depend on the creativity, vision, and energy for mis-sion among the dioceses which request help. In this vein, Iwould like to make two observations regard-ing smaller dioceses, which are
suggestions butsimply calls for reflection. The first has to do withour buildings.Our buildings are beautiful. Like the fabled pillarsof the earth— from cathedral arches to rood screensin country parishes— our sacramental spaces pro- vide architectural dignity amid surrounding waste-lands,seemingly buttressing the vast Midwesternsky. But they do not serve all of us equally well. I amfortunate enough to serve in a parishwhere our pewsare full most Sundays, yet the building presents majorchallenges for families with young children and theelderly. Other congregationsbarely fill the church buildingsthey so faithfully steward.Howmight we turn our buildingsfrom burdens into assets? Coulda congregation be called to“fasting” from its building for aseason of missiological revi-sioning and renewal? Whatwould happen to our parishcommunities in the process?Second, when should a dio-cese plant new churches or other ministries? In 2009, Archbishop Robert Duncan challenged the AnglicanChurch in North America to plant 1000 “works in the Anglican Way” during the course of his investiture(is.gd/AboutAnglican1000). How might Episcopalians plant new Anglican works using our current buildingsas constructive assets? The answer will vary from dio-cese to diocese, but as every gardener knows, a plotwith no new intentional planting thrives on random volunteers and inevitably goes to seed.
Kemper, Prisca,and Aquila
I have focused on what might be called“polity solu-tions” to the challenges we encounter in smaller dio-ceses. None of these, however, will matter much if the Episcopal Church does not recover its evangeli-cal vocation, which in the Midwest once went hand-in-hand with catholic worship and order.Polity willnot help us for want of “mere apostolicity” in themode of St.Paul and Blessed Jackson Kemper.I spoke recently with the music minister of a non-denominational church in Mishawaka, Indiana—they have four full-time pastors, two of whom are young fathers. He told me his family had left an afflu-ent Chicago suburb to respond to a call from hischurch in Northern Indiana.What would it take forour smaller dioceses to call clergy and laity withsuch confidence?Kemper himself apparently had trouble persuadinghis New York colleagues to join him on the prairiesand the farmlands of the Middle West. As a result, hetrained clergy locally. That tradition is alive and well,and one which small dioceses with universityresources should continue to foster. In addition todrawing on their academic partnerships, small dio-ceses are recruiting more “tentmaking priests,” thosewho are able to hold a primary vocation elsewhereor who are willing to take untraditional posts. Acase in point: a courageous young priest I know willbe leaving an affluent diocese to take up a cure inNorthern Indiana, overseeing
small parishes,while his wife pursues doctoral studiesat Notre Dame.The importance of calling gifted layministers to small dioceses likewise can-not be overvalued. Writes Paul:“GreetPrisca and Aquila, who work with me inChrist Jesus, and
who risked their necks for my life
, to whom not only I givethanks, but also all the churches of theGentiles” (Rom. 16:3-4, emphasis added). Although it’s subject to debate, Paul doesnot call Prisca and Aquila “apostles” (cf.Rom.16:7); as such they probably did not share thatdesignation. Nonetheless, they underwent the same personal risks characteristic of the apostolic ministry(2 Cor. 11:21-33). In seeking to call charismatic leaders,how can churches and dioceses call the laity to a newlevel of missionary commitment?No polity can thrive without apostleship. However,the joint calling of clergy and laity to step up to theapostolic challenge will also lead to new polities, as ishappening in Northern Indiana. One particular modelwhich Bishop Little has spearheaded is that of “regional ministry,” a particularly inspired example of which can be found in the recently formed CalumetEpiscopal Ministry Partnership. The partnership com- prises three independent parishes, whose vestries haveagreed to envision themselves as “one church in threelocations.” They share a lead priest, who celebrates attwo of the three churches each Sunday. Retired clergyin the area help fill in the gaps. The most inspiring part of the ministry: although the three churchescontribute to the lead priest’s salary disproportion-ately according to their income, the lead priest’stime is to be equally divided. This kind of “revenuesharing,” similar to that envisioned by Resolution A100, embodies the Gospel.
Our buildingsare beautifulbut they do notserve all of usequally well.
ORDERLY COUNSELEssays in Advance of General Convention 2012
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THE LIVING CHURCH • July 15, 2012