RACHAEL INVESTIGATES: ANGLO-CATHOLIC EVANGELISM PART 2 OF 2

Read Part 1 here where I had to get my head around some basic assumptions of Anglo-Catholic worship, in order to set the scene.

We’ve been chatting in the vicarage for a couple of hours now and mostly Fr Kyle has been leading the conversation and teaching me some important things about his tradition, but most of what he’s prepared (yes of course he’s prepared hand outs and a reading list! Have you met Fr Kyle?) has been exclusively on mission, and yet I came here to talk about evangelism. I might not be a theologian, but I know they’re not interchangeable words.

I tentatively mention this and he explains. This is partly because he had forgotten exactly why I said I was coming (!), but also because, for me to understand evangelism in the catholic tradition, I need to understand the catholic view of mission first. I need to understand the huge importance placed upon community, upon the Church as the collective people – a ‘communion’ of God’s people, living and departed. Because it’s not just about individual soul saving. By this I understand he is alluding to the caricature that, with mission and evangelism in the opposite end of the church – in the evangelical tradition, more emphasis is placed upon one’s individual relationship with Jesus as one’s personal saviour (this is something I intend to discover when I visit some evangelical churches to discuss the same topic).

Back to Anglo-Catholicism…

Fr Kyle says, “If God’s one plan for the world (and there’s no backup plan) is the mission of the Church, then mission is only ever done through the Church. Seeing where God’s prompting us to be and getting stuck in. That’s the (traditional) Catholic interpretation. Where God wants us to be he’s already sown seeds. He’s sown seeds everywhere. But for them to bear fruit, they must do so through the Church.”

I’m told the whole purpose of catholic evangelism is to bring people to a living relationship with Jesus in the Mass. I ask for clarification on the phrase “bring people to a living relationship with Jesus”. I want to know what that actually looks like; what it means practically. So I ask “What does the word evangelism mean to you?” After a long pause, and careful consideration, he says it’s “Announcing the Good News of God’s love and showing people how they can enter into it more deeply. That relationship of love begins with Baptism, and it’s achieved primarily by encountering Jesus in the Eucharist.”

The Eucharist, it’s no surprise, is key here. As I understand it, if you’re an Anglo-Catholic, to share your faith with someone isn’t simply so that their soul can be saved through hearing the Word, and you leave it at that. It’s about bringing them into the Church (the people and the building) so that they can experience Jesus through his body and blood in the sacrament of Holy Communion, which isn’t only about being part of a shared meal, being in community, but actually makes them a bit more like Jesus every day.

“So,” I press further, “Does it mean actually telling people about Jesus?” I want to really get to the heart of what evangelism looks like in Anglo-Catholicism.

“Of course,” he replies.

I want details. I want specifics. How does it happen? Fr Kyle begins his answer with a brief history lesson and I worry he’s being evasive, but he’s not at all, just setting the scene so that I understand:

“The main aim is to form people into communities that are Eucharistic and that invite people on a lifelong journey of sanctification. Traditional Anglo-Catholic parishes tend disproportionately to be in areas of deprivation, or that have a history of deprivation. This is because the C of E was not quick to plant churches in the new working class communities that came out of the industrial revolution in the 1800s. But at that time Catholic minded missionaries did, and staffed them. That’s why there are more Anglo-Catholic churches in deprived areas.

“This is not only a historic pattern when the movement was beginning, but is still the same now. So the method of evangelisation in such communities has been incarnational. Relational. It’s engaging in presence for the long haul. A slow-burn evangelistic method. That’s partly to do with the aim of taking people on a journey – of ‘conversion’ being a life-long process of becoming more like Jesus – but also to do with the sorts of communities that we’re serving.

“In the past when clergy numbers were higher it meant clerical presence. Being involved in the local community. Conversations. Connections.”

I’ve already seen this in action today. When we were walking through the parish I was very surprised to see how respectful, even deferential two youths were to Fr Kyle when we passed by. They were well-used to seeing a man in a long black cassock walking through the streets. The church still means an awful lot here. Whether they’re believers or not, it’s clearly normal to see your local priest out and about.

“So if anyone was telling people about Jesus it would be the priest?” I ask.

“In the past, yes. But since the object of the exercise is to form a worshipping community, historically a great deal of energy has also been invested by the whole congregation in social events and activities that benefit the local community.”

I get that it’s natural that the priest does it, but I want to know if the congregation ever do it themselves and if there are any particular barriers to sharing their faith – any barriers that are particular to Anglo-Catholics. I’m told there are no more than in any other tradition. There are the common barriers of talking about something deeply personal, which touches on emotion. People have a fear of rejection.

This is a very stark point and I know for a fact he’s right that these are the kinds of barriers faced by Christians of all flavours. Christian speaker Michael Harvey has written and said much on this tricky topic of our reluctance to invite people to church, and it seems to cross tradition boundaries. It’s something most of us find really hard.

But is our willingness or reluctance to share our faith really nothing at all to do with our theology or tradition? I put to Fr Kyle that surely it’s the theology which creates a culture of worship and “doing church” that feeds certain behaviours, and surely that affects how likely an ordinary lay person is to share their faith, and how they go about doing it. Could it be, that whilst it’s true that people from all traditions find it hard, some congregations are naturally more inclined to have conversations about faith with friends and strangers than others?

“Yes,” he agrees. “It is possible that, because the Christian life as an Anglo-Catholic invites you to explore it – requires you to experience it – it makes the Christian life more difficult to just explain. You can’t just lay it out on a stall.” We’re back to the importance of community again and the Eucharist. It’s much more than words. I’m beginning to understand, I think. Evangelism looks very different in traditional Anglo-Catholicism because how it understands and does mission is so different from other traditions. It’s a slow burn thing. Perhaps less explicit?

We leave it there for now but my investigations into Evangelism in different church traditions is far from over. My next stop is dinner with Mother Gemma Sampson, Curate of two Anglo-Catholic churches in Hartlepool; St Aidan’s and St Columba’s. I’m keen to see if she can shed any further light on this topic. I’m off to find out, and could be coming to a church near you soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats

  • 9,047 hits
Follow camouflage and cassocks on WordPress.com

Want to read the next one? Enter your email address to follow.

Join 592 other followers

Categories

Instagram

Until tomorrow @samjamieson2 #untiltomorrow
Lady Phillips out for her morning constitutional. We don’t know why she walks like this but there you go. Some questions will remain unanswered. #walking #keepingactive #todderlife #socialdistancing #coronalife #coronapositivity
If resting heart rate relates to stress, then it’s safe to say that since the initial worries about the pandemic a week ago, my much simpler, slower and more isolated life is having a good influence on me! (I know this is not scientific and is only a snapshot but still, potential silver linings? I’ll take them!) #fitbit #restingheartrate #health #fitness #coronapositivity #coronasilverlining
Today’s #lockdownlunch was a fine assortment of thingsIfoundinmycupboardandfridge. The theme was “not going to the shops” which provided an exciting challenge. This culinary masterpiece that will almost certainly never be repeated, not because it was bad, just because it was such a random collection of ingredients, is called “Couscous Surprise” The surprise was that the couscous use by date was 2018 and yet it was fine. We think. If you’d like to have a bash at this then you’ll need: •roasted cauliflower covered in Indian spices • fine green beans dressed in olive oil and lemon juice • tomatoes in balsamic and olive oil • hummus • beetroot chutney • Patak’s pickled lime chutney • sesame seed mayo •green olives in chilli oil •couscous with feta and lemon juice Assemble it all beautifully on a plate and enjoy with a cold Stella Artois. #coronapositivity #notgoingout #isolationcreation #cookingchallenge #vegetarian #veggies #eatyourveggies
When CrossFit is closed and Dickie works from home, two great things happen. I don’t need to get up at 0500 every day to train, and instead I get to go for a nice long lunchtime run. The new circumstances we find ourselves in can definitely have silver linings. What are yours? #coronapositivity #irun #runningmum #milesplit #knackered
Look at this handsome fella. Definitely one of my better life decisions was digging a pond. Now I have much more time to enjoy it. #coronabonus #silverlining #coronapositivity #lockdown #pondlife #pond #amphibians #frog
If you’re sitting there thinking “that looks like a fruit scone covered in Philadelphia with avocado and baked beans” you’d be absolutely right. It’s early days in the lockdown and already I’ve started eating the dodgiest combos of food based on what fresh stuff needs eating and trying to work out what I can put together that doesn’t require a trip to the shops! It may seem an abomination on a plate but I’ll have you know it was delicious. PM me for the recipe 😂 #lockdownlunch #coronatimes #vegetarianrecipes #fridgedelights #wouldyou #corona
Because still not everyone gets it.
No caption with this one. #toddlerlife #workingfromhome #19monthsold #lockdown #theweek
Teaching Elizabeth everything she needs to know so we can put our feet up. #startthemyoung #montessori #montessoriathome #toddlerlife
Silver linings? Our garden is finally getting some attention after 20 months of neglect. Apart from the mammoth effort to lay the lawn last summer with the help of our friends, we haven’t tended to a single plant or even cleared up the leaves from last autumn 🤭 But today we decided that if we’re going to be spending hours every day out here (likely) then we want to make it a beautiful, safe and educational environment for the whole family. We’ve got plans to convert flower beds into veg patches and really get better at composting. Day one is all about surveying the area and working out what to start first. The garage clear out is a weekend job in itself. Let’s hope Dickie starts working from home soon!! How are you and your family adapting and making the best of it? What unexpected silver linings are you discovering from social distancing and self isolation? #selfisolation #socialdistancing #covid19 #corona #coronavirus #gardening #garden #positivity #familytime #priorities #vegpatch #growyourown #digforvictory #sustainability
We’ve just had the most delightful takeaway from @helloteawithalice for Dickie’s birthday. ☕️🥯🍓🧁 Service was brilliant and we’re so grateful for how they are adapting to serve their customer base. As we all end up spending more time at home, let’s think of our favourite cafes and restaurants and think of ordering in, not just so we can enjoy the gorgeous food but also to support our local businesses. This brunch was faultless. Absolutely gorgeous. I wish I knew their secret to perfect mushrooms on toast but I suspect that’s a closely guarded secret!! #shoplocal #takeaway #corona #socialisolation #brunch #birthday #vegetarian
As a Stay At Home Mum the latest advice hasn’t impacted us anywhere near as much as some people. We’re still pottering around, doing household chores together, exploring the garden, walking in the park. The only noticeable difference is that usually our week often feels quite packed with visits to toddler groups, seeing friends and family and going on adventurous day trips. We thoroughly enjoy all these activities but sometimes I feel pretty exhausted from it all! Social distancing has actually given me permission to just slow down a bit, do less, listen to and observe Elizabeth more, and take her lead. Today I asked if she wanted to go for a walk, see some birds, visit a park (on our own) but she said emphatically “NO” to all my suggestions. So we stayed in our pjs until very recently and will be just enjoying life from the comfort of our home today. Nothing fancy. Lots of snuggles, naps and stories and play. Grateful for this special time and thinking of and praying often for those who are already feeling the effects of this virus on their physical or mental health or economically. Also grateful to my wonderful church friends who are busily working out ways we can stay connected, help the poor, and continue to worship in new and innovative ways. #covid19 #sahm #toddlerlife #daughter #garden #church #churchofengland #jesus
Yes another frog video. So glad we dug this pond a few years ago. I can see this playing an important part in Elizabeth’s entertainment in the coming weeks! #frogs #pondlife #frogspawn #pond
Celebrating this beautiful woman’s birthday today on the loveliest of spring walks in the countryside. Relentlessly cheerful daffodils, loads of birds (we heard but didn’t see an owl) and just great quality time together. #family #love
%d bloggers like this: