Spread the Word: A Shout-out for Engaging Evangelism at Diocesan Convention
By Titus Presler
Diocesan Convention is around the corner. The theme is evangelism, under the title of “Go, Tell It on the Mountains! Evangelism Vermont-Style.”
Here are some bottom lines:
- Come and participate fully!
- Be open to thinking about evangelism – and even to doing it!
- Read the book: Speaking Our Faith: Equipping the Next Generations to Tell the Old, Old Story by Kit Carlson, a woman who is rector of a parish in Michigan. (It’s available from Hopkins Bookshop.)
- Bring people from your congregation – not delegates only but anyone you think could catalyze interest in evangelism in your parish. (The Green Mountain Witness budget can assist with registration fees – just write to me about that: email@example.com.)
This year’s keynoter is Stephanie Spellers, canon to the Presiding Bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care. She’s energetic, articulate and humorous. You’re going to like here and learn a lot from her. Stephanie will offer two plenary talks on Friday, speak at the convention banquet that evening, and preach at the Eucharist Saturday morning. Come prepared for a treat.
Each of the two workshop segments Friday afternoon will feature seven workshops.
Each of the two workshop segments Friday afternoon will feature seven workshops, four of them offered in both segments. Here’s a quick rundown of the topics and leaders:
- Telling My Story, a session on how to talk about how God has touched your life, will be offered by Kathleen Moore, seminarian from St. James’, Arlington, and Jenny Ogelby from St. James’, Essex, and manager of the Hopkins Book Shop.
- Sharing My Faith will explore how we can summarize our understanding of the gospel for people outside the church, led by Lindsey Huddle of St. James’, Essex, and Titus Presler, vicar of St. Matthew’s in Enosburg Falls.
- Evangelism: Online and Incarnate, led by Jeremy Tackett, digital evangelist for the Episcopal Church as a whole, will explore a theology of evangelism and prepare participants to share the gospel both in person and online.
- Evangelism through Healing will explore how the ministries of healing that stem from Jesus’ own ministry can bring people into a relationship with God in Christ. Leading will be Fred Vergara, a priest who is missioner for the churchwide Asiamerica Ministries.
- A Biblical Basis for Evangelism, led by Robert Barton of St. Mark’s, Springfield, will explore how the ministry of Jesus and the work of the early church suggest that evangelism is important and indicate fruitful ways in which to share the gospel.
- Evangelism for Shy People, led by Katie Runde of Christ Church, Bethel, will explore how being shy about evangelism can lead to more authentic spiritual sharing in the diversity of encounters that life brings us.
- Theological Perspectives on Evangelism, led by Mark Preece, vicar of St. Martin’s in Fairlee, will address the question, Why evangelize? and explore how sharing our faith can help us come to a clearer understanding of just what we do believe – and don’t believe!
- Evangelism with Young People, led by Jamison Dunne of Trinity, Shelburne, and himself an undergraduate at UVM, will explore the needs of teenagers and young adults and suggest ways to share the gospel with them.
- Contemplation and Discipleship: Foundations for Evangelism will suggest that evangelism is not a results-driven enterprise but rather the natural fruit of contemplative prayer and faithful living. Robert Barton of St. Mark’s in Springfield will lead.
- Digital Evangelism, led by Maurice Harris, communications minister for the diocese, will help congregations and individuals use websites and social media to help people intrigued by the gospel and interested in church.
The evangelism focus at convention will energize evangelism discussions well into 2019.
The convention program has been designed by the Green Mountain Witness Team, which is drawn from around the diocese. The evangelism focus at convention will energize evangelism discussions that the team will organize for congregations throughout the diocese well into 2019.
So what’s ‘evangelism Vermont-style’? It’s guided by the Episcopal Church’s definition of evangelism: “A spiritual practice of seeing, naming and celebrating Jesus’ loving presence in people’s lives, and then inviting them to form or deepen their relationship with God in Christ.”
Beyond that, we’re all going to develop the ‘Vermont-style’ together!
Titus Presler, vicar of St. Matthew’s Church in Enosburg Falls, is convener of the Green Mountain Witness Team in the Diocese of Vermont.