I link the following story and highlight a few salient points not because I am any kind of expert on the Episcopalian church (I definitely am not) but because it provides a pretty stern warning for those out there who would like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to imitate the liberal tactics espoused by the Episcopalians (and other liberal mainline churches, which are losing members in droves).
It appears that people who go to church actually prefer churches that stand for something rather than just reflecting the pieties of the secular culture.
Read this on the collapse of the Episcopalian church.
And read this on the huge decline in membership of liberal mainline churches and why it is happening.
A few key quotations:
Among the old mainstream denominations reporting to the National Council of Churches, the Episcopal Church suffered the worst loss of membership from 1992-2002 — plunging from 3.4 million members to 2.3 million for a 32 percent loss. In the NCC’s 2012 yearbook, the Episcopal Church admitted another 2.71 percent annual membership loss.
At this year’s convention, David Virtue reported: “In all the talk about same sex this and transgender that, there is absolutely no talk about sin. A psychologist friend of mine opined that talk of ‘sin’ here would be considered psychologically damaging and offensive to a lot of people, especially gays, so it is off the radar screen. ‘No sin, please; we’re Episcopalians.’
Why are Episcopalians leaving one of the oldest denominations in America? Perhaps that can be answered by New Hampshire’s V. Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual Episcopal bishop. When he addressed the fifth annual Planned Parenthood “prayer breakfast” April 15, 2006 in Washington, D.C., he declared that “religious people” are the enemy.
Indeed, this is what we need. Religion without any actual religious people.
Readers who are following along in Sunday School as the Israelites make their way through the desert may be interested in this post from the past. What does archeology say about the book of Exodus?
I hope this will be the last post on M* regarding the Ordain Women movement. The OW movement has been relatively quiet since the last General Conference, which is probably a good thing. Hopefully the people involved with the movement will come to the realization that there are Church-approved channels for bringing up requests for change within the Church.
In the meantime, a private letter from Church Public Affairs Managing Director Michael Otterson surfaced on another blog. It was posted here in a comment, and I wrote to Church public affairs to confirm its authenticity, which was confirmed.
I also asked for the Church’s official position on the OW movement and received a response, which I will detail in this post.
But first, I think it is important to make it clear the Church Public Affairs is definitely speaking for the Brethren on these issues. I asked public affairs this question and received the answer: “yes.” In addition, the private letter from Bro. Otterson says the following:
Please also understand that no Church spokesperson – whether Cody Craynor, Jessica Moody or myself – issues statements on behalf of the Church that are not either initiated or approved by members of the Twelve and, at times, by the First Presidency.
I really need to drive home this point because it appears some people, even faithful latter-day Saints, are not understanding this: public affairs is not some rogue group. All of their statements are approved by the leadership of the Church. In effect, their statements are statements from the modern-day prophets who lead the Church.
So, what is the Church’s official position on the OW movement?
This is a guest post by Jamie Huston.
My notes on president Monson’s addresses at the April General Conference, 2014. Obviously subjective, and subject to ongoing revision and improvement, but this helps me to pragmatically know how to “follow the prophet.”
Priesthood Session: “Be Strong and of a Good Courage”
1. “…put ourselves in places and participate in activities where our thoughts are influenced for good and where the Spirit of the Lord will be comfortable.”
2. (Quoting) “If you ever find yourself where you shouldn’t ought to be, get out!”
3. “…do… the right thing even though we may be afraid, defend… our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed, and maintain… those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or of social status.”
4. (Quoting) “Just be the same person you are in the dark that you are in the light.”
Sunday Morning: “Love—the Essence of the Gospel”
1. “…love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey.”
2. “…love God, the Father of us all.”
3. “…keep this truth [We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters] in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.”
4. “…recognize someone’s need and then…respond.”
5. (Quoting Pres. Kimball) “…remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve.”
6. “…we must treat each other with kindness and respect.”
7. “…strive always to be considerate and to be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings and circumstances of those around us. Let us not demean or belittle. Rather, let us be compassionate and encouraging. We must be careful that we do not destroy another person’s confidence through careless words or actions.”
Sunday Afternoon: “Until We Meet Again”
1. “…take the time to read the conference messages when they become available on LDS.org within the next few days and when they are printed in coming issues of the Ensign and Liahona magazines, for they are deserving of our careful review and study.”
2. “…join with me in expressing our sincere gratitude to those brethren and sisters who were released during this conference.”
3. “…welcome them and want them to know that we look forward to serving with them in the cause of the Master.” [re: “brethren who have been called to new positions of responsibility”]
About three years ago I made a pledge to hand out 12 Books of Mormon a year. I have more than met that goal. I would estimate I have handed out more than 45 Books of Mormon over the last three years.
Now to be fair to readers, I should point out that I travel all over the world and bring Books of Mormon with me. Only about a dozen or so of the books I have handed out (four a year) are to people near where I live. The vast majority have been to acquaintances in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Panama, the UK and Hong Kong whom I have met over the years. A lot of them have been taxi drivers.
Random thought number one: the plural is Books of Mormon, not Book of Mormons. (If you have seen “The Best Two Years,” there is a funny scene regarding this that I tried to link, but I could not find it on Youtube).
Random thought number two: if you want to hand out Books of Mormon, you must bring them with you when you go someplace. Stop reading this right now and go put a Book of Mormon in your car or your briefcase or your purse or your backpack. If you do not have a Book of Mormon, you can either get one from the missionaries or order them on-line here. I cannot emphasize this enough: go put a Book of Mormon someplace so you can hand it out.
Random thought number three: I have encountered a LOT more atheists lately than I remember from a decade ago. Has anybody else noticed this trend? My experiences do not count as a scientific survey, but the average person seems to have migrated from “I am spiritual and believe in the value of religion but don’t go to Church” or “I am Catholic” to “I don’t believe in a God that would allow people to suffer on the Earth.” I am amazed at how many people openly claim to be atheist. Is this a sign of the times?