In reflections affirming "local life for global good," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has invited congregations and individuals into a new season of hospitality, evangelism and service.
Offered in the first full week since her investiture as 26th Presiding Bishop, and on the eve of the Executive Council's November 12-15 meeting launching the Episcopal Church's 2007-2009 triennium of ministry, Jefferts Schori's reflections underscore the importance of faith communities widening their "stance of welcome" (see full text below).
To assist congregations in this outreach, the Presiding Bishop commends in her reflections the use of "Groundwork III" resources now available online here.
Coordinated with the Year C lectionary readings for the Sundays of Lent, Groundwork III continues a three-year series begun in 2004. The resources have been edited by the Rev. Dr. James B. Lemler, director of mission at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, and by the Rev. Charles N. Fulton III, director of congregational development.
As in years past, Groundwork III booklets will be mailed in November to all congregations, and full texts in Spanish will also be posted online.
In her reflections, the Presiding Bishop also recommends "a re-engagement of the 2020 energy that called our Church, through the General Convention in 2000, to work to double its membership within two decades' time. This is doable, even with the challenge of declining birthrates that have an impact upon all mainline denominations at present."
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Local Life for Global Good: Reflections from the Presiding Bishop
In order to achieve effectively the Episcopal Church's priorities for peace and justice work framed by the Millennium Development Goals, our congregations -- together with the individual spiritual life of each of us -- must be rooted in places of health and strength.
For our congregations, this means practicing a stance of welcome and hospitality, reaching out to invite seekers and neighbors into widened expressions of community. It also means assuring the highest quality possible in public worship, education and outreach programs.
As individuals, this grounding comes in the form of a regular and disciplined prayer life, study of the scriptures, the commitment to participation in a local community of faith, and an attitude of generosity that limits personal excess in order to provide necessities for those in need.
In short, this practice is a matter of living a local life for global good.
For our congregations, I call each local community of faith to a season of careful assessment of your ministries of hospitality, evangelism and service. The 2007 "Groundwork" Lenten-study resources provided by the Mission Office at the Episcopal Church Center can help.
I would also recommend a re-engagement of the 2020 energy that called our Church, through the General Convention in 2000, to work to double its membership within two decades' time. This is doable, even with the challenge of declining birthrates that have an impact upon all mainline denominations at present.
For each of us individually, I recommend a discipline of personal examination of life, focused attention to the needs of others, and a generosity of spirit that seeks to love our neighbors equally as we love ourselves. That is the sort of holy living to which Jesus calls us all. When we meet and love our neighbor, we are meeting and loving God himself in our midst.
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
November 10, 2006