Bishop Wright has led us to understand the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta as of "Middle and North Georgia" and as an "ever-widening circle." Perhaps you remember the logo.
It says something about the dynamic of humans embracing the world around them in Christ's name especially those bearing the Episcopal brand. Our embrace is BOTH inclusive and never finished. We can look at who is among us as we reach to bring others in. We can also see immediately that there are some still to be included among us.
It has always interested me that we call our work of extending God's blesing toward the world around and beyond our parish "outreach." For Episcopalians that is largely an effort of giving and providing for those who are in need.
We do not usually insure that any informational piece gets delivered along with our gifts.
Some of our brothers and sisters in other denominations are more inclined to include messaging that is not only informational but meant to elicit a response of commitment. I grew up calling it "accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior."
I rejoice that there are multiple ways to accomplish "outreach." Some with targeted messaging some without. No matter. In the end we all should have a hand in God's widening circle. Not just Episcopalians in Middle and North Georgia.
At our most recent Outreach Committee meeting I shared something that was news to many at the table. It was information about who we are as Episcopalians and how our outreach effects an ever widening embrace.
The old name for our denomination was the "Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America." For a while we reduced and then finally removed from almost all our labeling the word "protestant" and the acronym became ECUSA.
Now we known as TEC - The Episcopal Church. That is because our circle is not just in the United States of America. We are in 16 nations other than the USA.
Here is the biggest piece of what was learned by many at the outreach table: The largest diocese in TEC is . . . The Diocese of Haiti established in 1861, with over 83,700 members and over 100 congregations.
Some of the "widening" is within our embrace. Thanks be to God.