Episcopal Asset Map: The Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement working in the world
Episcopalians really hate taking credit; we seem to take great pride in no one knowing about the amazing ways that we are living our Christian call in our communities and throughout the world. My name is Tamara Plummer and as a cradle Episcopalian, I take ownership that I too have at times shied away from being braggadocious about my faith and life in the church. Working on the Asset Map (an online resource that highlights the varied gifts of The Episcopal Church) has surprised and inspired me. I have come to appreciate, in new ways, the vast, diverse, international, awe-inspiring world called the Jesus Movement of the Episcopal Church.
In my three-or-so months on the job, I have spoken to over 200 Episcopalians on the phone, via e-mail or in person, and I have come to realize that we vastly underestimate and under-promote the wonderful ways we are being God in the world. I have heard story after story about the amazing gifts and assets of the Church, and here are just a few examples:
At the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Diocese of Vermont, their Earth Care Ministry is a way for the church to focus on their environmental impact and be great stewards of the Earth outside and inside the walls of their worship community.
While I spent time with the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (http://episcopaldiocesefortworth.org/) at the their convention, I learned about St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Stephenville, TX. They may not be the largest worshipping community, but they are mighty. Congregants offer a free lunch every Thursday during the Fall and Spring semesters, reaching over 300 students at Tarleton State University.
If you explore the ‘Network’ section of the map, you can learn more about Episcopal Migration Ministries. In the Diocese of Idaho, the Agency for New Americans is just one example of the ways that this network is living the Gospel of Welcome.
Finally, I fell in love with this church via the map. All Souls, Diocese of Louisiana, is a church that comes out of the many ministries that grew in the aftermath of Katrina. It is housed in an old Walgreens! To see fabulous videos of their community programs, including a string ensemble, check out their pin.
These are only four pins on a map of thousands, and we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to all the wonderful ways we are a living church. As I speak to church leaders, I hear their frustrations. It is a struggle to get folks to claim their story and share it with the world around them. I think it is no secret that as Episcopalians we, at times, have a hard time with evangelism because we don’t want to be seen as “those kinds of Christians.” But what if we reclaimed the true meaning of evangelism: listening to God’s call in the other, and sharing the stories of the living God in us. Imagine if we reclaimed evangelism, no longer an activity of damnation, but liberation. What if us telling our story and listening to the world became how people see Christianity?
We are called to be evangelists, to be God’s hands in the world. Being God’s hands is not merely a sacrificial service, it is a mutual exchange of power; it is a space where we listen more than we speak, it is a place where we engage in the hard stuff, not just the stuff that makes us feel better. All over the Church, there are people in the trenches doing the hard work, connecting with our most vulnerable neighbors… but many of you are doing this silently. The map is not about taking credit or boasting, it is an invitation to have others join you in those trenches, to offer people an opportunity to go beyond just being good people, doing good things. What I believe the map project is saying: “Will you join me in the body of Christ moving through the world? A spirit of healing, partnership, and building so that we might see God’s kingdom here on earth.”
You might be thinking, that’s a lot for a website! But I would like to challenge you to prove me right. So please accept this post as an invitation. An invitation to be a little boastful, to share your story and let the world know how your hands are working in the world. You are an evangelist acting upon how the living God is calling you to do and be in the world! Take a chance; go to episcopalassetmap.org today, find a pin, tell your story.
Tamara Plummer, is the Asset Map Coordinator at Episcopal Relief & Development.
Images: Top, parishoners from The Cathedral Church of St. Paul and maypole. Middle 1, Deacon Dana Wilson and Terri Binkley, Parish Administrator of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Middle 2, Agency for New Americans volunteers. Last, members of The All Souls Youth Ensemble.