From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] 20/20 is fostering a missional perspective

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Tue, 12 Aug 2003 13:23:16 -0400

August 7, 2003

20/20 is 'fostering a missional perspective'

by Sarah T. Moore
[ENS] Though affirming a gay bishop for the church and discussing rites
to bless same-sex relationships gained international attention, the 74th
General Convention dug deeper to lay groundwork of a rejuvenated church
proclaiming Jesus as Lord in the 21st-century world.

"We are fostering a missional perspective," said Sarah Lawton, chair of
the 20/20 Strategy Group and vice chair of the Standing Commission on
Domestic Mission and Evangelism. "It's something you cannot legislate,
but [can] lay out the framework. We're fostering that culture in every
level - national church, diocese, and congregations - and it's being
received joyfully."

Lawton, a deputy from the Diocese of California, has spent long hours on
the convention floor considering legislation. Although she agrees
strongly that a legal process doesn't make a church, she is well aware
that in many ways in the Episcopal Church, it is legislation adopted at
General Convention that drives the action. 

"We want to be disciples who make disciples. We preach not the Episcopal
Church, but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as servants for Jesus'
sake," said the Rev. John A. M. Guernsey, chair of the Standing
Commission on Domestic Mission and Evangelism, addressing the House of
Deputies on the second day of convention.

"The emergence of the 20/20 vision opened our eyes," added the Rev.
James Lemler, speaking of the 20/20 report to the deputies at the same
time. "The church needs to get ready for the mission we are talking

And getting ready it is.

Resolutions spread into nine areas (leadership, spirituality, prayer and
worship, research, new congregational development, vital congregations,
the Next generation, communications, funding and reporting) and emerged
with challenges to the church to be "a church we haven't seen yet,"
according to the Rev.Winnie Varghese, chaplain at Columbia University. 

"Many of these have a sense of urgency" to get on with the mission of
the church, she said. Resolutions to help the growth of vital
congregations through evangelism, education, communication and
spirituality, prayer and worship have been adopted, she noted.

Episcopalians should see efforts to plant churches speed up with
partnership money for dioceses and congregations earmarked from the
national church - especially those reaching out to underserved areas,
diverse populations and urban areas; publications in multiple languages,
especially Spanish, to reach the quickly growing Hispanic presence in
the United States will emerge; and most importantly, identifying youth
and young adults as the number one priority of the church.

Liturgy took center stage too, contained in several resolutions,
including the House of Bishops' reauthorization of Enriching Our Worship
to expand liturgies and music to reflect the diversity of cultures and
peoples to which the Episcopal Church is reaching out.

"We breathe in through liturgy and breathe out in action," said Lawton.
Embracing ceremonies reflected in many languages and cultures and
incorporating them into Episcopal liturgies will enrich the church. 

Bishops and deputies voted to recommend that all dioceses "strongly
encourage" contemporary language competency for those seeking
ordination. That raises the bar on awareness and reality of the flood of
immigrant population coming to this country and those of the Episcopal
Church from Latin America in Province IX of the church.

"Regardless, it elevated the discussion for the first time about
bringing multiculture leadership everywhere to the center," Lawton said.
"We never send missionaries out into the world without training and a
level of competency. We must think of domestic mission in the same sense
as foreign - for they are here, among us. We are urging dioceses to get
people thinking about that."

One of the most important steps was approval of leadership programs for
18- to 25-year-olds, internships for young people and money to fund it,
Lawton noted. Convention is considering a budget that includes $5.3
million for youth and young adult ministries of a $146.4 million total.

"That is huge. These are our leaders for the next generation. Youth and
young adults were taken seriously and identified as the number one
priority identified by Program, Budget and Finance," said Lawton.

"It is an exciting time to be an Episcopalian," said the Rev. Dr. Ian
Douglas in a General Convention newscast interview as convention began
its concluding days. Domestic and international mission are entwined,
and this convention has named both a great urgency and greater
understanding for the church to act.

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold said in his opening address the first
day of convention, "My prayer is that this convention will be a part of
the continuing process of discovery and growth." 

As convention comes to a close, Lawton said, "We need to adjust to being
a church in a very changing time. People seem ready to embrace this. Now
go home and do it."

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