October 20, 2017
Dear Friends in Christ:
Our 149th Diocesan Convention—my first with you as your bishop—has been very much on my heart and in my prayers for much of this past year. Diocesan leadership, staff and I have been intentional in planning a resource Convention, meaning it offers resources to enrich ministry as well as inspire and encourage you. We are beginning a new season of shared ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York that is focused on responding to the work of God, the power of the Holy Spirit alive in our midst.
The theme of Convention, “Arms Wide Open,” refers to our posture in this new season: opening our arms and our hearts to God’s call for us and for our hurting world. St. Teresa of Avila is remembered for having said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours…Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.” In this season of new beginnings, our open arms reach out with love and embrace for all, welcoming and serving the people in our communities. My deepest desire is that we will embody the love of Jesus, our open arms resembling Jesus crucified and resurrected, signifying our openness to God and the kingdom of God known in our community.
The phrase “Arms Wide Open” is familiar in Scripture as a posture of prayer and offering. It is also echoed in the lyrics from the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, which you will hear at Convention:
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten…
Our future as a diocese is “still unwritten” and each of us is part of this sacred work. Each time I read the Epistles of St. Paul it is humbling to think these words of scripture were written out of his ministry, out of his relationship with God and with his community of the first followers of Jesus. Our shared ministry is entirely about relationship, our relationship with God and our relationship with all of God’s creation. So while our future is yet to be written, we rest in knowing that God is faithful and we are not alone in this journey. At Convention we will join as one body, each of our worshipping communities a vital part of God’s sacred relationship with us.
In regard to Convention and the continuation of our living witness to the love of Jesus, the “writing our book” together: author and Episcopal priest Dwight Zscheile will be with us to share with us concrete spiritual practices designed to orient our lives and churches towards God’s promises. Stories and presentations will focus on building up our faith and our relationships and celebrating our ministries. Festive and inspiring worship, sacred music and conversation will offer opportunities to enrich our relationships with God and one another.
I am sincere in saying that I love God and I love you, the people and congregations of our diocese. My heart is full as I prepare for our time together. I look forward to seeing you on November 10th and 11th.
May the love of God be known in all we do,
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York