The Diocese of Fond du Lac maintains a companion diocese relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo in Zimbabwe. In late May, Bishop Matt and Bishop Godfrey enjoyed a Zoom conversation prior to Companion Diocese Sunday (watch here). Recently, Bishop Godfrey sent a report about the diocese during the pandemic. The report includes information about the Transfiguration Skills Centre which was supported by the Bishop's Annual Appeal in 2019. Since the relaxation of COVID19 regulations, activities have just started. Production of pigs is already underway. Planting of vegetables in the garden has started. Chicken rearing and egg production will be resumed shortly. There is a vision to have the capacity to supply the surrounding boarding schools with farm produce. Read the complete report, with pictures here.
Over $20,000 raised as part of the diocesan Annual Bishop's Appeal has been entrusted to a companion diocese. The Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac in northeast Wisconsin and the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo in Zimbabwe started a companion diocese relationship in 2016. This relationship expands understanding of one another, nurtures friendships, and proclaims the Good News of the Gospel in local communities and cultural contexts. Each diocese prays regularly for the other since the relationship began. In June this year, three members of Masvingo visited the Diocese of Fond du Lac.
The Annual Bishop’s Appeal offers opportunity to support the work the diocese by providing resources for leadership, vitality, and through initiatives that transform lives. The 2019 missionary church portion of the appeal was designated for the Diocese of Masvingo. To date $20,334.12 has been raised, more than doubling a $10,000 goal.
"Let me make special mention of two of our congregations," Bishop Matthew Gunter shared. "St. John the Baptist in Wausau, sent a gift collected from members of the congregation of over $10,000. The women of St. John's sent an additional donation for the work of the Mother's Union in Zimbabwe."
"St. Luke's in Sister Bay," Bishop Gunter continued, "sent a donation for the Mother's Union as well. Nearly 100 individual gifts have been received toward this goal of the appeal. What a blessing it is to share what God has provided."
The funds will support Masvingo's Transfiguration Skills Training Center and aid Cyclone Idai recovery efforts. The center is a diocesan project that impacts the community. It imparts skills to youth to start projects and improve their livelihoods through chicken rearing, piggery, market gardening and maize production.
The Annual Bishop's Appeal continues to receive contributions. To give, visit diofdl.org/appeal.
Vital Congregations. Prayer and Worship. Missionary Church. These are the three areas of focus for the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac in being a people of God’s mercy and delight. “Our ministry together is rich in both hope and possibility,” Bishop Matt Gunter wrote to congregations launching the first Annual Bishop’s Appeal in Easter. The invitation is for the people “join me in supporting work that helps us live Jesus' way of love.”
The Annual Bishop's Appeal (diofdl.org/appeal) is an opportunity for members and friends of the diocese to support its work in providing for vitality in congregations. Support can also be given to initiatives that will transform lives. Developed by the diocesan Executive Council and approved by the Diocesan Convention, it is intended to give people in the pews an avenue to give directly to the broader church. Bishop Matt consults with church leaders each year to determine two or three areas for the appeal with a goal of supporting diocesan mission and ministry beyond regular budgetary processes.
“I find the three areas of the 2019 appeal exciting,” Bishop Matt shared in a recent interview. “They reflect ways for us to be on offense as I talked about in a Pastoral Address.”
The first area of the appeal is Vital Congregations. “We can do more,” Gunter noted, “to help congregations be as vital as possible.” Contributions are for supporting ongoing clergy and lay leadership development as well as diocesan initiatives like the current Faithful Innovations.
A second area of the appeal is Prayer and Worship. “If you haven't heard yet, the Presiding Bishop visits us in October,” Gunter reminded. “We can be great hosts for all who come to hear his particular message of the Way of Love.” While the Executive Council has made a financial commitment to assure the Way of Love Revival will happen, additional funds will make it the best as it can be. Hosting an event for 500-800 people is a big undertaking with significant expenses related to rental of the Expo Center, staging, lighting, sound, a tent, renting tables and chairs rental, and of course, a lunch. Contributions are for underwriting the costs of the revival, so it will be open to the public at no cost, including a free lunch!
The final area of the appeal is Missionary Church. “We can help our companion diocese in two ways,” Gunter said. “Recovery efforts after Cyclone Idai, and help transforming the lives of people in a way to help them thrive.” Zimbabwe has numerous political, economic and social challenges. Industry, social services, and other sectors have collapsed resulting in high unemployment. University graduates and other skilled people are unable to get jobs because the jobs are not there. Most people have resorted to vending to sustain their families.
The Diocese of Masvingo has developed ways of intervening to mitigate the situation, cognizant of our Lord's instruction in Matthew 25:40. Bishop Godfrey has specifically requested assistance for the Transfiguration Skills Training Center. The Center imparts skills to young men and women who can then start their own projects, improving their livelihoods. Skills taught are in chicken rearing, piggery, market gardening and maize production. Embarking on these projects builds a sense of self-reliance and hope for positive change and self-worth. The projects enable participation in both church and society through survival skills provision.
Vital Congregations. Prayer and Worship. Missionary Church. These are the areas of the appeal. Contributions may be made and used in all three areas or designated for one or two of the areas. To give, visit diofdl.org/appeal. The appeal runs through the end of Pentecost.
“There are lots of good things going on in the Diocese of Fond du Lac already,” Bishop Matt concluded. “This is an opportunity to build on that goodness.”