When I read your profile, the most exciting part was the description of the people of the diocese as being “dedicated, big-hearted and fun.” For me, ministry is accomplished fundamentally in community and undergirded by strong, vibrant relationships. A group of Christian people who describe themselves as you do, gives me great hope for the future. My delight was that in meeting the Search & Nomination Committee, the description of you as a talented people was not only not an exaggeration, it didn’t go far enough!
The challenges facing the diocese, the Episcopal Church and all faith communities right now are enormous. What worked well for us 50 years ago is no longer effective. We’re not exactly sure what we’re to do as we move into a new era that many of us were not expecting. The basic models we’ve used to create church communities are financially strained, some of the language we use no longer makes sense and structures that have worked for hundreds of years are failing us. We seem to be living in a moment when a new paradigm for ministry and diocesan life is emerging.
The leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island whom I have met, lay and ordained, have been bright, dedicated, thoughtful and wise. I know that if there were simple answers to the challenges facing the church they would have found them. But there are no simple answers. This is a difficult and sometimes bleak moment in our journey toward the fullness of the reign of God.
If I didn’t believe in the creativity of the Holy Spirit and power of the gathered Christian community to respond, I would lose hope. But I have personally seen again and again the ability of a broad, diverse community of servant leaders to create new wineskins for new times. Our denomination’s history is full of stories of people who have shared the timeless truth of the gospel in new ways and by so doing have reinvigorated the church’s witness.
The church is in a moment its life when I believe we have to commit to “talking with each other for as long as it takes for the ‘real talking’ to begin.” That’s going to require patience. and it’s going to require endurance, tolerance and humor. Those qualities are all present in your voices within the bishop search profile and among the people I have met from the Diocese of Rhode Island.
The physical size of
is both its greatest asset and its greatest
challenge. By focusing positively on your ability to create a genuine,
inclusive and broad Jesus-centered community, I believe you have the best
chance of anywhere in the church to find a way forward together. My sense of
call to Rhode
is deeply connected to my desire to help make that happen, and to see where God
would lead. Rhode Island
You are daily in my prayers as you discern your own call to your common ministry.