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.”
Bishop Matt and the Commission on Congregational Vitality invite individuals and congregations to study the Collects of Advent! Beginning on December 3, 2017, each Sunday in Advent we draw closer to the celebration of the Incarnation of our Lord. The Sunday Collect serves as a prayer that leads us in preparation for this event. This Advent you are invited to spend time and engage the Collects of Advent.
The Advent Series is designed so it can be organized and led by either laity or clergy. It is not a study, rather it is meant to be a time of listening to God and one another. It is a time for storytelling and reflecting on our stories. It is also meant to be a time of beginning or continuing discernment, both for the person and for your community of faith.
Questions are provided to assist in your time of reflection and discussion. While you need not utilize every question, we encourage you to consider the last two questions provided
Four workshops will be offered as part of the Diocese of Fond du Lac's Spring Conference "TAKING GOD'S MERCY AND DELIGHT INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD" on May 13. They are "We Were Headed For Aruba; How Did We End Up In Anchorage? How To Make A Vision Happen," "Jesus Has Left The Building," "Telling Our Stories," and "Sharing The Good News." Learn more and register at diofdl.org/sc.