I write this article on the Octave Day of Easter, an interesting day to think about Transforming Futures as we celebrate the transforming power of God to bring new life to us. As we move through the Great Fifty days, we must allow our Alleluias to inform our thinking about how, yet again, we will be about the work of following Jesus in our time and in our place.
Since Advent we have been looking inward to the very foundations of our faith: preparation, incarnation, presentation, deep reflection, loud hosannas, betrayal, cruel pain, deep sorrow, boundless joy. All this inner work was designed to transform us, to enable us to more fully follow Christ. This inward grace of transformed hearts and minds must have an exterior counterpart – our ministry in the world. At Pentecost, we are commissioned individually and as a church to be about God’s service, to be agents of God’s transformation. As Anglicans in this diocese of islands and inlets, our post-Pentecost work in 2019, and for the next several years, is to bring Transforming Futures to fruition. The people of this diocese gathered in Synod last September, unanimously voted to adopt Transforming Futures. We said this was a way we could move forward together to bring light and service to our world locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
Many will be tempted to see Transforming Futures as a fund-raising campaign. And it is. We seek to raise $7 million over three to five years. But Transforming Futures is about so much more than money. At its core, Transforming Futures is about prayerful discernment for individuals, parishes and all of us together in the diocese about how we become renewed people in heart and spirit to serve God in the world as we enter the middle years of the 21st century. Each parish is asked to review the Diocesan Mission and the Diocesan Transforming Futures Case, then prayerfully and communally ask these questions. What are we called to do? What is our mission? How can we be transformed people to transform our world? The answers to these questions must be clear, practical, pointing to action. The answers will tell us what we do Monday morning and for many Monday mornings to come. The answers become each parish’s case and the reason for which each of us is asked to make a financial commitment and a commitment of time and talent.
Trinity Anglican + Lutheran, Port Alberni has developed its case; congregants are well on their way to meeting their financial target. Many other parishes have started their work of discernment of what might be better described as prayerful imagining. How can we manifest the love of God in this place and in this time? Each parish is asked to raise an additional 115 per cent of its annual giving over a three-to-five year period to fund the realization of the imagined vision of parish members. Sixty percent of funds raised remain in the parish; 40 percent will fund ministry projects and visions across the regions of our diocese. For example, one parish has said: we care about reconciliation, but there are no resident First Nations groups in our community. We are happy to contribute to the central fund that can support work by parishes which do have an opportunity to lead to reconciliation.
Bishop Logan, co-chair Transforming Futures; Walter Stewart, volunteer lay co-chair; and Brendan Nielson, vision animator, are committed to being available to parishes to assist as the Transforming Futures work progresses. We have a magnificent and transforming challenge which we can meet together.
Walter Stewart was appointed by the bishop to be volunteer co-chair of Transforming Futures. With his husband, Ronald Dyck, Stewart retired to Salt Spring Island where he is the people’s warden of the Anglican Parish of Salt Spring and a member of Diocesan Council as the lay representative for Haro. Stewart is the current president of Art Spring and a coordinator for the Star of the Sea Centre for Spiritual Living and Practice.
This article also appears in the June issue of Diocesan Post.