This year’s diocesan Spring Learning Event, which annually draws Episcopalians together for learning, resource sharing and inspiration, is flinging its doors open even wider, partnering with Episcopal Village and welcoming neighboring New England dioceses to what’s being called “a village gathering.”
It takes place on Saturday, March 5, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston.
“Think of it as a big-tent or village gathering,” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, one of the event's planners and priest to The Crossing, the cathedral church’s emergent worship community.
“Yes, we will have a keynote speaker—Ian Mobsby, a hugely respected church planter, author and leader out of the Church of England. We’ll have Becky Garrison, an Episcopalian and journalist who studies developments in our church. We’ll welcome Tom Brackett, who coordinates church planting, restarts and fresh expressions for the whole Episcopal Church.
“But the focus is on all of us coming together, sharing our passions and stories and resources for mission,” Spellers said. “Our mantra as a diocese is ‘Answering God’s urgent call. Together.’ Well, here’s where we get equipped to do that in our vastly different contexts.”
The Episcopal Village is a network of Episcopalians committed to providing resources for leaders seeking to birth fresh forms of Anglican community and tradition. The Seattle-based network sponsored successful regional mission events last year in Baltimore and Portland, Ore. Co-sponsors for the March 5 Boston event are the dioceses of Massachusetts and Connecticut and Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge.
The learning-mission event will include mission conversations, panels and story-sharing by diverse, experienced leaders around a rich array of topics, such as social media, mission with Latino youth, fresh expressions in a small church, worship with children with disabilities, sanctuary renovations, public narrative, congregational development and more.
The Rev. Canon Steven Bonsey, Canon Pastor of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and one of the event’s planners, says he hopes the event will create space for practitioners to connect with one another through these mission conversations.
“We all know that change is coming our way, that as society changes, so, too, will the church’s incarnation of the Gospel change,” Bonsey wrote in an e-mail to clergy colleagues about the event. “There is much that we cherish in the church that will carry forward. What new things is God doing among us? What ancient forms are being revived? What faithful innovations are bringing the church to fresh expression?”
The March 5 event is part of a weekend schedule of events:
Thursday, March 3, 12:15 p.m.: Pre-conference worship at Episcopal Divinity School. Ian Mobsby will celebrate the Eucharist at St. John’s Chapel (99 Brattle Street) in Cambridge;
Friday, March 4, 12-2 p.m.: Pre-conference forum at Episcopal Divinity School: Ian Mobsby will speak on “Ancient Faith, Future Mission: Fresh Expressions and New Monasticism,” with a response from Karen Ward, founder of the Church of the Apostles in Seattle and director of Episcopal Village;
Saturday, March 5, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Diocesan Spring Learning/Episcopal Village Mission Event at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston:
• Keynote address by Ian Mobsby on “Gathering and Sending: Apostolic People, A Missional Church and Post-secular Culture”;
• Mission Spotlights, with Becky Garrison hosting two panels with leaders in ministry with homeless people and in building “intentional” Christian communities;
• Mission Conversations: regional leaders facilitating conversations on social media, public narrative and evangelism, leadership tools for innovative ministries, ministry with Latino youth, worship with children with disabilities, fresh expressions in a small church, environment and Christian community, starting fresh in a conventional church, contemplative prayer, transformative ritual and music, starting a house church and mission for small urban churches; and
• Worship: Led by The Crossing, the emergent congregation at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.