We Episcopalians believe in a loving, liberating, and life-giving God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As constituent members of the Anglican Communion in the United States, we are descendants of and partners with the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church, and are part of the third largest group of Christians in the world.
We believe in following the teachings of Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection saved the world.
We have a legacy of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being; women and men serve as bishops, priests, and deacons in our church. Laypeople and clergy cooperate as leaders at all levels of our church. Leadership is a gift from God, and can be expressed by all people in our church, regardless of sexual identity or orientation.
In April of 2018, a broad group of church leaders from a number of Christian denominations issued a statement of faith they titled, Reclaiming Jesus. Here is their announcement:
Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, was one of the leaders of this group. They were prompted to take this action because they had come to believe, “We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.”
Taking our initiative from Bishop Curry’s participation, beginning in May of 2018, a group of our parishioners began meeting to review the statement and adapt it for our congregation. In November 2018, members of the group reported on our work at a Sunday service, and made copies of our revised Reclaiming Jesus available to the parish.
After several more months of careful consideration, and thoughtful and frank conversation, the group presented a revised version of Reclaiming Jesus at the February 2019 vestry meeting, with the request that it be adopted as a statement of faith for our faith community, that it be posted on our website, and that it be shared with other congregations we have a relationships with, including TRUST churches (A group of allied churches in south Minneapolis.).
The vestry concurred with the group’s recommendations. Our version of Reclaiming Jesus follows:
Sts. Luke & James Episcopal Church in Minneapolis (4557 Colfax Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55419) has decided as a community of faith that now is the time for Christians to take a stand as part of the Body of Christ.
We acknowledge that Christians by their actions and inactions have contributed to the evils that are addressed in this document. We believe that it is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else—nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography—our identity in Christ precedes every other identity. We pray that our nation will see Jesus’ words in us. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
When politics undermines our theology, we must examine that politics. The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” We recommend that others follow the leadership of this ecumenical body and adapt, as we did, a commitment of belief. I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel. THEREFORE, WE REJECT the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We, as followers of Jesus, must clearly reject the use of racial bigotry for political gain that we have seen. In the face of such bigotry, silence is complicity. In particular, we reject white supremacy and commit ourselves to help dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate white preference and advantage. Further, any doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language must be named as public sin—one that goes back to the foundation of our nation and lingers on. Racial bigotry must be antithetical for those belonging to the body of Christ, because it denies the truth of the gospel we profess. II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world—to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ. THEREFORE, WE REJECT misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault on all the children of God (children, women and men) that has been revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches. We lament when such practices seem publicly ignored, and thus privately condoned by those in positions of leadership.
We stand for the respect, protection, and affirmation of all people in our families, communities, workplaces, politics, and churches. We support the courageous truth- telling voices of those who have been oppressed or abused who have helped the nation recognize these abuses. We confess the discrimination, oppression and abuse of all people historically marginalized as a sin, requiring our repentance and opposition. III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. (Matthew 25: 31-46) “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are “oppressed,” “strangers,” “outsiders,” or otherwise considered “marginal” is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not “good news to the poor,” it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18). THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of those who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the “strangers” among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34). Protecting the disadvantaged is a central commitment of Christian discipleship, to which 2,000 verses in the Bible attest.
We won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children, and we will be advocates for health care for those who most need it. We confess our growing national sin of putting the rich over the poor. We reject the immoral logic of cutting services and programs for the poor while cutting taxes for the rich. Budgets are moral documents. We commit ourselves to opposing and reversing those policies and finding solutions that reflect the wisdom of people from different philosophies and religious traditions to seek the common good. IV. WE BELIEVE that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives. Truth-telling is central to the prophetic biblical tradition. The vocation of the prophets includes speaking the Word of God into their societies and speaking the truth to power. A commitment to speaking truth, the ninth commandment of the Decalogue, “You shall not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16), is foundational to shared trust in society. Falsehood can enslave us, but Jesus promises, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). The search and respect for truth is crucial to anyone who follows Christ. THEREFORE, WE REJECT the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civic life. Our leaders, like the rest of us, are human, fallible, sinful, and mortal. But when public lying and the manipulation of truth becomes so persistent that it deliberately tries to change facts for ideological, political, or personal gain, the public accountability to truth is undermined. The regular purveying of falsehoods and consistent lying by government, political, corporate and religious leaders, can change the moral expectations within a culture, the accountability for a civil society, and even the behavior of families and children. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society. In the face of lies that bring darkness, Jesus is our truth and our light. V. WE BELIEVE that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles (the world) lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26). We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials. We support democracy and democratic institutions, not because we believe in human perfection, but because we do not. THEREFORE WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic leadership and authoritarian rule as rejection of servant leadership as cited in the biblical reference above. We embrace the division of political power as outlined in our constitution as the best method of encouraging servant leadership. We also embrace the rule of law as recognizing and protecting the equality of all people. Recognizing the equality of all people under God and our constitution demands an ethic of civility in public discourse and placing the search for the common good as the highest goal of servant leadership. VI. WE BELIEVE Jesus when he tells us to go into all nations making disciples (Matthew 28:18). While we have a patriotic love for our country, the church is part of an international community whose interests surpass national boundaries. The most well-known verse in the New Testament starts with “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). We, in turn, should love and serve the world and all its inhabitants, rather than seek first narrow, nationalistic prerogatives. We need to identify and support leaders who hold a common commitment to global reconciliation and justice. THEREFORE, WE REJECT xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal. Serving our own communities is essential, but the global connections between us are undeniable. Global poverty, violent conflict, climate change, weapons of mass destruction, and deadly diseases in some places ultimately affect all places. VII. WE BELIEVE that God created the world as a precondition for the creation of all life. We believe that humans, made in the image of the Creator, have a stewardship responsibility to conserve and manage the world’s resources for the benefit of all life. (Genesis 1: 20-31) We believe that the resources of the world are sufficient to provide for the needs of all God’s creatures when greed and selfishness are are replaced by a genuine concern for the common good. In Genesis humans are given authority to use the God-given resources of the planet but humans are also responsible for maintaining the balance between use and exploitation; between fertility and rebirth and permanent extinction. The environment acts not only as a natural barometer, but as a spiritual barometer as well. Our earthly home is now in a growing environmental crisis brought about by mostly human exploitation without concern for sustainability of life. We confess this exploitation and degradation as sin, requiring our repentance and resistance. THEREFORE, WE REJECT the exploitation of the natural world for individual, governmental and corporate gain only, choosing instead stewardship of the earth’s resources toward genuine global development that brings flourishing for all of God’s creation. It is the current generation’s responsibility to put long-term environmental consequences in balance with current industrial and corporate needs. We need to lessen human impact on our earthly home so that seven-fold generations can live safely and be nourished within this God-given web of life.
FURTHERMORE, WE REJECT personal, governmental, corporate and economic policies and actions that encourage the use of fossil fuels and discourage the development and use of renewable energy. We oppose government, economic and corporate policies that emphasize short-term financial gain at the cost of long term environmental degradation. WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED for the soul of our nation, but also for our churches and the integrity of our faith. The present crisis calls us to go deeper—deeper into our relationship to God; deeper into our relationships with each other, especially across racial, ethnic, and national lines; deeper into our relationships with the most vulnerable, who are at greatest risk. The church is always subject to temptations to power, to cultural conformity, and to racial, class, and gender divides, as Galatians 3:28 teaches us. But our answer is to be “in Christ,” and to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable, and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
The best response to our political, material, cultural, racial, or national idolatries is the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus summarizes the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:38). As to loving our neighbors, we would add “no exceptions.”
Our urgent need, in a time of moral and political crisis, is to recover the power of confessing our faith. Lament, repent, and then repair. If Jesus is Lord, there is always space for grace. We believe it is time to speak and to act in faith and conscience because we are disciples of Jesus Christ—to whom be all authority, honor, and glory. It is time for a fresh confession of faith. Jesus is Lord. He is the light in our darkness. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). —