Profiles in Spirituality: The Future of the Episcopal Church (Part 1)

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On a very cold and wet evening in November, six local clergy members from the Episcopal Churches of Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties gathered at Emmanuel’s Parish Hall to talk candidly about the future by answering the question: Will the Episcopal Church exist in the 21st Century, and if so, why would it be relevant to believers?

It was not lost on the panelists that a similar discussion, as Rev Osberger points out, took place in 1780 when the rectors of the local parishes gathered at the same spot during a similar time of profound change and challenges.  One of the historic results of that meeting, suggested by The Rev’d James Jones Wilmer, Rector of Shrewsbury Parish, was the renaming of the church itself to the Protestant Episcopal Church, which was later adopted by the American branch of the Anglican Church.

Given this unique history, it seemed appropriate for the Spy to honor this important moment by bringing together the current rectors from some of the same parishes. While the issues have changed since 1780, the Church nonetheless faces equally important challenges of keeping important traditions of the past, while also acknowledging the needs of an entirely new generation of men and women seeking spiritual guidance and answers.

Professor J. David Newell, retired chair of the philosophy and religion department at Washington College, moderates a discussion with Rev. Daniel Gross, Rector of Emmanuel Church; Rev. Nanese Hawthorne, Rector of St. Luke’s Parish, Queen Anne’s County; Rev. Tom Hughes, Rector of Shrewsbury in Kennedyville; Rev. Allen LaMontagne of St. Paul’s; Rev. Charles Osberger of Old Wye Church, and Rev. Heather Cook of the Diocese of Easton.

Part II will be presented next week.

DW

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