Diocese of Vermont, August 2018
updated from the proposal for the grant made by the Episcopal Church Evangelism Project
Mobilization for Green Mountain Witness, the Diocese of Vermont evangelism initiative, has begun in 2018 through a number of avenues:
Diocesan Council has held two conversations on evangelism with the GMW Planners that included: biblical and theological bases of evangelism; contexts for evangelism in Vermont, including its rural, agricultural, small-town, hipster urban, and religiously unaffiliated aspects; and possible fruitful approaches to evangelism across the diocese.
Evangelism Team of nine members – seven lay and two clergy – has been collaborating enthusiastically in planning and carrying out Green Mountain Witness. Meetings have been held in person and via Zoom, and members are contributing articles to the semi-monthly diocesan publication ‘The Mountain.’
Evangelism Matters Conference in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, March 15-17, drew six team members, who returned informed and motivated to energize Green Mountain Witness and enhance the initiative with perspectives and strategies from around the Episcopal Church.
Preparatory Meetings about Evangelism will be held with small groups of parishes throughout the diocese before Diocesan Convention. These will feature overviews of evangelism as a Christian calling and discussions of people’s experiences, hopes and apprehensions about evangelism.
‘Go Tell It On the Mountains: Evangelism Vermont-Style’ is the 2018 Diocesan Convention theme, Oct. 26-27 in Burlington. This will feature a number of elements:
Advance communications are highlighting the churchwide 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 distinguish evangelism from ecclesial welcome and from strategies of church growth.
Keynoter Canon Stephanie Spellers, canon to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, will inspire Vermonters to evangelize and explore evangelism as a spiritual practice. She will connect us with the churchwide initiative and distinguish evangelism from stereotypes of gospel imposition and church growth.
Workshops on evangelism will explore: 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. Leaders will come from both within and outside the diocese.
Legislative resolutions 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.
Evangelism Workshops will highlight the final phase of Green Mountain Witness in the first year in area gatherings for three or four congregations at a time, with facilitators from both within and outside the diocese, held from January through March 2019.