One of the dynamics that runs deep in the DNA of the Episcopal Church is the, “Do you know so and so? question.”
It never ceases to amaze me when I meet folks – Episcopal gatherings or otherwise – and I tell them what I do, they immediately start listing their Episcopal connections. In fact, in most instances, it does not take long until we discover someone we both know in the Church. This often makes me smile and wonder if there might be some truth in what I once heard, “There are actually only 12 Episcopalians… and the rest is incense and mirrors!”
As you might imagine, while I appreciate that humor, I believe it has nothing to with either of those things and everything to do with being in relationship. Relationship is truly at the core of our Episcopal (Anglican) identity. Congregations are in relationships with each other to form a diocese – The Episcopal Church in Minnesota. Diocese are in relationship with each other to make up provinces – The Episcopal Church. Provinces are in relationship to form the Anglican Communion. It is these relationships that connect us as a “branch of the Christian tree.”
Yet, it really has as much to do with the connections between congregations who form things like Episcobuilders, or who work together to support San José Obrero, or who make a connection between White Earth and St John’s or St Luke’s, or St Mark’s and the Church in Cuba, or St Clement’s and the Church in Haiti, or St John’s and the Church in Uganda or…I could go on. These connections are where deep relationships are formed.
It is as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, ” For just as the body is one and has many members, and all of the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” ( 1 Corinthians 12:12).