Today I am writing to invite your parish to participate in the third year of our Learning Communities Initiative. You know—whether from firsthand experience as a past participant or from hearing stories from participants—that the simple Listen-Act-Reflect model practiced by our LCI cohort is transforming our relationships and teaching us how to love God, one another, and our neighbors. In this third year, we will focus on fully integrating this model into the life of our parishes, moving beyond “committee work” and re-orienting our hearts, minds, and actions to the Holy Spirit’s work in our midst.
Hundreds of people from more than half the congregations in this diocese have renewed their commitment to Jesus’ Way of Love through the Learning Communities Initiative, and you now have the opportunity to join them or continue on the journey. This year, we’ll offer two different ways to engage with the Learning Communities Initiative, and your parish may choose one or both.
First, as in past years, there will be a series of three workshops, to be held at central locations in our diocese on Saturdays March 7th, May 30th, and September 26th. Each workshop will focus on one step of the Listen-Act-Reflect model and you will leave each gathering with concrete action steps to strengthen your congregations’ relationships with God, your neighbors, and one another. This first track is ideal for parishes who have never participated in LCI before or who have participated and wish to engage more deeply in their neighborhoods.
The second, new, track is a single Learning Communities Initiative Summit to be held on Saturday, April 18th: Listening to God take us to the next level. Suitable for current workshop cohort participants or past Learning Communities Initiative participants, this Summit will help you apply what you’ve heard from your neighbors about the needs of your community. Is your community struggling with hunger? Opioid use? Senior citizens who are isolated and lonely? This summit will help you identify concrete ways your parish can be part of God’s response in your neighborhood—and connect you with others in the diocese working on similar ministries. Of course, your parish may choose to participate in the three workshops as well as the summit for a rich experience of the Learning Communities Initiative.
Today, I hope you and your congregation will begin discerning whether to join or continue in the Learning Communities Initiative, by participating in the workshop series and/or the summit, in 2020. Please review the information available cnyepiscopal.org/learning-communities. Discuss this opportunity with the leaders of your congregation, and pray together about whether God is calling your community to join or rejoin the Learning Communities Initiative in 2020. If your congregation is ready to join or rejoin, your vestry may complete and submit the Covenant available at cnyepiscopal.org/learning-communities by January 29th.
The Learning Communities Initiative is not a traditional program. It is a way of being, a set of practices to carry with us as we continue on the Way of Love as we follow Jesus. Every congregation in this diocese can benefit from the Listen-Act-Reflect model, and from the community of support provided through the Learning Communities Initiative.
We are the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York. More and more, we are waking up to God’s dream of “a world healed by love” at home, in our churches, and in our neighborhoods. Whether through the Learning Communities Initiative or any other shared ministry, I look forward to continuing this journey with you.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York