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How the Church Should Work

In his first sermon as Presiding Bishop-Elect of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe began to share his vision for mission and ministry during his nine-year term.

He compared our moment to the time of the Church in Ephesus, some 25 years after the Resurrection of Jesus and the beginning of the Church. Like the Ephesians, Rowe said, the Episcopal Church of today is "small, countercultural. We’re not struggling to survive in the cult of Artemis," as the Ephesians were, "but there are other cults in our midst." And, he emphasizes, "we are not backing down in our proclamation of the Gospel just because other people who understand it differently are bigger or think they’re more powerful or louder or have a vision that denies humanity."

In order to meet these challenges, Rowe preached, we must be honest about "our idolatry of structures and practices that exclude and diminish our witness." We will need to "hold more lightly our beliefs about how the church should work and who has a voice."

You can read the entire text of Bishop Rowe's sermon here.

Changing structures and practices for the sake of strengthening our witness can feel like a very big challenge. But in some ways we at Holy Cross are already part of that process. Not on anything like a grand, church-wide scale, of course. But on our own congregational level, as we discern more deeply the call of every member to ministry, and the way we all share in the priesthood of Jesus, we are shifting some structures and practices that we have long cherished. As we consider reorganizing parish work along the lines of Mutual ministry, we are considering what new structures we can embrace to strengthen our witness. As we show up in the wider community on behalf of right-relationships of mutual well-being for everyone, no exceptions, we are not backing down in our proclamation of the Gospel of love.

It can be easy for us at Holy Cross to think of ourselves as a small congregation, in a small city, in a small diocese, and pretty far removed from the centers of power and action in the Church and in the world. But there is a sense in which we are right there at the forefront of figuring out how the Church should work in our time.

Thanks be to God for our calling, and may God continue to guide and inspire us in our time!

The Rev. Dr. Paul S. Nancarrow

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