The Bishop of Washington D.C. on The Episcopal Church—Rediscovering the reasons for our existence

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’re also investing tremendous resources in our congregations as the foundation of Christian life. Contrary to the conservative critique, it isn’t what we’ve changed that is weakening our congregations, but rather what we’ve been unwilling to change. For all our liberal theology and progressive politics, we’ve remained rather stodgy in worship, wedded to unwieldy structures, and resistant to growth. When I ask young people what keeps them from attending church, the answer, predictably, is that it’s boring. And they’re right! But we’re committed to changing that, both in the Diocese of Washington and across the country, so that all our congregations will be vital centers of Christian worship, learning, community, and service.

And why do all this? Why does it matter for the Episcopal Church to claim its place in the spiritual landscape of our nation?

I believe that the Episcopal Church has something vitally important to offer to our time, that we have particular gifts and unique perspectives on the gospel of Jesus Christ that this culture hungers for and desperately needs. That, in the boldest of affirmations, we have something God needs for God’s mission of renewing the face of the earth. And so on our watch, we are called to change; to turn the trends of decline, atrophy and lethargy around; to assume our place as God’s collaborators in mission; and to help transform this culture by allowing ourselves to be transformed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC BishopsTEC Data* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry

9 Comments
Posted July 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Albany+ wrote:

Truly scary. The “co-creator” is the most mischievous stuff around. Like God needs our help!!! She actually says we have much to offer God. You can’t make this stuff up. Only in TEC does such theological nonsense claim the mainstream.

July 28, 10:32 pm | [comment link]
2. wildfire wrote:

The conclusion to the Washington Post article:

Our answer to Ross Douthat’s question—Can liberal Christianity be saved—is a resounding yes.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde is rector of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

Is the Post being prophetic or merely erroneous as usual?  Will TEC in Washington soon have a rector rather than a bishop?

July 28, 11:16 pm | [comment link]
3. Ralph wrote:

For all our liberal theology and progressive politics, we’ve remained rather stodgy in worship, wedded to unwieldy structures, and resistant to growth. When I ask young people what keeps them from attending church, the answer, predictably, is that it’s boring. And they’re right!

So, what’s wrong with TEC is stodgy worship. This is coming from the bishop who did a salsa dance at the altar at her consecration, and from a diocese that isn’t letting new people enter the process for Holy Orders because it has too many clergy.

I’m sure that salsa dances and progressive vestments will bring new people to church in droves.

I believe that the Episcopal Church has something vitally important to offer to our time, that we have particular gifts and unique perspectives on the gospel of Jesus Christ that this culture hungers for and desperately needs.

Yeah, right. I wonder what “unique perspectives” she’s talking about. I’m not aware of any new heresies in the last 1500 years or so.

July 29, 7:32 am | [comment link]
4. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

The culture may hunger for the “unique perspectives on the Gospel”, but it is not what the culture needs.  The young find their phone apps boring after awhile,,,,,that’s why they keep going out to get new ones; seeking that aha experience again.  Someday, they will discover phone apps don’t tell them anything about the purpose of life.  That’s when the tradition of the Church, grounded in 2000 years of preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ can step in to help them find meaning, the true meaning.

July 29, 8:25 am | [comment link]
5. David Hein wrote:

When my students say “this text is boring,” I sometimes invite them to ask, “Does this text find me boring?”

July 29, 10:47 am | [comment link]
6. Michael+ wrote:

The average age of my parish is 30.1 (30.11, but who’s counting?).  Yes, I’ve had one - count ‘em, one - high school girl say Worship is boring.  But.  That’s.  It.  HEII; no dancing; no drums; no electric guitars.  Straight up Gospel without a chaser.

July 29, 11:56 am | [comment link]
7. Jill Woodliff wrote:

The decline began in the 1960s and has accelerated precipitously in the last decade.

The decline became noticeable about the time the women’s caucus and the urban caucus joined the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.  The decline has acclerated precipitously since the Executive Council joined the RCRC.

Hard as it is for some to believe, we felt led by God to change . . .

Can you honestly envision the Divine Physician suctioning the brains of an unborn child, crushing its skull with forceps, and slicing its body with a curette?  Bishop Budde, I suspect that we would agree that the Church is called to be a voice for the voiceless.  The unborn is the voiceless in our generation.  Will you lead in that call?  Will you lead our beloved church in confession, renunciation, and repentance for sanctioning the death of millions of unborn children? 
Holy Scripture is clear, You reap what you sow.  We have sown death, and we are experiencing a devouring of relationships, finances, and membership.  Will you lead?

July 29, 1:52 pm | [comment link]
8. Peter dH wrote:

Somehow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob managed to create the universe without the enlightened assistance of TEC.

Now it emerges that the God of +Mariann cannot renew the face of the earth without TEC supplying what is needed. I do not know what or who her God is, but it is clearly not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - the Father of Jesus - who could most certainly do so on his own, with a mere word, at a time of his sovereign choosing.

July 29, 5:40 pm | [comment link]
9. MichaelA wrote:

“And yet Douthat’s question haunts me: can our church be saved? No matter how wonderful the Episcopal Church at its best can be and how many individual congregations are doing well, the harsh truth remains: we are a church whose vital signs hover somewhere, in Douthat’s words, between decline and collapse.”

To Ms Budde’s credit, she at least does not attempt to obfuscate or hide from the objective fact that TEC has problems.  Nor does she shoot the messenger, by attacking Ross Douhat.  But her response to the points raised by Douhat seem more premised on blind optimism than anything else:

“The decline began in the 1960s and has accelerated precipitously in the last decade. Since 2003, we’ve lost 23 percent of our church attendance.” 

These dates are directly linked with the rise of liberalism in TEC.  When traditional clergy were prevented from disciplining Bishop James Pike in the mid-60s for his open denigration of biblical doctrine, the decline began.  In 2003, TEC chose an openly practicing homosexual, V G Robinson, as bishop and the decline accelerated.

When people get public proof that the leaders of a church are not serious about traditional doctrine, they lose interest and begin to leave.  The more you parade your lack of concern for biblical teaching, the more they leave.

“In the Diocese of Washington we’re devoting time and resources to developing our spiritual lives. We’re encouraging people to participate in small group study, contemplative prayer, and spiritual retreats, and … [etc]”

Of course.  I am sure you are doing a lot.  But what does this have to do with arresting the decline?

“Our answer to Ross Douthat’s question—Can liberal Christianity be saved—is a resounding yes.”

That would be more credible if Ms Budde had given a single objective reason to think so, apart from the fact that she devoutly wishes it to be so.

July 29, 8:39 pm | [comment link]
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