I want to thank all those who attended and participated in either of our Parish Planning Meetings held on March 14th and 15th this past week. I thought we had some very engaging conversations about our parish demographics, our Deanery responses and our own input as we look forward to the future. I hope everyone felt they were heard. We obviously have some challenging and yet exciting times in the years ahead as a diocese. I think it is important to know that these meetings, as requested by our bishop, are not just in response to a shortage of ordained priests to staff the various parishes in our diocese, but also the result of a rapidly changing demographics throughout the diocese. Almost without exception, we see an aging population with very few baptisms and births coming into church to replace those who are deceased.
At this point, I have compiled all your responses at these meetings and will send them to the Diocesan Planning Office for their review. This summer, the Planning Office will come up with a large scale plan/proposal for our bishop’s approval. This large scale plan will include and affect every parish in our diocese. The schedule for this plan (as I understand it), will be then presented to our priests and deacons at this Fall’s 2018 Arrowwood Conference. Then in early 2019 the plan will be presented to the public. Finally, beginning in July of 2019, it will then begin to be implemented.
Who knows exactly what the future holds or what vision God may have in store for us? Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will truly be at work! I pray also that no matter what comes out of this, that we will all embrace it with open minds and open hearts and so move forward to a promising and faith-filled future.
Finally, to continue my series on prayer, I would like to present to you a quote from Rev. Billy Graham. Rev. Graham as you know has been a very important minister for many of our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. Recently he passed away, and so I am sure many are feeling his loss. Here is a quote from him entitled ‘A Prayerful Heart:’ “The Scriptures say, ‘Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thes. 5,17) This should be the motto of every true follower of Jesus. No matter how dark and hopeless a situation might seem, never stop praying. It’s not only to resolve our problems that we should pray, but to share in the strength of God’s friendship. For us, prayer should not be merely an act, but an attitude of life. Do we pray for God’s will or demand our own way? Prayer needs to be an integral part of our lives, so that when a crisis comes we have the strength and faith to pray for God’s will. Someone said that strength in prayer is better than length in prayer. However, Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” (Rev. Billy Graham)
Words to live by: “Happiness is found along the way, not at the end of the road.”