It was a great way to celebrate the third anniversary of my ordination to the episcopate: a wonderful blessing that encompassed both the history and the future of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN).
In the best sense, the past three years feel like a whole lot longer. I believe that I feel this telescoping sense of time because of the openness folks have shown in sharing their stories, their histories, and what they truly value in their lives and communities. As such, I feel an ever-increasing depth of relationship with both individuals and faith communities that seems deeper than only three years would allow. I am truly grateful to be a part of such a rich history in both the Episcopal Church and in Minnesota.
At the same time, I am filled with great excitement and anticipation for our future. One of the greatest blessings I have as Bishop is to watch the dreams of people and communities come to fruition. I am surrounded by some of the finest clergy and lay leaders that I have ever experienced in the Episcopal Church. The level of creativity, commitment, and collaboration in ECMN is absolutely inspiring.
With that deep appreciation for our history and enthusiasm for our future, let me share a couple of highlights looking both in the rear-view mirror and forward.
Four of the most significant developments under Mission are:
- The establishment of Mission Areas and their Mission Area Teams,
- the continued success of our Mission Projects,
- the forthcoming work of our Commission on Mission, and
- the establishment of the position of Missioner for Community Engagement as well as the formation of the Commission for Community Engagement.
These bodies and individuals are working intentionally and collaboratively to help our faith communities access the resources they need. This will enable them to use their gifts for ministry to meet the world’s needs — in their unique cultures and contexts. When this takes place, we engage God’s mission, and we and our communities experience transformation.
As we become clearer on God’s mission in our neighborhoods, we become clearer on the gifts for ministry that the world needs. This is the work that falls under Ministry. The primary task in Ministry is to:
- Discern the needed gifts from all the baptized,
- equip the saints through solid formation, and
- affirm and sending forth God’s people to meet the world’s needs.
The Commission on Ministry, the Standing Committee, the Examining Chaplains and the School for Formation have spent significant time developing a process to assist individuals to discern their gifts, provide solid formation, and to send them forth prepared to engage God’s mission.
Let me be clear — this is not just for those who are discerning a call to ordination. Discernment, formation, and sending forth is for all the baptized. And the process and the opportunities we are putting into place are not only open — but encouraged for all.
ECMN is blessed to have an incredible cadre of very competent Episcopalians who dedicate a significant amount of time working on our Management. We have had a number of property transitions over the last year for a variety of reasons. For those working on these transitions, the goal is always to provide the highest level of stewardship for the Church.
The same is true for the financial management:
- We have a number of faith communities that have struggled financially for a long time. We are beginning to work with these communities in finding a more sustainable financial model.
- With the good work of our Trustees and our Chancellors, we are reviewing all of our endowed funds to ensure we are being the best possible stewards of those funds, as well.
- And finally, I am very happy to report that our Pooled Investment Fund (PIF) continues to be extremely well managed, providing a very solid return across the faith communities of ECMN.
The Episcopal Church in Minnesota is a network of faith communities called to transformation through engaging God’s mission. This is taking place as our faith communities become clearer about their dreams, passions, and gifts to meet the needs of the world. This is taking place as more and more of us — all the baptized — are seeing the world’s needs and discerning our gifts, following up with formation, and then going forth to use those gifts in our contexts and cultures. All the while being good and collaborative stewards of the resources that God has entrusted us with.
The harvest is great in ECMN. The world needs the gifts God has given us. When we freely share of those gifts, we are all transformed. Thank you for the continued opportunity to serve along side you in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota — it is truly a blessing!