(RNS) Rachel Held Evans Defends Leaving Evangelicals For Episcopalians

Q: You left evangelicalism for the Episcopal Church. Much of the Episcopal Church has failed to embrace the cosmetic changes you critique, and they practice the things you say will draw millennials back. Yet Episcopalians in America have been in steady decline and are rapidly aging. How do you reconcile this with your thesis?

A: Just about every denomination in the American church ”” including many evangelical denominations ”” is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates. I felt drawn to the Episcopal Church because it offered some practices I felt were missing in my evangelical experience, like space for silence and reflection, a focus on Christ’s presence at the Communion table as the climax and center of every worship service, opportunities for women in leadership and the inclusion of LGBT people.

But I know plenty of folks who were raised as Episcopalians who have become evangelical, drawn by the exciting and energetic worship or the emphasis on personal testimony and connection to Scripture. It’s common in young adulthood, I think, to seek out faith traditions that complement the one in which you were raised. It’s not about rejecting your background, just about finding your own way. I don’t want to project my experience onto all millennials.

Q: Many evangelicals criticize the liberal theology of the Episcopal Church, even claiming that it is now outside of orthodox Christianity. What say you?

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

7 comments on “(RNS) Rachel Held Evans Defends Leaving Evangelicals For Episcopalians

  1. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    At least she’s finally out of the closet as a Liberal Protestant. Maybe she’ll get some new material and stop hating on Evangelicals over and over.

  2. William P. Sulik says:

    Who is Rachel Held Evans and why should I care?

  3. Jeff Walton says:

    Mr. Sulik, RHE has over 62,000 followers on Twitter and is a best-selling author. While she and I have many differences, her influence among millennial Evangelicals is significant. Her progressive Christian peer group are the Brian McLaren / Rob Bell / Doug Pagit emergents who heavily critique the American evangelicalism they once participated in, yet generally don’t embrace declining Mainline protestantism. The fact that RHE has embraced the Episcopal Church is noteworthy.

  4. Sarah1 says:

    I think TEC — with its current diocesan and national leaders — is the best place for her. That, or just start her own RHE sect.

  5. MichaelA says:

    “If that’s not Christian orthodoxy, I don’t know what is.”

    Never a truer word… 😉

  6. William P. Sulik says:

    Mr. Walton, thank you for the explanation. (First I’ve heard of Doug Pagit as well.)

  7. Karen B. says:

    Here’s a really good article at the Gospel Coalition site providing a “fact check” about Rachel Held Evans’ claim that all denominations are declining. It’s not true.