Thursday, September 6, 2012

Announcing "A Year of Anglican Identity"

Dear Parish Family,

          I am excited to announce that this coming year at St. Peter's (beginning September 9th) we will be launching "A Year of Anglican Identity". Each week our parish will commence studying a basic, essential aspect of Anglican & Episcopal Christianity such as history, sacraments, incarnation, mission, etc.

Background. In his book, A People Called Episcopalians, the Rev. Dr. John H. Westerhoff explains how Christian denominations have, in the last hundred years, minimized their diversity for the sake of unity, advertising instead their various programs and services to attract members. As a result, churches have ended up competing with one another (“We at Frist Methodist have the best preaching.” “We at St. Swithan’s Episcopal have the best children’s programs.”), denying their roots (“We all worship the same God so there’s no difference between Presbyterians and Baptists.”), and confusing their adherents about why some things are accepted and others rejected (“How come we don’t sing the way my last church, the Pentecostal Temple of Holiness, does?”).       

You may have noticed, that a number of your staff (past and present) are also converts to the Episcopal Church. One was a Roman Catholic Jesuit and a couple were Evangelicals. This is not unusual for the Episcopal Church. Why? Because there is something that is very attractive about Anglican Christianity! And many, including myself, think one of The Episcopal Church’s challenges is being clear on what it is and why it is unique and wonderful.

And that is precisely what we’re aiming for this year. Exploring not only Christianity, but the Anglican approach to Christianity – why it’s unique and why it’s wonderful! We’re going to learn to be a bit more of who we truly are!  

What this "Year of Anglican Identity" means:  From September 2012 to June 2013, we will be examining core concepts of Anglican Christianity. The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) will NOT be the emphasis in our ministries. (We will still follow the general seasons of Advent, Christmas, and following). Instead, a list of foundational topics has been selected for each week. These topics are very similar to what would be found in a baptismal catechesis, confirmation classes, and new member courses. Scriptures will be selected to illuminate these topics. 

About Sunday Worship: 
A truncated form of the Eucharist will be used to allow us to spend more time on catechetical style preaching, teaching, and activities. Full RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) readings, though not read aloud, will be included in the Sunday bulletins. The length of the service will remain the same. High Holy Days, such as Christmas and Easter, have been excluded from the topical approach and will proceed as usual.

The Rest of the Week:
Throughout the rest of each week, formation, education, and discussion topics will correspond to the topic of each week. Thus, as an example, on the week that we begin talking about the Eucharist, Bible Study on Wednesday might look at the Biblical roots of the Eucharist, Theology Pub on Thursday might discuss who should and shouldn’t come to the Eucharist, and Coffee Connections on Sunday might talk about how the Eucharist changes our daily lives. Every week we will have the opportunity to delve further in one aspect of our faith.

I invite you to take time out to participate in the many offerings we have available. Invite friends and others who might be curious. Most of all, I hope you will find a new or refreshed connection with God and with your sisters and brothers in Christ.     

In Christ,

Father James+

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