When the Church only adopts and advocates leftists causes followed by the chant, “we are the Jesus Movement,” then the chant becomes nothing more than a partisan political slogan.

    My new church is mostly millennial’s, is growing, and the Pastor is careful to leave politics at the door and to teach the Gospel on a personal level. I conclude from his success that young people yearning for personal guidance on how they should live their lives will not spend one hour of their time on Sunday to hear a pastor trying to indoctrinate them with a particular political agenda. Teach the Word, and then let them decide for themselves who and what to vote for.

    1. Diana Bickford says:

      very well expressed

    2. Charles B. Allen II says:

      Mike: I, too am a “Render unto Caesar” Episcopalian. I am interested to know what denomination your “new” Church is. seadelivery@yahoo.com

      1. mike geibel says:

        Non denominational, and a non liturgical service. I discovered this church quite by accident after leaving the Episcopal Church last year following political resolutions and denouncements by the local Diocese–not because of my Pastor, whom I love and respect dearly.

        We average 80 or more participants every Sunday, mostly young families and college students, with a smattering of grey heads like myself. I cannot explain how uplifting it is to see the next generation who will be running this country, listening and reacting to the Word and receptive to values of self integrity, respect for others, compassion for the less fortunate and love for our savior Jesus Christ. Neither liberal nor conservative, we are just Christians gathering together to worship and to thank God for our blessings.

  16. John Miller says:

    Those who think this is a political call to action, should be reading the OT prophets and the description of the anti-Christ in the NT. These are times of change. We have an angry president who seems to have no concept of bringing us together, particularly when he received a minority of the votes and thrives on chaos of his own making. I see nothing in this president that speaks of the fruits of the spirit

  17. Angustia Hamasaki says:

    We Episcopalians following , maintaining, the Christian values, continuing Jesus works. We are not bystanders or watchers of the church but workers or servants of the Lord, heirs of God’s kingdom, as we study and work for it, we need to have also a prayer time to input, building up our faith in Christian growth. It has no given free gifts from the Holy Spirit unless we follow God’s will and do Jesus works faithfully. If we all do the works of Jesus that would be in God’s kingdom Spirit. All in God’s help as He is the God of yesterday, today and forevermore. Jesus is the Firm Foundation, we need to help straighten up the path, continue to grow in truth as Christian. We may reach the destiny of God’s kingdom with prosperity. Everyone is welcome to all willing to help, grow and to know the Lord Jesus with humility. God bless us all always. In Jesus loving name we pray. Amen.

  18. Pamela Payne says:

    Thank you, Gerald. Well said.

  19. Wendy Sulewski says:

    All I wish to say is that I am proud and thankful to belong to a Church willing to address the issues of our modern life from the pespective of standing up for justice and care for people in need of help and support, even when such a stance is not popular. Isn’t that what “love your neighbor as yourself” means? Jesus never shied away from using words, or taking action, in opposition to what he considered unjust authority, so I can’t imagine that he would want his followers to follow that path
    non-partitipation. We, as Christians, are commissioned to be Jesus’ hands and feet and voice in the world, with not only responsibility owed to God, but also to our brothers and sisters. Bucking the system is never easy. Just ask Jesus.

  20. The Rev'd Canon Dr. Samir J. Haniby says:

    New in my use of the smallish typing pad ON my new phone, do accept my heartfelt and “red faced” apology for the several typos in my above all too lengthy commentary. In retrospect I should have used my Lap top PC with its rigorous Spellchecker. I am not sure whether I or the ENS editor can make typo corrections to the text, or withdraw it once posted!



  21. Brian Huskey says:

    I was fortunate to have belonged to a couple of wonderful Episcopal congregations in my journey. But the ECUSA lost me forever because of its lack of transparency and consistency in how it selects candidates for ordained ministry. As a one-time aspirant to the priesthood, I will never forgive how the institutional church abused its power with me and many others in my seminary cohort. Nor will I forgive the institutional church for selectively applying its own Constitution and Canons when it comes to “selecting” potential candidates for the priesthood. Add to that the church’s countless misguided and uninformed “ministries” to he poor in a time when clear-eyed and thoughtful
    response is so desperately needed, and you have an institution with dubious intention and rapidly growing irrelevance.

  22. Suzanne J Wright says:

    St. Andrews Episcopal Church of Fullerton, CA is my church. I feel that our church preaches love and Jesus with out being political. I think there is a left leaning, which I agree with, so its tough. I feel like I finally found my people in this church.
    There may be 40% who are more conservative, but I do not know everyone’s politics – not an issue. I do not feel any animosity among diverse members at all. We pray together for disaster victims, and of terrorism – fires… we do pray for our leaders to make wise choices, but none are political. All are respected and loved. Diversity is respected. Both right and left wing. Love and really trying to live with Christ and serve others is the ideal.
    I feel so blessed to have found such a beautiful church and congregation. This is what Episcopal should mean in my opinion.

  23. Sarah Rachel says:

    Yes to everything Susan Salisbury said! I agree. Episcopal Church is driving many out because they put guilt on those who aren’t P.C. and have no tolerance for voting for our POTUS. Mike Giebel – I would love to find a non-denominational Church where there is no focus on having to be a Dem or you are “evil”. Attendance is down with all mainline churches in the US, but non-denomn. up UP!!!

  24. Jan Rowe says:

    John, I am reading that more people were removed from the voting roll in Wisconsin than the number the president won by. Also, with Kris Kobach of Kansas and the ill-named Voter Integrity commission, if two people have the same first and last name, their names are to be removed as fraudulent. The person might be send a card checking their identity and this must be returned. My sister was given a provisional ballot in Ohio. Unless a person returns with proof, the provisional ballot is not counted. This past presidential election had a record number of provisional ballots; moreover, in the future the provisional ballots will not even be tallied.

  25. Terry Francis says:

    Jumping on the bandwagon of every left-wing cause is not putting Jesus at the center, and treating conservative members of this church like second class citizens is certainly not putting Jesus at the center.

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