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?