The Call: Parish or Perish Adopting a seemingly new but historic view of the traditional parish will help us reach untapped opportunities just outside our doors, writes Adrienne R. Hymes, our new Diocesan Missioner for Church Extension. IN MY FORMER life in public pay attention and consider the deeper tution-established church, I’m not only
relations and marketing, we had an affinity for catchy taglines that captured the reader’s attention in a product, idea or movement. In order to create winning taglines, my colleagues and I imagined creative uses and pairings for words, intended to make the recipients of the message stop and consider the deeper meaning behind the tagline. It is with this perspective that I offer a new look at that most familiar word, parish. First, the noun, parish, is defined as a church district under the care of a priest or minister. It can also be defined as the congregation of a particular church. For the sake of embedding a call-to-action imperative into the title of this article, “parish or perish,” I have invoked my creative license to use the noun, parish, as a verb, as in “to parish.” Second, the verb, perish, means to die or to pass away. The pairing of the two certainly entices the reader to stop, 10
meaning. This article is not another doom and gloom piece, predicting the impending death of the Church. To the contrary, parish or perish, is a hopeful rally cry calling the faithful to boldly explore and mine the rich deposits of people and resources within the vibrant mission field of a church’s local parish. As a life-long Episcopalian, I have always accepted the use of the word parish to describe the congregation within the four walls of the church. Two years ago, while conducting research in the U.K. for my master’s thesis on the missional practice of workplace chaplaincy, I visited the Rev. Jeremy Crossley, rector of St. Margaret’s Lothbury in London. Crossley, an Anglican priest, believed that all of the souls within his parish boundaries, churched and unchurched, were under his care. “The extraordinary thing about the Church of England, is that by our consti-
chaplain to the congregation here; I’m the vicar of the parish, and there’s still just enough of a recognition of that around here in this highly-international setting that actually people will come to the Church of England for a variety of things.”
It was inconceivable that there would be places within their parishes that would be considered ‘off limits’ to them.
Advent Christmas edition features new DaySpring Program Center, Episcopal Church Women feature.