Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Co-Creating Common Good: Diocesan Collaboration in the Mission of God

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Co-Creating Common Good: Diocesan Collaboration in the Mission of God

Article excerpt

What is the role and function of the church, as an institutional ecclesial body, in addressing economic inequalities in the United States, or in the world? For those of us who identify as Episcopalians the question might be: What is the vocation of a diocese in "creating common good"? Here, diocese is understood not as the office of the bishop and her/his staff, but rather the common witness to and participation in God's mission by parishes and worshiping communities in a specific geographic jurisdiction. Put another way, what role do Episcopal churches working in common as a diocese have in addressing the ills and challenges of the economic order in which we all "live and move and have our being"? Is such worldly work an appropriate sphere of interest, action, and investment for Episcopalians when we come together as a diocese? This article will argue that Episcopalians can indeed take important steps to co-create with the triune God an economy (oikos) that is life-giving and abundant for all. It will also offer a few modest examples of how the Episcopal Church in Connecticut is seeking to participate in God's mission of restoration and reconciliation in the neighborhoods and cities of our state.

Setting the Context

Parishes and worshiping communities in a specific geographic jurisdiction known as a diocese are, by definition, located in a spe- cific context. A diocese is grounded in the incamational realities in which it is located. The different histories, cultures, geographies, and economies in which a diocese exists result in different expressions of diocesan life across the Episcopal Church, to say nothing of the differences across the provinces of the Anglican Communion. The experience of Episcopalians living in the context of an old, established diocese in New England that is wrestling with the end of Christendom is radically different from those who know the challenges of post-earthquake reconstruction in UEglise Episcopale D'Haiti1 or the radically multicultural cities of the Diocese of Los Angeles, where worship is in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese each Sunday. Context is fundamental to how a diocese lives into the invitation to create common good.

So what is the context in which the Episcopal Church in Connecticut seeks to be faithful to Gods leading in the ordering of our economic life? Our contemporary economic realities are greatly influenced by our history and geography. From colonial times through the eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries, families in Connecticut scratched out meager incomes on small subsistence farms in often rocky and unforgiving soil, while trade, whaling, and fishing characterized the towns and growing cities along the shoreline of Long Island Sound and the waterways of the Connecticut River. From the mid-nineteenth through the first half of the twentieth century, the innovative and enterprising spirit of Connecticut Yankees resulted in new advances in manufacturing, particularly in metallurgy and machinery, as the state led the way in the production of guns, clocks, and tools.

Most of the manufacturing that had characterized the towns and cities of Connecticut for over a century began to decline, however, in the mid-twentieth century, as industries moved to the southern United States or overseas in search of cheaper labor. Today drivers on Interstate Route 95 along Connecticut's shoreline with Long Island Sound will find boarded up and burned out empty factories from New London to New Haven to Bridgeport. While Connecticut's historic manufacturing economy declined, new industries in the financial sector began to grow. Hartford became known as the "Insurance Capital of the World," and Fairfield County's close proximity to New York City in the southwestern comer of the state meant that bankers and brokers could easily commute to Wall Street. Historic farming communities became bedroom communities for those working in the financial sector as farms gave way to housing developments and shopping malls. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.