Monthly Archives: November 2010

Minnesota’s deep, shared history with the Episcopal Church in Cuba

Arriving early at the Episcopal Cathedral in Havana with 17 (6 clergy and 11 lay ) of my colleagues from the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, I was quickly whisked away by our Presiding Bishop. With significant enthusiasm in her voice she said, “Brian, there is something I want to show you!”

And thus began a tour through the bishop’s office, home, sacristy and cathedral.  All places I had been before, yet the purpose of this tour and ++Katherine’s enthusiasm was to show me the numerous pictures and plaques of Minnesota’s first bishop, Henry Benjamin Whipple. As you may know, he is held in great reverence in Cuba as the instigator of The Episcopal Church in Cuba.

Shortly after my tour by our Presiding Bishop, I began to move through the very large crowd that had gathered this day for the installation of Bishop Griselda. Numerous times, as people stopped to greet me, they would look down at my pectoral cross. To a person, a smile would come upon their face. Each, clearly, immediately knew that the cross was Bishop Whipple’s and that I was the Bishop of Minnesota.

I must confess, it was an amazingly proud moment. To be wearing Bishop Whipple’s cross, to be the Bishop of Minnesota, to be joined by such a significant group from our church was truly a blessing.

Our shared history and our emerging partnership in mission with the
Episcopal Church in Cuba is incredibly grace filled.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, we thank you Lord

Without fail, and when my mouth is watering with anticipation, someone in the family says, “Okay, before we can eat let’s go around the group and each name something we are thankful for.”

Don’t get me wrong, I think being thankful is in our very nature as Christians, but does it have to be when the succulent feast is on the table?! In that spirit I would like to share a few of the things I am most thankful for.

My thanksgivings are shaped by one of the sentences from A Litany for Thanksgiving found in the Book of Common Prayer on page 837:  For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, we thank you Lord.

For minds to think: I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be engaged with a wide range of people who continue to expand my knowledge, understanding and perspective on a whole array of topics. I appreciate those who continue to encourage me to think and look at things in different and creative ways. I feel very blessed to spend time daily reading, pondering and wondering about endless possible ways that the Spirit is leading us.

Hearts to Love: I start and end each day (and many times throughout the day) giving thanks to God for the people in my life. I am blessed beyond measure with a wonderful family, extended family, friends near and far many of who I have shared the journey with most of my life. In addition, every day I am surrounded by outstanding colleagues, and a Church Family that consistently shares God’s love with me. Finally, the opportunity to bring God’s love to those who often feel very little love can bring joy beyond what I ever would imagine.

Hands to Serve: I am blessed to know that God has given me gifts for ministry. These are not for me, but rather to serve God through serving others. Helping a neighbor or stranger in need, stepping forward to offer the talents I have been blessed with, are experiences I am thankful for every day.

Whether it is in thinking, loving, or serving, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.

The best unintentionally kept secret in your town

As the game show host of the Family Feud would say, “SURVEY SAYS?!”

This last week the General Convention Office released the information of the 2009 Parochial Reports for each diocese.  Here are the numbers for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota:

Our membership for 2009 was reported at 24,049, which was an increase of 243 from our 2008 membership of 23,806.  The other measurement number the Church likes to use is Average Sunday Attendance (ASA).  Our ASA for 2009 was reported at 7,782, which was a decrease from 2008 of 153 from 7,935.

To begin by stating the obvious, we are growing and yet fewer are attending church as regularly. It may be of interest that this is consistent with recent information from another national survey that reports that, particularly for the younger generation, attending 2+ times a  month for them is considered regular attendance.

I have the distinct blessing of being in a different church every Sunday.  Sometimes, particularly in our churches in rural areas, there are around a dozen folks in the pews. Other times there are hundreds.  Yet numbers aside and with all candor, I have yet to go to a congregation that did not have some level of vibrancy to it.  I would also tell you that almost every church, regardless of size, has shared with me their desire to grow.

For me this is key.  We are blessed to have incredible faith communities of all sizes. Each has its own strength: faith formation or outreach or great liturgy.  The challenge is letting others know of  the best unintentionally kept secret in their town or neighborhood – The Episcopal Church!

In the days ahead we will be exploring a variety of avenues  in which we can work together on effective ways to intentionally invite and welcome others to the treasure we have in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota!