Do we speak the same language?

A response by Jean Kerr to Jonathan Clatworthy

from Signs of the Times, No. 30 - Jul 2008

In the July edition of the Sign of the Times I found myself enjoying the editorial when I came upon the following "If, heaven forbid, a diocesan officer reads this and decides to send an evangelist to these meetings in order to make converts, the attempt will simply reinforce the hostility to Christianity." Being one of those said diocesan officers and Warden of Evangelists in the Diocese of Rochester I thought I had better make comment.

By making such a flippant assessment in what I had thought was an excellent editorial you have simply done a great 'U' turn in your own argument. You are not speaking the same language. Evangelists come in many styles, seeking to work where people are journeying. This travelling with people is always by invitation (see Bosch. Transforming Mission ) and seeks to help people with the issues that they bring to the table. No one makes converts, for that, as you know, is the pure work of the Holy Spirit. A large part of the training of Evangelists, Readers, Pastoral Assistants and Clergy in this diocese is about helping them to listen to and speak the different languages of the cultures around them. The primary gift of an Evangelist is to listen, to God and to those they seek to serve .

Jean Kerr is Bishop's Officer for Mission & Unity and Canon Missioner, Diocese of Rochester.