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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Compare and Contrast

Below is part of a letter our parish uses to follow up visitors to our weekend worship services.  It was written by me in the fall of 2008 soon after I came to this parish and has been used since then.  

You might ask: What is our vision here at St. David’s?   Our vision simply put is to be:  A people for Christ, for the Kingdom of God, and for the world.  As a church that is for God and others we are committed to a positive kingdom agenda for the South Hills area. We aim to be a church that:
·                     Promotes Love not Hate
·                     Care not Neglect
·                     Hope not Despair
·                     Grace not Legalism
·                     Forgiveness not Condemnation
·                     Faith not Fear
·                     Mercy not Judgment
·                     Reconciliation not Separation
·                     Compassion not Indifference
·                     Life not Death
A church that is for God is on a journey with God
to make known the Kingdom of God

If you can resonate with this vision, then come see us again.  We are here to serve you and your family.  


Following are some of the contents of a letter mailed to one of our vestry members and postmarked May 22 (eight days before we vacated our former building) attempting to recruit him and his family to join the new thing being established at St. David's.  It was signed by two clergy of St Paul's Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon, Kris (Opat) McInnes and Louis Hays, and is also posted on the new St. David's Episcopal Church website here. (note especially paragraph 6.)     

If you have not yet decided where you are going to worship, we ask you to give St. David’s one more month. I know there have been a lot of things said about the Episcopal Church, about St. Paul’s, and even about us.  We urge you to come and hear our story and the exciting future that we believe is possible. You will find a community that loves the Lord God and rejoices in the life given through our Savior Jesus Christ. You will find a community that believes the Holy Scriptures of the New and Old Testaments to be the Word of God and to contain all things necessary to salvation. You will find a people more committed to spreading the gospel than church politics.  You will find a congregation committed to love over judgment, peace over strife, and unity over division.  We think you will be pleasantly surprised and we will be stronger with you as a part of our community, your community. Please come, taste and see what the Lord is doing at St. David’s before you make a final decision.

Since 2008 we have said very little about the Episcopal Church (and what little that may have been said was not preached from the pulpit  -- we did have a four part series on theology prior to the vote on realignment taught by TEC-Pgh priest Brad Wilson). The last month in Peters we made this document available The Episcopal Church: Tearing the Fabric of the Communion to Shreds.”  We have never said a word about St Paul's Church or their clergy.  Obviously the writers never read, or if they did, believed our visitor letter because they imply we are a church committed to church politics, judgement, strife and division, unlike their new thing that focuses on spreading the gospel, on love, on peace and on unity.

Somehow along the way I must have forgotten to mention who it is that has been filing all those pesky lawsuits. 


  1. Hi David,

    I think your newcomer letter is great, and I'm very glad to hear about the good new beginning in the Canonsburg location. Blessings in abundance.

    It might be that Kris and Lou have noticed your characterization of the Episcopal Church recently in your blog post at the beginning of the ACNA Assembly, when you said, "Contrast this with the Episcopal Church General Convention -- 10 -14 days in posh hotels with daily legislative sessions voting on every on issue under the sun laced with politically correct "worship" services, and special interest groups politicking and pressuring at every turn. No thanks . . . ."

    I of course agree with most of this myself, but I know that it is not generally descriptive of the life and ministry of Episcopalian congregations here in our Diocese of Pittsburgh.

    I think I understand your Welcome Letter at least in part to be a response to the (unfair) impression that some have that the ACNA was born in a crescendo of judgmental, finger-wagging moralism, energized more by condemnation and mean-spiritedness than by Christian forgiveness and and the proclamation of grace in the Cross of Christ.

    Likewise, given the way the Episcopal Church has been characterized in direct and indirect ways by some, I understand why a new initiative like St. David's might find it necessary to "introduce" itself to its neighbors by responding to messages others may have sent in times past.

    In all cases, of course, we are known in the end not by what we say about ourselves--which will always be clouded--but by the fruit of our ministry and witness. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control.

    All best,

    Bruce Robison

  2. Thanks Bruce for your comments. I hope all is well with you and St Andrew's. For the record, my characterization of the General Convention (not the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or any of its parishes) was posted on June 5 and their letter was postmarked May 22 so they could hardly have been thinking of what I had to say about General Convention when writing their letter unless of course they are clairvoyant.

  3. Good, David, and thanks for the kind word. I'm sure there have been other characterizations of the Episcopal Church floating around even prior to your blog post, which I was just citing as a nearby though imperfect example. My own feeling is that from both sides of the stream there have been things said about "the other" that reflect less than the best Christian charity. I thus understand why folks on both sides would also feel a tad defensive. The whole "glass houses" thing would seem to apply.

    The reality of course is that there are elements in the critiques exchanged on both sides that are true enough, so far as they go, which is probably a part of what makes the whole thing a little painful. We would recognize with some truth that our own house is not truly in full order. Nonetheless, so long as the competitive analogy is in play, it is difficult to get anywhere in terms of self-critique. All have sinned, and, as the Bard reminds us at the end of R & J, "all are punished."