by Fletcher Lowe
For those of you who may not be aware, this is the beginning of the college/high school lacrosse season. I grew up in Baltimore, MD, that, along with Long Island and part of New England, were the hubs of the sport. Outside of those places, nobody had much knowledge/interest/awareness of it – until the last 20 years. Now there are over 3400 high school boys’ teams and over 2700 girls’! My granddaughter in California plays as do my grandsons in western North Carolina!
Reclaiming the centrality of baptism may be in the “three Lacrosse hub” stage within much of the Christian church including the Episcopal. Our seminaries are mostly about training seminarians how to run parishes rather than empower lay people for their ministries in their day-to-day lives. In congregations we are good at asking the first question: What is your name? And we gather relevant information so we can be in touch. But what about the question that usually follows: What do you do? Congregations are more interested in what you can do to help the parish and its programs than in how the parish can support, encourage, equip the baptized in their baptismal living.
There are signs that this is beginning to change. A professor at one seminary has empowering the laity as a part of two of the courses she teaches. The academic dean of another is exploring how to make it part of the core curriculum. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention in July formed a task force focused on how parishes, dioceses, and seminaries can develop ways and means for equipping the laity for their daily lives. The Presiding Bishop’s signature program, The Way of Love, has as its last phase the thrust to GO which incorporates much about baptismal living, engaging our faith in our everyday lives. The national organization, Episcopalians on Baptismal Mission (EBM), continues to be an advocate for the calling of all the baptized in their daily lives.
In that advocacy, EBM’s main metaphor is a base camp. The base camp is not the hikers’ destination. It exists of the good of the hikers, not vice versa, and is, therefore. there to support the needs of the hikers for their journey. Translate that to a congregation and you get a sense of what this movement is all about. Let’s keep working and praying that the Spirit will continue to move the Church to see as its primary mission to enhance the mission of all the baptized in their daily lives.