I was a speaker in an ecumenical round-table presentation over the weekend on the “State of the Church in 2043”. There were six presenters from six different denominations (one of whom was a Morman) who talked about what they saw in the future for their respective churches and for the Church as a whole.
My focus was mostly on the repercussions that Peak Oil and Climate Change are going to have on the life of the local congregation – and coupled that with the way that seminary costs are rising and clergy wellness is declining.
If I get a chance I’ll try to write up my remarks and post them if you’re interested.
But it’s the Q and A session afterwards that made the biggest impression on me. One of the folks in the audience asked each one of us “If there was one thing about the public perception of your church that would could change, that’s been a bar to inviting new people to your congregations, what would it be?”
I was the last one to speak so I had some time to really thing through the question. It was interesting that the Roman Catholic speaker, the Morman speaker and I all responded about the “Sex thing” in various guises that our churches were all dealing with – though my answer was different than theirs. I didn’t say that I wished we could stop talking about “sex”, I actually said that reductionist attitudes aside, I was comfortable with the fact that the Episcopal Church is seen to be publicly struggling with how to balance the commonly held understanding of the biblical teaching about sexual orientation and expression with our experience of the ministry of LBGT Christians.
What I did wish for would be that there might be some recognition that our decision not to turn the other cheek when the Episcopal Church is called “lawless”, “apostate” or heretical, could be understood as a gospel based response to an attacker rather than a tacit admission that we agree with the charges. (Which seems to be the meme that is being setup in popular culture.)
But I’m curious about your response, o’ gentle reader. What one thing would you like to be changed in the public perception of the Episcopal Church? (Or if you’re not Episcopalian, feel free to kibitz and tell us what we ought to do anyhow.)