Carrie Boren Headington, left, and Stephanie Spellers

By Matthew Martin Nickoloff

DALLAS — More than 400 voices sang the opening hymn at the Episcopal Church’s Evangelism Matters conference: “Thus freely love, though fully known / may I in Christ be free / to welcome and accept his own / as Christ accepted me” (Hymnal #603).

The two-day conference continues through Nov. 19 at Church of the Transfiguration. The Rt. Rev. George Sumner, Bishop of Dallas, encouraged participants to “put first things first, then go, get to work.”

After his election at General Convention last year, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry referred to himself as the church’s “chief evangelism officer,” suggesting a hope of renewal.

During an opening panel discussion, congregational development consultant Mary Parmer quoted Curry as saying evangelism is “sharing the faith that is in you, and listening and learning from the faith that is in someone else — creating relationships where God can get in the midst.”

Since February, planners from the Episcopal Church Center, Forward Movement, and the Diocese of Dallas have planned the meeting at Transfiguration, hoping to plant seeds of leadership that will grow into a revitalizing movement for the broader church.

“The Jesus Movement is following Jesus to grow loving, liberating, life-giving relationships with God, with each other, and with creation,” said the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Curry’s canon for evangelism and reconciliation. Spellers, who led the Episcopal Church Center’s planning team, ended her address with an “Alleluia.” She invited the gathered to always add that word to the end of the vision statement.

Participants responded with a resounding “Alleluia.”

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