June 8, 2015

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

A week ago I had lunch with an old friend, John Harrington. John is the pastor of Morrison Methodist Church, in Leesburg, Florida. When I was rector of St. James Church in Leesburg, John and I made it a point to connect regularly and dream about what would be the ideal church. Last week John said something that resonated with me. He said, “The Church needs to stop being an institution and become a movement. People aren’t interested in serving on useless committees. They want to do something meaningful in which they grow in faith and others do as well.“ After the meal, I considered the implications of John’s statement. An institution is mostly stagnant. A movement indicates we are going somewhere. Is it mere coincidence that the early Christians described themselves as “The People of the Way?”

When we look at Church as a movement and not as institution we can emphasize what elements of Church life provide direction and movement and discard what does not. This sounds radical, but much of what the Church does is subject to interpretation. For example, what does it mean to be an acolyte or serve on an altar guild? When we think of the Church as an institution, the acolyte is to do something because this is what an acolyte does. Meanwhile altar work means you iron linens and polish silver. When the Church is regarded as a movement, emphasis is upon the acolyte experiencing the holiness of God. The same is true for an altar guild member. Ironing linens or polishing silver connects with what is sacred. As a boy the prophet Samuel served as an acolyte and did routine altar work. In this sacred environment God spoke to him. God may do this for us as well.

When we reinterpret what we regard as institutional and connect it to Church as movement, there is a new energy and purpose. God is clearly working with and through us. Let’s take what we do in the Church’s life and consider it as part of God’s moving us forward. In doing so, our life in Christ may be renewed in ways that could astonish us! With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,