i just went to a conference at the cathedral ofst. john the divine which is for clergy and regular episcogeeks like me in the laity. the topic headings were admin and finance, altar guild, church growth, communications, life-long learning, mission, music and liturgy, parish dynamics, stewardship, just to name a few! it was a good day and got me really thinking about stuff i hadn't expected to think about.
the first panel i went to was on the church's 2020 movement pertaining to people in their 20's and 30's specifically. the panel consisted of several cradle episcopalians and two or three converts from other christian traditions. an older priest asked why the panel didn't include any 20's/30's people who are unchurched - people who grew up with no faith tradition or practice at all. the answer was that the people in parishes that the panel members knew who were unchurched were not firm enough or confident enough in their place in the episcopal church to speak on a panel.
i mentioned that the first two to three weeks after sept. 11, 2001, our church was packed to the gills with people from the neighborhood - mostly in their 20's and 30's. after those intial two to three weeks they just didn't return.
if you go to starbucks or barnes and noble cafe or a yoga class on sundays at 11 a.m. you will find them packed with people in their 20's and 30's - both churched and unchurched! i do believe that everyone is a spiritual being and that many people are wandering around on their own, looking for a spiritual home. in what ways is the episcopal church not providing that? how can we provide that?
i talked for a bit with the older priest who had attended the panel about the point he made during the q & a part. he said he became involved with the church when he was young because he it met his idealism, it gave him a place to act that out. he also wanted something bigger than himself. it made me think of the episcopal church during the civil rights movement. that was a church where an idealistic young man could really plug in. i told this priest afterwards that i'm not so sure this generation (x and y?) is idealistic. i think we're cynical and mistrusting of large institutions. i talked to him a bit about episcopal blogging and the emerging church and post-modernism and - i totally lost him.
one thing he said really has been buzzing in my brain - i mentioned that i think this generation is searching for spirituality and self-improvement, that we are focused on ourselves but not in a "me generation" totally selfish way, in a "how can i become a better human being?" way. the priest said, "yeah, but that's what salvation is for." ah. now i get caught on the sticky concept of salvation.
this is where i put the alternative in sr. mary alternative.
what am i being saved from? what is the resurrection about? what is sin? i am so not clear on these concepts. i am not looking for pat answers, or i'd be a pentecostal and check my brain at the door. rather i am an episcopalian looking for new ways to approach these concepts. or maybe they are old ways that seem new to me. or different ways.
how does jesus dying on the cross absorb my sins? what is the real message of my faith tradition? that christ died for my sins? that god is love? that i can be redeemed and/or saved by pledging myself to christ. who do i worship for that matter? christ or god? i believe in the trinity but when i pray, i gotta tell you, i pray to god. i may ask god to send her holy spirit into me or a situation, but i pray to god.
i'm still trying to figure out all this stuff about post-modernism and the emerging church, it's still a little confusing to me. maybe that's where i'm heading with all this. i don't know. i really would appreciate your comments and esp. refer any books, magazines, websites, media that relate to any of these topics i have mentioned.