Called In. Sent Out.

Building a Community of Purpose

The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field Eight-minute read.   Resources

Bishop Marty Addresses the 128th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri Image credit: Gary Allman

On the first weekend in November, Friday and Saturday, November 3 & 4 to be exact, West Missouri held its annual convention. The theme of that convention was: “Called in. Sent out. Building a Community of Purpose.” I included a reference to this theme in my homily at the ordinations and reception of a priest that took place during the convention’s opening worship. I also referred to it at some length in my address to the convention. And, I find myself still ruminating reflectively on that theme even now, several weeks later. So much so that I am going to use it as my theme for the coming year.

What follows is an excerpt from my address to convention in which I elucidate what I think is the gist of being “called in and sent out” and of building, together, a community of purpose.

The Jesus Movement

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry very famously has worked to recapture language from the ancient Church and to move us from thinking of the Church as an institution, and toward thinking of the Church as a movement, as a group affiliated round a cause, a purpose, or — in Church-speak — a mission.

I must be honest. One of the joys of my life was casting my vote for Michael Bruce Curry and helping elect him to the office of Presiding Bishop. His heart beats in rhythm with my heart. His desire for the Church to awaken to itself and its purpose matches my own. He says it and preaches it better than I ever could. The man is a force!

His 10,000-foot view of what the Church is certainly inspiring, at least to me, but we are The Diocese of West Missouri. Therefore, we must localize what Bishop Curry is talking about — must bring his vision down from 10,000 feet to … well … no more than 1,000 feet. We must come to grips with what it means to be the Episcopal Branch of the loving, liberating, life-giving Jesus Movement on our turf, in our backyard, on our street or town or county.

At the Special Convention this past June, I shared some thoughts about the purpose of a diocese — a generic diocese, no matter where it’s located. And I tried to encapsulate what I see a diocese has to do — its marching orders — its mission. A diocese is a complex organism. It has lots of parts and has lots to do.

Try this analogy: a diocese is a machine with thousands of moving parts engineered and built to manufacture hundreds of different products simultaneously. It is not intended to produce a single outcome, unless you paint that outcome broadly, as in,

2819 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you… Matthew 28:19-20a

That’s broad.

The Book of Common Prayer states the Church’s purpose or mission this way: “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”

That’s also broad, because what does that look like at a localized level? It may mean one thing in West Missouri; it may mean another thing altogether in Cuba, or in Jerusalem, or in Beijing, or in any of a million places.

Localized, I believe the aspirations of the Jesus movement must be tied to or matched up with program, or process, or practicality.

So, let me ask you to focus on the theme for this convention. It is: “Called In. Sent Out. Building a Community of Purpose.”

I’ll say it again. “Called In. Sent Out. Building a Community of Purpose.”

The theme was chosen to reflect the rhythm of Christian life and to encapsulate the Prayer Book’s teaching on the Church: Let me quote an excerpt from pages 854-855 of the Prayer Book.

The Church

Q. What is the Church?
A. The Church is the community of the New Covenant.
 

Q. Why is the Church described as apostolic?
A. The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent to carry out Christ’s mission to all people.
 

Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
 

Q. How does the Church pursue its mission?
A. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.
 

Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A. The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.

“Called In. Sent Out.” is a summation meant to emphasize that we come to the Church as disciples, as learners, to learn the way of Jesus. We are sent out from the Church as apostles, meaning those who are sent, and being sent our task is to pray, worship, proclaim, and promote justice, peace, and love.

We swing in this rhythm over and over, week by week. It is the disciplined life of the Christian. The method by which we are ever being made more ready for our ministry and then being sent out to minister.

Disciple ⇒ Apostle. Disciple ⇒ Apostle. Disciple ⇒ Apostle.

Over and over until they are truly part of us. Until we are not just doing but have become loving, liberating, life-giving ministry for the world.

You see parishes are not the point of this churchy endeavor, not in and of themselves. Neither are dioceses. Congregations or dioceses that exist to ensure their continued existence are the very antithesis of the Jesus Movement. If Jesus had been chiefly interested in his own continuity, what would have become of God’s purpose? The Church and churches are called to be about giving themselves away, about helping disciples learn to walk so closely with Jesus that their lives come to reflect his life. Then the Church — the Jesus Movement Church, not the institutional, corporate church of buildings and wealth — is sent out to do Christ’s healing, reconciling work in a wide, hurting world.

So, I’d like to venture a closing thought.

In my point of view, we, as a diocesan community, have become fearful of material things, which has led us to be too inattentive to spiritual things. How often do you read the Bible? How about engaging in a serious study of the scriptures? How often do you pray? What do you do to deepen your prayer connections to God? How often do you leave worship with a plan to act in kindness and mercy? To promote justice, peace, and love? Why are the concerns of the material world so enthralling when Jesus says that the way to abundant life — for congregations no less than individuals — is to give life away, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” It’s there in three of the Gospels!

What this means is this: as soon as we stop trying to survive, we will learn how to live! “Called In. Sent Out. Building a Community of Purpose.” This is my challenge to you and your parishes and to all The Diocese of West Missouri for the days before us.

“Called In. Sent Out.” Let’s be that Community of Purpose.

As I mentioned, “Called in. Sent out. Building a Community of Purpose” is going to be my theme throughout the next year. I hope you’ll make it your theme, too, in the life of your parish and in your personal life. God needs disciples — life-long learners who foster faith-building communities, and God needs each disciple to be an apostle — one who reaches out from those communities to engage a world that so very, very badly needs the transformation that comes most readily through the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

The Rt. Rev. Martin Scott Field (Bishop Marty) is the eighth bishop of The Diocese of West Missouri.

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Ordinations at the Diocesan Convention Eucharist

Photographs: Gary Zumwalt Ten-minute read.   Resources

L-R The Rev. Larry Ehren, Bishop Marty, Fr. Jonathan Callison and The Rev. Kary Mann Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

On the Evening of November 3, 2017, during the diocesan convention opening Eucharist, Fr. Jonathan Callison was received into The Episcopal Church, and Larry Ehren and Kary (Karen) Mann were ordained into the diaconate.

Below you can read a little bit about each of them written in their own words.

Fr. Jonathan Callison

Fr. Jonathan Callison with Bishop Marty Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

My call to priesthood in the Episcopal Church is the story of seeds planted; some bore fruit, others may have gone awry, but God will get some harvest from me I pray! Very early in my life, I remember attending Mass with my Grandmother and praying the Rosary with her. She was a farmer and rancher from Western Kansas and a faithful communicant of St. Joseph’s Church in Ashland. She was a patient woman of prayer, compassion, and endurance. I remember, too, my experience attending Mass with my mother and siblings. We were a handful but she persevered! She took our formation in the faith seriously but also taught us to think about what we were asked to believe.

I attended Catholic schools and couldn’t wait for the day to serve Mass as an acolyte. The dedication and compassion of the priests and sisters that I came to know informed my life in ways that will be with me always. I remember asking – 2nd grade, I think- if dolphins were aware enough to be baptized. I don’t remember my pastor’s answer, but I still wonder at the incredible mercy of God, redeeming all creation. It was that sense of compassion and nurture, so strong in my rather matriarchal family that inclined my heart toward service. Others in my parish as a young man noticed my sensitivity and asked me to consider a call to the priesthood.

My years in the seminary were some of the most amazing of my life. I grew as a person and, eventually, after ordination, as a deacon and then priest. The people I ministered to formed me, and I will never forget those early lessons as a young priest. One of the lessons I learned was transparency and openness. I eventually had to come out to my bishop and share the growing concerns that I had about my sexual orientation and call to celibacy. Bishop Stanley was a loving, pastoral bishop, and he made sure I got the counseling I needed and the leave of absence to explore this new awareness of myself. I did not return to ordained ministry as he had hoped, but the seeds so many planted were not in vain. They just took a while to grow and mature.

Some years later, my partner and I were looking for a spiritual home and my sister, Heather — Yes! I notice the pattern of female evangelists in my life! — suggested the Anglican way. I have found it to be the way that I can most closely follow Jesus as a member of the Body of Christ. I will be forever grateful to the openness and love of reason, as well as Scripture and Tradition that inform our Anglican way. Chris and I were received into the Episcopal Church and have received so many blessings, especially the blessing of our marriage, surrounded by our parish family. In 2016, after much prayerful reflection with my family, my husband, and my parish family, I entered a process of discernment that culminated at the last diocesan convention.

I rejoice to serve this diocese as a presbyter of the Church, and I pray that all those seeds of mercy and compassion, planted by so many at so many times in my life, may finally bear fruit. Please pray for me as I preach, bless and preside at the Holy Sacraments.

May God be blessed Who is Compassionate and Merciful!

The Rev. Larry Ehren

The Rev. Larry Ehren with Bishop Marty Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

My first introduction to the Commission on Ministry was: “His is a unique situation.” To be honest, I was unsure how to understand that. Was I a stranger from a strange land, a variation of an adult mutant ninja turtle, or some other version of a church oddity? I chose to understand this as having a unique history and background in approaching ordination in The Episcopal Church.

The reality is that I was approved for ordination in the Roman Catholic Church exactly forty years ago. After ten years of education and formation in the Jesuit order, it was normal to be ordained a priest. I found myself struggling at that moment of my journey with a continued commitment to celibacy while being drawn to marriage and family life. All the while, I sensed a desire to serve in ministry. I completed my M.Div. at Boston College, and sought helpful guidance. This was a delicate moment of discernment in my life, and clearly a turning point.

Many years have passed since that time. For over ten years, I was a lay professional minister in Catholic parishes and on the Bishop’s staff here in Kansas City. I completed my MBA at Rockhurst University during that time in organizational development. My aim was to learn how the church could be more effective in its mission. I then served one year in Missouri State government, a time that clarified my call to return to formal ministry. I followed good advice to pursue a year-long Clinical Pastoral Education residency, which I did in a large medical center in San Francisco. It was there that I met fellow resident chaplain Christy Dorn, now my wife. We have been married over twenty years, roughly the same time she has been an Episcopal Priest. Our marriage has included the adoption of two daughters from China. Family life and ministry seem to be my rightful path in life.

After my clinical training, I served for over twenty five years as a board certified chaplain, Vice President of Mission or Director of Chaplaincy in several medical centers. My last position was Director of Spiritual Care at Truman Medical Center, Hospital Hill in Kansas City.

On my return to Kansas City, I experienced a renewal in my own spiritual journey. Although I was involved in the Episcopal Church for many years due to Christy’s ministry, I finally sought to be formally received at Easter Vigil in our own cathedral five years ago. Dean Peter DeVeau and I facilitated the Adult Catechumenate, called ‘The Way’, for a number of years together. I pursued Anglican Studies at Bishop Kemper School for Ministry and began the ordination process. I am currently half way through my Doctor of Ministry studies in Christian Spirituality at Virginia Theological Seminary. I look forward to many years ahead as an ordained person in The Episcopal Church.

And yes — what a unique but meaningful journey it has been — and it will continue to be!

The Rev. Kary Mann

The Rev. Kary Mann with Bishop Marty Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

I was born and raised in Olathe, Kansas. I remember feeling called to ministry at a very young age but I was not closely affiliated with any church at that time. After graduating from high school, I left Kansas City for about 10 years. Initially, I attended Fort Hayes State University and completed my general studies requirements. While attending college I was deeply involved in youth ministry. Eventually, I returned to Kansas City and earned a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from the Cleveland University, Kansas City. I had my own practice for six years. During that time I began teaching biology at Colorado Technical University. This opportunity allowed me to discover that teaching was my passion. Healing and teaching, hmmm, not an accident I would say. I’m currently working as an adjunct professor of biology at Metropolitan Community College, Penn Valley.

The year was 2008 and as I was driving past St. Mary Magdalene every day to go to work I felt God nudging me toward the church and possible ministry. I began attending worship. It was the ancient liturgy that spoke to my heart. After about a year, I talked to Fr. Jason Lewis about my feeling of a call to ministry. I began an informal discernment process with Fr. Jason and Deacon Peisha, and a year later, I started the process in earnest. At that time Fr. Jason accepted a call with the Diocese of Kentucky – and I was without a sponsor and Mary Mag was without a priest. My forward progress was stalled for about six months. Finally, I asked Fr. Marshall Scott if he would be my presenting priest, and he agreed. So with support from Mtr. Virginia Brown, as my spiritual director, and Fr. Marshall as my presenting priest, I began the multiple twists and turns that would lead to ordination.

I thought I would attend Sewanee: University of the South, but God had another plan, as He called me to Bishop Kemper School for Ministry (BKSM). I was drawn to this new and potentially powerful idea of priestly formation that would allow postulants to keep their jobs while preparing to serve as bi-vocational priests that would then meet a great need in the church. I started BKSM and became a postulant. At the end of my first year I was clear as to my call, that of becoming a bi-vocational priest. I completed my studies on May 13, 2017 and was ordained a deacon on November 3, 2017. I am currently completing my transitional deaconate at St. Paul’s in Lee’s Summit. I am grateful for all the positive and powerful mentors in The Diocese of West Missouri. I feel I am in good hands. God willing, I hope to be ordained into the Sacred Order of Presbyters mid-year, 2018.

Gary Zumwalt is a member of the Church of the Resurrection, Blue Springs. He volunteers his time and talents to document diocesan events in pictures.

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