The Theme for our first Special Synod, our first since moving to an annual Synod, is continued from Synod 2021 “Behold, I am doing a new thing.” God speaking in Isaiah 43: 19-21. It is God’s enthusiastic utterance to the beleaguered exiles. God’s question conveys excitement, “Do you not perceive it?” Wake up! Hear this! Behold!
We are called to pay attention, to watch, to observe, and to be perceptive. But we are not just passive bystanders. God is inviting us to join in this new thing, to participate in this with eagerness and anticipation.
“We are called to open ourselves up to the Spirit, to become vessels through which God can effect change.” How do we co-operate with God’s new thing?
This vocation we have, of participation in God’s Mission, is not easy. Just before this passage, God acknowledges we will “pass through waters.” This brings up all the horrific images of the past few weeks: destructive waters in Pakistan, Atlantic Canada, Florida, and South Carolina. We realize our call to mission, to show God’s love, will be lived out in the context of a deeply threatened planet Earth, in a time of an urgent clear call for radical transformation. We are called to love our neighbour when our most needy neighbour is Earth itself.
As always, God’s promise is, “I am with you.” In wilderness wandering, exile, whatever “liminal,” in-between, uncertain time we live in, God is with us. Herein lies our hope!
God is doing something new.
We are not stuck repeating what used to work, but does no longer!
We need not be stuck in our destructive, greedy exploitation of Earth. God is doing a new thing!
Participation in co-operation with God’s new work will demand our best response, our whole lives, with courage and willingness to change.
God is with us, as we not alone as individual disciples – our first baptismal promise is to remain in community with other disciples.
At Synod, we gather as a Diocese to remind ourselves of our wider community, to work together to support each other.
The Vision for the Diocese of Kootenay is that we are a “Church of Disciples of Christ, Empowered and Equipped” to serve God’s mission in our local context, our local, unique communities (not just our parish community, but our town or city).
This Vision is what I believe I am called to nurture as your bishop. It is what we are working to become: “a Church of Disciples of Christ, Empowered and Equipped to serve God’s Mission in Community.” God’s mission calls us outward.
At the Lambeth Conference this summer, Archbishop Justin Welby said, “the church that looks inward will fail.” Our Baptismal Vows, the five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion, call us OUTWARD.
Today at Synod, the Structures Working Group (SWG) will help us to take council regarding our needs and priorities as a Diocese. How do our existing structures serve God’s mission?
We take stock as part of the ongoing work of church renewal; the SWG will help us be attentive to keep structures effective so we can
be nimble enough to respond to new opportunities to serve Christ locally, in our Diocesan work of equipping and supporting ministry.
Michael Thompson, former General Secretary of the National Anglican Church, said that as he travelled the country visiting parishes, there is no such thing as “remote” ministry. I imagine concentric circles of mission, expanding out from our local centre, the immediate place of our daily lives, our parish.
Wider than that is our Diocese, where we are able to work together to do more than we could as an individual parish – such things as:
- Refugee Sponsorship,
- Education for Ministry,
- Provincially – 6 Dioceses co-operating
and sharing wider initiatives
- Globally – the Anglican Communion
In these expanding circles of mission, we are not alone. I find deep encouragement in being part of this “Body of Christ.” At Lambeth this past summer, when we were invited to say the Lord’s prayer in our own language, there were Anglicans from 165 countries praying together. Hearing the low murmur of nine translation booths felt like Pentecost to me!
A couple of initiatives I want to draw your attention to so you can return to your parishes after Synod and highlight them, will help your parish engage in these wider ministries.
The Ecclesiastical Province of BCYUKON has put together (with a lot of work from Kate Dalton, the administrator for the Province) and will soon roll out a tool kit for every parish for Emergency Preparedness. As the world faces more extreme weather events, how can we be ready to serve. Part of holiness is hospitality. The tool kit will help us prepare, take inventory of what we can offer to our towns in a local emergency.
A second mission initiative in which we can participate is the “Anglican Communion Forest,” a global initiative for reforestation. Again, we are called to be creative about what shape this takes in our local setting.
It is my privilege, duty, and joy to serve you as your bishop. To serve this vision of a Church of Disciples of Christ empowered and equipped to serve God’s mission in communities. In the midst of this time of turmoil and challenge, God says: “Behold, I am doing a new thing.” Now, in this new time.
May this synod keep us alert to the present realities; and help us to be responsive to new opportunities to serve.
May this Synod help us lay the groundwork for future mission.
May this Synod give us renewed courage because we work together.
Thanks be to God!
Yours in Christ,