Chances are those attending each day’s legislative sessions and committee hearings are encountering “20/20” as a common denominator of the nearly 300 resolutions proposed to Convention.
That’s just what the 20/20 Strategy Group from the Standing Commission on Domestic Mission and Evangelism hoped would happen.
The 20/20 message was applauded in the House of Deputies yesterday afternoon just as it was during one of five “conversations” Wednesday evening.
“This is a new vision, a movement to ‘re-form’ the church for mission in the 21st century. This is a paradigm shift bubbling up in the Episcopal Church in a number of ways,” said strategy group chair Sarah Lawton as she opened the “Who Owns 20/20” evening conversation.
The energy of 20/20 is challenging the church to look at itself in new ways. Though including a goal of doubling churchwide attendance by 2020, the movement is more concerned about proclaiming the Gospel in relevant ways, relating to young people, and changing the culture of the church as it rapidly engages and welcomes all people as the world’s diversity intermingles across oceans and continents.
About 100 people gathered for the conversation. They heard statistical data from Kevin Martin of Plano, Texas, who said that if trends continue the way they are now, “a 28-year-old living an average life span would see the complete marginalization of Christianity during his lifetime.” One of six panelists, Martin noted “we are learning to be a missional church in a secular society.”
Panelist Kwasi Thornell, canon vicar of Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, noted this will give the church “something to say to these young people who feel they have no hope.”
Panelist Winnie Varghese, priest and chaplain at Columbia University, added: “We are talking about a church we haven’t seen. It hasn’t existed on the face of the planet.”
After the one-hour presentation, clergy and lay voices, from teens to retirees, lined up at microphones to talk about new ideas opportunities to spread the Gospel.
Angela Buckley, a 20-year-old from the Diocese of North Dakota, thanked the church for “empowering teens to take leadership.” Buckley said, “Give me a Bible and let me preach.”
Jack Hanstein of Sacramento, Calif., explained one way he experiences bringing generations together. In a mentoring and leadership exchange in his church, “old folks and young people” gather regularly. “Following after-school tutoring, children came back to teach old people to use computers.”