Niagara’s Mission Action Plan – A special section about the plan and its role in our 
future as a church

Why a Mission Action Plan?

Because Niagara was ready for renewal! 

During the first nine months of Bishop Susan’s episcopacy as she walked with us, a rich picture emerged of a diocese ready to embrace a renewed mission; a people ready to engage in deep and faithful listening; a community ready to hear the still small voice of the Divine … ready for a mission that builds on Niagara’s strengths and gifts, and invites us to grow into our challenges. 

Bishop Susan describes a missional church as one “… that is always becoming … nourishing the inherited church as our firm foundation and our well to draw from … a church that intentionally turns itself outward toward the non-churched and the de-churched … always offering the gift of faith in Jesus Christ the way that he himself called his disciples to ‘Come and see.’”

What was the picture that was emerging for Bishop Susan — and for us as she reflected on her observations? It began with a sense of continuing to move from an institutional focus to a Christ focus … to following Jesus’ Way. There was a renewing of our shift from a settled church (a destination) to church as a movement in which we go where people are. 

The bishop noticed that we were beginning to live into an understanding that buildings are an asset for God’s mission. Alongside that, the bishop heard a continuing journey from faith as security and comfort to faith as risk where we encourage one another to see a fresh perspective, and the new mission fields with the unchurched and the de-churched that the Holy Spirit is calling us to engage. 

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Consultation to build the Mission Action Plan

The expectation that we strengthen our faith communities with a primary focus on relationships and faith formation, knowing that a search for authenticity and affirmation is at the centre of people’s yearnings, was another key piece of this picture of Niagara that was unfolding. 

The bishop also noticed an awareness that the world around us must see Anglicans as authentically living our faith at home, at work, in our decision making; visibly being followers of Jesus’ Way.

Finally the bishop lifted up for us a picture of a diocese longing for a renewed leadership where current leaders are spiritually fed and nurtured, where new training opportunities are offered to help our leaders meet the challenges of responding to the spiritual hunger we see in the culture around us. 

This longing is complemented by a deep desire for new leaders; committed followers of Jesus who will lead with the heart knowing that no one is argued to faith, people willing to risk new ideas and resiliently learn from failure.

How to infuse those hopes and early undertakings with intention and energy became the pressing question. 

The response was to develop a mission action plan! Bishop Susan describes a mission action plan as a practical document that identifies our active seeking of God and God’s mission for our church or diocese, and lays out priorities for the next three to five years; actions that reflect an intersection of our spiritual yearnings, strengths and challenges in such a way as to move boldly deeper into God’s mission. “It’s a statement of what we want to become by the Grace of God over the next 3-5 years,” observes the Bishop. And she continues, “… it is a living document, constantly in use and developing organically with the inevitable and much prayed-for developments in the life of the parish/diocese.” 

You’ll note that the Mission Action Plan is simple and easily understood. It holds up three primary objectives; a distillation of four months of consultations, spiritual grounding, and research by the MAP Leadership Team in concert with M&M International, our consultants in the process. The plan is not highly prescriptive but allows for actions to evolve out of our work and our continuing discernment of the movement of the Spirit. 

This Mission Action Plan (MAP) aligns our priorities and our actions with much space for creativity, innovation and prayerfulness. Where does the MAP speak to you and to your parish?


heartVision: 

Called to Life — Compelled to Love

Mission Statement:

Ignited by the irresistible love of Jesus and renewed by the Holy Spirit,
we partner with God to deepen faith, share stories and care for God’s world.

Objectives and Strategies

1. Create and implement opportunities to ignite and strengthen faith

Nourish and support clergy, parishioners (current and de-churched) and staff in their longing to know Christ. Listen, learn and then act to understand what is required to provide nourishment and support. 

Share the Good News of Christ’s life changing love for all. 

2. Reimagine diocesan culture and adapt our structures to enable ministry

Invite interested people to gather in incubator groups to pray, discern and propose innovative recommendations around common topics. 

Examine personnel, governance, financial and vocational policies and structures of the diocese with the intention of freeing us for God’s mission. 

Review internal and external communication practices and implement more effective communication strategies. 

3. Prioritize Social Justice action with an emphasis on Environmental Justice

The Gospel calls us to work to change unjust structures and help the marginalized and the poor. This includes all forms of injustice including climate crisis, racism, mental health discrimination, human rights, homelessness, human trafficking and poverty. Knowledge and skills will move us to impactful advocacy.

Deepen our understanding of local and global social justice needs. 

Provide response strategies, training and resources to enable parishes to take appropriate action on issues. 

Actively engage in reconciliation work in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.


MISSION ACTION PLAN PRAYER

Now that the Mission Action Plan is finalized, we have crafted a new prayer for the implementation of that plan. Please incorporate this prayer into your personal prayer life, and into the regular prayer life of your parish and ministry

Mission Action Plan Prayer

Beloved God, we are your people 

called to walk a renewed path with Jesus. 

Be with us, your whole church, 

as we seek to rekindle and enliven our faith.

Keep us firm in our commitment to reshape our culture and structures 

and invigorate our social justice engagement,

most especially the nurture and protection of your creation.

Let the whole world see us living and lifting up the fullness of your love.

Make new those things that have grown old;

and bring wholeness to that which cries out for restoration.

All this we ask through the Spirit of the Living God and in the name of the Christ

who came among us, is among us and will come among us.

Amen


Called to Life — Compelled to Love

So many initiatives are already bursting into life around the new diocesan mission action plan and it’s only just been adopted by Synod Council! 

What’s happening? There’s no shortage of initiative or creativity. Just take a look at these highlights.

Create and implement opportunities to ignite and strengthen faith: 

Niagara School for Missional Ministry – a diverse team with a wide range of skills, experience and knowledge is being recruited to craft a proposal for a training program for laity and clergy that will enhance leadership and missional ministry skills through courses offered through a variety of delivery methods.

St. Luke’s House – Rob and Jamie Miller, in a pilot with the diocese, have gathered a group together in the former St. Luke’s rectory with the intent that the Millers’ witness to Christ’s love and their gift of presence will anchor the residential community and draw in others from the neighbourhood to pray and worship together in St. Luke’s Anglican Church. Morning prayer (Tuesday and Thursday) and Evening Prayer on Wednesday is already bringing together around 30 people. The Venerable Dr. David Anderson is the chaplain to the community, and Canon Christyn Perkons serves as the diocesan liaison.

Faith Formation Speaker – Sarah Bessey, author of Miracles and Other Reasonable Things, and Out of Sort: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith, as well as the weekly e-newsletter, Field Notes will speak on “Evolving Faith: Cultivating Hope and Love in the Wilderness” at a public event on Wednesday, June 3. Sarah has also been engaged as the guest speaker for the Clergy and Licensed Lay Workers conference as part of our strategy to nourish and support professional ministers. Says Barbara Brown Taylor, “Sarah Bessey … can tell a story as if she is whispering it straight into your heart. She is, by her own definition, a dangerous woman with wisdom to spare about learning how to love the broken miracles God offers us one we’re honest about where it hurts.” Watch for details! 

Differentiated Curacies – the bishop is exploring, with a Hamilton church plant, placing a new ordinand in a curacy within the church plant for our mutual benefit. The curate would bring their Anglican training and experience to the relationship and the community church would share their discipleship model … each giving something for which the other yearns!

Sharing Our Faith – a team is being recruited by the Rev. Canon Dr. Dawn Davis to plan an initiative that has been highly impactful in the Episcopal Church. That initiative will bring together moderated small groups of parishioners, gathered over dinner in a host home, for an evening of sharing stories of faith. Why? So we can lose ourselves in awe and wonder at how God is present in all our lives! We have different stories of triumph and defeat, success and failure, joy and uncertainty but the Holy Spirit is the common thread that weaves them together. In glimpsing the kingdom at work in one another, we will strengthen bonds and deepen faith.

Revive 2.0 – Dawn also has a team at work creating a second year program for Revive in response to a clamouring from Revive graduates for a follow-up year.

Confirmation – In a similar vein, Dawn and Sarah Bird, Consultant, Children, Youth & Family Ministry, are in the early stages of exploring confirmation resources with a plan to develop tools for Niagara that highlight the God relationship.

Reimagine diocesan culture and adapt our structures to enable ministry

Incubator Groups – Canon Christyn Perkons is gathering a planning team to create a pilot process for this new initiative. Incubator groups, grounded in prayer and oriented towards discernment, are intended to be a nimble vehicle for dialoguing, brainstorming, and proposing recommendations around issues. Short in duration (weeks or months not years) and driven by concerns raised by you, these groups may make recommendations, might refer a thoroughly discussed issue elsewhere or may conclude without a response but, regardless of outcome, they will organically grow community, deepen relationships and accelerate renewal.

Radical Hospitality – We are partnering with the Diocese of Toronto to bring a renowned speaker and her powerful ministry model to share with clergy and laity with the expectation that this will change our invitation practices and our welcoming culture at the parish level. Plans include training facilitators to guide the process in parishes. Details as soon as the contract is signed!

Prioritize social justice action with an emphasis on environmental justice

Greening Niagara is hard at work developing an expanded mandate and we’ll hear more about that soon.

Mapping the Ground We Stand On: An Interactive Workshop Exploring Indigenous and Settler Relationships – Deirdre Pike, Social Justice Coordinator, is working with PWRDF to bring this facilitated workshop to Niagara. This workshop will help settlers understand the challenges faced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples within a deeper, historical framework that allows settlers to act knowingly. Again…stay tuned.

Pride Eucharist – the Diocese of Niagara will celebrate its first diocesan Pride Eucharist on Sunday, June 7 in the afternoon. A planning team (LGBTQ2S+ and allies) is already hard at work under the leadership of the Rev. Penny Anderson. More details will follow. 

And finally, Canon Christyn Perkons, is working on a simple Mission Action Plan process for parishes to use as they discern where they are being called to engage with God’s mission at the parish level and with the diocesan MAP objectives over the next three to five years. Coming soon!


How It Came to Be

Mission Action Planning Process Timeline

January 2019 – Synod Council supports development of mission action plan
February – Diocese researches firms to support process
March – Diocese hires M&M International as consultants to support and guide the mission action planning process
April  – Diocese gathers a 20 member cross-section of diocese to function as MAP leadership team;
May – First meeting of Leadership Team to outline process
May to June – Four gatherings of parishioners across the diocese to hear their perspectives and passions
June – Leadership Team meets for update and feedback
July/August – M&M does environmental scan to determine important trends within the diocese and key strategic issues Leadership Team interviews community organizations for key local issues
August 14 – Focus group with dechurched
September 7 –  Needs Assessment with Leadership Team to determine strategic priorities for diocese over next 3-5 years using consultations and research
September 8 – Come Down to the River to Pray – diocese invited to Christ’s Church Cathedral to ground our discernment in prayer, song, and listening
September 28 – Leadership Team gathers to distill vision and mission that reflect key areas of focus raised in consultations and research
October 8 – Leadership Team further discussion of vision and mission high priorities
October 16 – Small writing group refines and synthesizes a draft MAP
October 22  -Writing group refines further in response to feedback from whole team
October 28  -Writing team further refines/planning for synod presentation
October 31  – Draft MAP finalized/presentation details finalized
November 8 – Presentation of draft MAP to diocesan synod
November 9 – Feedback received from synod delegates
November 18 – Leadership team focus group refines draft to reflect synod feedback
November 20 – Leadership team reviews post-synod draft
November 26 – Writing group finalizes draft MAP
January 11, 2020 – Synod Council approves Mission Action Plan


I Want to be Involved in the MAP

Did some part of the Mission Action Plan really resonate with you? Do you want to get involved and are wondering how?

Incubator group topic ideas … contact Canon Christyn Perkons

Planning team involvement … contact the person connected to the particular initiative or contact Christyn and she’ll get your name to the right person.

Want to invite yourself to a particular program or host that experience in your parish? Contact the person connected to the initiative or contact Christyn.

Just eager for more details? Stay tuned to the weekly eblast and check the new MAP web page for emerging details about all of these exciting initiatives and more! Connect with any of the initiative leaders through the MAP web page.

Canon Christyn Perkons, Director Congregational Support and Development,

905-527-1316 (ext 460) or below: