The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins
OUR VISION FOR MISSION
The Diocese of Springfield is one church …
- organized for mission into geographic parishes,
- manifested in eucharistic communities and communities-in-formation,
- with a goal of being concretely incarnate in all of the 60 counties of central and southern Illinois.
Energized by the Great Commission, we understand “all nations” to refer, for us, to everyone living within the bounds of our diocese. These are the ones of whom we are commanded to “make disciples” of the Lord Jesus. We embrace the reality that the environment of our mission is a largely post-Christian secular culture. Therefore, the familiar “attractional” model of church growth is no longer effective. Instead of enticing them to come to us, we need to go them where they are.
This is something entirely new for our generation. We have no old patterns that we can breathe new life into. There are no “best practices.” We are discovering fire and inventing the wheel. We will fail many times, but always learn from our failures.
We are learning to speak of a parish as denoting a defined piece of geography. Episcopalians who worship in a parish come together in our church buildings as Eucharistic Communities. There may be one or more than one Eucharistic Community in any given parish. The members of the Eucharistic Communities in a parish are responsible for prosecuting the mission of the Church in their parish.
The whole community of the diocese, with our various gifts and talents, acts as a resource to each parish in discerning its particular charism, defining it particular call to mission, strategizing for the execution of that mission, preparing to implement the plan, and then acting on it in the power of the Holy Spirit. As we move forward, we make connections with people in their world rather than inviting them immediately into ours. Through Christ-like service and relationship building, we patiently earn the privilege of talking with them about spiritual issues and introducing them to Jesus. Among those who respond, we engage in catechesis and formation pointed toward baptism.
Sometimes these new disciples will be incorporated into an established Eucharistic Community. In other circumstances, they will join with other new disciples in forming a new community, for which the services of a priest will eventually be provided.
As we respond to the call to apostolic ministry, we are aware of our need to continually grow as disciples. We endeavor to faithfully cultivate the habits of mature discipleship. We engage our Anglican tradition of liturgy and piety with eyes that are both appreciative and critical, knowing that our worship must remain vital if it is to either glorify God or nourish our discipleship.
We believe God does not call any community to mission for which he does not also provide the resources. We move forward in confidence and thanksgiving.