Parish development resources: Episcopal Ethos, the Daily Office
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 3:47PM
Robert Gallagher
Episcopal Ethos

I know some of you are working at communicating the ethos of your parish. Expressing an ethos that is both firmly grounded in Anglican (and Benedictine) spirituality and unique for that parish community can increase loyalty and reduce conflict.


1. These posters are a great example of being what you are and also being light about it. See posters


2. Parish statements on ethos
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Trinity Church , Seattle
St David's, Spokane, WA


3. Material you can cut and paste
On the web site of the Order of the Ascension -- see the items under Parish Spirituality on the right side of the page. You can lift the material and use it. Give credit 
4. From Derek Olsen on Episcopal Cafe - be sure to read the comments, note the comment re black and white pictures


5. From Robert Hendrickson 


6. An Alban posting - R. Mark King: Church Ethos 


I thought some of you might find this useful. He's using Edgar Schein's understanding of organizational culture in regard to his very famous NYC church. I don't think he has Schein quite right but it's close.
The organizational culture approach begins with who we are, what's the DNA? It assumes that parish's have a life that isn't simply "made-up" by the current players. A mix of "the way we do things," espoused values, and deeper underlying assumptions. The tension among the three elements is often the way into a deeper understanding of our parish ethos as well as the beginning of a deeper and richer parish culture.
Our work over many years with Benedict, Thornton and such, is about grounding parishes in something deeper and richer than what we tend to make up in creating mission statements, visions, and strategic plans. We are saying to our parishes -- "You are an expression of a-way-of-being-the-church that has roots. Our task, in our time, is to maintain and deepen our roots, to be nurtured by them, and draw on the wisdom they provide for living faithfully in the contemporary world." 


Doing the Daily Office


It's easy to get confused about this. 
  • Some Protestant traditions still dislike set forms of prayer. That's where we get these stories about CPE directors insisting that you engage in spontaneous prayer. After all it's more "real." Many people would be relieved to have the priest or pastor pray ancient and graceful collects from the BCP instead of awkwardly trying to be spontaneous.
  • Then there's the Roman Catholic tradition of the priest saying the Breviary, the pious laity going to daily mass, and a few people knowing about the Liturgy of the Hours. The Episcopal tradition is to make the Daily Prayers of the Church accessible and available to the laity. Many parishes are doing just that.
  • Then there's some Episcopalian in Texas who thinks that personal prayer comes before corporate liturgy; missing how in our tradition the Office and the Eucharist shape our personal devotions and reflections. 
  • We also have Episcopal clergy who feel as though they "should" have the church building open for personal devotions when the parish has 1) no way to manage that and 2) it's not our tradition - ours is opening up for the Daily Office. 
  • The Daily Office of the BCP was shaped for a parish church offering a public office. Obviously it can be used by individuals as well. This is a very different use from the monastic, or the cathedral, or the priest's Breviary.
Here are a number of links to material on the Office -- some better than others, a few probably falling into one of the above errors (hey, but at least their working on it).
1. This video is part of the SCP PR effort. But the story he tells is about how he and his parish engaged the Daily Office. The video
2. A Living Church article on Daily Office related apps. The article 
3. "Seven Times A Day I Praise You: Prayer Books for Daily Use" by Br. Martin Dally  The article
4. "Introducing the Daily Office into a parish's DNA" by Michelle Heyne  The posting
5. Tutorials/explanations in parish churches and other


Note - there are what I see as errors in a a few places but on the whole the material might be useful as a staring place in developing your own web pages.


6. Takes on the Office from differing traditions
      A Nashotah student 
      A Presbyterian


7. Especially the appendix material in Fill All Things: The Dynamics of Spirituality in the Parish Church - provides coaching in getting a public office started and maintained.
Chapters on the Office in the In "Your Holy Spirit" books - Traditional Spiritual Practices in Today's Christian Life  and Shaping the Parish Through Spiritual Practice


Article originally appeared on Congregational Development (
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