“How people understand religion and seek truth in God, that’s changed dramatically,” …[the Rev. Karen C. Lewis] said. “No longer do we have churches filled on Sunday with 500 or 600 folks.”
The process has included a questionnaire sent to every congregation and inviting each person to participate. Nearly all of the congregations in the diocese responded, Lewis said.
“It’s to discuss what in the church excites them, what defines them,” she said. “If it’s a passion, then people will buy into it.”
The two-day summit includes representatives from each congregation who will discuss how their church can create programs based on the priorities and experiences culled from the surveys.
“As a result, we will staff, budget, prioritize,” Lewis said.
The idea, she said, is to encourage a bottom-up approach rather than implement plans created by church officials. As of Thursday, 281 people representing 72 parishes were registered.
“Ministry occurs in the local congregation,” she said. “They’re the ones doing the work Christ has called them to.”
The diocese includes more than 19,000 people in 97 congregations in Central New York, north to Alexandria Bay and south to the Pennsylvania border. In 2002, the diocese listed its membership at 23,000 people; in 1995 it was about 25,000.