A great deal of planning is going on in the Diocese of New Westminster. It's part of the Plan 2018 process - mapping out what the next decade or so holds for the diocese - and it's likely to bring change to virtually every area of diocesan life.
In short it will affect:
How many parishes we end up with. We now have 77 (and four of them are at odds with the diocese), and it's becoming increasingly clear that not all are sustainable.
How we structure the diocese. Now there are ten Regional Deans, each one heading a deanery; seven Archdeacons, five with an Archdeaconry; a Diocesan Council, with eight major standing committees; a Treasurer, an Assistant Treasurer, three Legal Officers; one Synod and one Bishop. Are we properly organized for mission?
How we finance the diocese. Parishes send in assessments (equivalent to about one-sixth of their income), and thirty per cent comes from interest on diocesan funds. Can these figures be sustained? Do we need a new capital campaign?
How the Bishop manages the clergy. Now, except for larger parishes, it's one priest per parish, assisted-sometimes-by curates, deacons, or honorary (i.e., basically unpaid) assistants. Should priests work regionally, in teams? If we reduce the number of parishes, what happens to clergy laid off?
And a host of other things will be affected: How we communicate. Will the Internet replace TOPIC? How we renew and revitalize parishes. The Ministry Assessment Process (the "MAP") is underway, involving almost a third of our parishes, but it takes heavy staff resources. Can it continue in the same way? How we integrate the four dissident parishes back into the diocese. How the diocesan staff, currently eleven full-time and five part-time people, is organized.
Most important, the question to be decided is how does the Diocese carry out its ministry. Last Diocesan Synod, ten priorities were adopted. How do we turn these priorities (listed at right), these good intentions, into action?
MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN
Given the rapid change in society and the changes we are experiencing in the Anglican Communion it's more important than ever that our diocese be very clear about our mission priorities as we face the future.
All across our diocese lay and clergy have met in workshops to discern how God is calling us to be the Church in these changing times. The priorities that have emerged give a sense of how our future together can respond to God's call to reach out beyond our walls and to energize our lives in parishes and congregations.
These are turbulent but exciting times and I believe that God's Holy Spirit is leading us to be the church in the world, to reach out to people with the good news of God's love in Jesus Christ and to make a difference.
Each of the strategic planning workshops ended with the doxology: Glory to God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine! God's power working in us: this is our vision and our faith and our hope! May it be so!
- Dean Peter Elliott, Co-Chair, Strategic Working Group
CULTIVATING INTERFAITH UNDERSTANDING
Building dialogue and cooperation between Christianity and other faith traditions is a vital component of peace-making. In a world in which social, economic, and environmental challenges are piling up daily, the voice of the spiritual crisis which is feeding these problems can be drowned out so long as we persist in a sectarian mindset.
What is exciting about building pathways of cooperation is that we discover just how much people of diverse faiths have in common. We all aspire to build a world with the imprint of heaven, one in which the divine imperative is adopted as the human imperative, and all may dwell in safety, justice, and peace.
- The Rev. Neil Fernyhough
RENEWING OUR WORSHIP:
Worship is our first priority as Christians. It is how we respond to the Commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We as the Anglican Church in this Diocese have the challenge of providing the resources and opportunities to enable people to worship the Trinity, in the midst of the most secular culture in North America. In answering this call there is a dynamic tension between passing on the traditions of the faith and being relevant to our society. There is an enthusiasm in renewing worship although how we go about it seems to be as varied as the rainbow.
- The Rev. Roger Cooper
The desire for renewal is being proclaimed out of a profound respect for the meaning of worship. Support for this priority is not based on a desire to ride along with new fads, nor is it based on a wish to deny ritual or traditions. At the Synod working group we heard people speaking with excitement and hope about this priority.
- The Rev. Carla McGhie
NURTURING THE PARISH COMMUNITY
Our local parish church communities are formed by people who have felt the love and call of God in Christ and who want to respond to that love and call in their lives. Our parish communities are outposts of the Kingdom of Heaven and, knowing the transformative power of God, look to join in God's work as places of transformation, care and love. That is why nurturing these communities is so important. The excitement comes as people catch the vision and are able to see again why we gather for worship, why we meet with another, and why we care for others.
- The Rev. Jeremy Clark-King
ADDRESSING ISSUES OF POVERTY
The issue of poverty stretches us beyond that complacency we can fall into when we are a comfortable church. In the past the Anglican church has used charity to keep the poor separate from "us" - to maintain the power differential that keeps "us" on top. To actually engage with new initiatives that relieve the suffering of the poor while finding a common dignity is a call for each Christian.
-The Rev. Helen Tervo
Jesus ate and drank with outcasts, healed and cared unconditionally for people when asked or whenever he perceived their need. We are called to love our neighbour and to seek justice. We experience want and desperation in our streets, in our schools, and it knocks on the doors of our churches. Let us utilize our considerable human and financial resources to alleviate suffering and to empower all in seeking equity and justice.
- The Rev. Mavis Brownlee
A member of the group raised the issue of "poverty of spirit." There are individuals who have enough to satisfy their material needs but are lonely and live without the support of a caring community. We have a responsibility as Christians to be both compassionate to those living with poverty and prophetic in our work to eliminate its causes.
-The Rev. Trudi Shaw
The priority "Addressing Issues of Poverty" attracted more participants than any of the other breakout sessions formed at Synod to discuss each of the diocesan priorities. This reflects a widely-held passion amongst Anglicans across the diocese to belong to a church which is actively engaged in mission. It reflects our conviction that our church needs to be outward-looking, that it does not exist primarily for the comfort of its members.