You will have read in last week’s Bulletin of the launch of the next phase of our vision: ‘LIFE Together’. LIFE Together builds on all that has happened over these last five years, as we have sought to shape ourselves as a Church in this diocese to share the abundance of life that is in Jesus Christ.
This is a significant moment in uncertain times, that speaks of a Church in this diocese that is confident in our calling, ready and equipped to serve the people and the communities in our care. Building on what we have discerned over these last years and what we have learnt from living through extraordinary times, we have been able to reflect on what we have learnt of God’s calling and faithfulness, and to discern with clarity the focus for the coming season. You can catch up with last week’s Bulletin here.
For Bishop Rachel and I, it is important in reaching this milestone to recognise what a Diocesan Vision does, and significantly does not, do.
Firstly, a Diocesan Vision provides a common framework for our ministry and mission. In parish and benefice, chaplaincy, fresh expression, and school, the framework of our vision allows us to plot our place and see how what we are doing connects to the wider whole. Our vision allows us to see how we belong together.
What it does not do, is to mandate exactly what we will do in each community. This will be locally discerned through prayer and listening as we seek to be attentive to the guiding of the Spirit. The exciting thing will be to see how God has been, and continues to be, at work in us and to be able to make connections between the local and the wider Church. Our Diocesan Vision may also prompt us to see what we might have missed as we listen to God speaking to us through it.
Secondly, in the same way that in the local community the vision helps discern how resources, time, money, buildings etc. are used, the Diocesan Vision will help us to use the wider assets of the Board of Finance and Diocesan Officers in a considered way, that they may most effectively contribute to the whole. Our resources are the ones God has given; we need to use them with wisdom to respond to God’s call.
Part of that is, of course, our care for the environment and the priority of climate justice, about which you will read more this week (sign up to the Bulletin here if you don’t already receive it). It would be strange if this is not reflected in our common life. I wonder how this might be being reflected in your local context and where else the spotlight may be taking you.
This is a good moment in so many ways to reflect on your developing vision locally, to be excited by the connections, and to be refreshed and renewed in our service, knowing that the God who calls us is indeed faithful.