Next up in the WWCDL Guest Blogger Series which is focused on why some of us are choosing to live out our faith through in a denominational
context is someone that I have enjoyed getting to know through a variety of emergent events in person and online, Wendy Johnson. Please take a gander at some past reflections and check out – or add your own – some tweets with the hashtag, #wwcdl. If you would like to submit an entry and/or know someone that would be great feel free to pass their names along to me.
Wendy Johnson [email]
Wendy is emerging and has been for a very long time. She often chronicles these growing pains on her blog, through her Twitter feed, , and on Facebook. Currently, Wendy is paid to be the communications director for The Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota. She is also working with friends and family to facilitate a service-based community outreach program called Second Sunday.
You know….it can be pretty easy to pick off denominations.
they've been around for a while – in the case of the Anglican Church,
since sometime in the 16th century. So of course, being the humans that
we are – and being the human institution that the church is – awful,
terrible, horrible things have happened. Some of them noticed in a
large-scale kind of way, and some (maybe most) go completely
unrecognized but have nonetheless torn at the very fabric of the
denomination and of Christianity as a whole.
I get this. I know
this. I believe that to participate in a denomination is to own my part
in this — past, present, and future. Acknowledging these things, I
hang my head in shame.
And yet, I stay connected to this immensely flawed institution, this Episcopal denomination, this stuck, broken church. Why?
I also see the good. I see the good it has done and the good it can do.
I see the creativity and hopefulness that is just at the edges, ready
to be released. I see God at work among the people I know – individuals
who are trying to figure out where they are called to be and what they
should be doing.
I believe that the Episcopal Church, at its
best, is adept and well-equipped to discern the will of God and to join
all that God is doing. I believe that the longevity of this institution
gives us a wealth of praxis and experience in the ways of Spirit that
is informative and useful and it would be a terrible shame if it is
carelessly cast aside.
Despite my "episcopalness" you will more
regularly find me at Solomon's Porch on a Sunday. Why? Because apart
from being Episcopalian, I am also a fully postmodern contemporary kind
of person who just can't make the extraordinary leap from the world in
which I live into the current version of of the Sunday morning
Episcopal church in Minnesota. But, make no mistake, this is a choice
made with considerable tension and sadness.
On a particular
recent Sunday at Solomon's Porch I was called on to explain the
Episcopal Church and why I'm still a part of it. With no opportunity
for preparation at all, I was surprised to find myself pointing to the
profound understanding of ritual and liturgy that has developed in the
Episcopal Church over the hundreds of years — this "practicing"
undertaken by people like me. All the thought and reflection and trial
and error that undergirds everything that happens in the church. In
some deep sense, I crave participating in these centuries-old
practices. I feel less than whole when the wisdom of those who have
gone before me is lost.
Having been raised in the Disciples of
Christ and having attended all sorts and flavors of Christian churches
over the years, I have found no other church that sets aside and
handles the sacraments with such meaningfulness, grace, and depth as
the Episcopal Church. I like the hocus pocus. I like the mystery and
the sanctity of the Eucharistic feast. I like the imagery and belief in
the communion of saints. I want to stand at the communion rail and take
my place alongside everyone who ever has been and ever will share that
I also want and need that global community that only a
worldwide denomination can offer. I recently led a mission trip to
Cordova, Alaska with a bunch of kids from Episcopal Churches in the
Twin Cities. The people of Cordova took us in and showed us the most
extraordinary hospitality. Why? Because we were Episcopalians, which
meant we are connected to them through this global communion. They
needed to know nothing beyond that – not who we were, not what we were
doing there, not how much we can pay them to offset expenses. I like
being in communion with these gracious, hospitable, accepting people.
have rarely entered a church – Episcopal or otherwise – that is not
predominantly one race or culture. While I don't particularly aspire to
participate in these monocultural settings, I have resigned myself to
the fact that, for now, this is how people segregate themselves on
Sundays. Participating in a global church allows me the comfort of
knowing that while I don't have the privilege of a multicultural
setting for my church, I do participate in a broader faith community
that embraces all people. This globalized church gives me some sense of
hope that these barriers can someday be broken down.
I heard Tony
Blair recently say (on the Daily Show, of course) that in our new and
expanding understanding of globalization, faith traditions have the
ability to either enhance and support our networked world or to pull it
apart. He is banking on the institution finding the way of connection.
my experiences, I'm with Tony Blair. I believe that the Episcopal
church has the tremendous ability and potential to pull people
together. Because of its emphasis on community over isolation,
incarnation over separation, conversation over common theology, it is
uniquely equipped and particularly agile enough to engage contemporary
culture and issues and to re-form itself to meet the challenges our
globalized age presents.