Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church

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From the Staff @ HIEC

An Uncommon Welcome

As we gather Sunday by Sunday -- and during the week -- during this interim period, and as the search committees and vestry take up the important tasks of writing a parish profile and putting in place a discernment process, it is worth remembering the words of William Temple, archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940s: "The Church is the one organization in the world that exists purely for those who are not yet part of it." In challenging times such as these, it is easy to lose sight of the Great Commission from Jesus to "go and make disciples" and of the pervasive call in scripture for us to share in God's mission for the healing of the world.

By now, we all must know the hard facts -- that mainline churches are on the decline nationally. That's gloomy news, but I believe we are given this period to become again the church our Lord envisioned -- a community that welcomes the stranger, that seeks and serves the lost, that finds ever more creative ways to draw people into the reign of God's love. For too long, we have been content to do things in comfortable, familiar ways.

At Holy Innocents', we have been using a phrase we've heard around the church -- that our mission is to offer all comers an "uncommon welcome." Welcome and hospitality are at the core of the Christian way -- welcoming strangers into our midst and discovering, when we do, that they bring immense gifts with them. It is our vocation, Henri Nouwen once wrote, to convert "hostis," the fearful, defensive hostility of our world, into "hospes," a place of abundance, companionship and belonging.

To call this welcome "uncommon" is to say we're willing to change our patterns, to learn from those who come among us. What a mission we've been given at Holy Innocents'. Each of us is invited to take our part.

Bob Dannals

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