One Episcopal Church’s Self-Understanding—The Mission of St. James

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
The mission of St. James Episcopal Church, Knoxville, is “to feed and tend God’s sheep,” a ministry we attempt to live out day by day.It means nourishing our own parishioners through our vibrant liturgy, our rector’s learned, inspirational preaching, and our 30-member choir’s glorious singing.

It means raising up mature Christians through Christian formation classes on Sunday, as well as weekly Disciple groups.

It means building community at St. James through our Wednesday fellowship dinners and the meetings of our ECW and Daughters of the King, our Men’s Group, our Episcopal Peace Fellowship, and many other groups.

Having been fed ourselves, we are able to help the transitional neighborhood--and world--around us, whether through our Doorstep Ministry’s daily gifts of food or our Helping Hands Food Pantry’s distributions of non-perishable food to more than a hundred people every other Saturday, through our Mobile Meals volunteers or Appalachian Resource Team workers, through our Career Closet, which provides interview clothes to job-seeking women, or through the countless, often anonymous, charitable acts of our members.

To walk into our nave or parish hall is to enter a community that embraces both the Gospel call to personal transformation and the Gospel command to bring God’s kingdom to the world in which we live. Any day of the week you are likely to see this lively process of feeding and being fed under way at St. James Church.

Also, you may explore the parish's website there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* TheologyEcclesiology

Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Milton wrote:

The congregation is fed by everything but the Gospel of the Bible of salvation from our sins by the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone.  Only the social gospel and bringing about the kingdom by human effort alone is feeding these sheep with dry brown stubble.  After the expected proclamation in east TN that St. James is a “diverse, inclusive” congregation comes the usual:

St. James Church welcomes all people. We believe that God’s grace embraces and dwells in everyone. We welcome all people to ministry and worship regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, class, age, gender, marital status, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. All are welcome.

End of story.

August 26, 10:09 am | [comment link]
2. Terry Tee wrote:

A lively congregation, with many good works.  As an RC I cannot comment on the faith side of things.  But I do note that income seems to exceed expenditure by around $50,000 annually.  On T19 I come across increasing mention of deficit financing in TEC parishes.  I know of others like St Philips in the Hills, Tucson which despite flourishing parish life is still running a deficit and cannot go on the way it has in the past.  A sign of the times ... ?

August 26, 11:00 am | [comment link]
3. NoVA Scout wrote:

I assume that all churches would extend the same welcome criticised in comment No. 1.  Certainly that is an orthodox Christian view.

August 26, 8:50 pm | [comment link]
4. Statmann wrote:

Terry Tee: an astute observation.  With $1.2 million in Plate & Pledge in 2009, it is hard to worry about St Philip.  BUT, they had the same amount in 2002 so in real (inflation adjusted) dollars they have lost about 20 percent from 2002 through 2009. In fact, since 2003 TEC has never had a gain in real Plate & Pledge. And with the FED determined to keep interest rates close to zero, TEC will have to undertake more risk with Trust Funds.  Yes, a sign of the times. Never thought that Money would be a serious problem for TEC but it has.    Statmann

August 26, 8:58 pm | [comment link]
5. paradoxymoron wrote:

NoVA Scout:
I cannot speak for informed orthodox opinion, but I believe that orthodox Christians would say, “Come as you are,” but not “Stay as you are.”  By “embracing” people as they are, TEC denies the need for redemption.  But then you knew that already. Troll.

August 27, 1:36 am | [comment link]
6. robroy wrote:

[url= ]Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
  wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
  because thy promise I believe,
  O Lamb of God, I come, I come. [/url]blockquote

(Link is to an awesome version of the hymn by the acapella group Glad.)

August 27, 3:16 am | [comment link]
7. robroy wrote:

The link to the video is here.

August 27, 3:17 am | [comment link]
8. NoVA Scout wrote:

No. 5, you put a lot of misplaced weight on the verb “to embrace.”  But the passage quoted by Commenter No. 1 uses the term only to describe God’s Grace.  What the church extends is a welcome.  What embraces us all is Grace.  That, to me, is squarely inside the boundaries of conventional Christian thought and principles. 

I didn’t understand your last sentence. If that is a fishing term, I’m puzzled at its use in this context.  If it refers to Scandinavian folk mythology, you might want to build it out a bit.  If it’s intended as an epithet directed at me, it is unworthy of readers at this site.

August 27, 6:59 am | [comment link]
9. Sarah wrote:

Nice observation in your last sentence paradoxymoron—and so so true.  It’s gone on for years.

August 27, 9:26 am | [comment link]
10. Sarah wrote:

On another note, it’s clear that the church intends for people—at least, people of a certain currently faddish type with currently faddish sins—to stay as they are without repentance.  Obviously, that’s not the Christian Gospel.

August 27, 9:28 am | [comment link]
11. NoVA Scout wrote:

If sinners regularly attend a church, is it the church’s obligation to ask them to leave.  If so, who are the parishioners?  Or do we differentiate between types of sin?

August 27, 9:42 am | [comment link]
12. paradoxymoron wrote:

The meaning of the word troll is not a secret.  Try this helpful link.

August 27, 3:25 pm | [comment link]
13. frdude71 wrote:

Aren’t all public descriptions “self-understanding”? Being part of the St. James Knox community, I can say that the language on our website describes who we are fairly well. The actual experience of being in the place is even better than the words. We set out to be so explicit because we realized that not everyone knows that there is a place where they are welcomed. They especially can’t imagine that such a place would be a church, or that such love would come from their creator. Glad to serve here, raise my kids here, and welcome everyone. Come see us. -John Mark Wiggers (Rector, St. James, Knoxville, TN)

August 27, 10:47 pm | [comment link]
14. NoVA Scout wrote:

No. 12 - there are several definitions offered there, including ones relating to fishing techniques and Norse mythology.  The one that most likely was intended in comments nos. 5 and 9 would seem not to apply, as my comment was neither off-topic, inflammatory or intended to excite an emotional response.  In fact, my comment was directly related to the post, and should have had a soothing effect on people who apparently over-extrapolated from the post to alarming conclusions.  Nonetheless, the definition you offer shows that you and No. 9 did intend the word to be a personal attack, even if misdirected.  I continue to think that sort of behaviour unworthy of the site, its host and the standards we ought to adhere to for intelligent civil discourse about matters of common interest.  This site often does a very good job of policing that sort of thing, but I think it not a problem to let your comments (and No. 9) as a negative example.

August 28, 9:11 am | [comment link]
15. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Nonetheless, the definition you offer shows that you and No. 9 did intend the word to be a personal attack, even if misdirected.”

Nah—just a description of many of Nova’s posting comments, when he pretends to be “confused.”  It’s just one of your his little memes whenever he’s irritated and attempting to irritate others—thus, trolling.

RE: ” . . . the standards we ought to adhere to . . . “

Blessedly Nova Scout’s “standards” are ones that others are indifferent too, particularly since he continues with the trolling behavior, and has done so for years.  Not certain why people should be concerned about a man’s “standards” which are often so nicely demonstrated in his comments and which are often trolling.

Not to mention, of course, that Nova Scout is indifferent to others’ standards, which is perfectly understandable.  People with mutually antithetical value-sets often are indifferent to one another’s “standards.”

Thanks again, paradoxymoron, for clearly pointing out and naming Nova’s consistent behavior.

August 28, 9:44 am | [comment link]
16. NoVA Scout wrote:

I think if we address the ideas and views expressed, it is unnecessary to slap labels on our colleagues.  The great promise of internet blogging is that it permits large numbers of people who would not have an opportunity to exchange views to come together for discussion and debate.  A great weakness of the medium is that some people seek out a kind of homogenized, echo chamber effect where they only hear their own views coming back to them.  That latter instinct diminishes the value of the forum. 

Because we are not face-to-face, the medium benefits from heightened, not lowered, standards of civility.  Otherwise, one gets this kind of schoolyard effort to ostracize differing views by taunts and name-calling.  It rarely reflects on the target, and generally reveals something about those who engage in the practice.  But it is always an opportunity lost to have a discussion about an idea or opinion at an adult level. 

Back to the post:  It seems to speak (with no. 1’s added text) of God’s Grace embracing and dwelling in everyone.  It speaks of welcome to all.  No. 13 gives us first-hand confirmation of a resonant Christian message.  Church populations tend to be made up of sinners.  It’s pretty hard to get around that.  Christian welcome that differentiates between this sin and that sin strikes me as a dilute and convenient form of Christianity that perhaps obscures the larger Message. 

Just one view.  It may be incorrect.  But calling me a name doesn’t illuminate or detract from its value.

August 28, 4:45 pm | [comment link]
17. robroy wrote:

My point of the hymn is the second line of the quoted, “wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;”

The TEO stops at the welcoming part (that is if you have drunk their koolaid, otherwise you’re unwelcomed). No need for pardon, cleanse, relieve if you have done away with sin.

August 28, 9:46 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.

Next entry (above): (ENS) Pamela Chinnis, first female House of Deputies president, passes from this life to the next

Previous entry (below): (ENS) Episcopal Church Executive Council draft triennial budget preparation process underway

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)