[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The US-based Episcopal Church is planning a series of revival events over the next two years to “to stir and renew hearts for Jesus, to equip Episcopalians as evangelists, and to welcome people who aren’t part of a church to join the Jesus Movement.” The multi-day events will feature “dynamic worship and preaching, offerings from local artists and musicians, personal testimony and storytelling, topical speakers, invitation to local social action, engagement with young leaders, and intentional outreach with people who aren’t active in a faith community,” the province’s public affairs department said in a statement.
“I love the surprised response when people hear we’re organizing Episcopal Revivals,” the Revd Canon Stephanie Spellers, the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, said. “Why wouldn’t we? A revival is a movement of the Spirit among the people of God, a concrete sign that we want to share God’s love out loud with each other and with new people. That sounds like the Jesus Movement.
“Every Revival will have a clear plan for follow-up, to continue to water seeds the Spirit has planted. There might be a new church plant or new Mission Enterprise Zone,” she explained. “It might be a Jubilee Ministry born of new, reconciling relationships in the community. Most of all, we hope these Revivals help Episcopalians and our neighbours everywhere to fall more deeply in love with Jesus – a loving, liberating, life-giving God they might never have met before.”
Carrie Boren Headington, the church’s consulting evangelist for revivals, who also serves as missioner for evangelism in the diocese of Dallas, added: “These ‘Jesus Movement’ Revivals will motivate, equip, and mobilise dioceses to love and follow Jesus and to engage in his work of evangelism and reconciliation. We’re beginning months beforehand with research and training for leaders to learn about the locations where God has placed them and to build faithful relationship with their neighbours and communities. Then we work with local teams to shape an inspiring gathering that shares the good news in word and deed.”
The first event will take place between 3 – 5 February in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It will be themed around a celebration of Absalom Jones – born into slavery in November 1746, he became the first African-American to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. He is remembered in the province’s calendar of saints on the anniversary of his death: 13 February 1818.
Subsequent events will take place in May 2017 (West Missouri), September 2017 (Georgia), November 2017 (San Joaquin) and April 2018 (Honduras) before a joint evangelism mission with the Church of England in July 2018. The Episcopal Church is planning to hold further such events in the years ahead.
The Pittsburgh Revival – the Presiding Bishop’s Pilgrimage for Reconciliation, Healing and Evangelism in Southwestern Pennsylvania – will feature a worship service and other gatherings “that invite people across boundaries and into reconciling relationship with each other and with God,” the Episcopal Church said.