The Catechism of The Episcopal Church can be found on pages 844-862 in The Book of Common Prayer. This brief summary of the Church’s teaching is also known as “An Outline of the Faith.”
Among the teachings we find in the Catechism is a description of how the mission of the Church is carried out and by whom:
Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission? A. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.
Q. Who are the ministers of the Church? A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.
Q. What is the ministry of the laity? A. The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.
That means every member is a minister and every member has a ministry.
During this time of transition, we are going to emphasize this teaching in a variety of ways. The vestry has appointed a discernment task force to work with me in this emphasis. The first thing we did was to bring the vestry a plan for increasing the effectiveness of our committees, guilds, and ministry groups. The plan, adopted by the vestry at its May meeting, provides for recruiting additional participants, rotating participants and leaders, and providing up to date descriptions of the expectations of each committee, guild, and ministry group. We are now in the process of implementing this plan, which we believe will add to the vibrancy and fruitfulness of The Episcopal Church in Jackson Hole.
Our emphasis has included a series of sermons and articles that called attention to five practices that shape and sustain fruitful congregations. The concept of fruitfulness is rooted in the teachings of Christ; “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name” (John 15:5, 16).
Fruitful congregations understand that every member is a minister, called by and connected to Jesus Christ. From him they draw the divine resources to carry out his work in the world. They intentionally repeat and deepen certain fundamental activities, seeking to perform them with excellence: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity. In this parish, these five practices are carried out under the leadership and engagement of our committees, guilds, and ministry groups.
During the month of June, we are asking each member to “Get Involved” in one or more ways in response to the Christ’s call. We’ve published a brochure that provides brief descriptions of many ways to get involved along with a Ministry Interest Indicator, which you may use to let the discernment task force, the staff, and me know where you believe you are being called to serve.
You may already be involved. If so, great! Let us know if you want to continue to be involved in that way. Or, you may sense that it is time to move to another ministry. We’d like to hear from you about that. And, if you are not involved, tell us where you believe Christ wants you to bear fruit.
“Get Involved” brochures are available in the Narthex, Hansen Hall, and the Parish Office. You can also access the brochure and the Ministry Interest Indicator online. CLICK HERE.
Healthy transitions between settled rectors are times for the congregation to be especially engaged in the life and mission of the parish. I hope you will see this as a time to discern your ministry at St. John’s and pursue it “with God’s help.”
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