Dear Episcopal Evangelist:
This month, as many of us prepare to go back to school and back to ministry programming, we are talking all about learning. Learning about what it means to know we are loved by Christ, learning what it means to be formed in God’s image, and learning how to share that love and knowledge with others.
First up, we have this month’s Catalyst Connection from Canon Mike Orr, who shares about learning how transformative it is to say, “Here I am,” as a beloved child of God.
Mike serves as canon for communications for the Episcopal Church in Colorado. Mike is the curator of caffeinatedchurch.org, a presenter for Project Resource, and has worked with many organizations and dioceses as a speaker and presenter in the areas of communications and evangelism. If, after reading his story, you would like to chat with Mike or invite him to share his story with your community, he can be reached at Mike@EpiscopalColorado.org. I hope you will read his story and then think about how you can also offer your whole, Jesus-loved self as an act of evangelism.
Also, be sure to look at the other resources we are sharing for learning and inviting, and SAVE THE DATE for our next Evangelism Huddle – when we will talk about ABCD (asset-based community development) for evangelism and the gifts of the Episcopal Asset Map.
As always, I am grateful for you and your ministries – our church and our world is better because of you!
Jerusalem Greer, staff officer for evangelism
Canon Mike Orr, Episcopal Evangelism Catalyst
Welcome to our new monthly feature, Catalyst Connections, where we get to meet an Episcopal evangelism catalyst and learn more about their life and ministry.
Name: Canon Mike Orr
Community: Caffeinated Church
Ministry: Canon for Communications for the Episcopal Church in Colorado
Here I Am:
The other day, I heard from a friend―rather, the partner of a longtime friend. I didn’t know him well, but I liked and admired him. He came to the point right away, admitting to his pain and anger toward the Church. Why me? He knew I was a churchgoer, a person of faith―a person who would listen. He’d grown up in rural South Dakota and had attended church regularly from childhood through early adulthood. He did all the right things: went to church camps, led small groups, played the organ, and served in church leadership. He lived a life expected of him― married and had children―and later divorced. Eventually, he courageously confronted his sexuality and came out to his family and community as gay.
Then his church turned their back on him and pushed him out. He’s held on to his grief and anger toward his former church, and toward God, ever since.
He knew I’d relate to his story because I’ve shared bits and pieces, over the years, about my own faith journey and my story. I also grew up attending church, went to church camp, led small groups, “struggled” with my sexuality, and spent long, painful years in reparative therapy. My relationship with God could have been characterized as tirelessly serving God with my gifts and skills and doing good works, hoping God would overlook me as an abomination and could somehow pity me enough to love me.
August Story-sharing Prompt
Who formed you?
We know that the best way to share about Jesus and the ways the love of God has used to form and transform us, is through stories―in particular, stories about those who have offered us invitations, offered instruction, or just took the time to listen to our hearts.
A few years ago, at the 79th General Convention, the members of Forma asked visitors, “Who formed you?” You can watch many of those videos and hear those stories here.
This month, we would like to encourage you to practice story sharing around this question. Consider posting your own video or inviting the videos of others.
You may be familiar with both asset-based community development (ABCD), and the Episcopal Asset Map, or maybe these are both new resources in your world. Either way, we hope you will join us for a chat with our mentors for August, Tamara Plummer from Episcopal Relief & Development, and the Rev. Melanie Mullen from The Episcopal Church, about how ABCD and the asset map can intersect with the practice of evangelism and strengthen our ministries for the better! Join us on Zoom, Aug. 18, at 12 PM Eastern.
Back-2-School, Back-2-Ministry Resources
For a lot of folks, this fall is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and a return to in-person gatherings and learning.
Here are a few resources you can use to offer invitations and encourage others in this season.
“I believe in learning because I have lived it. Learning comes from longing. Learning without longing is just studying.” – Dr. Lisa Kimball
How are you learning about Jesus and his way of love and life these days? Consider sharing those stories and resources with others this month. And if you do share on social media, use the hashtag #episcopalevangelism so that we can follow along!
If you would like to download a shareable image of this quote, please click here.
Embracing Evangelism – A 6-week evangelism training series – you can lead this series online or in person. (And watch for some new additions to this program coming this fall.)
A Year in the Life – A series that explores the gifts and challenges of ministry during COVID-19. Look for videos and blog posts that share a variety of perspectives.
Evangelism Matters – All episodes and Coffee Hour recordings from Evangelism Matters: The Discipline of Hope, An Episcopal Evangelism Audioconference are available for anyone to listen to and watch. The resources now include a Reflection Guide for Groups and Individuals. Use this guide to bring Ev Matters 21 to your group or congregation.
Good News Gardens Monthly Gatherings: 3rd Tuesday of each month, 7 PM ET. Learn more
Evangelism Huddles: 3rd Wednesday of each month, 12 PM ET. Learn more
Unlocking Grace & Hope: A Weekend of Episcopal Evangelism: Sept. 24-26, Wilmington, Vermont. Learn more
Good News Festival – Episcopal Diocese of San Diego Revival, December 3-5. Learn more
This was originally shared in The Episcopal Church’s August Evangelism Newsletter. We invite you to subscribe to The Episcopal Church’s monthly newsletter to receive prayers, resources, news about upcoming events, and more. View past issues of the newsletter and join the mailing list here.