Monday, January 2, 2012

We Are Ancient and We Are New: Another Reason to Be Rather Fond of The Episcopal Church.

(This month's post is from a special guest: Anne Rudig, head of Communications for The Episcopal Church)

Out with the old! In with the new! Happy New Year!

Wait a second – not so fast...

At least, that's what comes to mind after polling some in our tribe regarding our just-launched updated website:

"Gothic? Dark? Traditional? Fine. I am not an Episcopalian because I want to be "hip" and "21st century" and I still consider myself young. I like some tradition. I like cathedrals. If I wanted "Buddy Christ", I'd likely find a non-denominational mega church. The Episcopal church stands for a lot of "modern" thinking. I also enjoy and support that."

I have been responding to comments related to the new site that launched on December 28.  One thing that strikes me is that a few of us want to be new, without also remembering the rest of our identity, which is very old. We weren’t born yesterday, and people actually like that about us. Especially in uncertain times, they find great comfort in our prayers, worship, music, and even our worn wooden pews:

They are well worn, but polished. There is something about it that is used and old, but well maintained…You can tell people have held onto them over time, and the wood has been smoothed by age. I think it’s a good image of this church. It’s been shaped by people over time, and yet it’s timeless and substantial.

That quote is from research done with both current members and newcomers to The Episcopal Church. We heard that people love our church because it is steeped, but not mired, in tradition. Young people said that they want to “touch an ancient tradition, while asking a lot of questions.” The design of the new website evolved directly from this research.

I know that there can be no resurrection without death. It’s healthy to let go of some of our old “stuff.” In fact, we must. But we have an authentic and unique story to share, and it involves the old colliding with the new.  The stained glass motif of the new site allows us to showcase our contemporary church within an ancient framework. I think that’s a good metaphor for us. That’s where the drama lies, where the sparks of creative energy can fly. Not always comfortable, but more dynamic and relevant than any other church.

Happy New Year everyone!