Calvary is a special place with great preaching, wonderful music, an active laity, and a friendly and mission-focused congregation …
“As a place of tolerance and acceptance of others; the friendliness, love and support of our congregation ensures we will continue to remain an open and affirming place for everyone.”Vision 2020 excerpt
Not to be dramatic, but I will say that the year 2016 was something of a “breakthrough” year for me as your bishop. To begin with, my prayer life (and my spiritual compass generally) became increasingly insistent that I must be more of a public activist about the values to which I feel called by my faith in Jesus as the Lord of life and by the whole record of the sacred Scriptures. I’ve been calling this awareness “faith in the public square,” and it compels me not only for my ministry and role as a bishop but also simply as an individual Christian person. As I said, this has come to me from promptings in my prayer life, but I believe it is related to three factors: First, the “mainstream” Protestant churches have become more marginalized than ever, our voice being all but drowned-out by the hard-Right fundamentalists and politically-charged evangelicals. The very label of “Christian” has been virtually hijacked in the larger media by the so-called “Religious Right.” As a result, our secularized culture is not truly aware of a more moderate and broader voice from the Christian tradition. This is unacceptable to me as an Episcopalian. The same goes for the ultra-Left. The second factor moving me into a more activist-style of our Christian faith is the alarming polarization in our public discourse as the American society. If ever our nation and world needed the Anglican tradition of a “big tent” community, our ability to forge consensus around “both—and” as contrasted to the highly toxic and (in the end) destructive “either—or” it is now. Finally, I’m raising the bar for my Christian voice because it is now apparent to me that here in the United States (although certainly not limited to our country) a fear-driven, isolationist nationalism seriously threatens the Gospel’s vision for human life and community by propping up self-interest as nothing short of an idol. Jesus never said or exemplified “self first.” Quite the contrary: We follow a Lord who said “Love one another as I have loved you.” In my book, that means “selflessly” and “unconditionally.”
This excerpt from the Bishop’s Address to the January 26-28, 2017 Annual Convention is available in its entirety at: http://www.thediocese.net/news/222nd-annual-convention-pastoral-address-by-bishop-shannon-s-johnston/
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13