New Wine Presentations at the 140th Convention
Below you will find the stories of "new wine" happening around our diocese and in our ministries from the Saturday morning session of our 140th Convention. We have provided both a textual synopsis and videos of the presentations.
Small Church Presentation
Tommy Drake shared an update on the Small Church Leadership Project, noting that his work in collecting stories and “treasures from the clay jars” from small churches around our diocese has revealed our small churches’ excitement around the work they are doing. Small churches have “remarkable stories of joy and survival” even amidst stories that are not always happy stories. Gifts that stem from the blessings of small churches Tommy noted include: the ability to change and pivot quickly within the context of smaller resources and smaller volunteer forces, a profound sense of mission, thriving when deeply connected to their surrounding community and its needs, and hospitality. Every time Tommy asks a small church what they do well, resoundingly a response of “FOOD” will come up, and, yes, small church hospitality and meal-sharing fellowship is a wonderful blessing indeed. Life and ministry in a small congregation looks vastly different from life and ministry in a large congregation, and Tommy discussed the importance of small churches having a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity to live into the gifts that they possess. Tommy looks forward to collecting more stories and getting to know more small church communities, and he can be reached by email here.
Confirmation Project Update
Emily Gowdy Canady, Missioner for Lifelong Christian Formation, delivered an update on the Diocesan-Supported Confirmation for Young People that launched in September of 2022. The young people participating are working through 10 modules of the CREATE curriculum, and as of now have completed 8 of the 10 modules. This largely Zoom-based program has led to, over time, the young people forming connections with one another, culminating in a recent retreat at Trinity Center. At the retreat, the young people participated in small groups, games, worship, and a service project. They reported to Catechist Buddy Payne that their favorite part of the retreat was being together and learning from the bishop. The young people asked tough questions of Bishop Skirving in his time with them, such as: Are there really dragons in the Bible?, Are there different levels of sin?, and Can you be a good person and not be a Christian? Bishop Skirving asked questions too, especially about what a confirmation service for them would look like, encouraging them to think outside the box as they helped guide the planning of the service. Prayerfully, this service will occur at Trinity Center–the logistics are still to be sorted out–to fulfill the desire of the young people to be confirmed together. These young people and catechists have created community in a new way, using their gifts to serve God and others, and this presentation concluded in a time of prayer, lifting up the young people and their catechists.
Trinity Center Presentation
A group of leaders from Trinity Center, including staff and board members, came forth to offer an expression of thanks to Ed Hodges, former Chair of the Trinity Center Board of Managers, for his incredible service to Trinity Center for so many years. Ed spoke of his pleasure in serving and working with Trinity Center saying, “It has been an incredible ride and the greatest experience of my life. I thank you all.”
School for Ministry Update
Canon Mollie Roberts offered an update and context on the School for Ministry. Canon Roberts spoke of the alternative clergy training program at Sewanee and the ways in which the School for Ministry seeks to fill in the gaps in forming postulants and candidates for ministry in the church with six meetings a year and a retreat. The School for Ministry covers a number of topics, including liturgy, congregational development, and the canons of the Church. Pastoral care is a topic of high priority for the School for Ministry, as they recognize the importance of being well-formed for pastoral care. In the Fall of 2023, the School for Ministry will be working with the program Community of Hope and those who will be priests to offer practical pastoral education. This program will also be offered to a limited number of laity, with the hopes that as the program continues, more focused training will be available to those in the laity all across the diocese. The School for Ministry is a work in progress, and the council is hard at work on making that progress happen.
Archdeacon Janet Sueiro Rodman began her presentation with recognition for all of the active deacons of our diocese, as well as noting that she will be celebrating her 20th year of becoming a deacon this June. Archdeacon Rodman spoke to the unofficial mantra that deacons have, especially vocational deacons where "We bring the church to the world and the world to the church," which plays out in the ordination vows of deacons. This mantra illuminates the ways that deacons serve in the world, such as supporting the homeless, shelters, hospitals, etc., and how deacons bring people from all the places they serve into the Church. Recently, Archdeacon Rodman was asked to serve on a panel about Spanish-speaking deacons for a conference aimed at helping deacons develop their unique preaching voice. This conference experience has inspired Archdeacon Rodman to develop a similar offering for the deacons of our diocese with a mini-preaching conference by 2024, if not by the end of 2023, to develop their own preaching voice and connecting that voice to the world.
Announcements from Bishop Skirving
Bishop Skirving recognized members of the Racial Healing Commission present at Convention, thanking them for their work in the last year. The Racial Healing Commission has a big event coming this September 2023, featuring speaker Catherine Meeks and jazz music. You can learn more about this event as it is planned here.
Bishop Skirving also announced this year's Absalom Jones service being hosted this year at St. Andrew's, Goldsboro. The Rev'd Greg Smith (St. Mary's, Kinston) will be preacher, with Bishop Skirving as celebrant. Bishop Skirving noted that the Absalom Jones service is a tradition of our diocese's Historic Black Churches to take turns hosting the service, and the service is always open to all in the diocese. You can view the Absalom Jones Celebration service, thanks to St. Andrew's, Goldsboro, using the link below: