If you haven’t seen this new study, and you’re interested in the Episcopal Church and how we might be able to most effectively proclaim the Gospel of Jesus to the world around us, then drop what you’re doing and read this:
“Around One Table is an invitation into a conversation. It’s a conversation about who we are as Episcopalians — our identity, our wellness, our mission — and how our sense of identity is expressed through our lives and the call we explore in ministry.
Around One Table is a conversation that has already begun but is far from over. The 23 themes of Episcopal identity emerged through a four-year study called the Episcopal Identity Project. Do you find yourself and your core values among these themes of Episcopal identity? We’d like to know.”
Read the full article here.
The site is full of resources reporting on a four year study into how Episcopalians see themselves and the Episcopal Church – and its place it society. There are pdf’s of the full report, summarized reports, videos, discussion guides and more.
If you were at the communications workshop I helped to lead in the Diocese of Oklahoma over the past three days, you’ll know why I’m so excited about this information. This is exactly what we need to have in front of us as we try to express the true identity of the Episcopal Church in such a way as it will invite our neighbors to experience the life changing encounter with God that we have found for ourselves in this Church.
There’s a great deal of background about this entire project posted over here at at Episcope too if you’re in a hurry and want the executive summary.
Well it is a good-looking website at least, and I will certainly spend some time exploring. I was interested to note that the opening video “Who We Are” is almost completely about mission activities, other than a brief mention of the BCP and sacraments in a list of things, there is almost nothing to indicate that we ever even go to church or pray. I shall keep looking…
OK, I have been skimming though the report and it is fascinating. Clearly a lot of work has gone in to it, and it resonates with me in many ways as an Episcopalian. The identity that it begins to describe is definitely something that I can be at one with.
However, it is interesting for me to note that out of 2,483 participants there are 317 who are 45 and under (13%) and 93 who are 35 and under (4%). The report notes that the demographics at all levels of those who participated in the process are representative of the Episcopal Church as a whole. So, it should be clear that we are not a young church…everyone knows this.
However, I was fascinated to do some searching in the body of the report and find that children are only mentioned once to say that they could not fill out the survey — which appears to only include those 18 and older. Youth are mentioned once in the context of how confirmation has changed in many congregations. There is one brief mention of raising children in the faith in a quote. There was nothing I could find about youth development, youth ministry, or higher education ministry.
I am aware that talking about these kinds of ministries was not really the purpose of the report. However, it seems to me that if the report presents an accurate picture of where the Episcopal Church is now in terms of how its current members see its identity, we have some real questions to address as to how we can transmit this identity to a new generation, and how quickly. 64% of participants are age 55 and older, and based on current life expectancy in the US, they will not be around in 25 years’ time.
I hope that this report can help us to begin the conversation!
Thanks for this commentary, Nick. Could you cross post at Covenant? Your perspective on the report is refreshing.