The column in Sunday’s East Oregonian by Ross Douthat deserves a response from an actual Episcopalian. As a lifelong Episcopalian of 63 years, I have lived through the changes Mr. Douthat laments.

The Church I grew up in during the 1950s and early 1960s was stereotyped as “the Republican Party at prayer.” In about 1963, the Episcopal Church changed from resisting the civil rights movement to embracing it. Church leaders then understood and reminded us that the God we know in Jesus serves and stands with “the least of these.” From that point on, the Episcopal Church has paid a price in finances and membership, but we have grown as a community of faith.

When the Most Rev. Edmond Browning was elected Presiding Bishop in 1985, he declared that there will be no outcasts in the Episcopal Church. That declaration moved our Church to accept and celebrate the gifts of ever more diverse groupings of God’s children. We do this not because of some version of secular politics. We do this because we love and celebrate God as revealed in scripture who creates the world, and humanity in amazing diversity.

As I have journeyed with the Episcopal Church over six decades, I have seen us grow in faith, engage in serious Bible study, share our personal faith stories with people from very different backgrounds and  perspectives, and commit ourselves to God’s mission in the world.

With the rest of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church is committed to these Five Marks of Mission:

1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.

2. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers.

3. To respond to human need by loving service.

4. To seek to transform unjust structures of society.

5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

These Marks of Mission unite the Anglican Communion. We share them with our partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as with those in Britain and the rest of Europe. They will shape our ministry in this country and in this community in the years to come.

If you would like to know more about the Episcopal Church, come see us at Church of the Redeemer.

The Rev. Alison M. Dingley

Interim Rector, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Pendleton

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