Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Presiding Bishop: The mission is local

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori addressed the General Convention this afternoon and she touched on many themes around "the crisis" in the church and in the world, particularly the economic crisis which she laid at the feet of human sin. 

"The crisis is about focusing on the most important and most essential things first," she said. 

There is something else she mentioned that won't get the headlines but is worth underlining here, and perhaps somewhat in juxtaposition to what I wrote this morning about our church being more than local.

She reminded us that, in the end, our mission is on our own street, in our own community. Our mission is local, and the church is our parish.

"The church as a whole should not be doing mission work that can be done better at the local level," she said. "Some mission is more appropriate and effective at the parish and diocesan level. This church as a whole, for example, shouldn't be running Camp East of Eden for kids from all over the church." But, she suggested, we could "share our best practices."

Although she didn't say it exactly, there is a certain seduction in these large national church gatherings (having been to them myself) that Bishop Katharine seemed to be cautioning the General Convention to be wary of being pulled into. The General Convention is not the church but is a governing body. Yet the church is greater than the sum of the parts; somehow we need to keep the whole in our sight. "The temptation is to see our small part of God's mission, the one each of us holds most dear as the reason for this church's existence," and then "get selfish."

She also issued a reminder that as hard as we work on building and preserving our church, "the structures of the church are for God's mission but not God's mission itself."

And a footnote to the first day's session: It was closed by a prayer out of the Book of Common Prayer read from an iPhone at the podium. The world turns.

1 comment:

Peter Carey said...

Cool, I'm reading your blog on my iPhone