It was early on a beautiful day and I was 45 minutes into my trek when I felt the need to pause and get a drink of water. Taking this moment also gave me the opportunity to look back and see the ground that I had covered, and to look forward to that which is in front of me. This is the perfect image for me as I mark the fourth anniversary of becoming your Bishop and look ahead to what is in store in the fifth year.
Missionally, the goal is for every faith community in ECMN to be intentional about three things: their identity – how God has uniquely gifted them; their context – where God is inviting them into mission; and their sustainability – how God is calling them to be good stewards. To this end, we now have over a quarter of our faith communities engaged in the Missional Assessment Process (MAP) which provides the structure for these critical questions.
One of the greatest findings in this process is the importance of building capacity through building partnerships – Missional Innovative Partnerships. These partnerships may be with other faith communities, other community organizations, our affiliates and/or with our neighbors. Through those partnerships we see an ever increasing involvement of youth and young adults and those who are on the margins. We also see growth in the local partnerships that impact our communities as well as international partnerships that have been born out of our annual Mission Opportunity.
As we move forward, the hope is that more of our faith communities will take advantage of MAP and continue to intentionally expand the clarity of their unique gifts and how they can partner with others to meet the world’s needs.
From a ministry perspective the goal is for every faith community to be a community of discernment and formation. Foundationally we believe that every person has been uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit. With this belief the hope is that every faith community provide an opportunity for gifts’ discernment. Faith communities engaged in a time of transition, those who live in a Total Ministry model, and those who have recently been through a time of sabbatical often have the opportunity to engage in discernment. The vision moving forward is to provide the tools for all the baptized in all places to discern their gifts for ministry to engage God’s mission.
The second goal is that every faith community will, as Paul writes to the Ephesians, “equip the saints for ministry”. For this to take place the vision is that our faith communities be life long learning communities, providing a variety of formation for all the baptized. Additionally, we have a growing number of opportunities through the School for Formation and plans are in the early stages for expanded possibilities and platforms.
From a management perspective, the goal is to have every faith community find a realistic, sustainable model of functioning. The two most important components of stability are personnel and property. Each faith community has a limited amount of resources. As such, each must discern what is the best stewardship of those resources to use their unique gifts to meet the world’s needs. Moreover, more and more of our faith communities are engaging in an assessment process to determine their own appropriate model to achieve sustainability.
Over the last four years the Episcopal Church in Minnesota has grown more deeply into a network of faith communities called to transformation through engaging God’s mission. As our faith communities become clearer about their identity, their context and sustainability as equipped saints with discerned gifts, we will more effectively be able to follow the Way of Jesus to meet the world’s needs….and the Kingdom of God will come near!
It continues to truly be a blessing to serve as your Bishop!