A mission strategy is a plan for our future. It identifies our priorities, so we know how to best use our financial, staff and other resources. Our mission strategy is a response to the particular gifts of our diocese and the changing needs of our communities in eastern Massachusetts. It identifies the ways that we hope to answer Jesus’ call to be disciples together.
Our diocesan mission strategy calls us to embrace brave change by reimagining our congregations to better respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our time and place; building our relationships to unite as one body in Christ; and engaging the world to reconcile ourselves and all people to one another, and all of Creation to God.
Reimagining Our Congregations:
How will we share our faith and shape our common life for a future with hope?
Building Our Relationships:
How will we work across difference to build each other up in love?
Engaging Our World:
How will we seek justice and peace with neighbors near and far?
Imagine these things in your own thoughts and prayers. Imagine these things, as you read the Bible and as you read the news. Imagine these things, in conversation with other members of your congregation or ministry groups. Imagine these things, in conversation with others outside the walls of your church–with potential partners and collaborators, individuals and organizations, whose passions intersect with the goals of reconciliation and healing in our world.
Imagine embracing brave change, as we live into our new mission strategy, with God’s help, and the companionship of one another!
"Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine..." (Ephesians 3:20)
Bishop Gates extends this video invitation for individuals, congregations and ministry groups.
Join the conversation!
Along with Bishop Gates's video, use this series of three bulletin inserts and discussion guide to help one another become more familiar with our new mission strategy and to invite your congregation or ministry group to find its own connections to the mission strategy:
A prayer for our new mission strategy
Lord Jesus Christ, we come before you as a people of God,
seeking to join your transforming work in the world.
Open our eyes to see the movement of your Spirit.
Open our minds to imagine new possibilities.
Open our ears to hear the voices of all your children.
Open our mouths to speak with honesty and love.
Open our hands to share all that we have.
Open our hearts to receive all that we need.
Thank you, Lord, for calling us as your disciples and friends.
Give us courage to follow where you lead. Amen.
What's happening now?
• The Diocesan Council and our bishops named a 12-member Mission Strategy Implementation Organizing Team in December 2016. The team worked over subsequent months to identify next steps and new initiatives that uphold mission strategy themes, and to develop a prioritized implementation plan. The team reported its implementation recommendations at the Diocesan Convention on Nov. 4, 2017.
Read the team's report here.
The team's recommendations included:
(1) launching a process for intentional conversation to help build relationships among congregations;
Click here to learn more about Massachusetts Indaba 2019.
(2) implementing "Mission Match," a diocesan version of Episcopal Relief & Development's online asset mapping tool to help connect people and congregations in collaborative ministries;
Is your congregation interested in getting started right away with "Mission Match"? Contact George Chu (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Hilary Greene (email@example.com) for more information.
(3) and continuing work to discern a diocesan organizational structure that will more effectively balance centralized and regional support to congregations.
New regional canons: Regional canons were appointed in summer 2018: The Rev. Martha L. Hubbard will serve as canon for the Northern and Western Region. The Rev. Kelly A. O'Connell will serve as canon for the Southern Region. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Carol J. Gallagher will serve as canon for the Central Region.
This new regional canon staffing structure is a result of the diocesan mission strategy development process, which surfaced the desire in congregations for closer connections with one another and with diocesan staff. Each of the three regional canons will serve a geographic area of the diocese encompassing four deaneries and will have responsibility for lay leadership support and development in congregations; transition ministry with congregations and clergy involved in search processes for new ordained leadership; and clergy wellness and family support.
Our process so far
Phase I: Design a process (May 2015-November 2015)
Bishop Gates and Diocesan Council appointed a team to create a plan for the listening process. The goal of this design team was to ensure that every member of our diocese would have an opportunity to offer ideas about what’s working, what we could change, what needs we see in our communities and what new dreams we have for our diocese. The design team created Shared Mission, a brief profile of our diocese’s history, current ministries and wider context as a starting point for conversations. It’s available attached as a PDF document below.
Phase II: Listen to everyone (December 2015-April 2016)
A listening team appointed by Bishop Gates and Diocesan Council held seven open listening sessions around our diocese in January and February and also met with 12 focused groups. The smaller focused meetings were held for communities or members of a community that might not be easily heard in the open listening sessions and included youth, young adults, historically black congregations, clergy of color, Haitian/South Sudanese congregations, immigrant congregations, Spanish-speaking/Latino communities, Chinese-speaking congregations, retired clergy and the community of the MANNA ministry with the homeless at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston.
The listening team worked with professionals with expertise in social science research to analyze the information from the surveys and conversations and identify key themes. We offered our initial report on the listening process in the early part of April. We reported to you the concerns and hopes that were mentioned frequently and with passion in the listening process. We wanted to communicate clearly in a reasonable length, so we weren’t able to mention every specific issue that has been raised. We hope the initial report, and the subsequent revised report, reveal places of convergence in views among members of our diocese.
Phase III: Identify priorities (May 2016-November 2016)
A drafting team appointed by Bishop Gates and Diocesan Council looked at all the insights from the listening process alongside information about the challenges and opportunities in our diocese, the Episcopal Church and the wider community. They prayerfully considered our many voices and perspectives and identified key areas to focus on in upcoming years.
The drafting team on Aug. 9 issued a draft mission strategy and gathered feedback on it from the diocesan community at six open forums and via online and phone surveys. The team incorporated responses into a proposed mission strategy, which the Diocesan Council approved before sending it to the Diocesan Convention for its approval in November.
At our Diocesan Convention on Nov. 5, 2016, lay delegates and clergy voted overwhelmingly to approve our new mission strategy. Delegates and clergy spent time reading, together and aloud, the proposed mission strategy, which has been developed over the last 18 months with participation from more than 1,200 people from more than three-fourths of our congregations. After reading, delegates and clergy discussed the document, first in small groups and then in a larger, plenary session. Convention then voted to approve the proposed mission strategy, with one amendment that provides for greater emphasis on children and family ministry. The Mission Strategy Drafting Team supported that amendment. This plan now becomes our diocese's mission strategy for at least the next three years.
The new mission strategy is available here and also is attached as a PDF below.
Phase IV: Implementation organizing (December 2016-November 2017)
See "What's Happening Now" (above) for updates on our progress!