The Goals Working Team of the Diocesan Council emerged from the Council’s retreat in January 2017. There we worked together to find specific principles that would guide us in restructuring the Diocese of West Missouri so that we might more effectively pursue the mission of the Church in West Missouri to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
Out of that retreat came four “tests for success” for diocesan programs.
- Do they empower parishes to fulfill their part of our mission and ministry?
- Do they help make the Diocese more a parish of the whole?
- Do they direct our resources more outward than inward?
- Do they allow the Bishop to be more of a bishop than a CEO?
It is the Goals Team’s task to come up with some specific goals for the diocese as a whole that are consistent with both our mission as a church and the tests for success. Under the chairmanship of Fr. Chas Marks, we have met many times in person and remotely over the past year (about once a month).
Our Bishop has rightly said that a diocese is a “parish of the whole”. It is Episcopal membership of the diocese which makes the churches the local delivery points of the diocesan missions and ministries. If the churches are going to be the ‘hands and feet’ of our diocese, then they need to be coordinated and empowered to work successfully in their particular mission field. And for that, the Goals Team agrees that assessment relief is essential for our churches to be able to think beyond their current financial limitations. With the recent Diocesan Convention asking for a “significant and meaningful” reduction in parochial assessments, the Goals Team’s work becomes even more important in determining what is most important for the common work of the diocese.
Because of the geographic distances between the people of the Diocese, finding ways to bring us closer together in collaboration and communion is absolutely crucial if we are to be more a parish of the whole. Technological developments are making it more possible for us to have remote meetings from the Diocesan office and St. John’s in Springfield. While the technology is being improved in Springfield, the Goals Team also believes that a remote location should be established in the Central Deanery. The more we can see each other face to face and talk to each other, the better we can plan together and work together.
The Goals Team also believes that we as a diocese should dream together of what it might look like for the people of The Diocese of West Missouri to come together for fellowship and communion (which is actually the same word in the New Testament).
When it comes to the outward directing of our resources, the Goals Team commends the substantial support which the diocese already extends to Nourish KC (formerly Episcopal Community Services) and the Council of Churches of the Ozarks. These two organizations do much to alleviate the physical and spiritual needs of the people they serve. And the Diocese’s $60,000 support should continue. At a time when Americans seem increasingly divided, the Goals Team believes that the work of the Diocesan Diversity and Reconciliation Commission should be supported by a paid staff position.
As for the 4th test of allowing the Bishop to focus less on the administrative work of the diocese, the Goals team agrees that the diocesan constitution and canons are long overdue for revision. We look forward to that work being undertaken in 2018.
We are grateful for the contributions of the members of the Goals Team, which includes members of the Diocesan Council, but is by no means limited to them. If you would like to participate in our work, or have any concerns, please feel free to contact Fr. Chas Marks