My article for this issue is a medley of information about things just finished and things upcoming. At the end, I’ll add a brief word about why –– theologically speaking –– all this matters.
Diocesan Council on Retreat — In January, from the evening of Friday the 20th through the afternoon of Saturday, the 21st, the Diocesan Council went on retreat. Now, I don’t know if this was the first time this group has ever gone on retreat, but it’s the first time in my episcopacy.
Why is this important? Well, first, there are weighty tasks laid before the council and significant decisions to be made. We are at a crossroads in time as a diocese. The cultural, financial, and structural paradigms in which we have lived and moved and had our being as a diocese appear no longer to be serving us well. Therefore, we are now in a time of reconsidering everything about how we “do church”.
The Diocesan Council has embraced the need to face this reality. All members are unanimous in their resolve to seize the day; to consider what must be considered; to analyze, to prioritize, and not shirk from tough decisions; and thereby to do the vital adaptive work that is before the council, the work in which every member of the diocese must share.
In the very near future, maybe even before you receive this issue of Spirit, you will be receiving a communique from the Diocesan Council that shares more about the retreat and our way forward as a diocese. Watch for it (or go back to it)!
Evangelism Workshops are a huge success — Two workshops (or evangelism training events) were held in the diocese in February. I hope you already know of them and even attended one. Thanks to the people, clergy, and staff of our Cathedral and of St. James’, Springfield for hosting, respectively, the northern Kansas City area event on Saturday, February 18 and the southern event on Sunday, February 19.
In my opinion – apparently shared by most if not all who attended – each workshop was a tremendous success. My sense is that attendees want more of this kind of preparation and kind of empowerment for carrying out the mission God has given us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We will look to see what can be done to enable more events like this in the future.
We, as a diocese, have invited our Presiding Bishop to visit, speak, and challenge us and our communities to “awaken” to God’s call to reconciliation with all people as well as with our Creator. That’s why we are calling the main events:
“Awakening the Spirit in West Missouri”.
The Presiding Bishop is coming — Of course the Evangelism Workshops were not stand-alone events. They tie into and are preparatory for the visit of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Bruce Curry, who will be in West Missouri May 5-7. By now you should be familiar with the events being planned: one in Kansas City and one in Springfield. If you aren’t, watch the diocese’s website for full details. We, as a diocese, have invited our Presiding Bishop to visit, speak, and challenge us and our communities to “awaken” to God’s call to reconciliation with all people as well as with our Creator. That’s why we are calling the main events “Awakening the Spirit in West Missouri”. Our day, our society, this world, calls for The Episcopal Church to be the Church God needs it to be. It is time for us to awaken, to quicken, to be stimulated to the tasks of boldly being salt, and uncovered light, and a visible, shining city on a hill. I look forward to being stirred up by Bishop Curry, one of the most powerful speakers of our time.
Once awakened, I hope and pray that we will be bold in our ministries. Why? You see, I believe that we, The Episcopal Church, are a different kind of Church, and we have an authentic word from God and a time-tested faith to share with our time. We do not avoid the big questions of our day; instead, we invite everyone to examine the question and find answers together, in an atmosphere of acceptance and love, and covered with grace.
So, make plans to rally ’round the Presiding Bishop, to show our spirit as part of the Jesus Movement, and to have a fun and meaningful day together on May 6 or May 7.