by Allan Magnacca, ON
When asked by our Bishop Susan Bell to join our diocesan vision and mission project (MAP), my first reaction was: Here we are, making another attempt to move our diocese into a three-to-five-year strategy. Rework the old, with perhaps a few new ideas, and try to sell it to the parishes.
However from Day 1, I was overwhelmed by the passion, enthusiasm, commitment and freshness of what Bishop Susan was thinking! It was not about doing things better or different—not about “we need a vision,” not about a “mission.” It was fundamentally about bringing God and Jesus to the forefront of our lives, living the Jesus-life, starting with each of us searching for our own commitments and how we can share them. I could hardly wait for the next sessions!
It is infectious, another way for looking at where we are as Anglicans and in our diocese.
This is an open process. Talk to the unchurched; those who have never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus and his message of God’s love.
Talked to the de-churched. Why did they leave? What was missing in what the church offered or seemed irrelevant in today’s environment.
We have done an environmental scan across the country. What is working? Is religion on the sidelines in our lives? Are priorities different in other denominations? Maybe all of this is telling us not to look inward but outward and recognize where and who we are today?
Jesus tells us that he was sent by God to bring eternal life to the whole world. As disciples, our job is to proclaim that love in and to the world.
So, where we are in our work? We are discussing how we can take all of this to our own parishes to show our communities that our faith is relevant. There are no obstacles we cannot overcome. We need to be involved in tackling climate change and other political issues at every level. We must recognize that following the life of Jesus will make a difference, if we absorb and shout out loud, we can and will make a difference in the world.
Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Our mission is to be Called to Life and Compelled to Love, thus casting our stones and creating many ripples.
Our MAP work is getting closer to our final document. It is a work in progress and, for me, it continues to be challenging, stimulating and rewarding as I rediscover my belief that God’s hand is in all I do and say.
This is exciting! Thank God.
Allan Magnacca is a member of St. Mark’s Niagara-on-the-Lake