image above: One team member’s notes from the June 19th Visioning Retreat, taken as the Visioning Team discussed a draft of a rule of life to guide the Diocese f Central New York.
When June 19th—the Juneteenth holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States—was proposed as a date for a half-day retreat for the diocesan Visioning Team, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe was cautious, but saw an opportunity. “So much of the work of this Visioning process has centered around a desire to have this diocese make significant steps toward racial reconciliation,” she told the Visioning Team in a video-conference before the retreat. “In some ways, the Visioning work is a sacred response to the meaning of Juneteenth.”
Members of the team took the bishop’s call to heart, planning a retreat day that put the history and meaning of Juneteenth at the center of the team’s ongoing work to discern a vision, mission, and rule of life that will gather and inspire the diocesan community for shared ministry. Team members engaged educational material about Juneteenth, heard poetry from Maya Angelou and slam poet Ben Aragbaye, and sang along with a rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” from Sweet Honey In The Rock. Along the way, team leader Karen Anderson of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clinton asked insightful questions, inviting team members into deep reflection and conversation about God’s call to work for racial justice and reconciliation.
What emerged is a common sense that God is calling our diocese to a ministry of healing, helping ourselves and others to see more clearly the sacred value of every human being and all creation. Team members imagined and shared ways this common call to ministry might be realized in personal relationships, in parish ministries, in community partnerships, and in diocese-wide initiatives.
Over the summer, members of the Visioning Team will continue to reflect and refine work done to date on a rule of life, mission statement, and vision statement for the Diocese. Team members are also finalizing a collect for the Visioning process, and will be inviting congregations to pray regularly for the process. Then, after a third retreat in the fall, the bishop and Visioning Team will invite the wider diocese into the Visioning process through a series of conversations at pre-Convention Regional Meetings in October.
The Visioning Team hopes to share drafts of the rule of life, mission statement, and vision statement in the pre-Convention Regional Meetings, and to invite the wider diocese to respond with feedback, questions, and reflections on the impact these pieces could have on ministries at the individual, parish, and diocesan level.