The run-up to the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church was full of drama. There was one proposed budget. Oh-oh, the proposed budget was in error. There was another proposed budget. The fact that the new proposed budget was from the Presiding Bishop was unprecedented. It was like a soap opera, except (for those of us who care about these things) infinitely more frustrating, because it was real life.
But we give thanks to God even in our trials (Romans 5), because what causes pain also brings endurance, courage and insight. In this case, a trio of bloggers (Susan Snook, Tom Ferguson, and Scott Gunn) decided to convene a new gathering at General Convention. (Here’s Susan’s original post describing the Episcopal Church as experiencing an Acts 8 Moment.)
I couldn’t go to the first Acts 8 meeting, because I wasn’t in Indianapolis yet. But as I followed the legislative conversation online, I had no doubt that Susan, Tom, and Scott were accurate in their description of the current state of the church. Approving a task force to review and recommend restructure of the church, approving a move of the Church Center, and approving same-sex blessings… all were signs that the Episcopal Church is in a new moment.
I did attend the second Acts 8 meeting, which was held last night. As before, the agenda began with the study of Scripture (Acts 8:26-40). It continued with people finishing the sentence “I hope the church will…” And finally, there was open conversation on where to go from here. A suggestion for a corporate Bible study on Acts was greeted with enthusiasm, and a commitment from Scott Gunn that Forward Movement could provide one. A summation of the conversation by Susan Snook produced the tweet: “What we want: spiritual renewal, prayer-led and Bible based.
As in every gathering, there was the meeting and the after-meeting. As people dispersed, there became two unconnected groups of people talking in two different corners of the room. As we overheard one another, we realized that with no (human) coordination, we were both talking about the same thing: developing a common Rule of Life.
At the same time we realized that Acts 8 met for the second time on the Feast of St. Benedict. (This wasn’t intentional, but it was certainly a happy accident.) St. Benedict was the person who developed a lasting rule of life for monastics, beginning with the words “Listen with the ear of the heart…” and continuing to prescribe prayer, stability in community, and conversion of life.
Here’s what I hope for Acts 8: I hope the Acts 8 Moment we’re experiencing turns into an Acts 8 Movement. I hope that movement is characterized by the values of discipleship to Jesus Christ and accountability in community. I hope there are others who would be willing to join me in these commitments:
- Daily prayer and reading of Scripture
- Weekly corporate worship, preferably Holy Eucharist
- Monthly online gathering (via twitter or Google+ or whatever works)
- Ongoing work for spiritual and corporate renewal at every level of the church
The aim of these commitments would be allowing ourselves to be used by the Holy Spirit for the renewal of the body of Christ. This is scary stuff. It leads us by a wilderness road. It means taking risks and it probably means failing along the way. That’s why a community of support and accountability, as we work in our parishes and dioceses, and at the national level, is so critical.
St. Benedict’s genius was recognizing that Christians needed to come together to share a common life in Christ and making a way for them to do so. My prayer is that Acts 8, inspired by his spirit, can do the same.
(I am sure Susan, Tom, and Scott will be blogging about Acts 8 soon… Scott and Susan are both delegates still on the floor at General Convention and otherwise occupied. And Tom couldn’t be at last night’s meeting, so he may be waiting for a report before writing a post.)
What do you think about these commitments? What do you hope for from Acts 8?
Good to meet you! I’m Nurya…
Welcome!Here, a mother and priest chronicles her attempts at practicing resurrection. This sometimes involves small children and organizations known as "church." Other times it just means telling the truth. Occasionally chickens are mentioned. Click "About" for more...
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