Thursday, October 26, 2017

Identity

I was visiting a parish last night that is in transition (meaning they currently have an interim priest and are in the process of calling their next rector). They expressed fear over losing their identity. It manifested in some other ways but really came down to that they don't want to change who they are.

I like to say that The Episcopal Church wants you to become your best self and supports you in that. I also can then extrapolate that they want our churches to be their best selves as well. But we don't determine what that best self is. Every church is different as every person is different. We are better by our diversity of styles, theology, demographic makeup, etc... So each church needs to be listening for the Holy Spirit to manifest what that best self is. And it changes so keep listening!


St. Francis' first Sunday as a house church.
As I stood there taking it all in last night, I realized that my own church's identity is tied up in some anxiety and fear, at least for me. When we first started it was the fear of losing our Episcopal identity. As Rev. Marshall Huey said during our discernment process, for some the Episcopal Church is part of the fiber of their being. That is true for me. I can admit that at some points I have centered my faith more in the church than in Jesus. I have found a way to balance that and continue to work on it. To use The Episcopal Church as a path to Jesus knowing it is not the only way but what is best for me.

But more recently, my fears are that we will lose our identity of a missional church that is doing things different and shaking off the mold. It takes a lot more energy to do what we are doing. And sometimes that is hard for those that want church to be easy. To show up and have church served to you instead of serving the community of faith in church and outside the walls.
Sunday School on the floor

I don't know what is next for St. Francis. The not knowing can be hard for us since it is against our human nature of status quo. But I hope that we keep our spirit as we search for our next priest. And I pray for the other church I visited to find their best self and find it together in a way that transforms their community into even more loving, welcoming, and faithful followers of Jesus.

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