Standing atop day number 365 I am provided with an incredible 360-degree vista. The view of the landscape of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota is quite breathtaking. Every direction provides a different scene, each brimming with life and vitality, each engaging God’s mission. This is a land that I have experienced first hand, with an odometer that now reads well over 30,000 miles.
The Episcopal Church in Minnesota is reclaiming its missional spirit in the context of our Christian tradition. Consider the Churches of Ephesus, Corinth and Philippi — and how the saints were equipped to build God’s kingdom wherever the seeds of faith were planted.
Consider also the vision and passion of Breck, Kemper, Whipple and many others who nurtured the faith by equipping the Indigenous peoples and migrant families of Minnesota — where the saints, like Enmegahbowh and others, all within their cultures and context — grew into the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
Then, consider the recent work of the Mission Strategy Network, how it called us forth to transform communities in our context, while networking with others and always as good stewards serving the mission God has called us to engage.
Over the last year, built on this rich biblical and missional heritage, and through intentional conversations and gatherings, the Holy Spirit has led us to a vision of empowering our faith communities to engage God’s mission in their context and culture.
Beginning by gathering regionally to initially network and share resources among faith communities, we are now in the midst of our Bishop’s Area Gatherings. These four days are locally designed to meet the specific missional callings identified within the local and regional areas.
We have also begun to collaborate on mission from a broader scale with folks working on camping ministry, the upcoming Bishop’s Family Day and our hosting of the Episcopal Youth Event. Beyond the borders of Minnesota, we are also collaborating through our Mission 2011 initiative: NetsForLife®. And soon, we’ll join The Episcopal Church with the campaign to rebuild Haiti.
Aware that ministry follows mission, a dedicated group of individuals has been working on the connection between the two. Once a community is clear how and where God is calling them to engage God’s mission, the next step is to discern and identify the gifts for ministry needed. To this end we are in the beginning stages of providing discernment for all. The first of these was for those exploring a call to the diaconate. Soon other opportunities will follow for those wanting to explore the priesthood and those for the ministry of all the baptized.
As clarity of gifts for ministry begins to take shape, the next natural step is providing formation. Taking seriously the call in the letter to the Ephesians to “equip the saints for ministry,” folks began to explore the possibility of providing faith formation for all — lay and ordained. The exciting outcome is the School for Formation. We launched our first courses for those called to the diaconate last fall. In January, in partnership with Seabury, the first class for all the baptized was offered.
In addition, a thorough review of all our systems and structures is well under way to help us be the best stewards of all our resources. Specifically, a group with financial management expertise has taken on the task of examining all our financial practices. The end goal is to have transparent, efficient best practices in place. Likewise, there is another group of individuals who are reviewing the role and relationship of each of our elected bodies. The goal for this group is to provide transparency, clarity and collaboration.
All of this assists us as we strive to provide the most effective and innovative ways of communicating. We are blessed to live in a time when technology can bridge the gap, both geographically and otherwise, between our faith communities.
Through mission, ministry and management we are beginning to reclaim our missional identity as the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
This is by way of imagining new ways to use gifts for ministry that God has given to each of us; and by consistently opening ourselves to the creation and innovation the Holy Spirit is calling forth from us.
What an incredible view. A bountiful land filled with deep tradition and heritage that is brimming with miraculous expectation of engaging God’s mission as the Episcopal Church in Minnesota!
I have been blessed beyond measure for the honor to walk with you this last year. It is with unbounding anticipation and the deepest possible passion as I look out over the landscape of Minnesota with our miraculous expectations.
This post is available as a downloadable bulletin insert.