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October 16, 2009


Fr Craig

TQC - I've been pondering this for some time. I was in business finance and corp. law for 20 years prior to ordination. I agree we are after 'consumers,' but disagree that they are looking for any type of theology. Statistics on the growth of huge 'non-denominational' churches (usually fundamentalist in disguise) and their almost frantic efforts to give the consumers whatever they want demonstrate to me that young seekers just want a place to gather, be entertained and make friends in a 'religious' setting. Nothing wrong with that, although I argue that 'all about me' emphasis is antithetical to Christ's Gospel. We are a 'niche' church, sacramental, liturgical, great music, etc. It seems to me that those things will speak to a goodly number of young folks (and likely to soon-to-retire boomers who are not currently religious), but it will not to all. My answer: be the best Episcopal church we can and do a ton of ministry - that catches peoples' eyes.

D. C. Toedt

Fr. Craig, I think we're on the same page. My point was that a lot of traditionalists seem to think we'd draw more people if only we'd preach The One True Faith. The data suggest they're overly optimistic.


Sounds like we're about 30 years behind Europe but gaining rapidly. Or 30 years ahead of Europe and losing rapidly, depending on the perspective.


I can't say whether the trend in church attendance in general, or in participation with Episcopalian communities specifically, will change. As one in the process of considering affiliation with the Episcopalian faith, though, I can perhaps offer some hope from the observations I've noted about the church.

First is what appears to me to be a tolerance for questioning and personal insight that I do not often find in a religious community, even in some that are often regarded as open-minded and even trendy. It seems to me that the Episcopalians are finding a way to nicely blend sacred tradition, freedom of thought, and as much intellectual integrity as we humans can hope to find working within an endeavor that relies on faith as much as logic to light our way.

I also find that I admire the courage of the Episcopal church to reconsider traditional positions regarding both challenging social issues (like abortion or same-sex relationships)and spiritual ones (such as, say, who was Jesus, really?). The very struggle in the church that is turning some members away catches my notice, and I find myself thinking "unsettled, in search of an identity, daring, compassionate, a bit insecure in its own remaking - sounds like my kind of place."

Finally, Episcopalians seem to tenaciously keep alive their regard for time-honored forms of spiritual worship and celebration, even in the face of their adaptation to contemporary culture. Many have noted that when all is said and done, our relationship with God is not founded fundamentally on the niceness of our cathedrals, our "head knowledge" of scriptures, or our regular participation in unchanging rituals, and at the root of things that is true. Yet - I have to ponder sometimes why it is that a well-crafted ceremony within an environment of arched doorways, stained glass, wooden pews, and pillars can bring me to reverence in spite of myself. There is life in those ancient traditions; they are the embodiment of perhaps billions of prayers from countless millions of people offered over thousands of years. Perhaps - just perhaps - God speaks to us as much through our art and architecture as through our texts and intuition. I cannot say for sure, but I note that the Episcopal church preserves these things and in so doing it draws me in.

At any rate, that is my perspective. I am only one person and cannot change the statistics much. But, I've found through the years that if I am thinking and feeling something, there are usually other people doing so too. Maybe that will lend support to the continued thriving of the Episcopalian faith.

D. C. Toedt III

Todd writes: Perhaps - just perhaps - God speaks to us as much through our art and architecture as through our texts and intuition.

Agreed - we do have (at least) five senses, after all ....

Thanks for stopping by, Todd. I just posted a longer response as a separate blog entry.

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