- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2001

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

CINCINNATI They have names like Graceland, Warehouse 242, Spirit Garage and Solomon's Porch.

They're known as Generation X churches, and one is being started in Cincinnati by a surprising source the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.

The unusual church startup, expected to be open by Easter, is part of the diocese's strategy to nearly quadruple its baptized membership by 2005.

That plan, initiated by Cincinnati Bishop Herbert Thompson Jr. in 1998, includes reaching out to people currently underserved by the Episcopal Church, said the Rev. Jason Leo, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Cincinnati.

"Part of [Bishop Thompson's] challenge was to think outside the box," said Father Leo, a member of the team planning the church. "This is way outside the box."

The church won't even be called a church, but rather a Gen-X community.

"Church language is often off-putting to people who are not familiar with church," said the Rev. Stephen Muncie, canon missioner of the diocese. "We're looking to find a way to communicate the Gospel in the vernacular, in the language of 18- to 30-year-olds."

The nontraditional church will have several distinctive features.

All communication will be done over the Internet and by e-mail. There will be no permanent meeting place, but services most likely will be held in downtown Cincinnati. And the worship will be contemporary, led by a live band.

Diocesan officials said such innovative ministry is a necessary response to the changing culture and the "digital revolution."


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