Occupying Liminal Space

On September 25th, 2018, my life, and the life of ECMN, moved into a time that I refer to as liminal space. By liminal space I mean:

1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.

2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

Many things about the last sixteen months have been very “normative” for me in my role as the Bishop of ECMN. There are Visitations, Confirmations, Ordinations, Mission Area Gatherings, Meetings of Elected Bodies, community engagement, pastoral work, collaborative stewarding of our resources of people, property, and pennies, and of course crisis management.

Alongside all these normal things, though, there has been an entire process of visioning, imagining, and discerning for ECMN that I have not been at all involved with.

ECMN has also, over the last sixteen months, lived in two realities.

Our faith communities have continued to engage God’s mission of the Beloved Community in their culture and context. Partnerships have expanded as we have engaged our communities and our neighborhoods and have striven to live into the fullness of our Baptismal Covenant to work for justice and peace for all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

On the other hand, across ECMN, folks have been asked to share their stories, their hopes, and their dreams of what they believe the Holy Spirit is calling forth in the next chapter of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.

This coming Saturday, by the grace of God and by the leading of the Holy Spirit, ECMN will discern who they believe God is calling to the episcopate, who is called to walk with ECMN in partnership in this next chapter. Five very faithful folks have offered their gifts, talents, wisdom, and experience to walk with ECMN as the X Bishop.

After what we expect to be a Spirit-filled time on Saturday, there is still more liminal space to navigate. First, creating space for the Bishop-elect to have healthy and adequate closure of their present chapter. Second, in April, the Bishop-elect will arrive and the months of April and May will be a time of on-boarding, orientation, and relationship-building. This is a time for the Bishop-elect to do a deep dive into all things ECMN, including lots of travel across the great state of Minnesota. And finally, on June 6th, we will “make N. a bishop in your Church.”

As for me, I will continue to occupy liminal space until June 6th. All the while, I continue performing all the duties of the Bishop. At the same time, I will be a resource and companion for the Bishop-elect in the on-boarding, orientation, and relationship-building in ECMN.

My history and experience have taught me that, in liminal spaces like the one we find ourselves in, it’s best to just lean in and trust that the Spirit will carry us forward.


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