So what are we? Episcopalian? Lutheran? Luthscapalions? Lutherpalians?
To be honest, we’re not entirely sure ourselves. Some of us identify as Lutheran – others, Episcopalian. And others, something in between. What is most important is that we are all Christians—followers of Jesus who are committed to sharing God’s message of love and hope for our world.
Our partnership is possible thanks to an agreement called Called to a Common Mission. That is the relationship of Full Communion adopted between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2001. That agreement partners certain national Lutheran and Episcopal efforts, allows for the exchange of clergy between one another’s denominations, as well as makes possible church partnership such as we have at CTK-Epiphany.
Nationally our Churches came together because 99% of what we believe is the same, and the 1% that’s different isn’t worth remaining separate over. Locally, we’ve found it the same: our work is too important to remain separate. God has called us to important work in Wilbraham and beyond, and we are blessed to be able to do that work together.
Our liturgical perspective could be called “broad church.” Our common life centers around our two Sunday services (one Zoom service during COVID). We are resolute in our faith in Jesus Christ, generally progressive in our theology, and rooted in active mission and outreach.
We draw members and visitors from Wilbraham and from more than a half dozen surrounding towns. We range in age from toddlers to wise elders well into their nineties. We hope to attract more families with young children, encourage increased teen involvement, and connect with more young adults in the community – common goals in most mainline churches.
We are made up of newcomers as well as those who have been members for almost sixty or more years.
We are both single and married. Members include those who are politically liberal, those who are conservative, as well as those who are harder to place on the traditional political spectrum. The parish contains active and retired professionals, retired clergy, seniors on fixed incomes, as well as working families.
We like to say that we don’t all believe the same, act the same, vote the same, or dress the same – but we strive to love the same, as Christ loved and served all people.
This is the statement we have adopted that makes us an official “Reconciling in Christ” congregation:
“We welcome all into the body of Christ.
“We acknowledge that the Church has condemned and excluded people because of their race, culture, age, gender identity, economic status, disability, and sexual orientation. We reject these divisions of humanity, recognizing the unity of all people in Christ.
In 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church declared that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church”. Since then, faithful Episcopalians have been working toward a greater understanding and radical inclusion of all of God’s children.
Along the way, The Episcopal Church has garnered a lot of attention, but with the help of organizations such as Integrity USA, the church has continued its work toward full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Episcopalians. In 2003, the first openly gay bishop was consecrated; in 2009, General Convention resolved that God’s call is open to all; in 2012, a provisional rite of blessing for same-gender relationships was authorized, and discrimination against transgender persons in the ordination process was officially prohibited; and in 2015, the canons of the church were changed to make the rite of marriage available to all people, regardless of gender.
“All are welcome to worship and participate in the life and ministries of Christ the King-Epiphany. We invite you to join us in the mission we share: to give thanks and praise to God and bear the good news of Jesus Christ to all the world.”
Celebration of the Eucharist is our central liturgical practice. We offer a Service of the Word at 8:30 and choral service at 10:00.
Our excellent music program is a central feature of our Sunday service. We look to build on this strength as we explore a broader variety of offerings.
The parish supports a host of outreach ministries, some on our own, and some in collaboration with community partners. These efforts include Cathedral of the Night in Northampton MA, The Community Survival Center, Loaves and Fishes and ACTS Tutoring.
In addition to these local programs, we are actively engaged in a number of other regional, national, and global Lutheran World Relief Quilt Project, Lenten Lantern Project and “Change the Babies” – Mampong Babies Home-Ghana.