Structures Working Group (SWG)
First and foremost, we would like to give a HUGE, HEARTFELT thank you to everyone who shared their perspectives on our report “A Path Forward.” Perhaps you attended a Zoom town hall held in mid-January. Perhaps you have engaged us as individuals in conversation; and/or, perhaps you have written to us. However, you let us know your thoughts and we are grateful.
Attendance for the two daytime Zoom sessions was approximately 40+ per session; attendance in the evening, 60+ per session, with some people attending more than once. Many different voices were heard, with 18 written responses also received. Yes, we are grateful!
Reactions about the report’s basic premise — i.e. that the structures supporting the Diocese, as they exist today, have entered palliative care — have been both positive and negative. Comments range from “This conclusion is … shocking, irresponsible and overly dramatic” to “If you can’t accept the death of the church, you won’t be able to accept the renewal of the church” to “I find that palliative is the perfect word to draw our attention to the serious situation we are finding ourselves in. It is not referring to us, but clearly to some of the structures and systems that were put in place decades ago… Time to revamp.”
Some commented that the language of the report was too bureaucratic. Others asked: Where are the specifics that led to our basic premise? Where are the tangible ideas to rectify the cited problems? One person encouraged us to give people enough time to contemplate and prepare for change before taking action. Some suggested we look within parishes for expertise and others said, “Seek external expertise.” And the list goes on.
Throughout all the comments, however, your love for the church, for the Body of Christ in this place we call the Diocese of Kootenay, shone brightly, and your passion buoys us as we now move forward. Our next focus is to complete a concrete plan of action for the recommendations. Examples of the recommendations include the following:
- Develop a short-term vision to guide all decision-making over the next few years. (Good news! The first step is for BARDs [Bishop, Archdeacon, Regional Deans and Dean] to tackle this — and plans are already afoot! )
- In the context of diminishing disciples in our pews, provide materials to congregations to help them evaluate their realities (strengths, needs, the status of their mission and outreach, etc.). What are the possibilities going forward? Also, offer facilitation help (if desired).
- Support clergy by understanding the causes of burnout and adapting current structures and systems so they (and lay leaders) may thrive.
- Encourage all of us to pray for and walk alongside each other.
In her January video, Bishop Lynne commented, “God is always faithful,” and as we continue this challenging and complex work, SWG is thankful for that. We also know that this is not SWG’s work alone. Figuring out how to let our old structures die well so that energy can be reconfigured to support life for future generations, and how to support God’s beloved people and congregations during uncertain times, is “our work together as a Diocese.” We look forward to sharing the next piece when the time is right, so that we may receive your feedback all over again, and together, we will begin building “A Path Forward” into the future for us — the Diocese of Kootenay.
Sidebar: If you have not read “A Path Forward” or “SWG Statistics about our Current Context,” please visit: https://www.kootenayanglican.ca/SWG. You’ll also find “A Prayer for Renewal” there; please pray it!