Dear Friends in Valhalla Parish—
This Saturday our Diocese will gather together for its Synod. Top of the agenda for this year's gathering is our discernment of provisional Values, Vision, and Mission for the diocesan community.
I've been with a variety of organisations who, over the years, have gone through visioning exercises. Sometimes these exercises enliven and focus the work of the organisation. Sometimes they are merely paper exercises that don't translate into real change. The first is life giving. The second maddenning for nearly everyone involved.
Our diocese finds itself in a time of great change. Earlier this year, a Diocesan report suggested that diocesan structures were palliative—that is to say, our ways of organizing ourselves no longer served. our participation in God's mission. To move forward, we need to be renewed in heart, soul, mind, and strength. Our structures and our sense of direction need to be ever more aligned with God's call to proclaim and embody good news if we are to continue to step into God's future together.
Throughout these past months, the Structures Working Group, along with the Bishop, Executive Archdeacon, Regional Deans, and Diocesan Council have worked towards proposing provisional Values, Vision, and Mission. These are meant to work together in the immediate term to focus our work as congregations and as a Diocesan community of communities. While longer-term we need to do collective discernment as a diocesan community, these statements offer a clear starting point rooted in present reality, while looking to God's future.
Wholehearted Worship, Daring Discipleship, Right Relationship, Thriving Communities.
Co-creating a world where all experience and share the transforming power of God’s love.
Our mission is to cultivate thriving communities embodying and bearing witness to God’s love through Christ for all of Creation.
You can find more details on each of these in the document attached below.
One thing I appreciate is that these statements, while written in fresh language, really drive us back to the purpose of the church articulated in the catechism (see BCP p. 553).
These statements provide direction to the diocese as a whole, reminding of us of who we are and what God calls us to, while leaving plenty of space for local congregations to discern the ways in which we might respond to and participate in God's mission in the world.
While these statements are not perfect, I do believe that they are good enough to try, and that they are indeed provisional. That is to say, they provide us with a good starting place to reflect on our own sense of mission, and how we sense God calling us forward to serve the people, the communities, and the world where we live.
This seems like it is highly relevant for us at both St. Stephen's and St. David's. The question of "what is God calling us into," is always a good one, and one that each of the congregations in Valhalla Parish are being invited to respond to. The good news in this is that we don't do this work alone. First, we go with God. Second, we go with one another. Third, we go with a wider church praying, waiting on God, listening, and supporting one another as we make this journey together.
As our Diocese moves towards Synod, would you pray for those who gather? Would you pray for our deliberations?
Would you pray the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that in our work we might glorify God? May we, with the early church at Pentecost, and the saints throughout time and space, be called forth to dream God's dreams to see God's visions, and to embody God's plan for a world overflowing with divine love.