From the General Convention of the Episcopal Church this month:
We’re excited to launch Radical Welcoming today, led by the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers. What is “radical welcoming”? Well, it’s more than just friendly greeters at the church doors, and easy-to-follow service bulletins. It’s more than serving the hungry from one side of a soup kitchen line. It’s more than “tolerance” of those we see as different.
It’s nothing less than the kind of love that Jesus offered to those on the margins of society: the unclean, the sick, the poor, the prostitute. It’s acknowledging that life has been different for those not in the traditional center of power and privilege, and that there is wisdom to be gained from listening to those we have so often pushed aside. It’s humble acceptance that those of us on “the inside” have a lot to learn from those on the outside.
God’s church cannot be all it is called to be if it only welcomes people who abide by our conventions, restrictions, caveats, and customs. We cannot be fully Christian without acknowledging the rights, the dignity, the gifts of everyone.
Radical welcome can be scary; it can induce feelings of guilt, when we finally acknowledge what we’ve so long pretended not to see. But Stephanie reminds us in this course that radical welcoming can be life-changing — that God is there waiting on the other side of our fear. God is calling us to reach out across the divides we’ve created, and work toward reconciliation and wholeness. It’s what Jesus lived and what Jesus commands. Church shouldn’t be always about comfort and safety — for growth and healing often require courage and daring.
The Reverend Canon Stephanie Spellers is a popular speaker and consultant on reimagining the mainline church and embracing new mission contexts. The author of numerous books — including Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other and the Transforming Power of the Spirit and Ancient Faith, Future Mission: Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Traditions –Stephanie is an Episcopal priest and serves as Director of Mission and Reconciliation at General Theological Seminary in New York City and as Canon for Missional Vitality in the Diocese of Long Island. She is one of two Chaplains to the Episcopal House of Bishops and recently chaired the Episcopal Commission on Mission and Evangelism.
English Origins of the Book of Common Prayer is our latest offering in partnership with Bexley-Seabury, and it’s a fascinating look at the often messy history of the Anglican Church. In this course, popular writer, educator, and priest John Dally takes us through the
upheaval and conflict, as well as the heroic sacrifice and passionate dedication, that formed the beginnings of the Church of England and of its Book of Common Prayer. From Thomas Cranmer’s 1549 Book of Common Prayer to the reign of Elizabeth I and beyond, this course helps us understand the environment in which our faith was born. Many men and women devoted their lives — and gave them up entirely — to create an English church separate from the church in Rome; the language and liturgy Episcopalians love today derive their richness from this fascinating period.
This course is the third in an 8-part series called Introducing the Book of Common Prayer. The next five courses will be launching in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. This series is brought to us by our partners at Bexley Seabury Theological Federation, an Episcopal center for learning and development. Bexley offers online and in-person classes for everyone at its Chicago, IL and Columbus, OH campuses. For more information, visit www.bexleyseabury.edu.