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Episcopal Church - no clear gospel to proclaim

Episcopal Church - no clear gospel to proclaim
Jim Brown - OneNewsNow - 7/15/2009 7:00:00 AM

A conservative Anglican theologian says the Episcopal Church is experiencing a large membership decline because it's espousing neither a biblical gospel nor a New Testament understanding of evangelism.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Catherine Jefferts Schori acknowledged Monday that 19,000 more members die each year than are born or baptized into the denomination -- a trend she hopes to reverse through "evangelism." Jefferts Schori said Episcopalians "for a long time didn't do active evangelism," and now "need to be sent out into the world to take the good news of Jesus." Her emphasis on evangelism comes just days after she said individual salvation is a "heresy."

Dr. Kendall Harmon is Canon Theologian for The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. He is deeply troubled with the presiding bishop's understanding of evangelism as well as with the current practice of evangelism in the Episcopal Church.

Harmon believes evangelism involves three things: welcoming newcomers into the church, bringing the un-churched into a relationship with Christ, and reaching out to those who have drifted away from the church.

"In the Episcopal Church, most parishes aren't doing any of those three well," he confesses. "If you're really lucky, you'll get an Episcopal church that is half-decent at welcoming newcomers -- and that's not evangelism. And that's one of the many reasons why we're in long-term systemic decline: we don't have a gospel to proclaim with any sense of clarity."

Harmon says unfortunately most Episcopalians understand evangelism as persuading people who are already Christians to join the Episcopal Church.