Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

St. Mark's Journey: A History of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Glendale, California, 1888-1989

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

St. Mark's Journey: A History of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Glendale, California, 1888-1989

Article excerpt

St. Mark's Journey: A History of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Glendale, California, 1888-1989. By Bruce G. Merritt. (Los Angeles: Melwood Press, 2013, Pp. ix, 433. $35.00.)

Written almost in the style of a family history, St. Mark 's Journey by Bruce G. Merritt traces the story of the first one hundred years of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Glendale, California. It is, in some ways, the ultimate "insider" account of the life of this faith community, written by a parishioner, about parishioners, primarily for an audience of parishioners. In great detail Merritt describes the people, processes, and social forces at work which combined to shape the life of this congregation and its members for over a century. The specific content of the book will likely appeal to a limited audience. But for those who are looking for an illustrative case-study of a community of faith sometimes evolving in concert with, and sometimes evolving in opposition to, its wider context, St. Mark's Journey provides an excellent example.

The history which Merritt portrays is not limited specifically to St. Mark's. Rather, he endeavors to tell that story within the larger story of the growth and development of the community of Glendale and its surrounding area, as well as the developing story of the wider Episcopal Church during that same time period. Merritt's account often appears entirely "clergy-centric," as though the only stories which really matter are those involving, either directly or indirectly, the ordained men (and, with very few exceptions, it is always men) who served as pastors of this community. Nevertheless, despite this narrow lens, he tells a story with an application which stretches far beyond the bounds of St. Mark's or Glendale. Merritt describes, in many ways, the challenge of the Episcopal Church, and mainline churches in general in the past one hundred years, from holding a seat at the center of the cultural circle (and seeming to embody the values, the story, and the ethos of that surrounding culture), to finding itself at the margins of that cultural circle (and often being at odds with the dominant cultural message, and thus experiencing the need to provide an alternative- or counter-cultural message). …

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