Standing: Doug Perkins (North Montgomery), Gayle Fisher Stewart (Central DC), Javier Garcia Ocampo (North Montgomery), Marilyn Jenkins (South DC), Meredith Heffner (Central Montgomery), Susan Fritz (Southern MD), Paula Mays (North DC), Andrew Walter (South Montgomery), Bp. Mariann Budde (Church House), Lee Puricelli (Central Montgomery), Ledlie Laughlin (North DC), Johnna Story (South Montgomery), Tony Morgan (The Unstuck Church), Paula Clark (Church House), Don Crane (Church House)
Seated: Daryl Lobban (Church House), Richard Weinberg (Central DC), Erika Kallop (Southern MD), Mildred Reyes (Church House), Joseph Constant (North Prince George), Connie Reinhardt (North Prince George), Bp. Chilton Knudsen (Church House), Sue von Rautenkranz (Church House)
Fifteen leaders from across the diocese, along with members of diocesan staff, returned Wednesday evening from a two-day strategic planning retreat facilitated by Tony Morgan of the Unstuck Group. It was one of the most uplifting experiences of my ministry.
We began on Tuesday with prayer and a comprehensive review of all that we learned from the 12 discovery sessions held throughout the diocese this spring. The spiritual wisdom and insightful observations of all those who participated in the discovery process–over five hundred people!–informed our conversations throughout the retreat. We felt the magnitude of the task before us, but we also felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, which gave us courage and joy.
Tony led us through a process that included reflection and clarification of our core mission as a diocese, a vision for the next five years, and three initiatives that surfaced as our priorities for the first year. We did not leave the retreat with a finished product, but working drafts that we are eager to share with regional and diocesan leaders. We’ll spend the summer soliciting feedback as we continue to refine and clarify our understanding of core mission, aspirational vision, and strategic priorities for the next season of diocesan life.
The retreat participants need a bit more time to finalize our first draft. We’ll then begin contacting regional leaders and those who attended the discovery sessions, and meeting with diocesan governance bodies. Diocesan Council meets on Tuesday, July 9th, and the strategic planning work will be our first agenda item.
At the beginning of our second day, Tony reflected with us on this passage from 1 Corinthians:
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you–so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . Now I appeal to you brothers and sisters by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. (1 Cor.1:4-7; 10)
There were, of course, many divisions in the community in Corinth at the time of Paul’s writings.
Paul was not suggesting that they attempt to minimize or eliminate their differences, but rather find the deeper unity available to them in Christ. That was Tony’s invitation to us: that in the midst of all our differences that we seek a deeper unity in Christ. “God is the source of our strength in Christ Jesus,” Paul writes. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor.1:30-31)
We still have much work to do to discern, articulate, and affirm a strategic vision in the process. Please join me in thanking all who have given of themselves so generously throughout this process and who are eager for us, as a diocese, to take the next faithful steps toward that deeper unity of purpose and ministry, in faithfulness to Christ.