Post about Religious topics. My spiritual journey is a subtopic of this.

The Road to Lusaka: Culturally Competent Catholicity

I’ve written two blog posts, providing the background and initial impressions around The Annual Mission Conference of the Companions in Mission Committee. In this post, I will share what I took away as the core ideas around the discussion about the upcoming ACC meeting in Lusaka.

Bishop Ian asked what the concerns of people were and work it into a short didactic around Anglican history and what it means to be part of the Anglican Communion.

What does it mean to be a member of the Anglican Communion? Bishop Ian asked the participants this question. It is a question we need to ask both individually and corporately. It is a question I struggle with as I seek discernment. Frequently the answers are around having common elements of worship, no matter where in the world you attend an Anglican service. Answers often tie back to the history of the Church and to England. Yet what I got from Bishop Ian’s talk that fits most closely for me is ‘Culturally Competent Catholicity”.

Just about every Sunday I say the Nicene Creed, including, “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” There is something special about the church universal, the fellowship of all believers, a commonality of those in loving relationship with God. What are the core elements of this? To me, the Trinitarian and Incarnational aspects of God. God, in relationship, and in mission.

As an aside, the idea of cultural competence is one that is important to me from its context in health care. To provide the best health care, one must be aware of the culture of one’s patients, and must be competent in providing care that fits with the culture of the patients. It seems like this idea of cultural competency is also important in sharing God’s love and healing broken souls.

An Anglican understanding of authority comes from Scripture, Reason, and Tradition, and it seems like this is where cultural competency comes in. Our traditions in the United States are different from the traditions in Uganda. They are different from the traditions of a century ago. Our reason is shaped by our cultural context.

Anglicanism is the catholic church, recognizing responding to the culture it is part of, starting from the days of St. Augustine, through the reformation, in the age of the British Empire, brought to America and responding to cultural changes with Bishop Seabury, spread around the world through colonialism, and continues to seek to be culturally competent in a post colonial world.

So this comes to the key question for the ACC meeting in Lusaka: How does the Anglican Communion remain both catholic and culturally competent in a post colonial world? What happens when one set of cultures has a set of beliefs about the appropriate way to treat a group of people and another set of cultures has a belief in opposition to that? How do we determine what is central to our catholic beliefs and what is culturally acceptable? How do we act when we go as missionaries from one culture to another and find another culture doing things we disagree with?

In all of this, we are called to walk together. We are called to recognize that as one body of Christ, yet different parts of that body. The sense I got from the meeting was of an optimism, an optimism that God abides, that through this, we will all be drawn closer to God.

The Road to Lusaka: Initial Impressions

This is the second post about The Annual Mission Conference of the Companions in Mission Committee
of the Episcopal Church is Connecticut Walking Together - Living God's Mission. My first post was a prologue, establishing what was going on in my life and the life of my parish as I came to the conference. I was tired, but my mind was full of thoughts.

It was a nice day. The weather was a little bit nippy. As I came around the green I saw signs for the conference and men in blue aprons directing traffic. It was very organized and welcoming. I went and checked in, picking up the folder with materials for the conference and my name tag. There was an orange dot in the upper right hand corner. I suspected it indicated that I was a first time attendee, which a member of the Companions in Mission Committee later confirmed. There was WiFi available, which was described in the materials.

We were directed to the chapel where there was music. It was a praise band with two guitars, two keyboards, a bass, drums and a vocalist. It has been a long time since I’ve been to a church with a band like this. Mostly, I’ve been going to services with familiar music played on a pipe organ. Some of my friends are not keen on this sort of music, and there have been times such music has felt empty to me. Yet other friends love this style of worship and there have been times that it has felt very spirit filled. Today, was one of those days. God’s presence seemed palpable and the songs seemed a heart felt response to God’s love.

I’d say there was a crowd of around a hundred people in the chapel. I suspect many had come to hear the keynote speaker, The Most Rev. Dr. Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, especially in light of the Primates meeting where the Anglican Primates recommended that

that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

Both Bishop Josiah as he was referred to as, and Bishop Ian Douglas of the Diocese of Connecticut, who serves on the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) were there talking about the role of The Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion and about the upcoming conference in Lusaka. The setting of the discussion, at a conference on missions help set the tone. The description of the ACC says

The role of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is to facilitate the co-operative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion, exchange information between the Provinces and churches, and help to co-ordinate common action. It advises on the organisation and structures of the Communion, and seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church, including ecumenical matters

Bishop Josiah said that the ACC would address the recommendation of the Primates, but noted that there was a lot of other business to be addressed.

Bishop Ian spoke about his hopes for the ACC meeting. He put the meeting into an historical and global context which was extremely helpful and which I hope to write about next.

The Road to Lusaka: A Prologue

I’ve been writing this blog for around eight years. I started it as a place to gather my thoughts about a wide range of topics. I know a lot of people visit this blog looking for articles on technology, politics, media, and other random topics. I have every intention of writing more about these topics, but right now, I am especially interested in the idea of religious identity and so a lot of my writing is on this topic.

I also write in various styles on this blog. Sometimes I try to adopt a journalist tone and other times, I seek more of a journaling tone. In the struggle to define religious identity in the twenty-first century, I am a participant observer, so many of my posts along this line are likely to be a mixture of these tones.

Friday night, I went to Dinner for a Dollar at my church. You don’t really have to pay a dollar, you just give whatever you can. It might be nothing. It might be more than a dollar. It isn’t a soup kitchen where those who have give to those that don’t have, setting up unhelpful power dynamics. It isn’t a fundraiser, although Dinner for a Dollar often does take in more than in spends. Dinner for a dollar is a chance for everyone to gather for a good affordable meal. Some folks are food insecure and come for the food. Some folks are lonely and come for the companionship. Some folks have young kids and come for an opportunity to speak with other parents as their kids run around with each other. It is a vital ministry of our church that I don’t participate in as much as I would like.

I went to Dinner for a Dollar Friday night because I was going to spend the night in the undercroft of the church with others from the parish as well as some homeless guests. Every winter, Columbus House takes groups of homeless people to various faith communities around New Haven where they spend the night. Members of the faith community stay with the homeless guests, providing food, companionship and a warm, safe place to sleep.

This year, many of our homeless guests headed off to bed pretty early and the hosts sat around chatting, and heading off to sleep in one corner of the church or another. I sat on one of the couches and chatted, and as the hosts still up dwindled, I sprawled out on the couch and went to sleep.

At one point, one of the other hosts found a blanket which they put over me, thinking they could do it without even waking me up. I was in that half asleep, half awake phase, that I associate with the beginning of Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. I felt loved, cared for. I thought about when I was young and had drifted to that half awake state sitting around a campfire and my father picked me up, carried me into the tent, and put me in my sleeping bag. I thought of God’s Love, covering all of us in our spiritually half awake state.

I drifted in and out of sleep for the next few hours and then got up for breakfast. After our guests left, the hosts sat around and talked. There were two African American hosts, one Asian American host, one Hispanic American host, and two Caucasian American hosts. We are all hyphenated, and several, trying to make up for lack of sleep were trying to become caffeinated as well.

The discussion drifted towards racial justice, the differences between inter personal racism and systemic racism. By personal racism, I mean the kind you see represented by a confederate flag on the back of a pickup truck, or the kind you hear when someone uses the N word, or if you are more attuned here in micro aggressions.

For systemic racism, we talked mostly about education and black history month. The history we’ve grown up with is the history of the happy slave making desert for her master and the Europeans having a nice dinner in November with their Native American welcoming committee.

One of the things that often comes up is people asking why we need Black History Month. Shouldn’t Black History be taught every month? Well, yes, it should, but it isn’t. What we really need is Black History being taught every month as well as a special Black History month, to help everyone, students, and their parents and community, to catch up on the Black History that hasn’t been taught. It is a discussion about equality and equity. It is a discussion about fairness.

After breakfast and cleaning up, I drove home, where I quickly showered and then headed off to the annual Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s Mission conference, this year, entitled ‘Walking Together - Living God's Mission’.

I was tired. I was missing some of my normal Saturday activities, both chores and relaxation, but I believed it was an important event for me to attend, so I powered onward.

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