March 1, 2009

To The American Bible Society

This is a slightly edited copy of a note I just sent to the American Bible Society.

TO:
Autumn Black, Director of Public Relations
American Bible Society
ablack@americanbible.org

Dear Ms. Black,

I was surprised this evening, on visiting the ForMinistry website operated from your Virginia offices, to discover that The Episcopal Church does not appear in the Church Directory.

I note that when one enters "Anglican" as a general denomination (there being no entry for "Episcopal"), a number of other Anglican churches appear as possible choices, but not The Episcopal Church, which is, at this time, the only U.S. church recognized as a member of the Anglican Communion.

I hope this oversight will be corrected. It is shocking to think that The Episcopal Church is not listed in this directory, considering that one of the American Bible Society's founding member and first president -- John Jay -- was an Episcopalian.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I am sharing a copy of this note with the Bishops and Deputies of The Episcopal Church.

Yours,
(The Rev.) Tobias Stanislas Haller



UPDATE: In the "credit where due" department, I was tipped off on this matter by John White of Openly Episcopal in Albany. He provides more detail at that blog, and the additional information that the webpage for his parish hosted on ForMinistry had been rendered "inactive." I was not, of course, able to verify this, but was able to visit the ForMinistry "Church Directory" and ascertain that TEC is not listed there, under any conceivable terminology (The Episcopal Church, The Protestant Episcopal Church..., The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society...). The only officially "Anglican" church in the US (not "in North America" as I inadvertently said in my initial note to the ABS... an oopsey for which I apologize to Canada and Mexico; no doubt induced by the overall 'American' tilt of the ABS) is not on the ABS listing. Oh, and I took screen shots of the drop-down menus, in case anyone is interested...

TSH



A further UPDATE: Our friends over at Stand Firm have picked up on this story, and note my error in referring to John Jay as the first president of ABS. I mis-remembered on that: he was a founding member in 1816 and later (1821) elected president. Interestingly enough, his involvement with ABS marked his opposition to Bishop Hobart, who wanted to support an explicitly denominational (i.e., Episcopal) Bible Society; Jay felt a Bible society should transcend such denominational concerns. This is where the present act to remove reference to the Episcopal Church seems so out of keeping with the original purposes of the Society.

11 comments:

James said...

Bravo, Brother Tobias. Knowing the ABC, it is an intentional slight.

I almost sent you a Facebook invitation, but I figured you wouldn't know who I am. LOL

John White said...

June Butler (a big shoutout to Grandmere Mimi!) suggests that we all write to The American Bible Society "in all innocence", asking why they do not recognize The Episcopal Church. A good idea.

Lapinbizarre said...

Good piece of work (I came here via Mimi). Be interesting to see how this plays out.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Odd... well, perhaps not.

Doorman-Priest said...

And your hunch is....?

Autumn Black said...

Dear Rev. Haller,

Thank you for contacting the American Bible Society. Your comments are appreciated and very much aligned with the collective spirit under which our ForMinistry.com website operates.

All of the listings on ForMinistry.com are user generated. We welcome you and your colleagues to list your respective denominations as deemed appropriate.

In addition, I encourage you to reference the "Specific Denominations" field on the following link: http://www.forministry.com/profile/ChurchSearch.cfm for a listing of the Episcopal denominations currently added by users of the ForMinistry.com service to date:

• African Methodist Episcopal Church
• African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
• Charismatic Episcopal Church
• Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
• Reformed Episcopal Church
• Reformed Episcopal Church of Canada
• Southern Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.
• Traditional Episcopal Church

Although this list is user generated, we would be pleased to also add "Episcopal" to the "General Denominations" drop down list and welcome any additional denominations that would be appropriate for the “Specific” field.

Please feel free to contact my office at (212) 408.1215 if you have any additional concerns. Thank you for your continued prayers and support of the American Bible Society.

Sincerely,


Autumn Black
Director of Public Relations

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Dear Ms. Black,

Thank you for your very kind note. I am not sure how to make a change to the denominational listing (as opposed to a listing for a congregation) in the directory. The list of denominations you sent me, while they include the word "Episcopal" are not connected with my denomination, The Episcopal Church (also known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, a rather cumbersome title). Some of them are connected with the broader category "Anglican" but not all of them (the AME Zion Church, for example, is not connected with either the Anglican Communion or the Episcopal Church.)

Thank you for the further information. I have registered my own congregation on the site, and selected "Episcopal Church" as the general denomination. However I don't see any way to edit the drop down choices in the "Find a Local Church." I would more properly use "Anglican" as the general denomination and "Episcopal Church" as the specific denomination, but don't see how to make that change.

So I would appreciate it if someone in your office could add the "Episcopal Church" under the list of specific denominations, and include it as part of the "Anglican" general denomination. I suspect that would then allow me to edit my listing to reflect the change.

Yours in Christ,
Tobias

Br.Jay said...

Keep us informed!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, I received the same note from Ms. Black. You were braver than I. Although it seemed simple enough, I wasn't about to take responsibility for naming our church. I referred her to Neva Fox, the Public Affairs Officer at the national church headquarters. I should have said, "What Tobias said".

D. C. Toedt said...

I just looked - we're in the drop-down list as "Episcopal Church." Tobias, did you add this?

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Yes, D.C. By adding my parish as an "Episcopal Church," I apparently reset something that made all of the other 3000+ Episcopal parishes visible again if you choose Episcopal Church from the drop down menu from which it had disappeared. Ms. Black tells me she will work with their IT people to restore the inclusion of TEC under "Anglican" -- which is not a user function.