Preparing the “elevator conversation”

Back in the day when I was trying to get a novel published, I attended various writers’ conferences to learn how to attract an agent and a publisher.

One of the things we had to learn to do was prepare a “pitch,” a short, maybe 30 second description of our novel just in case we happened to be in an elevator with an agent or publisher.  The proverbial elevator was usually your short opportunity to meet a prospective agent or publisher face to face.

Well, I have been thinking of the elevator conversation when it comes to describing who we are to strangers.   And when I say who we are, I’m thinking not only about those of us who are members of the Personal Ordinariates of the Chair of St. Peter, Our Lady of Walsingham or Our Lady of the Southern Cross but also who we are as members of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

First of all, one elevator pitch may not work in all circumstances.  Context is important.

Thus, I can use the shorthand of “Anglican Ordinariate” in Ottawa because the Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast gave us a high profile welcome into the Catholic Church, receiving us at one of his two beautiful historic basilicas with hundreds of Roman Catholics present to welcome us in.  We are known in our area as fully Catholic, fully integrated into the wider Catholic Community.

But “Anglican Ordinariate” could prove offensive or confusing in other contexts, where we are introducing ourselves to people who are in the Anglican or the Episcopal Church, or to Catholics who have never heard of the Personal Ordinariates.   As one person commented on the Facebook Anglican Ordinariate Informal Conversation Forum, people might think we’re a halfway house to the Catholic Church and not fully Catholic, but on our way.

In those circumstances, I might introduce myself as a Catholic who belongs to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a structure Pope Benedict XVI created to receive former Anglicans into the Catholic Church.  We are fully Catholic and any Catholic can worship with us and fulfill their Sunday obligation, but our liturgy has a distinct Anglican flavour to it.

As for the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society, I’ll have to work on my elevator speech, but I remember a conversation I had with Christopher Mahon about it when we went as “ambassadors” of the Society to the installation of the new priest at the local Anglican Network in Canada parish.

Christopher was grumbling about our cumbersome name, saying something about it being “the obscure, awkwardly-long, foreign-language name of a legal instrument designed to erect a jurisdiction precisely for people who had left Anglican communities like ANiC, and thus not only an unwieldy way to introduce ourselves but possibly also offensive to Continuing Anglicans who might see it as a matter of ‘poaching’.”

“Just say it means Groups of Anglicans,”  I told him.   Our Society’s mission is the promotion of Anglican patrimony inside and outside of the Catholic Church and to engage in evangelism and the good kind of ecumenism and bridge-building.

When I was in the Traditional Anglican Communion I needed an elevator speech on who we were as Continuing Anglicans and so on.

What’s your elevator speech?   What works and doesn’t work?

9 thoughts on “Preparing the “elevator conversation”

    • Yes, Methodists as well as Charismatic Episcopal Church and others have all had clergymen welcomed as priests in an Ordinariate or under the Pastoral Provision


  1. I am mostly talking to other Catholics and so say something like “I am an Anglican Use Roman Catholic, which is a liturgical use of the Western Church, not unlike the Eastern Rite churches who have a different liturgy.” If they know of the Eastern Catholic churches, then they get Anglican Use. If they don’t then I have introduced the ideal that there are numerous liturgies in the Catholic Church. If they don’t understand the diversity of the Catholic Church, they will not understand the Personal Ordinariates. The order of understanding is first, liturgical diversity, and second that part of that diversity are the groups of former Anglicans. Many unfortunately do not understand the diversity of Catholic liturgy. Many unfortunately think that there is only one proper way to say a mass.

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  3. I am a Priest in the Western Rite of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. I serve Divine Liturgy each Sunday and Holy Day using the Ancient Mass of St Gregory the Great of Rome. Many former Anglican have joined in this movement. Ii is valid and stable.


    • I actually like the term “Anglican Catholic” since ordinariates of the Anglican tradition exist outside of England, but that might cause confusion with the so-called “Anglo-Catholic” wing of the Anglican Communion.



  4. THE PSALM 44 INITIATIVE — Priests around the world are being asked to offer one Mass for Cardinal Pell each week while he is incarcerated; and to send a Mass card with a note of support for our brother in prison.
    Psalm 44. Deus, auribus.
    WE have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us * what thou hast done in their time of old:
    2 How thou hast driven out the heathen with thy hand, and planted our fathers in; * how thou hast destroyed the nations, and made thy people to flourish.
    3 For they gat not the land in possession through their own sword, * neither was it their own arm that helped them;
    4 But thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance; * because thou hadst a favour unto them.
    5 Thou art my King, O God; * send help unto Jacob.
    6 Through thee will we overthrow our enemies, * and in thy Name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
    7 For I will not trust in my bow, * it is not my sword that shall help me;
    8 But it is thou that savest us from our enemies, * and puttest them to confusion that hate us.
    9 We make our boast of God all day long, * and will praise thy Name for ever.
    10 But now thou art far off, and puttest us to confusion, * and goest not forth with our armies.
    11 Thou makest us to turn our backs upon our enemies, * so that they which hate us spoil our goods.
    12 Thou lettest us be eaten up like sheep, * and hast scattered us among the heathen.
    13 Thou sellest thy people for nought, * and takest no money for them.
    14 Thou makest us to be rebuked of our neighbours, * to be laughed to scorn, and had in derision of them that are round about us.
    15 Thou makest us to be a byword among the nations1, * and that the peoples2 shake their heads at us.
    16 My confusion is daily before me, * and the shame of my face hath covered me;
    17 For the voice of the slanderer and blasphemer, * for the enemy and avenger.
    18 And though all this be come upon us, yet do we not forget thee, * nor behave ourselves frowardly in thy covenant.
    19 Our heart is not turned back, * neither our steps gone out of thy way;
    20 No, not when thou hast smitten us into the place of dragons, * and covered us with the shadow of death.
    21 If we have forgotten the Name of our God, and holden up our hands to any strange god, * shall not God search it out? for he knoweth the very secrets of the heart.
    22 For thy sake also are we killed all the day long, * and are counted as sheep appointed to be slain.
    23 Up, Lord, why sleepest thou? * awake, and be not absent from us for ever.
    24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, * and forgettest our misery and trouble?
    25 For our soul is brought low, even unto the dust; * our belly cleaveth unto the ground.
    26 Arise, and help us, * and deliver us, for thy mercy’s sake.
    (Coverdale Version)

    Of course lay people may also offer their Mass intentions for Cardinal Pell and send him a note of support.
    A wave of Mass offerings and mountains of mail going to the Cardinal can be a great spiritual grace for all of us during these very dark days.
    Please mail to:
    George Cardinal Pell,
    Melbourne Assessment Prison,
    317-353 Spencer St.,
    West Melbourne, VIC 3003


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