That’s a big and interesting question!
St. Dunstan’s is first and foremost a community of people who worship God together and attempt to follow the way of Jesus in our everyday lives. We are bound together as “the Body of Christ” on earth, as St. Paul puts it…a kind of extended family who love and care for each other, learn together, laugh together, and serve the world around us. We are a family not based on biology, but on our shared life in Jesus Christ.
What kind of a family are we? We are old and young, Hispanic and Asian, black and white, single, married, and partnered, gay and straight, Republican, Democrat, and definitely Independent. In Christ we make a place for all people, because we are all children of one God. That doesn’t mean we always agree – far from it – but we always try to listen respectfully and understand each other.
St. Dunstan’s is also an institution, which is related to other institutions. We are a parish of the Episcopal Church, the American denomination that descended from the Church of England. Our congregation is part of a regional church body called the Episcopal Diocese of Washington – 90 congregations plus many schools and other helping organizations in and around Washington, D.C. We participate in the democratic process of our church by electing representatives to the Diocese, and periodically by electing our Bishop. We are proud to have Mariann Edgar Budde serve as our diocesan bishop, or overseer of our diocese. She is a strong and compassionate leader who calls us to deeper faith and greater justice in the world.
Our diocese is part of The Episcopal Church (found in the U.S and 16 other countries), which is in turn part of a worldwide community of churches called The Anglican Communion. Although it all began in England, now most Anglicans reside in Africa. The Anglican Community is a wonderful, fascinating, sometimes contentious community – but we all worship the same Lord Jesus Christ.
You may not realize that the Washington National Cathedral – the big Gothic pile down Massachusetts Avenue – is an Episcopal church. It is the cathedral of our diocese, and also serves many national functions. Its motto is “A house of prayer for all people,” which shows its hospitality to people of all faith traditions or none. It is an exquisite space for worship, meditation, or just wandering around.
So, we are a local community of faith, drawn mainly from the neighborhoods around our building on Massachusetts Avenue. But we have many connections – with other Episcopalians, with Anglicans around the world, and with all of God’s creation. St. Dunstan’s has been called “a neighborhood church with a heart for the world.” That’s a pretty good description. Come and see for yourself who we are.