9/20/2013

About what The Episcopal Church is: and why communications "branding" is a dangerous farce

The Constitution and Canons are clear:
 
From the Preface:
 
The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church), is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy,Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. This Constitution, adopted in General Convention in Philadelphia in October, 1789, as amended in subsequent General Conventions, sets forth the basic Articles for the government of this Church, and of its overseas missionary jurisdictions."
 
 
Now someone at the Church Center seems to believe we ought to be called a Missionary Society.
 
 
"The Church, especially the Episcopal Church, is a missionary society for the welfare of the world.  That is true for Episcopalians corporately (our official corporate name is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society), but more importantly, it is true spiritually.  
 
The Missionary Society is a strategy for achieving our common purpose, building partnerships throughout the Church to engage God’s mission to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
 
The Missionary Society seeks partnerships for mission—dioceses, congregations, and networks.  It brings resources from the churchwide level—funding, expertise, and human—to leverage for mission with local partners.  We are all about mission.  And partnerships allow us to do more mission together."
 
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is indeed a corporation, and it relates to The Episcopal Church in the following way. (Title I, Canon 3)
 
CANON 3: Of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society
The Constitution of the said Society, which was incorporated by an act of the Legislature of the State of New York, as from time to time amended, is hereby amended and established so as to read as follows: Constitution of The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America as established in 1821, and since amended at various times.
 
ARTICLE I This organization shall be called The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and shall be considered as comprehending all persons who are members of the Church."
 
Now just so folks who post the web pages for the Church know.  The DFMS is an organization of all the people in The Episcopal Church. But The Episcopal Church is not a Missionary Society.  It is a Church. The members of this church belong to a missionary society made up of all its members. But The Episcopal Church consists of all those dioceses in union with the General Convention. And just for fun, the canons are clear: the  Constitution of the DFMS can be amended and changed (and even revoked) by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
 
The page in question then may want us to be a Missionary Society, and it may say that "That is true for Episcopalians corporately (our official corporate name is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society), but more importantly, it is true spiritually. " But saying doesn't make it so.  The Episcopal Church is not the DFMS. Period.  We are not the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.  We are dioceses in union with the General Convention. And spiritually we are just fine, after all we invented the particular missionary society we have. But we are not that missionary society, we are a Church.

General Convention Deputies and Bishops might want to take a careful look at this page (and perhaps others.)  The trouble is, if they stand just as they are, after a while it appears that it is true, that The Episcopal Church corporately is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.  That is hokum. For particular purposes of mission TEC has a DFMS.

5 comments:

William Birch said...

The DFMS is an organization of all the people in The Episcopal Church. But The Episcopal Church is not a Missionary Society. It is a Church. The members of this church belong to a missionary society made up of all its members. But The Episcopal Church consists of all those dioceses in union with the General Convention.

Yes, yes, yes! Well put!!!

Eric Funston said...

"It's a Church." - Short, sweet, and to the point. And apparently something our leadership has forgotten.

SCM said...

Is part of the issue here legal protection of the term 'missionary' given the money that has been donated to it over the years on just these grounds?

And isn't that also why the 'leadership' likes to call things like litigation 'mission'?

Grandmère Mimi said...

The news is troubling. What is to be done? "It's a church" is what I thought when I joined.

Anonymous said...

SmfrmrinFrisco here...

Is it possible that in "rebranding" the folks at "815" the intent is to give them, not TEC as a whole, a redefined sense of their role and purpose vis a vis TEC? That they exist solely to facilitate the work of the Body of Christ as they engage in their respective missional responsibilities? Thoughts?