Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"a vital Church is a missionary Church" - Rector's Rambling for Sunday, September 4, 2016

As you have noticed by now, I am away for the weekend and will be back next Sunday.  Recently I was re-reading some writings by the late Bishop of Michigan, Richard Emrich, and I wanted to share it, and challenge you with it.
‚ÄúRemember that the vitality of a movement can always be gauged by its missionary zeal.  If people believe that something is true and bears salvation to men, they want to spread it.  The early Christians (and every missionary) had an experience which they wanted to share.  This point, of course, does not demonstrate the truth of a movement (Mohammedanism, Communism, and Christianity have all displayed missionary zeal): it merely reveals its vitality, that its followers believe it is true.  And, under this point, the immediate future of the world lies in the hands of vital movements.  We should remember that our faith is never sure unless it is fervent and that any group of people that has lost its sense of destiny is dying.
When, therefore, we come upon a person with no missionary interest, we should remind him of what his lack of interest really means.  It means that he does not believe the faith enough to want to spread it.  It means that he does not believe in a vital Church, but is willing to give the souls of men over to any dark faith that comes along.  His faith is not enlightened; it is degenerate.  The lack of missionary concern has been due to a watered-down version of Christianity which did not know the Gospel.  It was not an amiable and watered Christianity which stormed the darkness of this world, but a faith which knew the plight of mankind, the great facts of sin and redemption.
It is sobering to realize that the profundity of the faith of our parishes can be judged by the manner in which they grasp the missionary task.  A vital Church is a missionary Church.  A believing Church is a missionary Church.
The Rt. Rev. Richard S. Emrich, Seventh Bishop of Michigan, from 1948 to 1973.  From his tract Renewing the Church (1952)