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[ENS/E Life] Conference addresses stewardship, evangelism and
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Fri, 16 Apr 2004 14:43:32 -0700
Friday, April 16, 2004
Conference addresses stewardship, evangelism and growth
By Linda Moore
[Episcopal Life] More than 400 Episcopalians from throughout New England
recently gathered in Westborough, Massachusetts, to enrich their
understanding and experience of stewardship, evangelism and parish
"I feel very hopeful about our future as the Episcopal Church after seeing
so many others preparing for our work as stewards of God," said Amy Doyle
Welin of the Diocese of Connecticut.
It was one of many similar responses from participants at "Sowing and
Growing Seeds of Change," a Province I conference that over the past five
years has become the largest of its kind.
>From the opening plenary by Archbishop Michael Peers, retired primate of
the Anglican Church of Canada, to the sermon by Georgia lawyer Angela
Emerson, now a seminarian in Austin, Texas, the March 26-28 conference
spoke to one theme: All we have and are is a gift from God; all we give
back is what we have been given.
"The conference is a wonderful spiritual time to reflect on the blessings
God has given me, and on how to share these gifts and joys," said Nancy
Brown of the Diocese of Rhode Island.
Participants attended sessions on stewardship, evangelism, congregational
development, and planned giving. These four seminars, as well as the target
groups for small, medium and large parish churches, provided practical
ideas for mission.
"I've seen this conference transform lives and mission," said the Rev.
Susan J. Latimer of the Diocese of Maine. "As a result of last year's
conference, we began a new ministry to economically stressed families in
One small congregation, Trinity Episcopal Church in Ware, Massachusetts,
described a desire to build a spiritual ministry to the local neighborhood.
One hundred hands were raised in answer to the question, "Who will commit
to pray for this new mission?"
Describing evangelism as "the stewardship of God's word," Terry Parsons,
missioner for stewardship at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, said
that evangelism is not inviting people to church, but "inviting people to
spend eternity with us and with our God."
Evangelism and stewardship are not separate ventures, she said. "If you're
not talking about Jesus, you're not talking about stewardship."
The plenary speaker, Suffragan Bishop Roy F. Cederholm Jr. of the Diocese
of Massachusetts, described stewardship as a celebration of faith and as
thanksgiving, in a theology of abundance.
The Rev. Ben Helmer, national missioner for small and rural congregations,
spoke to the vitality that can be regained in parishes as Episcopalians
search their communities for opportunities for mission.
Each day, the conference began with centering prayer and ended with
Compline, with music by Mark Engelhardt, organist and music director of St.
Paul's Cathedral in Boston. Individuals prayed together for healing,
guidance and renewal.
"The Holy Spirit moves powerfully in this place," said Boris von York of
the Diocese of Vermont. "I have attended four out of the last five years.
This conference has broadened our understanding, of whom we are, so that we
might move to who God wants us to become."
--Linda McCullough Moore is a novelist who attends St. John's Episcopal
Church in Northampton, Massachusetts.
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