RELIGION ROUNDTABLE

With input from around the world

At Word Alive International Outreach, we are a local body but we also have established works around the globe.

As an interdenominational congregation, we have the unique attributes of a multicultural atmosphere that has been established in Brazil, Africa, Argentina, India and Peru. The diversity that each culture represents keeps our perspective not only in the spiritual realm, but also informed as to geopolitical changes that impact needs that arise as alliances shift and people groups are affected.

To ensure that we are at our most effective, we are submitted to a three-tiered hierarchy of government that is overseen by an international presbytery, a governing board and local pastoring elders.

Each local and global decision, whether it is to partner with different nations for humanitarian aid or to plant a new work internationally or domestically through our Freedom Ministry Alliance, we seek spiritual counsel, guidance and prayer from each established governing entity and proceed accordingly.

There are many advantages to being independent, including moving quickly in disaster relief and humanitarian aid. The greatest benefit of having an  interdenominational board is that we have the benefit of the counsel of wisdom from many streams.

— Beverly Mattox, Word Alive International Outreach

A top-down form of government

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America is part of the Anglican Communion, a global Christian community of over 80 million people. Our church was “carved” out of The Church of England in 1789, after the American colonies had gained their independence from England.

The word “episcopal” comes from the Greek word episkopos, which is usually translated “bishop” and points to the church’s understanding that a bishop is the primary ruler of the church.

Under the episcopal form of government, the bishop’s authority is equal to that of the apostles and follows a line of succession by the laying on of hands in ordination. Priests come under the authority of the bishops and are responsible for the teaching and administration of the local churches.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, who serves a nine-year term (2015-24), is our Presiding Bishop (and the first African American to hold that post). We also have a Diocesan (regional) Bishop, The Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan, who is based in Birmingham and oversees The Diocese of Alabama.

Each parish in the diocese pledges part of its annual income to the diocesan operational budget. Part of that goes to Camp McDowell, near Jasper, which is one of the largest Episcopal camps in the country.

At the local level, we have a nine-person vestry that runs the day-to-day affairs of the parish, in cooperation with the priest (that’s me). I am called the Rector. Service on our vestry is for three years, with elections for three slots each January. We have a Senior and Junior Warden, who assist the Rector with administration and the care of the church campus.

— Robert Fowler, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Jacksonville

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