January 21, 2021: Where is Christ Calling Us?

By Jeff Wells

Our Church of All Souls has a 110-year history of growth, near death, resurrection, and renewal. And now we’ve clearly hit a rough patch again. Acknowledging the surveys and analysis that have already been devoted to why we are where we are, I believe it’s just as important, perhaps more so, for us to think about our future together and what Christ is calling us to be and do as a parish. And what better time to raise that clarifying and unifying question than the beginning of the new year.

As a faith community, we must establish a vision of what we stand for and why we exist. If we are called to remain a vital and vibrant parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington for the next five, fifty or one hundred years, then we have to rely on ourselves and our own leadership, guided by the Holy Spirit, to decide what that vision is and then our own energy and commitment to live into it.
Why do we come (well, virtually for now) to 2300 Cathedral Avenue to worship and serve? How do we worship and serve Christ when we’re not in the sanctuary? How is the world, or perhaps just the neighborhood of Woodley Park, even a little bit better as the result of our parish and individual presence? How does our role as a parish with an endowment located in the wealthiest zip code of the city drive our vision and mission as Christians? And what do we say about ourselves that is true versus what do we say about ourselves because it’s rote or pat with no real intention behind it? These questions and more aren’t those we should look to any rector or anyone else, for that matter, to answer. They are the building blocks of our future and we have to put them together for ourselves.
As people of tradition, reason, and scripture, there may be construction clues in our own parish history. Such as when we lived into the message of Christ by being one of the first parishes in the diocese to open ourselves to the marginalized LGBTQ community in the 1980s, or in an effort to be more welcoming to ALL souls, our success building our accessibility wing. 

So where is Christ calling us now in 2021? This is the most urgent question before us in this New Year—a year still in the throes of a worldwide pandemic, a year that has already witnessed a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol and the inauguration of our 46th President, a year in which issues of inequality, racism, justice, mercy, climate, and moral leadership (issues that Jesus speaks to directly and unequivocally in the New Testament) ring out like never before. No other question is so pressing, for in answering this question we uncover our parish vocation once more as well as our own. Quo Vadis All Souls?


Last Published: February 27, 2021 7:03 PM
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