I was asked a few days ago what I thought was the greatest accomplishment that we had achieved in the diocese over the past ten years.
It was a good question and a thousand different answers came to my mind. However, I eventually settled on one answer.
I believe that in all the ways we have answered the sacred calling to be God’s people in the Diocese of Niagara; it has been our Diocesan Vision that has inspired us, challenged us and guided us since we set out upon that journey a decade ago.
Many of you will remember that we came together in a number of different gatherings in those early days, and I had the privilege of sharing my faith story — as well as some of my initial hopes and dreams for our work in the diocese — with you. I also invited you to do the same.
In those meetings it was clear that God’s Holy Spirit was moving among us and empowering us for the task that was ahead. God was calling us to open ourselves up to the promises that were made in our baptisms, to accept our calling as followers of Jesus, to be renewed in a life of discipleship and to go beyond the walls of our churches to embrace and participate in God’s mission for the world.
Our Diocesan Vision was never intended to be the final word or the ultimate itinerary for our journey. It was, instead, a rudimentary map and a set of sign posts that would point us in the right direction. It was a template that would guide local congregations to engage in their own discernment and to respond to their own contexts for ministry.
Oh, what an incredible journey it took us on!
Sometimes we travelled down well-worn paths but many times we blazed new trails and encountered exciting new possibilities and gazed upon new vistas. A few times we took a wrong turn and had to double back, but at every turn there was never any doubt that our loving and gracious God walked with us every step of the way.
Thank you, dear friends, for your companionship and your faithfulness and for the love that we have shared so richly on that road together.
I wish you every blessing as that glorious journey continues here in Niagara.