I spent 5 hours yesterday with 50 Anglicans from the Victoria area discussing our emerging Diocesan Vision in preparation for Synod on 12 September.

The Vision under discussion centres on three concepts:

Renewed Hearts
Renewed Spirits
Renewed People

The Vision Fulfillment Journey Team are proposing 10 “Potential Directions” for discussion throughout the Diocese:

1. WORSHIP RESOURCES – Provide more diverse opportunities and resources for worship, and for personal and family spiritual practice.

2. LAY MINISTRY – Celebrate and lift up the ministry of all the baptized, where all are engaged in the mission of the Church.

3. LEADERSHIP FORMATION – Better equip and enable both lay and ordained leaders, so they may exercise their gifts for the benefit of all.

4. CONGREGATIONAL DEVELOPMENT – Share ways of revitalizing and transforming our existing spiritual comm;unities, and invite others to join us.

5. EMERGING COMMUNITIES – Encourage and support emerging new forms of spiritual community, to plant the Church more widely in the world.

6. SPECIALIZED MINISTRIES – Devote particular attention to such important ministries as: Children, Youth and Families, Remote Parishes and Ecumenical Shared Ministries.

7. RECONCILIATION AND BEYOND – Recommit ourselves to an ongoing-shared journey with First Nations people of all nations, cultures and races, especially those who feel hurt or abandoned by the Church.

8. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION – Communicate more effectively as Anglicans on these Islands, both amongst ourselves and with the wider world.

9. ASSET MANAGEMENT – Use existing assets more effectively by sharing them more widely and creating new community partnerships.

10. FINANCIAL RESOURCES – Embark on a major diocese-wide fundraising campaign, to sustain local and shared initiatives for the long term.

These 10 “Directions are grouped under “Four Vision Priorities,” and “Two Vision Foundations.”

Four Vision Priorities:”

  • Resonant Worshiping Communities
  • Re-shaping Lay and Ordained Leadership
  • Resourcing Toward Healthier Parishes and Minsitries
  • Right Relationship and Reconciliation-Building

Two Vision Foundations:”

  • Responsive and Effective Communication
  • Re-Visioning our Assets

These are all good and lovely “Directions” in which to attempt to guide the church into the future. They are great “Priorities” and fabulous “Foundations.”

But the challenge remains with any vision to move from words to reality. How does a church in the dawning years of the 21st Century develop “Resonant Worshiping Communities”? How do we re-shape leadership in a way that might enable effective leaders in our current conflicted culture? What might it look like for any of these lofty visions to wear clothes in the context of our contemporary confusing and chaotic context?

As I have reflected on the conversation I shared in yesterday, it has occurred to me that, if there is one element that might have been missing, at least in the discussion of which I was a part, it may be a gesture towards listening deeply and sensitively to the realities of the world in which we are struggling to do church. So many of the church’s failures over the centuries have come from an unwillingness to listen carefully to the situation in which Christians have struggled to embody their faith.

What are the characteristics of these Islands that might help or hinder us in our desire to forge renewed hearts and spirits and to become renewed people? What is there in the culture outside the church that might present an opening for the church to connect with peoples’ innate inner longing for meaning and depth? How can we meet people outside the tight little confines of church in such a way that we might be able to share respectful conversation leading to a deepened awareness of God’s presence and action at work in all of life?

We may hesitate to ask these questions for fear of the changes the answers might require.

What might we need to let go of in order to truly hear people outside the church? What changes might be necessary in order for us to be truly available to people outside the church?

In John’s Gospel, the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple occurs in the middle of chapter two immediately following the story of the Wedding at Cana at which Jesus turns water into wine. This is not a mistake. The Temple had become an obstacle to the new wine of God’s Spirit working freely in peoples’ lives. Jesus came to remove all obstacles to God’s work. If this meant overthrowing a few religious practices, he was content to let the Temple furniture fly.

What tables in our communities may need to be overturned in order for the new wine of God’s Spirit to bring life to our vision? What practices or habits may need to be driven out of our Temples if God is going to fulfill in us the vision to which we are called?

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