By Rosemary Hagan, D.Min.
A few weeks ago your Diocesan Delegates and Alternate Delegates attended the 142nd Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan Convention. Present from Grace were Elizabeth Blondia, Rosemary Hagan, Chuck Wolterink, Mary Pierce and Greg Hagan, along with The Reverends Carlton Kelly and Meredith Hunt. Our own Maggie Miron was present as a special young adult delegate. We gathered with other laity and clergy from each parish across the Diocese to be fed spiritually through study and worship, and to attend to business, such as approving the 2017 budget for our Diocese.
The Most Reverend Michael Curry, The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in America has challenged us all as baptized Christians to step into a renewed Jesus Movement within the world. We are the Episcopal version of the Jesus Movement! This means we are finding new means of ministering to others, within a fresh reminder of the holiness of all God’s Children. We are called to recognize the gaps within our lives and our communities of truly living into God’s design for God’s people, and we were given a mandate to respond with the greatest of love for one another within and outside of the walls of our parishes.
Our own Bishop, The Right Reverend Whayne Houghland, shared examples of this growing Jesus Movement during his talk at Convention. A renewal and rebirth of our lived faith is occurring in exciting and holy ministries across our diocese. Bishop Houghland shared, “The Holy Spirit sets the circumstances in which God’s Spirit breathes new life into the world. God offers us a liberating and life giving Love, and we have been asked by Jesus to ‘be my witnesses’ (Luke 4:16-21).
We must step out in faith in new and creative ways to reach a culture that aches for meaning and substance, and our keynote speaker, The Reverend Eric Law, offered his perspective and process for locating areas for new ministry, as well as considering a more holistic approach to assessing and breathing life into existing ministries. He utilizes key currencies we all can access and leverage for deeper connections and relationship. We encourage you to take a look at his work, through the website of his Foundation, http://www.kscopeinstitute.org/holycurrencies1/.
We were also presented with a report from the Diocesan Restructuring Committee, outlining the plan to re-shape the Deanery structure, including condensing the Deaneries into three regions, North, Central, and South, and utilizing a paid Missioner, instead of a Dean. The Missioner, who will not have parish responsibilities to attend to, will work closely with each parish in their area, assisting with meeting needs, linking resources between parishes, and acting as a close conduit to the Diocesan office and the Bishop. This relational model is being used in other large geographical Dioceses.
Our Convention worship included the All Saints-tide Eucharist and Confirmation, which was gifted by a deep sense of the presence of God. Many commented upon this felt sense, including our Bishop. Convention is like a big family reunion, and God rejoices any time we come together in relationship to one another, and within the love of our gracious Lord.
We have left copies of the convention and worship booklets, as well as other convention documents, such as the Diocesan budget, on the table in the Commons for your review. If you would like to know more about the 142nd Convention, please contact any of the delegates. And, consider running for Convention Delegate, as it is an enlightening means to understand the Episcopal Church, its structure, and its gifts, and a means to connect with other Episcopalians across our Diocese.