Many of you are familiar with an expression of mine often said at the conclusion of our Sunday celebrations, “That was good church!” Especially when our worship has included some extra element: baptisms, blessing of scarves and blankets, blessing of Panda Packs, even a funeral has found me feeling that way.
As well as worship there are ways we are engaged in making the world a better place, both near and far: the aforementioned Panda Packs, Joseph’s Coat, Meals on Main, Matthew 25, the Boys and Girls Club, Twin Lakes, Île à Vache and on and on. Outreach for us is also “good church.”
While we celebrate here another effort to identify “good church” is happening at the level of General Convention, and bishops, and executive committees. The Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC) has reported on the work they were given by the House of Deputies in Indianapolis in 2012. Lots of reasons for this work could be listed but to be brief there was an obvious frustration with how “big church” didn’t match up with “little church.” What TREC has proposed includes significant changes to General Convention, Executive Council, the Presiding Bishop’s office and other structures.
Lots of church pundits have responded; some through scathing disapproval, others by luke-warm endorsements and still others with pride and celebration of a job well done. In most opinions one caution is repeated. It is this: unless there is health at the level of individual congregations all the good ideas about structure and process “at the top” are in vain.
There you have it. No matter what the structure is, the big church needs the little church. It is OUR health that makes whatever re-imagining General Convention authorizes, worth doing. OUR health, first known by how we worship and similarly by how we help those both near and far is so important that we can’t take it for granted ourselves.
These Dinners with Dann are our TREC. We are doing our own re-imagining and structuring for growth and health sake. Thanks be to God we already have so much to call “good church.” Thanks as well that we can consider ways to grow and to contribute to the health of the big church from right here in Madison.