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[Cursillo press release] Episcopal Cursillo Ministry (ECM) held its annual conference Oct. 21-22, hosted by the Diocese of Long Island and welcoming more than 130 representatives from dioceses throughout the U.S. plus Barbados and the Bahamas.

Cursillo helps develop lay leaders for the church “by rejuvenating their zeal and driving them to greater Christian community involvement,” senior Episcopal leaders said, according to a Cursillo press release.

“When I look to see where the spirit is moving and Episcopalians are lit up with the love of Christ and each other, I know to look to Cursillo,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in a written statement. “This ministry is such a gift to the Episcopal Church, and never more than in this moment as we seek to follow our Lord’s call into the Jesus Movement.”

Cursillo, “a short course in Christian living,” refers to a three-day weekend event led by lay people. Comprising 15 talks and five meditations on topics such as piety, study and Christian community action, Cursillo renews participants’ enthusiasm for their faith and helps develop them as leaders in their home churches, the release said. Cursillo started in the Roman Catholic Church in Mallorca, Spain, in the 1940s, and has been a ministry of the Episcopal Church for 50 years.

Clergy serve as spiritual directors on Cursillo weekends, but lay people lead most of the talks and other activities. The talks focus on the “fourth day” — in other words, how participants will put their faith into action for the rest of their lives, after the three-day weekend.

The Rev. Winnie Varghese, a nationally renowned writer and activist who leads social justice ministries at Trinity Church Wall Street, New York City, emphasized the role of the laity in her keynote address to the conference.

“In the end, the church is the lay people, and God comes to the church through lay people, not through institutions,” Varghese said. “Lay people way outnumber the clergy. If we are dragging you into institutions that you don’t like, then we are failing.”

Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano also stressed the importance of the laity.

“The unconditional love of Jesus is the basis for everything you do in Cursillo,” Provenzano told the crowd. “I depend on Cursillo to infect our parishes with the Spirit so that we can all be a stronger witness to Christ’s love.”

Bishop Martin Field of the Diocese of West Missouri, recently appointed the ECM liaison to the House of Bishops, added that Cursillo helps parishioners turn their attention to the needs of people outside the church, rather than focusing inward. “It doesn’t do much good to go to a doctor’s office and watch him take his own temperature. We tend to do too much of that in the church,” he said.

ECM has active chapters in all nine provinces of the church. Since its inception Cursillo has become an important ministry on every continent.

“You are here because something has transformed your life,” Varghese said at the conference. “The gospel tells us that you are called to go share that good news.”

Focus on the message, not the institution, she said.

“What you all do is about the Spirit, right?” she asked. “You have that gift among you. I hope it drives you out in the world—not to sign up more people for Cursillo but to bring Christ’s love to the world.”

This post appeared here first: Cursillo conference lights up lay people with the spirit

[Episcopal News Service – Blog]

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