Feb 07, 2023West Missouri on the move

West Missouri on the move

The Rev. John Spicer Three-minute read.   Resources

It’s all well and good to discern vision and mission statements. What matters is where we go with them.The diocese’s two primary leadership bodies, the Diocesan Council and the Standing Committee, met February 3 – 4 to take those next steps. Over the next several months, you’ll be seeing the fruits of that work as we plan for ministry, and create the 2024 diocesan budget, from the ground up.

In January, the Council finalized a new mission statement:

As the Body of Christ, we seek, serve, and save the lost by proclaiming the Good News, forming disciples, serving others, and striving for justice.

So the two committees began exploring what’s next: What outcomes do we want to see in each of those priority areas of proclaiming Good News, forming disciples, serving others, and striving for justice? For each, we began developing SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), looking to flesh out the priorities we hear God asking us to pursue.

It’s all well and good to discern vision and mission statements. What matters is where we go with them.

That process will continue in the months ahead, as work groups from the two committees prioritize and focus these goals and plan how we’ll achieve them. You’ll see the specifics of that planning as Council and Standing Committee members bring you regular updates in New Spirit. Then, the diocesan Finance Committee will use our ministry goals to build the diocesan budget from scratch, something that hasn’t been done here for decades.

Our priorities will flow from our diocesan history and spiritual DNA, the missional wiring we’ve inherited from those who’ve gone before us. The Council and Standing Committee looked back to the beginning of our diocese, reminding ourselves of the work of our missional leaders. For example:

  • Bishop Jackson Kemper, the first missionary bishop of The Episcopal Church, was sent to take our Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement to the regions of the “Old Northwest” – Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska. In what would become our diocese, he founded congregations in Boonville, Fayette, Lexington, and Independence in the 1830s and 1840s.
  • Augustine’s Episcopal Church was founded as a mission to Black Kansas Citians in 1882. It grew and thrived for decades before finally receiving parish (self-governing) status in 1950.
  • Our Diocese of West Missouri began in 1890 with Bishop Edward Atwill raising almost $200,000 in today’s dollars for mission work, sending about 20 missionaries to plant Episcopal communities in outstate Missouri.
  • Beginning in 1930, Bishop Robert Spencer oversaw more fundraising and mission work in rural Missouri, raising more than $100,000 in today’s dollars during the depth of the Depression. After World War II, Spencer continued the push, funding and building mission congregations in cities to move them toward sustaining themselves.

For our day, the Council and Standing Committee began identifying steps to take us toward the outcomes God is revealing to us. We’ve also begun naming the characteristics we need to be seeking in potential leaders for today’s work of mission. Both in our congregations and at the diocesan level, our systems of discernment haven’t always done a great job identifying the gifts and strengths needed for effective church leadership or selecting for those gifts as we raise up new leaders. So we’ll be strengthening our processes of discernment and leadership development.

We are the inheritors of the missional DNA that brought our diocese into being and strengthened it even in its hardest times. As the saying goes: God’s Church doesn’t have a mission; God’s mission has a Church. We are Jesus’ apostles sent today to proclaim Good News, form disciples, serve others, and strive for justice. So keep watching for more “West Missouri on the Move” reports this year as our goals take shape.

The Rev. John Spicer is the Rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City and serves as President of the Diocesan Standing Committee.

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