Midweek Update from St. Andrew's - February 3, 2021
I have been thinking a lot about evangelism lately. Mostly because I will be starting a six-week adult education class on the topic this Sunday, but there are other reasons as well. Evangelism is a word that evokes a lot of different responses. For some, the word warms the heart at the thought of sharing their faith with someone who might be in need of hope. For others, the word triggers memories of being talked down to and judged by someone who was arrogantly trying to “save” them. Either way, it's a sensitive topic that should be approached thoughtfully.
I don’t know how or why I started to find evangelism so fascinating, but I think it is connected with the hospital chaplaincy training I recieved. It was during the time when I was invited to sit with people who were in crisis that I began to see how God’s Spirit worked through me in ways that were completely independent of my intentions. Ever since then, evangelism came to be a process that only happened when I had the grace to let people be themselves without judgement or the need to “fix” them. In those blessed moments, God’s presence was revealed to me and to the other person and we were both transformed. That transformation experience is what I want to explore during the next six weeks. I hope you can join us!
Presbyterians in PC(USA) are connected through a national network of the denomination. PC(USA) functions through bodies spanning from our congregation and Session, through Presbytery, through Synod, to the national General Assembly. Each of these councils leads the work of the church, including governance, establishment of polity, and ministries. The operation of each level of council is funded by its members and establishes an annual assessment to each individual Presbyterian through the 'per capita' process. You can learn more about per capita from this video presented by PC(USA).
For 2021 St. Andrew's is assessed $84.49 for each member of the congregation ($8.98 for General Assembly, $2.85 for Synod, $72.66 for Presbytery). Many of our members choose to contribute this amount as a special donation to recognize their participation in the work of the denomination. If you would like to do so, simply make your donation payable to St. Andrew's and mark the memo "Per Capita."
Rev. Jen Fraser will begin a six-week class, "Reclaiming Evangelism.” This will be an honest examination of the history and practice of evangelism with an eye toward re-discovering the intention and meaning behind Matthew 28:19-20. The class will consist of four main sections.
1) Evangelism and the early church
As the early church was first developing, evangelism was a means of inviting the marginalized into the "way of Jesus." Opening up an alternative spiritual community to Gentiles, the poor, slaves, women, and children in which the Roman honor/shame value system was inverted, and God appeared among (and cared for) the lowest in society.
2) Evangelism and the politically emerging church
As the church began to emerge as a political power, hierarchical structures were consolidated within the institution. Evangelism then becomes a means of securing allegiance and controlling the resources within territories.
3) Evangelism as a tool of colonialism
From early modern European expansion, to the "Christianizing" of Native American communities, to the contemporary white evangelical church's embrace of the conservative political agenda, evangelism continues to serve as a tool for consolidating power and wealth.
4) Evangelism in a multi-cultural, interfaith society.
Is it possible to redeem evangelism from its legacy as a tool of political, social, economic and cultural dominance? What should we call it when we open up about matters of faith with our family, friends and neighbors? Can we share our spiritual/soulful experiences with others without trying to "convert?" Do we as Christian have something of real value to offer the "non-believer?"
Please Join us Sundays right after Coffee Hour at 11 AM on Zoom!