Convention 2017: Next Steps

by | Feb 2, 2017


So let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

At last weekend’s diocesan convention, I spoke to those gathered about our collective efforts to be both faithful and fruitful in our relationship to Christ and his mission as his disciples and witnesses. I told those gathered that I feel a holy urgency about the work before us in this second season of my episcopate, given the internal challenges our congregations face and what is happening in our country. All who wish to watch my address or Bishop Andy Doyle’s sermon can do so on the diocesan website.

In my address, I highlighted the importance of efforts to deepen Christian discipleship in all our congregations, as the foundation of all that we are and do, as well as to become better at creating pathways for those exploring the Christian faith to find welcome and safe spaces among us.

As one part of that effort, we are inviting our diocesan community to participate in the Alpha program during Lent and beyond. Alpha is an 8-15 week curriculum that uses intimate talk circles to create disciples. Learn more from Alpha’s own website.  Register for the National Cathedral’s Alpha offering.  Register for EDOW’s Alpha training.  Or e-mail Joey Rick for more details.

As another part of our effort to create disciples, we are sponsoring a Leadership Learning Day.  On February 11 at St. Andrew’s School in Potomac, we will host workshops that explore how to walk a better way with Christ in church.  Workshops will cover topics such as the business of church administration, marketing through technology and social media, race and social justice and being a sanctuary community.  All clergy and laity are welcome, and are asked to register in advance.

I emphasized our ongoing commitment to collaborative efforts throughout the diocese and discussed ways we would continue to lean into the new regional structure as a foundation for collaboration. I also spoke about other ways that our communities can build capacity through shared ministry. And I said that your diocesan staff will move toward establishing a more visible regional presence by the fall of 2017.

After summarizing what we are learning through the one-on-one financial conversations with congregations throughout the diocese, I called for the establishment for a new leadership body, that I’m calling, for now, the Transformational Resources Commission.  As its name suggests, this body will address the need for truly transformational resources for our congregations and help us to implement the kind of strategic initiatives that will move congregations toward greater vibrancy and sustainability. Part of the commission’s work will be to gather resources for our congregational leaders and to establish a pilot process in strategic financial planning that we’ll launch as soon as we’re organized. The commission will also discern next steps after we’ve completed the one-on-one financial conversations with congregations throughout the diocese.

This commission will be a high priority with adequate staff support to do its work well. I plan to be involved in it at every step. I am looking for leaders with a love for Christ and our church, and both passion and expertise in philanthropy, strategic planning, and financial strategies. If you are interested in applying to serve on the commission for terms of two or three years, or if you know of someone you would like to nominate, please fill out the commission application posted here or email me at ………..

In my convention address, I spoke at length about our public role as followers of Jesus in this turbulent time, and my personal commitment, as bishop, to build bridges across our divided society whenever possible. I also said I would speak the truth God gives me–however imperfectly I hear it–as clearly and courageously as I can.

Civic engagement is the responsibility of all Christians and of all our congregations, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. We are blessed by the leadership of many in our diocese who will help guide us in the days and weeks ahead.

To address the particular questions regarding the role of our cathedral in national life, as well as in the diocese and wider church, Dean Randy Hollerith and I have called for the creation of a cathedral task force. Once organized, we’ll ask the task force to conduct listening sessions over the next year, and to ponder what it means for the cathedral to remain true, in the 21st century, to its historical mission as a house of prayer for all people and a church set aside for national purposes. More broadly, the task force will consider how the cathedral and all our congregations can engage in public prayer, public theology, and gospel-based advocacy without becoming captive to any partisan faction or secular ideology. If you would like to be considered for service on the cathedral task force, please complete the application form ….  This is a joint body of the cathedral and the diocese, and Dean Hollerith and I will also consult with the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies as we begin our work.

The three diocesan leadership bodies–Diocesan Council, the Standing Committee, and the Commission on Ministry–will gather for a day-long retreat on February 25th. Among our tasks is to finalize the specific mandates of the new commission and task force, and if possible, to name those who will serve on them.

We have good and important work ahead of us.  I am grateful for the privilege of serving Christ alongside you, and serving you, the people and congregations of this diocese.