What it is, and is not, to be an EP Endorser
by Brent Laytham
Early on, we said that The Ekklesia Project was a “school for subversive friendship,” an opportunity to discover friends you didn’t know you had who were busy letting Jesus turn the world right-side up (dethroning the powers in the process). That was in 2000. Now, thanks to Web2.0 social media, it appears that discovering ‘friends’ is as easy as clicking “accept” whenever Facebook invites me to. I’ve accumulated 180 ‘friends’ that way, some of whom I actually know.
Facebook friending has its advantages. I can see pictures of friends who live far away, feel a bit more connected with persons that I care about, even stalk my teenage children. But it isn’t the kind of relationship that could be described as a school for subversive friendship. Why? Because it doesn’t really ask much of me. Subversive friendships, on the other hand, can truly rock our world, since they are built on the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). So I thank God that we didn’t choose to call associating with EP ‘friending,’ because that demands too little.
On the other hand, I thank God we didn’t call it ‘becoming a member’-that would imply too much. I’m not a member of EP, and neither is anyone else. Recognizing that ‘member’ is church talk, we consciously chose not to name our relationship in ecclesial terms. ‘Member’ means Christ has claimed us in baptism to belong to his body, the church. Because we are committed to the “unity and solidarity” of the church, we consciously avoid rivalistic language. We are a network of support, a gathering of friends, a project that is for the church by recognizing clearly that it is not the church.
So within EP we neither ‘friend’ nor join. Instead, we endorse-we name what claims us, a vision of God, Christ, church and shalom. Because this is about being claimed by God and one another, we have from the beginning asked some things of one another: truthfulness, prayer, fasting and tangible support.
by Rodney Clapp
For me, endorsing and participating in the Ekklesia Project are ways of keeping my life whole. Our capitalistic society constantly pushes to divide the public from the private, the personal from the political, the church from the “real world.” The EP is a company of dear friends who recognize that being Christian is not a matter of keeping church and discipleship quarantined from the public and the political.
It’s hard to overstate how important these friends and their commitment to the church are to me. They help me keep focused in my allegiances. They challenge me by the radicality of their faithful practices and convictions. They encourage me when I am tempted to despair that the Christian project is impossible in the world as it now is.
Lest all this sound too high-flying or staid, I should admit that one of the most important reasons I’ve stayed with the EP since its inception is that EPers are fun. They know how to worship and how to play together. The summer Gathering in particular is a time for deepening old friendships and making new ones. I look forward to it as a high point of every year.
by Jeff Bullock, All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara, CA
“My wife, Nancy, and I endorsed the Ekklesia Project almost ten years ago. Our endorsement followed an extended period of prayer and reflection. We committed only when we feltwe could completely pledge ourselves to support the Project and, more particularly, the radical friendship required by endorsement.
“In the ensuing years, our friendships in the Project and our shared commitment to journeying together as the church for the church, has nourished our daily lives and our respective ministries in the church and outside it. I’d be a far poorer Christian (in very many ways) without these friendships.”
Why I Am An EP Endorser
by Phil Kenneson
Being asked to endorse the Ekklesia Project might seem like an odd request. After all, “endorsing” in our day is associated with pitching products (or signing the backs of checks for those who still traffic in those odd pieces of paper). Since none of us brings any star power to the table, what could it mean for ordinary folks to “endorse” the Ekklesia Project?
One place to start is to remember that “endorsing” is a public act. It involves publicly aligning oneself with something else–in this case the people, practices, and convictions that are the heart of the Ekklesia Project. To endorse is to declare openly that you are convinced that the church has been called to be a living, breathing, embodied witness to Christ’s present-but-still-coming kingdom in our place and time. To endorse is to commit yourself anew to your local congregation or parish and to affirm the church’s call to bring healing and restoration to a broken world. To endorse is to align yourself with others across the ecclesial spectrum who are likewise committed to being used by the Spirit to bring renewal and vitality to the church. In a world where being a Christian has largely been severed from being the church, such convictions and commitments are increasingly rare.
As a network of friends who care deeply about the church, the Ekklesia Project asks endorsers to commit to several acts of solidarity: prayer, fasting, the traditional works of mercy, and supporting the work of EP with an annual financial contribution. These concrete practices serve both to embody our common commitment to the church and each other, and to root those commitments in our daily lives.
Over the years I have deeply appreciated the opportunity to endorse the Ekklesia Project. Since most of us are only able to gather (at best) once a year, being an endorser connects me to my brothers and sisters in the Ekklesia Project and serves as a tangible reminder of our common convictions and work.