The Episcopal Church Declares Evangelism, Racial Reconciliation and Justice, and Environmental Stewardship as a Primary Focus

At General Convention, the Episcopal Church took the bold step of declaring Evangelism, Racial Reconciliation and Justice, and Environmental Stewardship as primary areas of focus. More than that, it put its money where its mouth is and framed its budget and day-to-day work around these areas of mission.

Imagine trying this on at St. Luke’s. Think for a moment about framing everything we do – in worship and music, in spiritual formation, in care for and fellowship with ourselves, and in the way we reach out and care for others – as evangelism: sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, about helping experience people the love and presence of God, about growing the Kingdom of God and building up the church.

Now think about placing all we do under the category of racial reconciliation and justice: a radical welcome, inclusion, and healing of relationships. There was much talk at the convention, for example, about reparation.

What if we were able to see – and explain – our outreach to new Mainers, to our friends in Haiti, and to others as reparative work, done as a way to atone for damage resulting from a racist and imperialist past from which we have benefited? What would our Sunday mornings look like if we truly welcomed as we have been welcomed, forgave as we have been forgiven, loved as we have been loved?

Now consider putting everything under the banner of creation care. Imagine the witness we would have in the wider community if environmental stewardship pervaded everything we do and if people looked at what we did and how we lived and realized that creation care was in fact a priority.

This would be an amazing act of evangelism. Recognizing that people of color suffer disproportionately from climate change, would be an act of racial reconciliation and justice as well.

Remember, however, that the church isn’t a building, it’s a people. When the General Convention set priorities for the church, it wasn’t doing that for church buildings, church communities, or even church committees.

The “church” is us, the people of God, who are the hands and feet of Christ, the church. As a Cathedral, St. Luke’s will be striving to make evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice, and environmental stewardship a focus and framework. As a people, we who consider ourselves St. Lukans are called to do the same.

~ Dean Shambaugh