this is bogus, who would think
From Episcopal News Service:By Otis Gaddis III, August 24, 2010Otis Gaddis III is a second-year seminarian from the Diocese of Washington at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.[Episcopal News Service] In the fall of 2009 a group of seminary students gathered around a table at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale with the desire to facilitate an intentional ministry of large-scale, effective, grassroots evangelism focused primarily on spiritually homeless young adults that would foster the development of vibrant Episcopal faith communities where people could meet Jesus and be transformed into people who co-labor for Jesus’ Kingdom of love and justice.We started by reflecting on our own experience of coming to the Episcopal Church (most of us coming to the Episcopal Church as teens or young adults) and the experiences of people we knew personally who have found the Episcopal Church attractive. Among the people we knew, we found that most attended Episcopal Churches because they deeply appreciated the beauty of our church’s liturgy, its sacramental and mystical tradition and its positive view of reason. Yet, we also noticed that among this group there was a substantial subgroup for whom the initial decisive attraction to the Episcopal Church was its social justice advocacy and service for the poor, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, women, racial minorities and the environment.Â It is toward this subgroup — whom we often call "progressives" — that we began to direct our attention, because from our own experience, there is a significant correlation between being a progressive and being spiritually homeless, especially if one is a young adult. We hear it all the time in our peer group, where young adults increasingly self-identify as "spiritual but not religious." Unfortunately, many in this demographic of spiritually homeless progressive young adults — who typically find the Episcopal Church attractive when they encounter it — do not know the Episcopal Church exists, so they could not even choose to make their home with us if they wanted to.Recognizing this, we discerned a call to raise a corps of entrepreneurial missioners — clergy and lay leaders with the passion and gifts to develop spiritual communities that will effectively mission to this large, spiritually homeless, progressive population. Furthermore, these entrepreneurial-missioners must articulate an understanding of the Gospel, which does not substitute social justice for Jesus (as if social justice were the Gospel itself) but rather fully recognizes our profound orientation toward social justice as a proclamation of Jesus within the tradition of Nicene-Orthodox Episcopal spirituality. As the evangelist embodies Jesus’ own fundamental orientation toward love and justice, the act of offering Jesus to others becomes, in this movement, a progressive act.As our conversation crystallized, we came to two conclusions: the Episcopal Church has a critical shortage of entrepreneurial missioners equipped to mobilize and coordinate the building and growing of the literally thousands of new Episcopal spiritual communities necessary for such a movement to be successful; and the widely held perception of progressivism and evangelism as oppositional prevents progressives with gifts for entrepreneurial mission from self-identifying as evangelists.When we looked around the church, we noticed small groups of people here and there attempting to engage these issues, but there was no systemic institutional effort to address these problems. So, we decided to do our part to develop that institutional infrastructure by creating an inter-seminary organization: The Episcopal Evangelism Network (EEN).â€¨Â Â Â Â â€¨Our mission is to gather, equip and mentor entrepreneurial missioner seminarians and give them access to the practical training they need to start new mission-oriented communities or to rebuild spiritual communities that have significantly declined; and to create a safe space for progressive Episcopalians to integrate their values with their vocations for evangelism so that they are able to mobilize effectively the large share of progressive Episcopalians in the pews, of whom many themselves are uncomfortable witnessing to the spiritual transformation they experience as they encounter Jesus.We already are well on our way towards creating EEN formation groups at every school where Episcopalians study in significant numbers and knitting these groups into an inter-seminary network. Indeed, during the past year, we have found seminarian partners at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Episcopal Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary.Â Moreover, we are having our first inter-seminary gathering in Baltimore, Maryland, Sept. 23-25 at a conference co-hosted by the Episcopal Village. For registration information, click here. The conference is free for seminarians. Speakers include Brian McLaren, Stephanie Spellers, Karen Ward, Donald Schell, Martin Smith, SimÃ³n Bautista and more. Other sponsors include the Church Publishing Group; the Fund for Theological Education; and the dioceses of Maryland, Long Island and Southern Virginia.– Otis Gaddis III is a second-year seminarian from the Diocese of Washington at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. For more information contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.