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From our Bishop:

I have written before of how the people and clergy of our diocesan church joined me in a three-year long journey of honestly assessing where we are at, and of carefully and collaboratively discerning what God is calling us to do. The infographic accompanying this column summarizes where that journey has led us.

The top of the infographic shows the path we took during the 2020-23 Shape of Parish Ministry Consultation (SPMC)—from hearing how our parishes are challenged by volunteer fatigue, property and administrative responsibilities, finances, aging congregations, and evangelism. We worked hard together as the people, clergy, and bishop of our diocese to listen, respond, discern, shape, revise, and propose what we believe God is calling us to do at this time. We drafted three action-oriented proposals designed to strengthen and nurture parish ministry, and to find a better way to engage with the world—in rural areas, villages, towns, and cities.

We gave overwhelming support to these proposals. We said we are ready to step away from being changed to guiding change, so we can share the Gospel of Christ’s love and healing power from a place of strength and hope. We said we want to consolidate our overall parish ministry structure and the operations that support it in order to have well-resourced churches. We said we want lay leaders across our diocese to be well-supported and well-equipped to share in robust parish ministries. We said we want to learn how to share the love of God in an age where many are very wary of religion.

We said we want to change and thrive.

As we move forward, we will reframe our three-year budget cycle as a triennium period within which we seek to achieve certain planned results. As you can see on the infographic, we are in year one of the Triennium 2024-2026—and the SPMC and its Eleven Actions have led us to spell out 6 Results we want to achieve. We have budgeted to do this and we have expressed our will to do this: now we will do it!

The infographic shows each of the 6 Results and who is responsible for setting up the means to achieve them. Results 1, 2 and 3 are largely the responsibility of myself and the staff of Ascension House. Result 1 will involve focusing on developing our central resources so we can continue to offset or cover the costs of our shared operations and staffing—leaving more money in parishes. Just as every one of our parishes must seek to engage in effective financial stewardship and develop three streams of revenue from offerings, property, and investments, we, as a diocesan church, must do the same.

Result 2 is already manifest in the ready and able service provided to parish leaders by the directors and staff of our communications & development, financial ministry, human resources, and property & asset management departments. We are blessed with very capable people serving our parish lay leaders and clergy from Ascension House.

Result 3 is also happening in the number of conversations I have with parishes facing major changes. I am always ready to meet with parish leaders to discuss options. Soon we will hear more about the work of the Innovation & Collaboration Panel as they consider specific ways for us to work together in order to serve with greater impact.

You can see in the infographic that Results 4, 5, and 6 will be addressed by the new ADO Learning Commons—which will be managed by the Education Committee of Diocesan Council. The Learning Commons (LC) will be a critical driver of change during the next triennium—and long afterwards, as we must keep informed and always ensure that successive generations of clergy and lay leaders learn how to do the work of parish ministry.

The LC will achieve Results 4, 5 and 6 through four distinct thrusts: a) parish leaders and clergy will receive training and learning opportunities in order to effectively administer their parishes; b) parish councils will receive development modules that will provide practical instruction on all essential aspects of parish ministry; c) resource hubs and knowledge networks will gather and share resources, expertise and knowledge for parish clergy and laity; and d) we will learn how to practice contextual mission as we engage with the world.

This triennium will be significant in the life of our diocesan church as we seek to implement and firmly embed all we carefully discerned and overwhelmingly agreed to during the last three years. We listened to one another and sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we have done our best to bring it all into clear actions and desired results. We must continue to be disciplined and focused and encourage everyone to engage in the Learning Commons activities. God has shown us what we need to do to guide change and thrive, so let’s do it together!

The Right Reverend Shane Parker
Bishop of Ottawa

 

 

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