Last month, the first female bishop of the Anglican Communion came to visit St. Scholastica. On April 12, Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel was filled with over a hundred people there to listen to her speak. That talk was the final part of the “Here Comes Everybody” lecture series being hosted by St. Scholastica.
Born in 1930, and the great-granddaughter of a slave, Barbara Clementine Harris was active in the civil rights movement, and this informed much of her talk. She spoke of current trends in Christianity, especially the emergent church and relational evangelism.
Appropriately for the theme of “Here Comes Everybody” she quoted the online-collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia, which states that the emerging church “can be described as evangelical, post-evangelical, anabaptist, liberal, post-liberal, reformed, charismatic, neocharismatic, post-charismatic, conservative, and post-conservative”. This got a good laugh from the audience, but it also served to demonstrate one of the problems with self-organizing structures; everyone has a different vision of what that structure means.
Harris thinks that the nature of the church needs to change. “A movement is where the people who do the work make the decisions,” she said, “An institution is where some people make decisions and other people follow them.”
Harris asked “What is the vision of how the church will sustain the work for justice?”
Underscoring that question was the recent controversy in the Catholic church involving the alleged cover-up by the Catholic church of child sexual abuse. This question arose again at the end of the lecture, this time asked by one of the audience members. Harris said, "The conversation needs to be on decentralization," a rather Protestant remark for a former Anglican bishop.
Even with all the talk about defining a movement of faith, it was difficult to not notice the lack of young people in the audience. Harris remarked that the Millenials were surrounded by nuisance, and that those audience members under 30 were the future of Christianity.