Last Friday/Saturday (Nov. 4th and 5th), I (as Rector) and Frederick Rueck (as your elected Lay Delegate) participated in our Diocesan Church’s “Annual Convention.” Fred is going to speak to you in a week or so after a Sunday liturgy to give you both his impressions and updates regarding what went on.
From a vision and structural perspective, I can tell you that just as our parish has been dealing with and living into its three year strategic plan (“Strong by 17”), so now our diocese is entering a “strategic plan” of its own. The same physical and fiscal realities (fewer members, smaller staffs, the need to discern what is truly a viable congregation and what is not, how ministry should evolve in the 21st century – these are all issues that our Bishop, as pastor of the Diocesan Church, must face just as we face those same issues on our local church level.
Some say “change is good.” Others say it is bad. Like it or not, change is coming and will have an impact upon us as a Diocesan community or communities; e.g., the decades old structure of CSP ( “Congregational Support Plan”) that kept struggling congregations afloat will end Dec. 31st. Congregations of tiny membership, or those in decaying buildings (some even lacking insurance) must now either merge into regional worship communities or they will pass away into history.
This is not about doom and gloom. But it is a reminder that that we are members of the Episcopal Church, not some other Church-in-Exile. We are not supported from above, and beyond that, we need to be aware that we must support each other and help to build one another up as best we can. It’s never about “my” mission or even “our” mission but it is always about God’s mission and how we contribute to that. It is about our worship and commitment to a prayerful and sacramental life. It is about seeing stewardship not just as “giving money” but how I live my life in gratitude to God for all God has given me. In the end, structures come and go, but the power of God’s love and how that love is revealed in my life – that is what makes us who and what we are!