Opening the Door for Non-Episcopalian Congregations…by Adam Trambley

As we look at structural changes in the Episcopal Church during the next three years, we need to develop some way to allow non-Episcopal/Anglican congregations to affiliate with our church.  This idea may seem odd, or even threatening.  But as we do God’s work more effectively as a national church, we should expect to attract congregations who want to join us but may not want identify as Episcopalian.

We know this happens with people in our pews.  On any given Sunday, our churches are filled with people from a variety of backgrounds.  Some have formally become Episcopalian, some may in the future, and some never will.  But all are part of our ministry and important for our mission.  In the same way, we should expect non-Episcopalian congregations (and even networks of congregations) to play a similar role in the life of our diocesan and national church.

Two sets of experiences have made me realize just how important our flexibility in this area could be.  The first is that a group of congregations from a number of mainline churches have hired a part-time missionary for our county.  A portion of his ministry is being out where people gather, like a downtown restaurant and a college student center, to build relationships with pre-Christians.  If he is successful, as he has been in the past, within a few months there will probably be prayer, Bible studies, one-on-one discipleship, and other ministry taking place in those sites.  They could also develop a group that wanted to worship together and form the core of a new church plant.  When they do, I hope they will be able to have an affiliation with the Episcopal Church, even if they don’t want to use the BCP at every worship service or have every lay worship leader certified by the local Episcopal bishop or sign up their very part-time clergy with the Church Pension Fund.  But we may be doing things at a deanery or diocesan level that could benefit them and that their participation could benefit us.  Maybe they want to be a multi-denominational church (as opposed to a non-denominational one) that maintained close bonds with PCUSA and the Episcopal Church.    We will want to include such communities in the life of our church, even if they aren’t necessarily “Episcopalian” congregations. We won’t need these mechanisms until creative church planting initiatives are successful, but we should assume such efforts will create thriving Christian communities.

My second experience is being part of a prayer group with a number of non-denominational, independent, and congregationally-governed churches.  As I listen to some of their struggles, I find that the Episcopal Church has figured out some things that give them fits.  The Clergy Tax Guide sent out by the Church Pension Fund would be a huge benefit to many independent church pastors. Safeguarding God’s Children and Safeguarding God’s People would help them address difficult questions all churches face.  Our structured outreach programs from local food pantries to Episcopal Relief and Development can provide a way for smaller congregations to connect to those in need.  Any number of such efforts can lead local congregations into deeper relationships with the Episcopal Church.  These churches may not be interested in giving up their own backgrounds, but they may benefit from being regular participants in discussions we are having at the local or diocesan level about theology, ministry, mission and outreach.   We should be looking for ways to welcome voices of our Christian brothers and sisters as we serve our local communities together.  As our Diocesan and national church programs become less “command performances” and more helpful and life-giving, we should expect them to want to join us.

We have spent decades formulating various ecumenical agreements, and these are all good things.  Yet, not all churches have an ecumenical affairs officer or the desire to spend years in theological discussions.  But they do want to be the best Christians they can be, and the Episcopal Church has many important gifts to give.  What we don’t have now are good structural mechanisms (or the openness) to allow non-Episcopalian congregations to have a role in our diocesan life.  Some of those congregations will be new missions becoming Episcopalian.  Some may be multi-denominational missions.  Some may be churches resembling us who are the only congregation of their denomination in the area that need our support and fellowship.  Some may have structures with very different strengths that need our strengths to succeed.  Some may just discover incense and sanctus bells for the first time and want to learn more about us.  Just as healthy congregations attract new members, a healthy denomination will attract new congregations.  When they show up, we should be prepared.

Fearless Evangelism … by Charles LaFond

Charles LaFond, the Canon for Congregational Life in the Diocese of New Hampshire, has created a Plenary Address on evangelism for his diocese’s Evangelism Institute. We will be running a 9-part series of excerpts from his address over the next few weeks. Check out Charles’ blog for the full text. And check out the Diocese of New Hampshire’s Evangelism Toolkit, on its website.

Encouragement is a gift from one person to another. It sometimes comes gratefully received such as in the case of one friend encouraging another friend in the midst of a hard season of life – a divorce perhaps, or diagnosis of disease. Encouragement can also be offered, but difficult to receive.

Encouragement may be resisted when it is encouraging us to do something difficult, painful or of new early, new, healthy habit-formation. In my role as the pastor of a congregation, my “encouragement” of a person working through the joys of preparing for a marriage is often well-received. Pastoral encouragement is to provide courage to another by standing with them with a particular awareness that God is at work. My “pastoral encouragement” of a person making a pledge of money or time or effort may not be so well received. It may even be rejected a few times before it is finally accepted for what it is – just help in doing a hard or new thing.

Similarly, the Come and See Membership Growth Ministry requires pastoral encouragement. It may be well-received. It may also face some resistance. We naturally desire to invite people to “Come and See” what gives us joy and peace, connection and meaning, comfort and help. We do this inviting out of both a sense of wanting to share our joy in having found a pearl of great price; as well as out of an act of obedience to a Gospel and a Savior for which and for whom the invitation is a command.

So how do we encourage each other in evangelism? How do we help people to do Come and See Membership Growth Ministry for whom there are both feelings of joy and anticipation at the idea of sharing good news while also feeling fear or dread at the work of reaching out and being vulnerable to a “no?”

When working inside and outside our diocese, I often encounter resistance to Evangelism as a term, a notion and a task. Clergy will say that their congregations don’t like the word “evangelism” and I can understand that resistance. But I also know that the role of a leader is to lead. The effective leader listens to the fears of the people they are seeking to lead – then seeks to understand what is behind those fears and then works to gently and firmly guide those same people into new (even uncomfortable) functions.

Ideally, we share the gospel with others by telling our stories of grace and inviting others to come and see our church community – that tent of meeting in which we find grace. But gently encouraging us behind the joy is a command, not a suggestion. “Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.” I would so like to think that I do all the things I need to do out of the love and joy of Christ…but being human…sometimes I need a good, old-fashioned command to get me off the dime!

So we are going to discuss that hard work of leadership in evangelism. The Come and See Membership Growth Campaign Manual is on line. The manual and the 7 minute video summary can be found here.

But once one HAS the manual IN HAND…what then?

The process of managing the campaign is simple and explained in detail with supporting model samples of documents to be used along the way. The problem is not how to manage the program. The problem is how to manage the process of using the program. It is that preparatory process of engaging a sometimes resistant congregation or faction of a congregation that we will discuss today.

Next: Start from where you are …the deep, solid encouragement of God in our prayer lives.

The Rev. Canon Charles LaFond is the Canon for Congregational Life in the Diocese of New Hampshire.

Trust in the slow work of God, by Victoria Logue

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, really speaks to me this week:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

The Two Marys … by Megan Castellan

In Santa Fe’s Roman Catholic cathedral, made famous in Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, there stand two different depictions of the Virgin Mary.

At the front of the church, perched atop the reredos, reigns La Virgin Guadalupe.  Appearing as an Aztec princess, arrayed in blue, she regards the faithful worshippers of Santa Fe with a tilted head and benevolent face.  St. Juan Diego, the Mexican peasant to whom she appeared, stands beneath her.  The two figures appear right behind the altar, the point of focus of the community.
But to the side, in the Lady chapel, sits another Marian figure.  This one is a smaller statue of Mary arrayed as Queen of Heaven: golden crown, white shiny dress, pearl-encrusted robe, …and skintone borrowed from a Snow White Madame Alexander doll.   This figure is titled “La Conquistadora, Our Lady of the Rosary”. My Spanish is halting and limited to liturgical phrases, but I can say with near certainty that this is not a fantastic translation.   When the first Spanish missionaries came to the Southwest, they took Mary as their patron saint, and dubbed her La Conquistadora– Our Lady of Conquest.  They felt sure in the knowledge that the Mother of Our Lord would help them tame and conquer the savage New World they were entering, and all who inhabited it.
La Conquistadora
But what amazes me is that these two Marys occupy the same church, the same space. When the Jesuit missionary priests came to the Southwest, they claimed Mary as La Conquistadora, the one who would pray for, and enable their conquest.  The natives suffered the effects of the Spanish conquest, fought, endured and died in the conflict, and yet, somehow, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, what they heard from the Jesuits became a vibrant vision of their own.  An Aztec princess appearing to a peasant, and declaring through the vision that God sees the dignity of all people, and God is confined by no one human claim on His loyalty.  As I’ve heard a wise bishop once say, despite the church’s best efforts, we should know by now that the gospel knows how to slip our grasp, and find those who need it.
 The Spirit goes where the Spirit needs to go, and yet if we want to participate in the work of the Spirit, as we who follow Jesus are bidden to do, then it seems to me that one of our vital tasks is to learn how to reconcile and redeem these two visions in our Christian past: the times we invoked God in our image to conquer, and the times we have been surprised by God in other guises.  As we turn to a new sort of mission field, we have a chance to examine, and learn from our history.  The two Marys stand before us and behind us: the Conquering Queen and the Mirror of the People.  Which voice will we heed?

Diocesan Reform by Steve Pankey

After six months of beating my head against a brick wall with our Bishop and Standing Committee regarding Communications in my Diocese, I’ve got the itch to take reform, restructure, and reawakening to our Diocesan Convention in February.  Below you will find the first draft of my resolution.  I offer it, not as an answer, but as a question, who else is doing this work?  Who can offer suggestions? Ideas? Models of ministry in Dioceses for the future of the Church?

WHEREAS, The 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, passed, unanimously in both houses, Resolution C095, stating emphatically that “This General Convention believes the Holy Spirit is urging The Episcopal Church to reimagine itself, so that, grounded in our rich heritage and yet open to our creative future, we may more faithfully:

  • Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • Teach, baptize, and nurture new believers
  • Respond to human need by loving service
  • Seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”

AND WHEREAS, The 39th Annual Convention of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast adopted new statements of Vision, mission and Commitment based on those same 5 Marks of Mission including a vision that seeks to “share Christ crucified and God’s reconciling love through effective ministry, leadership, stewardship and communication.

THERFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that this, the 41st Annual Convention of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast commits, alongside The Episcopal Church, to a season of reform, restructure and reawakening

AND BE IT FURTHER RESPOLVED, that, in order to facilitate the work of the Spirit, this Convention urges the Bishop and the Standing Committee, as they look beyond the current 5 Year Plan, prayerfully and with considered Biblical, theological, ecclesiological, and historical study; engage to conform no longer to the old way of doing things, but rather let God transform us into a new creation in terms of structure, governance and administration.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Bishop make a full report and accounting of this work to the 42nd Annual Convention of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast for ratification and enaction.

Beta Testers, by Susan Snook

It’s not really news to say that things have changed since the halcyon days of the 1960s, when eager young men flocked to seminaries, graduated to comfy curacies, went on to prestigious associate positions, and ended up ensconced as cardinal rectors.

The Diocese of Connecticut recently suspended its ordination process while it reconsidered ordination for a new time.  Now, it has released new guidelines for a “provisional” process.  Candidates will be “participant observers” or “beta testers.”  They should be “uniquely able to thrive in the midst of ambiguity and uncertainty, and … uniquely open to the creative possibilities of doing discernment and formation in new and uncharted ways.”

Here is how Connecticut sums up the contemporary church scene:

The church in general and the Episcopal Church in particular are facing great challenges as they seek to adapt to the realities of the 21st Century. Church attendance is no longer culturally mandatory. Competition on Sunday mornings is fierce. Denominational loyalty is increasingly a thing of the past. Christianity exists alongside a plethora of other faith traditions. Biblical literacy can no longer be presumed.

These and other realities have had a profound impact on the nature and shape of the priesthood. The old mid-20th Century bargain – that if one graduates from seminary and successfully navigates the ordination process, a lifetime of full-time parish ministry is virtually assured – no longer holds. Neither does a system in which newly-minted priests have the option of apprenticing under seasoned ones. Clergy positions are shrinking, in number and in scope, as financially-strapped parishes seek to stretch their resources. These trends are exacerbated in a diocese such as ours where every town has its own parish and many have more than one. At the same time, our parishes are becoming increasingly diverse, culturally as well as demographically. And we are discovering anew that “the church” does not exist for itself, but rather to do God’s work in the world.

 

As I read the diocese’s summary of conditions in the 21st century church, I am struck by a couple of things.  First, Connecticut’s assessment of our situation is true, there is no doubt.  I don’t think it would be helpful at all NOT to take a good hard look at where the church finds itself these days, and it certainly isn’t helpful to go on preparing 1962-style priests for the world of 2012.

But second, what I like about Connecticut’s assessment is not its harsh look at reality, but that it finds at least a few reasons for new hope – increased diversity and more outward focus on God’s work in the world.  These are good things.  Times are harder for the church now than in 1962, it is true.  But I think that’s good for the church.  Who wants to be a leader in a church where attendance is “culturally mandatory”?  Where people attend because they’ve always been Episcopalians, and you know, the Episcopal Church is where all the best people go?  Where the work of Christian education is already done for us by school and society?

I think today’s church is a much more exciting place to be a leader.  Most of the newcomers finding their way to my church these days are people who have been away from any church for a long, long time.  They have questions, they have doubts, they have hurts.  Yet they are spiritually hungry and they want to know where God is in their lives.  I love watching lives transformed by the power of the gospel, especially in our rich Episcopal tradition.

The whole premise of Acts 8 is that the church is not yet ready for hospice – we are not preparing for a long and graceful goodbye.  We are instead in a time when old ways are dying, but that the Holy Spirit is looking to scatter us out into uncharted territory, like the Spirit whisked Philip out into Samaria, the road to Gaza, and Azotus in Acts 8.  In going to new places and new people, the church will find new ways to proclaim the good news of Christ.

 

5:08 p.m. Pray for the Church, by Frank Logue

It shouldn’t startle me, but it always does. The loud crowing of a rooster each day ay 5:08 p.m. The alarm on my wife’s phone has the crowing sound set to go off each day at the same time to remind us to pray for the church. Though I am not always with her at eight minutes after five, an 8:30-4:30 workday and a mile commute home means I am often around for rooster’s always startling call. Sometimes we are at home talking about how our days went. Sometimes he catches us running errands. Sometimes the phone was left at the other end of our apartment and he won’t stop until one of us picks up the phone and dimisses the alarm. Each day, the rooster’s insistent crowing tells us once more that it is time for for us to pray for the the church to be roused to prayerful discernment and action.

Why 5:08? For Acts 8. Acts is the fifth book of the New Testament and then eight for the chapter in which the church responded to a culture hostile to the Gospel with greater faithfulness.

Praying changes the one who prays and I am finding the daily time of prayer for the Church to have the impact of keeping me focused on this Acts 8 Moment in a way I would not otherwise. I pray for inspiration. I pray for discernment. I pray for others to join us. I pray for us all to have the courage to go where the Holy Spirit will send us. I pray for the Church in expectancy. Each day when the rooster crows, I am reminded that we are in a moment pregnant with potential, and I hope for a Church up for being the Body of Christ to a lost and hurting world.

How much I must criticize you, my church
and yet how much I love you!
You have made me suffer more than anyone
and yet I owe more to you than to anyone.

I should like to see you destroyed
and yet I need your presence.
You have given me much scandal
and yet you alone have made me understand holiness.

Never in this world have I seen anything
more compromised, more false,
yet never have I touched anything
more pure, more generous and more beautiful.

—Carlo Carretto (1910-1988)

Once you were in darkness, but … by Nurya Love Parish

There is no doubt that, as Susan Brown Snook recently wrote, it is not restructuring that will save us, but reawakening.  Indeed, in Jim Collins’ book How the Mighty Fall (relevant reading for mainline clergy), he notes that restructuring initiatives are often part of the process of decline.

Reawakening means recognizing that even though we do need to restructure, our life in Christ depends on much more. It includes a certain level of holy indifference: If we live, we live to the Lord… if we die, we die to the Lord… so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8) It includes a willingness to discern what is true, and look the truth in the face. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)

As a member of the search team for our next bishop in the Diocese of Western Michigan, I’ve been studying the data about our diocese. When our profile is published early next month, our major findings will be shared with the world… including our next bishop, whomever he or she may be.

Our data includes both challenging and encouraging facts about our life together. On one hand, only about half of our churches can afford a full-time priest. Even our largest congregations are not the size that are generally considered “resource parishes” – large enough to have resources to share. On the other hand, despite the recent financial downturn, average giving to annual operating budgets of churches held steady across the diocese. Most of our congregations have at least six months of operating funds in savings.

Facts matter, because without facts we cannot make wise choices. It is by wise choices, “pleasing to the Lord,” we may thrive to minister for years to come. Facts serve us well when we see them in their proper place: as servants of our mission to make disciples of Christ and minister to the world in His name. We may not always like the facts before us, but as disciples of Christ we cannot fail to acknowledge them, recognizing that no fact – indeed, nothing at all – can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This post is excerpted from Nurya Love Parish’s blog, Plainsong Farm. Read the full post here.

The Rev. Nurya Love Parish is Associate Priest at St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids and Communications liaison for the Diocese of Western Michigan Bishop Search Team.  She blogs for www.buildfaith.org, an online Christian education community, and at her own blog, www.plainsongfarm.com. She welcomes your thoughts in response to this article at nuryaloveparish at gmail.com.

The First Mark of Mission, by Susan Snook

If you had asked me after the 2009 General Convention what I thought of the church’s chances of surviving more than another 50 years, I would have sighed deeply and asked you to pray for a miracle.  If you had asked me the same question after the 2012 General Convention, I would have said that maybe, just maybe, a miracle is starting to occur.

The Omnibus Resolution on Restructuring was a truly hopeful development, passing both houses unanimously, to great rejoicing.  But if restructuring is only about creating a different framework to contain the same arguments, it’s not going to take us where we need to go.  What we need in the church is a reawakening.

At Convention, I saw movements beginning to spring up, often among younger clergy and lay people, eager to jump start evangelism and mission in our church.  The Acts 8 Moment was one; Episcopal Evangelism Network is a second.  But these are movements on the fringes – do we have a hope of bringing them to the center?

I think we do, for the most prosaic of reasons: the budget.  Unlike the disaster of the 2009 budget, the disaster of the 2012 budget led to … wait for it … new hope.  Each of the Five Marks of Mission received a pool of money to pay for new mission initiatives.

My special area of interest is the First Mark of Mission (on which all the others depend, according to the official statement on the Anglican Communion website):  To proclaim the good news of the kingdom.  This Mark could be interpreted in a number of ways, but it assuredly includes ministries of evangelism.  The budget allocated $2 million over three years to this Mark, which is intended to include:

  • The “Mission Enterprise Zones” of Resolution A073
  • Church Planting
  • Funding for the Latino/Hispanic Strategic Plan which was passed with overwhelming support in 2009

The budget left it to Executive Council to decide how the money was to be allocated.  At the invitation of Bishop Stacy Sauls, I attended a gathering last week of church leaders who were convened to advise Church Center management in creating a proposal to bring to the Executive Council meeting in October.  The meeting included:

  • Two members of Executive Council (Stephanie Cheney and me);
  • Three former or new members of Program, Budget, and Finance (Bishop Alan Scarfe, Frank Logue, and Victoria Heard)
  • Five members of Church Center staff (Bishop Stacy Sauls, Sam McDonald, Tom Brackett, Kirk Hadaway, and Anthony Guillen;
  • Five current or former church planters (Victoria Heard, Frank Logue, Stephanie Spellers, Lang Lowrey, and me – some of us fall into two categories);
  • A representative from the church planting office of the ELCA (Mary Frances).

The group was clear that it was Executive Council’s job to decide how to allocate the funds, and this group was simply there to advise management on a proposal to bring to Executive Council.

I don’t want to go into details about the proposal we came up with, partly because Executive Council might decide to go in a different direction, and partly because we left a few issues unresolved (to be addressed via email).  However, you can read some highlights of our gathering on my personal blog, here.

A small thing that was of some personal interest to me: I really enjoyed getting to know Bishop Alan Scarfe.  He told some inspiring stories of mission during his young-adult days in England and Romania.  He also said that he had never been in a room with church planters before, and he found it very inspiring.  What a revelation!  I guess we church planters are unusual creatures, at that.  But I wonder how it’s different to be in a room with us!

We spent some time “dreaming” about how to start a movement in the church.  One of the fears we share is that there just won’t be enough novel and exciting projects out there to fund, which have sufficient diocesan buy-in to provide matching funds.  We didn’t figure out this question – how to start a missional movement.  Acts 8 folks: what do you think?  How do we start the church dreaming?  How do we midwife a new missional movement in the church?  How do we respond to our Acts 8 Moment?

What can we learn from Eau Claire?…by Steve Pankey

According to ENS, the Diocese of Eau Claire announced four candidates for its sixth bishop today.  As I read the article, I was reminded of the struggles that Eau Claire and Fond du Lac faced in late 2011 as they discussed, and even voted on, the possibility of merging the two Dioceses.  As a firm believer that Diocesan structures will necessarily be a part of the work of the Task Force on Structure, I hope we will learn from 2011 and from the work beginning in the Church in Wales (see Episcopal Cafe).  But that’s not what I wanted to write about today.

Instead, I’d like to know what we can learn from the Diocese of Eau Claire as they stand today.  The four candidates announced this morning are vying to be the 20-hour a week bishop of a diocese with 21 congregations, 2,200 baptized members, and 15 active clergy.  Some will look at this with cynicism, noting that these four guys (they are all men, it is still Eau Claire, after all) are just in it for the purple shirt.  I don’t know these priests, personally, so I can’t say if that is a motivation or not, but based on the Diocesan Search Website, I’d say that if it is, they’ll be eliminated rather quickly.  Others, myself included, will look on the search process for the sixth bishop of Eau Claire and find hope for the future of The Episcopal Church.

What I’ve learned from Eau Clare is that they are not afraid of what the future holds.  They are not afraid to think outside the box.  They are not afraid to name their weaknesses.  They are not afraid.  In the eighth chapter of Acts, the early Church had every reason to be afraid, but they chose hope in the gospel over fear.

As we pray for our Church and her leadership.  As we dream about a new way to be.  I hope that one place we will look is to the margins, what some might call “the least” and see how they are living faithfully in the midst of difficult circumstances.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the Eau Claire Diocesan Profile and ask again, what can we learn from them?

Our Identity Narrative
The Diocese of Eau Claire is a faith community of twenty-one, interdependent, mostly small and rural congregations. We are experiencing a new sense of expectancy and commitment to model what it means to be a healthy and sustainable Diocese of the Episcopal Church.

We are a Diocese rich in faithful, committed doers who respect each other’s differences. We have a healthy sense of our catholic tradition. We are ready to invest this heritage in launching into an emerging, life-giving community of faith. We recognize our need for continuing formation and our need to continually discover new ways of offering ourselves in mission to the communities in which we live. We realize that this can only be done by yielding ourselves to the power of the Risen Christ.

Our Vision for the Next Bishop of Eau Claire
Our next bishop will inspire us to build up the unity that we have in Christ, so that the world and our local communities may see that we are one in Christ. This will be accomplished by building bridges between our congregations, other Christian and interfaith communities, and between the many and various other communities in which we live.

Our next bishop will help us grow in mission, and we will become more and more involved in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth in our broken world. Together, and by God’s grace and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we will help to bring to fulfillment the prophetic proclamation that we are to “bring good news to the poor… proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Our next bishop will energize us and give us the confidence that God intends for us to have so that we may become the best that we can be. We envision a structure that will help us to focus on seeing possibilities rather than focusing on only what is problematic.

Our next bishop will give to us the opportunity to become a community that knows the Joy of our Lord’s Love and most generous Grace. We envision that our joy will be infectious and bring hope to all who share in our common life.