For the Future of the Episcopal Church: The Saint Hilda's House Spring Quarterly
You can download the Spring Quarterly by clicking here or by clicking the photo of the cover. To give an idea of what it's all about, here's the editorial. Thank you, and God bless.
The authors of this volume aren't interested in a dying Church. We aren't interested in hearing about declining attendance, spiritual apathy, or the incompatibility of faith and reason. We've grown up hearing that the Church must either reinvent or perish in the face of all these things- it gets repetitive, and it doesn't preach.
We are committed to a Church with a future- a future which is much the same as its past. We are committed to a Church which cannot count on a dominant culture for its sustenance. We are committed to a Church which doesn't count strength in terms of numbers. We are committed to a Church which recognises no foundation but Jesus Christ, which builds its life around His Word and Sacrament. We are committed to a Church which lives with and for the oppressed and downtrodden, working in faith so that the love of God might be borne to all.
The Episcopal Church is preparing for its 78th General Convention. Resolutions will be passed, and the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church will propose its recommendations. A new Presiding Bishop will be elected. The future of the Episcopal Church may well be determined here.
In the midst of all this we would like to offer our voices as a resource for that future- voices which have been formed by living in a community grounded in prayer, Scripture, and service. The six members of Saint Hilda's House have tried to live as a microcosm of what the Church can be. By walking with those we are commanded to serve, by living together in great vulnerability, and by praying and worshipping together, we have sought to discern something of what a Church looks like from ground up. The effect has been one of powerful transformation, both as individuals and as a community.
We believe that this transformation lies at the heart of the Gospel, and so at the heart of the Church to which we are committed. We believe that it mustn't be forgotten in the abstractions of general and binding resolutions- that whatever the future of the Episcopal Church might hold, it mustn't forget this reality.
And so we have tried to communicate this transformation in all its particular detail and messiness. In telling our stories, we hope that we can flesh out at least some of the concrete realities which can be glossed over by vague and general terms. We commit our words to you, in the hope that through Jesus Christ they might go on to be of some benefit for the future of the Church.
This Quarterly is divided up into four sections. The first contains reflections on the life of the Episcopal Church. Megan and Shancia became Episcopalians over the year- Megan explores why she chose to join the Episcopal Church, whilst Shancia describes her experience of being confirmed in Holy Week. Will, the son of a Priest and a cradle Episcopalian, lays out why he is proud to still be a member of this Church. Ed outlines an approach to Anglican Catholicism he has come to hold whilst in community, then he and Cody attempt a critical look at some of the things which could be done better in the Episcopal Church.
The second section explores aspects of community. Will writes about how he has learned to discern God's call in times of seeming crisis, and Ed has written a piece about why living in community might not be that arduous a task. The final piece of this section is a powerful essay by John detailing the relationship between his faith and his experience of mental illness. All three reflect the closeness and vulnerability which community living inspires.
Our third section is a more academic exploration of worship as obedience. We are honoured to have a piece by Andrew McGowan, the Dean at Yale Divinity School, to start off this discussion. Ed develops Dean McGowan's piece through a particular philosophical lens, pointing to the idea that obedience is made possible by the Holy Spirit. Shancia explores the concept of obedience in the light of humanity's typical disobedience, then Megan provides a critical evaluation of how the term 'obedience' can be employed in a feminist framework. Though these pieces are abstract, they have all grown out of a lived experience of Christian worship in community- it is our belief that they reflect the unity of conceptual and practical concerns.
The fourth and final section is comprised of three end-of-year reflections. Though Ed has been at Saint Hilda's for three years, Will for two, and Megan for one, they have all been equally changed by their time in this community. Each in their own way is able to reflect the power of community living in terms of personal transformation.
The theme of Church living runs through all of this: all of our posts seek to broach the question 'what does a life centred around faith in Jesus Christ look like?' Taken together, they do not offer up a vision for the future of the Church- rather, they paint a picture of what it is that drives the young adults who are committed to the Church of the future.
We are a small community, even as a part of the larger Episcopal Service Corps network. We need your help to communicate our message. Please tell the young Christians you know about Saint Hilda's and the other Episcopal Service Corps sites. Let them know that they have the opportunity to discern what it means to live out faith and service by walking with the poor and living in community.
And if you believe that stories of young adult transformation matter for the future of the Church, please share this Quarterly with others. Please let people know about young adults seeking a closer walk with God- the young adults who are committing themselves to the future of the Church, whatever that future may be.
You can learn more about Saint Hilda's House at sainthildashouse.org.
If you would like to receive a print edition of this Quarterly, you can become a Friend of Saint Hilda's House at sainthildashouse.org/fosh.