Formation for the Missionary Church: March 2021 Vestry Papers

March 3, 2021

Dear Friends in Faith,

As mentioned in the February issue of Vestry Papers, these next two issues are dedicated to sharing stories of faith and formation lived out by congregations with clergy-leaders involved in The Gathering of Leaders (GOL). We are a network of some of the most creative, innovative and hope-filled clergy in the Episcopal Church, and often the successes and struggles in these communities of faith are shaping the way the church is moving into the future.

This year GOL is focusing on the theme of “Formation for the Missionary Church in a Changing World,” and through the following articles we hope to inspire you and your community to see where God might be calling you to new and innovative ways to share the love of Christ and form disciples in the world.

The question of formation is core to the mission of the church. The word summarizes the process of making disciples. In Formation Through Community, GOL Board Member Rev. Emily Mellott shares why this topic is relevant for all our congregational leaders in this time, and how relationships are such a vital piece of the work.

The ethos by which GOL was designed is a prime example of how a learning community can embrace formation in the missionary church. In The Power of Gathering, I share GOL’s strategies and methods for anyone hoping to form or enhance their own learning communities.

The Rev. Canon Anna Sutterisch vlogs about the concepts of #MakeChurchHipAgain and #NotYourGrandmasChurch through the lens of seculocity in New Wine in an Old Wineskin. How are we following the Holy Spirit as she moves and changes us and our institution?

In a changing world, the Missionary Church needs leadership and trust. The Rev. Uriel Lopez describes in A Two-in-One Ministry Grows in Houston how forming San Romeo at St. Christopher’s showed him that the leadership of the Spirit of Christ must be present in planting a new Christian congregation. This article is available in English and Spanish.

Can craft brew bring people together over the Bible? Absolutely! In Bible & Brew, the Rev. Landon Moore shares the impact of his podcast Bible & Brew as he and a colleague reach churched and unchurched alike through this growing media platform.

In the most ‘outside the church walls’ ministry I could find, the Revs. Alex Leach and Brian Baker take Christianity, fellowship and the love and understanding of Jesus Christ to the world of virtual reality at last year’s Burning Man Festival. In The Church Goes to Virtual Burning Man, he assures us that Jesus moves among us, even in cyberspace.

Another great resource at ECF that is near and dear to my heart is the free Congregational Vitality Assessment tool, built in collaboration with The FaithX Project. This tool allows congregations of all shapes and sizes to develop research-driven analyses of their vitality and sustainability along with suggestions on how to live into their strengths and address areas of opportunity.

To learn more about Gathering of Leaders or contribute to our work supporting innovation in ministry, please visit our website.

Blessings,

Haley Bankey
Guest Editor
Executive Director, Gathering of Leaders