Thursday, July 21, 2016

Possible Episcopal Church Ads

I have never felt very confident of my own ideas for getting people into church. I do think that The Episcopal Church has a lot to offer, however, and the public at large may not be aware of it. This, along with other considerations explained in Lionel Deimel’s Web Log, led me to create a number of possible ads for The Episcopal Church. I began with 22 of these, but have pared the list down to 16 with the help of Facebook friends.

My post, “Tooting The Episcopal Church’s Horn” discusses how I came to this project and exhibits all 16 ads.

A sample ad is below. Click on it to see a larger version.

The Episcopal Church: Building the Kingdom of God, not waiting for it

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pews

I don’t actually have strong feelings about pews in churches, but I admit that they are a “new” invention in the history of Christianity. Certainly, the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe contain magnificent spaces devoid of pews. I must say that I do deplore the pews of colonial church enclosed in little cages.

Contemporary churches benefit in an obvious way from eschewing pews—flexibility is gained, whether for worship, meetings, or other events. I’m hardly ready to recommend that St. Paul’s remove its pews, but I do want to recommend an essay I encountered that makes theological and practical arguments for doing away with pews.

The essay is “The Problem with Pews.” It is aimed at a Roman Catholic audience, but it seems as relevant to non-Catholics. You can read “The Problem with Pews” here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Enhanced Sign

I suspect that many readers have already seen our enhanced sign in front of the church. Apparently, the red insert was supposed to be part of the design from the beginning, but it has only recently been put into place. It not only makes the sign more attention-getting but it also assures that the name of the church is always visible. Until now, we had to display our name using the electronic sign. Mt. Lebanon regulations require that the sign can only change every 30 seconds, which meant that many people would either see “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church” or whatever specific message we wanted to display (such as service times), but not both.

I am pleased to see that the new insert includes both the Episcopal Church shield and “All are welcome.” “All are welcome” is neither boastful nor insulting to other churches. It is simply inviting.

Unfortunately, the sign is still very hard to see from the southbound lanes of Washington Road because of the equipment box at the corner with Mayfair Drive.

Enhanced sign


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Blessing

Bulletin from May 2 service
Bulletin for May 2, 2015, service (click on image for larger view)
When I received the letter from Lou saying that St. Paul’s was willing to bless same-sex unions—see my post on Lionel Deimel’s Web Log—I didn’t give much thought to its timing. I should have considered it odd, however, that it contained this sentence:
This decision follows a period of discernment, including work that Michelle and the Vestry did on this subject last summer during my sabbatical.
Bishop McConnell left the matter of deciding whether to bless same-sex unions up to individual priests, assuming, no doubt, that any responsible rector would obtain advice and buy-in from his or her vestry. Thus, the decision was Lou’s to make.

In fact, Lou and the St. Paul’s Vestry decided to move forward with same-sex blessings last fall. For whatever reason, Lou chose not to inform the congregation about the decision until such a blessing was imminent. Lou’s letter was dated April 24, 2015. The first such service was scheduled for May 2.

I suspect that Lou delayed his letter for fear of blowback from the congregation until he could delay it no longer. Happily, there seems to have been little or no complaints about the decision announced in the April 24 letter. (I sent Lou a congratulatory e-mail message.)

Brandon Priddy and Zachary Weber have been attending St. Paul’s for some time, which is not always the case for couples getting married in the church. I hope that all parishioners will congratulate our newest married couple at St. Paul’s.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Big News Day for The Episcopal Church

There were two big news items about The Episcopal Church today.

As was scheduled, candidates for Presiding Bishop were announced. (A new Presiding Bishop will be elect at the General Convention in Salt Lake City this summer.) Details can be found here.

Also, Bishop Heather Cook, who killed a bicyclist with her car in December has resigned and been deposed. She is no longer a priest. Details are here.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Odd Goings On at St. David’s

St. David’s, Peters Township, is going to be renting space to Peters Creek Evangelical Presbyterian Church. That church broke away from the Presbyterian Church (USA) over “liberal” trends in the largest Presbyterian denomination in America. Peters Creek Evangelical Presbyterian Church used to be known as Peters Creek United Presbyterian Church. If you would like to know more about this development, please read “Pittsburgh Episcopal Church to Harbor Breakaway Presbyterian Congregation” on Lionel Deimel’s Web Log.

St. David’s Episcopal Church
St. David’s Episcopal Church

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Worship Styles

I have long thought that the differences between our 8:45 and 10:45 services are destructive to our sense of being a single congregation. It is telling that we now continue to have two principal services in the summer, whereas we used to combine them into one, as fewer people attend. I believe that two services are necessary now because people from the later service would not like the style of the earlier one, and people from the early service would not know what to do in a traditional Episcopal Church service.

I have criticized aspects of the 8:45 service in the past—see “A Heretical Creed,” for example—but I have not tackled the issue of different worship “styles” at different services. Although our services are not as different from one another as at some churches, I do think we are creating more problems than we are solving.

Jonathan Aigne, in his blog Ponder Anew, has written an essay strongly criticizing the notion that churches should offer services in different styles. His essay is “11 Reasons to Stop Offering Different Worship Styles.” Here’s a sample of Aigne’s criticism of having distinctly different services:
It often segregates members by age. I think this is one of the most tragic points. Children and youth need to worship with their parents and their parent’s parents. The elderly, likewise, need to worship with the young. Usually, different services are offered with the assumption that the contemporary is to hook non-believers and young people, and the traditional is the old-time favorites hour for the older folks. Of course, one day we will all join the heavenly choir, and something tells me we’re not going to have a smorgasbord of corporate worship options to attend. We’ll join in singing the unending hymn, even if we don’t like the tune, even if there are no projection screens, even if the seating doesn’t perfectly mold to each individual backside. Perhaps we should start practicing now.
And this is one of my favorite points in “11 Reasons”:
It is distinctively seeker-sensitive instead of missional. Corporate worship is not about evangelism. That’s a fundamental misunderstanding over a century in the making. Evangelism may be a byproduct of worship gatherings, but it can’t be the main thing, or you can’t really call it a worship service. The kingdom mission begins when we are sent out into the world.
Read the whole essay and see what you think.