I hope you are all warm and well-stocked with supplies for this week’s weather that is coming our way. This might be as good time to help stock the local food pantries and remember to check on neighbors who might have trouble getting out and those who live alone. The harsh temps that are coming can be a challenge to our heating systems and water pipes. Let’s remember to look after one another! And, the good news – spring is only 51 days away!!
As I was looking through the many resolutions that need our attention as congregations and dioceses, I found a short one that could have a far-reaching impact if we get on board. We are all quite aware that as congregations, we are part of a larger community, the diocese, and that our dioceses are part of The Episcopal Church but I think there’s an identity sandwiched in there that is too easy to overlook – the province. In fact, the provinces are so easy to overlook, I couldn’t initially find anything about the history of provincial structure online to come up with the year that provinces were established but my good friend, the Rev. Daniel Lawson, rose to the challenge and found the resolution that introduced provinces in the archives of General Convention in 1901:
CANON 46. SECTION 1.
The Dioceses and Missionary Jurisdictions of this Church shall be, and are hereby, united into Provinces.
Thank you, Daniel!
Currently, the Episcopal Church is divided into 9 provinces with the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan in Province V along with 13 other dioceses: Chicago, Eastern Michigan, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Missouri, Northern Indiana, Northern Michigan, Ohio, Southern Ohio, Springfield, and Western Michigan. Recently, our Province hasn’t done too much together other than the triennial Provincial Synod which happens before every General Convention. We have the opportunity to see that change!
At General Convention last summer we passed Resolution A072: Provincial Geographic Boundaries
Resolved, That in the 2018-2021 triennium, each diocese of this Church review its involvement in and relationship to its current province, and faithfully discern whether, based on its identity, gifts and needs, it may wish to explore established constitutional and canonical paths toward becoming a constituent diocese of a different province.
As I recall, this resolution was specifically designed to help those dioceses which are not geographically close to others in their province and/or those whose gifts and interests are more closely aligned with other provinces to find the provincial home which best suits them. However, this also gives all of us a chance to reflect on our participation within our provinces and consider making appropriate changes for the good of our dioceses.
Just this week, as one of our diocesan deputies to Provincial Synod last year, I received an email from Gennie Callard and Heather Barta, two of our provincial officers, asking for our input:
Remember Synod from April 2018?
As we think about our focus and programs this year, we are hoping that you can help us with some information. We are very curious about how Synod has influenced your thoughts or ministries in the last 9 months.
During Synod, Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was our keynote speaker. We highlighted ministries shared across diocesan lines: Care of Creation, Local Continuing Education / Ordination, Bishops Against Gun Violence, Diocesan Church Development Institute / College of Congregational Development.
We experienced some Fierce Conversations at our tables as we thought about other ways that the people of the province might work together.
We also had a business meeting where we elected Executive Board officers, heard reports, and approved a budget.
Please reply to this email answering the following (or as many as you can):
– What has stuck with you over the last 9 months? Any particular topics that you still think about?
– Have you / your parish / your diocese incorporated any of this into your lives / ministries?
– Do you need more information that we might be able to provide (through upcoming communications or events)?
Thanks for your feedback!
We hope to see you at the Big Provincial Gathering in July!
Gennie Callard, President, Province V
Heather Barta, Coordinator, Province V
Well, I do remember Synod and I have my notes from the weekend but I’d also love to hear from all of you. As you consider this larger body, are there events, opportunities, classes, etc., that you would like to see us consider on a provincial level? If you have thoughts or questions, please share your comments with me and I will be pleased to share them with Gennie and Heather.
One exciting opportunity is coming up this summer: The Big Provincial Gathering, July 12 – 13 in Kalamazoo, MI. If you check out that link, you’ll find more details for this exciting gathering. The keynote speaker and emcee will be The Rev. Michael Michie, Episcopal Church Staff Officer for Church Planting & Infrastructure whose focus will be Mission Enterprise Zones: how to revitalize your ministries. The committee is also looking for workshop leaders so if you are interested in sharing your gifts beyond the boundaries of our own diocese, please complete this proposal form (due February 10).
One of the reasons I enjoy serving as a deputy to General Convention and a delegate for Synod – and even attending our own Diocesan Convention – is because I love to see the larger picture of what God’s Church looks like and what we can do when we work together. Our provincial structure also gives us the opportunity to take our gifts and resources and share them with a larger community. The Body of Christ looks so very different in these settings than it does within my small, rural congregation and it’s good for me to always remember that. So let’s take this resolutions to heart and see what we can do!
Since this is a resolution for which we, as a diocese, need to come up with a response, I’d love to receive your thoughts and comments.
Let us pray –
O God, by your grace you have called us in this Province to a goodly fellowship of faith. Bless all our bishops, other clergy, and lay people as we reach out beyond our walls to grow in love for you and one another. Direct and empower us to share our gifts and talents through the leading of your Holy Spirit for the blessing of all our Provincial partners. Grant that we may show the power of your love to all among whom we live and serve; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council