This last weekend, faithful Minnesotan Episcopalians gathered for the 162nd time in our history in this great state. It was a wonderful gathering of worship, fellowship, formation, networking, and updating!
For those who weren’t able to be with us, here are the highlights of my words on Friday night:
Engaging God’s Mission of the Beloved Community – The Way of Love is our Mission Opportunity theme for the 2019-2020 program year. Accepting God’s invitation to join with God in God’s mission of reconciliation, we continue to support every one of our faith communities as they discern their gifts and are formed to use those gifts fully for God’s mission. We continue to seek, develop, and deepen partnerships that help us create the Beloved Community in a sustainable way.
Acknowledging the changing culture—and thus the changing Church—that has been the focus of my entire tenure as your Bishop understandably creates anxiety for some. In ECMN, we believe that the best way to embrace the changing church God is building is to continue to discern how God is inviting us to use our gifts to follow the Way of Jesus/Way of Love, to build relationships in our neighborhoods, and to participate in becoming the Beloved Community.
It is also why continuing to grow in our networking capacity across ECMN is so critical. I often remind folks of the Montessori mantra: all are teachers; all are learners. All of our faith communities have gifts that they are using to manifest the Beloved Community that they can share. And every faith community has needs in responding God’s call to become the Beloved Community that they can learn from their sister faith communities.
The great news is that ECMN is very healthy. Great Beloved Community work is happening across Minnesota. I am reminded of this every time I go to one of our faith communities and every time I walk into the ECMN Gathering Space and see another community group utilizing the space. Our health is also acutely apparent every time I go to one of our camps or youth retreats, or to a School for Formation event: faithful folks discerning and being formed and transformed for God’s mission. And our health is manifested is our sustainability. ECMN is financially strong, debt-free and abides by very strong stewardship practices.
ECMN’s vibrancy and health is the foundation from which we lean into our episcopate transition. We have great clergy and lay leadership, an incredible Team of Missioners, excellent affiliates, financially-stable and amazing assets in the ECMN Offices, ECMN Retreat Center, and Episcopal House of Prayer. Frankly, I could not be more optimistic about—in fact down right excited to see—as missiologists often say, what God is up to in ECMN. Whatever it is, I am extremely grateful for the Standing Committee, Search Committee, and Transition Committee. And I am completely confident in the power of the Holy Spirit, which will continue to lead us to embrace our deep missional roots, to follow in the Way of Jesus, and to keep becoming the Beloved Community.
Honestly, this is why this transition is so personally hard. I absolutely love ECMN, the Beloved Community we are and the Beloved Community we are becoming. I am not bitter, burnt out, or cranky. Completely the contrary! However, I know a healthy time is a really good time for leadership transition, to move, as we say, from strength to strength. And it’s a good time in the life cycle of our changing cultural, and thus our changing church, for me to create space for the Beloved Community that ECMN is becoming.
With that in mind, I want you to know that I have not taken and will not be taking sabbatical time between now and the installation of Bishop X. Between the good work of our theme for this year: Engaging God’s Mission of the Beloved Community – The Way of Love and the episcopate transition, there’s too much exciting stuff going on to be away. I love you, the good people of ECMN, and I love the ministry we share. As such, I am energized and want to be as supportive as possible for the remaining nine months that I am blessed and privileged to serve as your Bishop.
As I said, I could not be more excited about this upcoming program year, to see where the Spirit leads in the episcopate transition, and share with you in embracing our deep missional roots, to follow in the Way of Jesus/Way of Love in becoming the Beloved Community!