I'm just catching up with things as I crawl back to normality, and becoming aware of a "Summer Project" that the Dean and the Ministry Development Officer of the Diocese have asked us all to participate in. It is a precursor of the Diocesan Growth Strategy which it is hoped will be launched in Spring 2011. The usual sorts of questions have been asked, and we are invited to answer them by August, giving the Dean and the MDO a picture of where we all are at the moment, how we are faring, and what we could do better.
Now, this sort of questionnaire leaves itself open to all sorts of criticism. Having been a priest in this Diocese for over 30 years, I've seen quite a few initiatives come and go with varying success and failure. It can be annoying to be asked the same sort of questions again and again. The Provost of our Cathedral is extremely scathing about this new initiative, however these are folk who are genuinely trying to put together a strategy for mission that works and is not smothered by cynicism from the outset. I think a bit of support or a word of encouragement or advice would have been a bit more helpful.
We have a new Bishop, a new Dean and a recently appointed MDO who have the enthusiasm to start afresh and help build structures that will be more effective in our Diocesan life, and they need to be supported and affirmed at this point. OK, some of us will need to fill in yet another form, but if it helps this wee group to get a snapshot of where we all are today, and helps launch a Diocesan Strategy that's fresh and exciting next spring, then I , for one, will buy into it. I want it to work. I want us to have a dynamic strategy where we all pull together and share talents and resources and relate to each other as Episcopalians rather than as Congregationalists. A Diocese that is supportive and caring in our work at parish level is certainly desirous and it's the sort of thing I have craved for over 30 years. Helpful suggestions are always welcome, and, hey, we have a few suggestions and models of mission and ministry that others might want to have a go at too!
When I was interviewed for my first parish in Possilpark I asked the Vestry about mission. I was told, "Ach, we tried that but it didn't work". A negative response to this new initiative within the Diocese is akin to that sort of response. Let's be positive and give it our best. We have a new beginning and the chance of a fresh and decent initiative. God help us if the cynics kill it before it's even begun.