The Episcopal Church in Vermont Mobilizes for Evangelism in 2018
By Fr. Liam Muller
“Evangelism has been a priority of the Diocesan Council for the past two years, and we now feel ready to launch more fully into this important aspect of our participation in the Jesus Movement,” Bishop Tom Ely said, adding that we “are ready to go deeper in our witness to Christ by better equipping our leaders (lay and clergy) and our people for a more effective, bold and engaging proclamation of the Gospel.”
For the past two years Diocesan Council has made evangelism a priority, and now it will be the focus of a diocesan effort in 2018.
Indeed, for the past two years Diocesan Council has made evangelism a priority, and now it will be the focus of a diocesan effort in 2018. Beginning with a presentation at the January Diocesan Council meeting and extending throughout the year, there will be myriad opportunities to take part in this evangelical effort.
Green Mountain Witness (GMW), the name that our diocesan evangelism movement currently bears, will begin mobilizing for support in a variety of ways:
- Diocesan Council will hold at least two sessions on evangelism with the GMW Planners that will include: exploring biblical, theological and historical bases of evangelism; small-group modules in which participants will share experiences, fears and hopes about evangelism; discussing the contexts for evangelism in Vermont, including its rural, agricultural, small-town, hipster urban, and religiously unaffiliated aspects; and brainstorming about possibly fruitful approaches to evangelism across the diocese.
- Six Vermonters – four lay and two clergy from diverse parts of the diocese – will attend the Evangelism Matters conference in Cleveland Heights, Ohio from March 15 to 17. These six will return informed and motivated to energize Green Mountain Witness and enhance the initiative with perspectives and strategies from around the Episcopal Church. They will report to Diocesan Council and share their experience through The Mountain, the diocese’s semi-monthly digital magazine and through videos on the diocesan website. They will be part of the GMW Planners group.
- Each of the five Mission Districts of the diocese will be convened for a preparatory meeting about evangelism prior to Diocesan Convention. These gatherings will feature overviews of evangelism as a Christian calling and small-group discussions of people’s experiences, hopes and apprehensions about evangelism.
A centerpiece of the mobilization for our diocesan evangelism movement will be the 2018 Diocesan Convention.
A centerpiece of the mobilization for GWM will be the 2018 Diocesan Convention, planned for Nov. 2-3. This will feature a number of elements:
- Advance communications about evangelism that will highlight the four major features in the church wide initiative’s understanding of evangelism: seeking, naming and celebrating Jesus’ loving presence, and inviting people to form or deepen their relationship with God in Christ. This will help to distinguish evangelism from ecclesial welcome, important as that is, and from strategies of church growth. Communications will also feature insights and inspirations emerging from the Mission District gatherings.
- A keynote speaker who will inspire Vermonters to evangelize as well as inform us about the true nature of evangelism as a spiritual practice. The keynote speaker this year will be the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation. This will surely continue our diocesan tradition of lively, topical and pertinent speakers at convention!
- Workshops on evangelism that will explore a number of areas: biblical and theological foundations; evangelistic spirituality; listening for the other’s faith and expressing one’s own faith; friendship and neighborly evangelism; evangelism amid social and ethnic difference; and the like.
- Resolutions that will commit the diocese to ongoing growth in evangelism through the terminus of the granting period, which is March 2019, but also through a three-year period of continual activity and monitoring through the end of 2021.
Here’s looking forward to your enthusiastic participation into this effort in the months and years to come!
About the Author
The Rev. Liam Muller (pictured) is rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Rutland, VT. He is also the author of the “Spread the Word” evangelism series published monthly in The Mountain. His articles can be found on the diocesan website here.