Sunday, February 6, 2011

Back to work!

I have now been back in MD for well over one month, serving as rector of St. Alban's parish in Joppa, MD. This is the parish where I was ordained, so there are lots of friends here. Additionally it is in the region where I was reared, so it is something of a "homecoming" being here. My priorities in the church are youth, music, preaching, and missions - essentially in that order. Having been around the block a bit as a priest and churchman for so many years now I think that our continuing Anglican parishes are weakest in these areas.

The youth are my main priority. It is heartbreaking to see so many pictures of youth who once attended the church and who, though they live in the area, no longer attend - not even for Christmas or Easter. Our continuing Anglican churches specialize in this failure so it seems. The strangest thing about it is that it doesn't seem to bother anyone - either on a parish or institutional level. Why do so many kids grow up in our churches and yet they stop attending - our church, or church altogether? Why don't we have the numbers of families that other churches have?

One possible reason is that our churches simply do care for youth of any age. Continuing Anglicanism is primarily a church for old people... not that there is anything wrong with ministering to old people, but just that it is very 'exclusive' and will not provide a future for our churches. I saw this - this lack of interest in youth - as early as when I was in seminary. The old guard at my parish largely looked upon me with suspicion, and the rector was not all that interested in me. No young people were in any position of leadership in the church, and if they were (such as our young curate) he was looked upon as a possible "trouble maker" and "enemy" of the rector.

Today, as a parish priest, I see on an institutional diocesan level that the continuing Anglican churches generally speaking have no interest in youth, as there are hardly any young people in positions of leadership in the diocese, as most churches have no youth programs or even an idea of the importance of developing one, and as there are not even the most basic resources for catechizing the youth. There are, to be sure, a few bright spots here and there, and they are to be lauded (such as diocesan summer camps). But we need more, and it has to begin at the parish level.

So that is my number one goal here at my new parish... to reach children with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and raise up, by God's grace, devout Anglican and Catholic Christians who are equipped and excited about serving God and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not all people in a church will be interested in youth or beautiful art and music. Generally only those who specialize in such things are interested in them while everyone else, if consulted on the matter, will be inclined to obstruct. This has always been the case throughout the history of christendom and art, music and youth programs had to be sponsored by the heirarchs or royals and nobles with such interests. You need to internalize this; by pursueing these programs yourself, you are doing the right thing, but it will be dangerous, as has been my long experience as a church musician and church artist in the Roman Catholic Church.