From Disciples to Apostles: the Ministry of our Beloved Church

From October 3-5, 2019, at St. Matthew’s in Sutherland, our Diocese will be holding its 74th Synod with the theme: “From Disciples to Apostles: the Ministry of our Beloved Church”.

At this Synod we are looking/discerning/planning how we move forward with the work of being God’s people, doing God’s Will in proclaiming the Gospel in our communities, in both word and deed, across our diocese.

There are two sessions at Synod that we are calling you to prepare for in your home congregations and parishes:

1.  Sharing our Vision and Mission Statements

To make our time together during Synod more productive and enriching, Bishop Chris is requesting each parish to do some preparation in the month of September with some discussions in your home parish about your mission and /or vision statements and what your parish does that you feel works towards fulfilling these statements.

If your parish has not developed a particular mission or vision statement, you may work on developing a draft statement to share at Synod. Taking the time to consider all that your parish does within the parish and in your community can be a rewarding exercise.

In our Friday morning session at Synod, parishes will share their parish statements and activities in small groups with three or four other parishes.  This will be an enriching/informative/thought-provoking opportunity for parishes to learn from other parishes (that are both similar and different) about how we are living out our faith in our home communities.

What you learn here can affirm the work you have been doing, challenge assumptions and/or provide new ideas to take home.

2.  Being a Disciple, becoming an Apostle!

Jesus gave to us, the Church, the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28: 18-20).

“… make disciples of all nations”

How many of us have ever heard of ‘discipling’ or even been ‘discipled’ as we grew up going to church, that is, learning how to give expression to what we believe about God and to share with other people our faith and trust in God. Maybe we thought that is the work of only the clergy and evangelists?

We are all people of deep faith in God, with a rich spiritual life in Christ that we can share with others, in ways that are consistent with who we are! Our Lord did say to the disciples (and to us): “do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matt. 10: 19,20).

We will not only be learning about discipleship, but also gathering in small groups (of our own choosing) of 3 or 4 people as we explore some questions about the spiritual life. It is in small groups, where trust and openness can be nurtured, and our questions and wonderings can be shared, that discipleship can be a very meaningful way of sharing our faith in God.

Following Synod, Synod delegates will naturally report back to their home congregations about Synod, and about these two sessions in particular:

1.       What was learned about the ways other congregations/parishes are living out their vision/missions statements, that can be tried at home? 

2.       Develop one or more discipleship groups.  Keep the groups small. Be patient. Be prayerful. Learn to listen. Learn to share your faith in ways that are natural to you.