Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Mission Review"

Across the Pond, one English diocese is keen to reconnect, and started trying to figure out how last weekend....

The bishop helming the effort, Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster, waxed candid in a local interview:
"We have become too concerned about buildings and money. I think we have lost our way, lost our vision."...

The Bishop of Lancaster fears this disconnection poses a much greater threat to the church than its £10m of debt or its crumbling buildings across the diocese.

And now he wants to know what congregations from St Walburge's Church in Ashton, Preston, right up to Christ the King in Carlisle, Cumbria, want to do about it.

"I want to get people thinking about what kind of people we are, what kind of parishes we are and what kind of a diocese we are," he says.

"Then I want them to ask how that fits with what they want."...

The questioning will begin when priests across the diocese read out a letter from the Bishop to congregations on Sunday.

In it, he speaks of his belief that the church is "tantalisingly near to great new beginnings" and calls on people to consider the church's role in society

He adds: "What you will not find here is a great programme – rather it is a summons to radical change in each one of us, our parish and diocese, making us all more open to the Lord."
O'Donoghue's kickoff letter is also up:
My passion for Mission - making Christ known and loved - continues to grow.... I believe that we are tantalisingly near great new beginnings in the Church if only we capture something of the spirit of the Gospel - a deepening of Faith, coupled with confidence to know that Christ walks every step with us. He invites you and me - to cast out into the deep for without Him we will catch nothing.

What will this mean? Not only during Lent, but all of the time, it will mean change and this can be uncomfortable. We are being asked to look hard at those things in life that prevent us from coming close to the Lord. Where should we invest our energies - in the passing and fleeting things of this world or in the eternal? Our parishes, too, must look to what encourages or impedes mission. Could it be that we are investing more in buildings, structures and all sorts of things rather than in people? How can we make ourselves fit for mission? I said that change is difficult - indeed it can be a Cross - but once accepted and when truly of the Lord, it brings great joy and a wonderful freedom....

There is one other thing: we need to join the Pilgrim People of God in the journey of faith and reconciliation that began on Ash Wednesday. Be ready to speak about it, especially to those close to you who seem to have wandered away from the family of the Church. How wonderful it would be for them to see in us the promise of an affectionate, merciful and joyful welcome home. The readings at our Lenten Mass today, help with our Mission Review. They speak loudly of what God has already done for us - thus giving great hope. They call us, not only to repent of our sins, but to open our hearts to God and move forward in faith. Jesus' temptations emphasise the importance of fidelity to God's promptings in life.
May the investment bear many happy returns.