Formed in February of 2008, the EMDT (Episcopal Ministry Discernment Team) has been meeting on a regular basis (barring one blizzard) and will offer updates as they produce them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Congregational Feedback - distilled

What we have heard from the Diocese
A compilation of congregational conversations on episcopal ministry

As members of the Episcopal Ministry Discernment Team (EMDT), we have spent time at our first four meetings seeking to consider carefully the results of the congregational conversations that took place throughout the diocese in January and February. We deeply value the work of each congregational gathering at which a variety of voices were heard, and not all voices were in agreement. The following summary, finalized at our meeting on May 17, 2008, distills the essence of what we learned about who we are and what we value as a diocese, our diocesan vision of episcopal ministry, and what we need to do as a diocese to make this vision a reality.

Who we are
We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, an area of beauty and challenge
• Geographically large with small communities
• Challenging distances and weather
• Economically and financially limited
• Declining and aging population

We are a small diocese of small congregations
• Champions of Mutual Ministry
• A sense of connection within the diocese and with the wider church
• A history of relaxed relationships with our bishops
• Limited resources: members and finances
• High level of involvement
• We have a pioneering, creative, persevering, can-do spirit
• Independent, interdependent
• We are grieving economic, historic and personal losses

What we value
• A sense of family on the congregational, regional and diocesan level
• Ministry founded on the Baptismal Covenant
• Outreach
• Inclusiveness
• Relationships
• Shared leadership
• Education and formation
• Youth participation
• Open communion table
• We respect the gifts and talents of all

Our vision of episcopal ministry
We have a vision of a shared episcopate modeled upon Mutual Ministry in which the Bishop’s primary focus is pastoral, relational and canonical in full partnership with an Episcopal Ministry Support Team.

To make our vision happen
• We will continue to build on the organizational structures that are in place to support the life and ministry of the diocese.
• We will identify an Episcopal Ministry Support Team that includes the Bishop.
• We will make greater use of technology to facilitate communication.
• We will strive to increase an understanding of Mutual Ministry throughout the diocese.
• We will be realistic and responsible about our finances.
• We will determine what an Episcopal Ministry Support Team may do.

May 13, 2008 EMDT update

The discernment process is moving along on schedule. Our first few sessions were led by Marcia Franz, Kevin Thew Forrester, Fran Gardner and Hazel Satterly. Formation and team building were on the agenda for the first few meetings. Kevin led us through a brief oversight of the Enneagram showing us how our personality traits impact group process, how we receive and give information and how we make decisions. Later, using Steven Charleston’s reflection on Episcopal Ministry and spending time in discussion centered around the Congregational responses to questions 1, 2 and 3 the group has begun to get a clear direction of the expectations and hopes of the people in this diocese. This information will be refined and provided to each community for review.

Manual Padilla and Warren Maki from the Finance Committee worked with the group regarding the budgetary information that will also impact the direction of the discernment process. The group was very interested in this information, believes it to be an integral part of our approach to fiscal responsibility and knows this will impact Episcopal Ministry here in The Diocese of Northern Michigan.

The EMDT asked for clarification of its charge from the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee responded and the Team is now clear on their tasks. The team will develop the process of discernment based on the Discovery Process used in the local congregations. Clearly there are steps that need to be adjusted or changed to fit this new category of discernment of our Episcopal Ministry. We are currently identifying these areas and working on adapting the process that has worked so well to define leadership and ministry support in the local communities. The group is also expected to discern the roles encompassed in Episcopal Ministry, the gifts needed for the role of Episcopal Ministry as well as identify people gifted for the role of Episcopal Ministry. Presentation of the names of people discerned for Episcopal Ministry here in the Diocese of Northern Michigan and their identified roles are to be presented at the Diocesan Convention in October.

This work is grounded in prayer, ongoing, sometimes overwhelming, but exciting. You can be proud of the work the Episcopal Ministry Discernment Team is doing. They are a group of dedicated, prayerful people discerned by you. Please continue to support them in prayer and presence as they wrestle with discerning Episcopal Ministry here in the Diocese of Northern Michigan.