Friday, September 30, 2011

Episcopal Cathedral Church of Saint John to close in Wilmington, Delaware

The headline says it all, but you can read the letter from the Vestry regarding the cathedral's closing here. An Episcopal cathedral, with programs, ministries, and a full-fledged choir school, going out of business as of next July.... It's stunning, and it made me very, very sad.

It might be noted that the cathedral website contains this statement on diversity and inclusion:
The Cathedral Church of Saint John is a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive congregation which offers innovative opportunities for children, youth, and adults to find a special niche for spiritual growth and nurture within a small group setting. Our membership is diverse in age, career interests, sexual orientation, and racial and cultural backgrounds. Community service, diversity, and excellence in liturgy and music are hallmarks of the Cathedral.
Our Call:

As the Cathedral Church of Saint John, we believe that God is calling us:

To be a welcoming and supportive community to our diverse congregation;
To nurture children, youth, and adults in our congregation and urban neighborhood;
To be personal Disciples of Christ and public witnesses of the Gospel; and
To be a resource to the clergy and people of the [sic - This is where the statement ends in mid-sentence.]

Apparently the emphasis on diversity and inclusion wasn't sufficient to build a congregation big enough even to continue to operate.

This is where the Episcopal Church has made a huge mistake: substituting inclusion and social justice for evangelism. (But when you have lost sight of the biblical gospel, what else can you expect?) It was the death of the 20/20 program, and to the extent that the rest of the Episcopal church follows this trend (and it is!) it will be the death of the denomination.

Don't misunderstand me: Evangelism is supposed to be inclusive. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel..." (Mark 16:15). The gospel is about diversity: "make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19). But inclusion and diversity (social justice, the Millennium Development Goals, etc.) apart from the authentic, saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is a futile and empty thing--one that offers no true salvation but only death.

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