The Bishop of Kansas' Diocesan Convention Address

You know, I think of myself as a person of deep faith, but truly, honestly, if you would have told me four years ago that we would be where we are today in terms of membership, clarity of mission, finances, enthusiasm, lay and clergy leadership, and yes, joy, I would not have believed you! It appears that the Lord is richly blessing our work and our faithfulness, and we are seeing glimpses of the first fruits of our diligent labor.

We believe our membership is growing. Over the past two years we may have gained more than 500 new members! Now let’s remember that these numbers have been accumulated by human hands, and so it isn’t time to throw the party just yet, but if this is in any way accurate, it means we have grown by as much as a parish the size of St. John’s, Wichita.

This increase in membership remains to be confirmed, and it will have to continue for several more years to be a clear trend, but I believe a sustained focus on membership and growth will result in a sustained increase in membership and growth.

It appears that this growth has happened in both large and small parishes, and it has happened primarily through the efforts of strong local leadership and good old-fashioned “elbow grease”: more contacts, more phone calls, more visits, meaningful worship, effective education for children and youth, a clear commitment to mission and outreach, and clear and intentional programs for incorporating newcomers into the life of the parish family.

Our campus ministries program is booming! You will hear more about it from the missioners themselves, but a key component of our shared ministry has finally fallen into place. Craig Loya and Susan Terry have visited 26 parishes, and we have now have 14 peer ministers working on six campuses ”“ Johnson County Community College, Emporia State, Wichita State and Labette County Community College, along with our ongoing ministries at Kansas State and the University of Kansas.

Conversations have begun with 12 additional parish partners, and there isn’t a parish in this diocese that couldn’t establish a link with a local college, university or community college in the next year.

Our youth ministries program is booming! Our success on college campuses owes a great deal to the work being done at the junior and senior high level by Chad Senuta and a committed cadre of volunteers and young interns. Youth ministry cannot happen without faithful adults who love kids, and in the past year Chad has been working to establish an advocacy program, so that every parish has a least one adult who serves as an advocate for youth, whether that parish has any youth or not. Most of our parishes have responded, but there is still an opportunity for the few churches that still need to appoint a youth advocate.

Our stewardship and planned giving is growing! Char DeWitt and the Stewardship and Development Committee have developed a quality, “turn-key” stewardship program that any parish in the diocese can put to use, and they are in the process of developing an excellent planned giving program of the same quality. Char has conducted more than 15 vestry workshops and has made more than 100 visits with vestries, priests and stewardship chairs.

This is all great work ”“ extraordinary, really ”“ but I have a dream, that what we do here in this moment in time will be truly great. I have a dream that on our watch, during our period of responsibility for this church, we will set a standard that will make future generations look back at our faithfulness with the same respect and awe we now express for the faithfulness of previous generations in this diocese. I dream that we will truly put out into the deep, that we will refuse to settle for a mediocre vision, a pale imitation of the real thing.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

24 comments on “The Bishop of Kansas' Diocesan Convention Address

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Lucky Dorothy to live here.

  2. Philip Snyder says:

    Well, the chart does show a 2005-2006 uptick in membership. But ASA is flat and down to about 4800-4900 from a 2000 high of 6281. Giving from 05-06 (11,500k – 11,900k) is up but it is not at the 04 level of about 13,500k. So, it would seem that the Bishop of Kansas has the same grip on reality that the Bishop of California has.

    YBIC,
    Phil Snyder

  3. Cennydd says:

    Yes……a very tenuous grip!

  4. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Its a corker of a speech tho you’ve got to admit!

  5. Frances Scott says:

    Yep! It’s a corker! Lots of enthusiam, a bit scattered as to images.
    Church growth (?) is attributed to human effort…cold be true in this instance; I don’t know. When Jesus builds His Church it is a matter of “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47 (RSV) Maybe it is just a failure to give credit where credit is due.

  6. Sarah1 says:

    An unbelievable speech considering the diocesan chart which may be found here:
    http://12.0.101.92/reports/PR_ChartsDemo/exports/ParishRPT_1025200710440PM.pdf

    But hey! When you gotta try to motivate the troops and inspire folks, any crumbs of comfort will do! ; > )

    And maybe he’s right. Maybe despite the disastrous plummet in ASA [the more insightful stat], certain other ministries are “booming.”

    But based on past numerous examples at this blog I expect it’s the same old, same old — “our [x] ministry is ‘booming'” and then when questioned, they confess that “booming” means not anything in numbers, in fact numbers could have plummeted, but “booming” in the sense of “my feeling that they seem really great and that I can think of some really nice things that have happened.”

  7. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I’m beginning to understand Sarah; each of us has our own personal truth you mean.

  8. Dan Crawford says:

    Ah, Bishop Pangloss. May his name be blessed and his number legion.

  9. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    This would be the same Diocese of Kansas that lost its largest parish to Uganda in 2005, so on one level it’s not fair to compare ’05 and ’06 to 2004 or earlier years.

    On another level, Christ Church was not only the largest parish, but by far the largest contributor to the Diocese. Unfortunately, the Diocese worked diligently for years to ensure that not one person from Christ Church was ever involved in any committees or positions where a “conservative” viewpoint might be expounded and thereby embedded in official records. This is hardly the boldface “We won’t leave anyone behind” presented in +Wolfe’s document.

    Furthermore, Dean Wolfe’s comment that at least half a dozen parishes are in merger discussions and mention of one recent parish closing, along with his admitted “failure” of church planting efforts, tends to paint a picture somewhat different than his optimism at the front end of his document.

    I will, however, commend +Wolfe for his willingness to negotiate a reasonable separation, with property, for Christ Church. Such an approach has been far too rare, and most sadly, I know that he came in for some grief from 815 for having worked with Christ Church to maintain a decent witness to Christ in the midst of quite difficult circumstances.

  10. Dallasite says:

    To follow on Bart Hall’s comments, +Wolfe walked into the Christ Church situation almost immediately upon becoming bishop. That was a situtation that had been brewing for awhile before he got there. When I’ve heard him speak (he was at my church in Dallas when he was elected as bishop; he’s returned from time to time to visit and to speak), he has been candid about the challenges that his diocese faces in sustaining itself and growing, particularly in the rural communities in which the Episcopal Church’s presence has always been small.

  11. William P. Sulik says:

    I agree with Bart Hall, #9, above. I am thankful that +Wolfe reached an amiable settlement with Christ Church. I regret that Peter Lee was not allowed to do the same here in Virginia (or chose not to).

    Moreover, when he speaks of “over 500 new members!” I rejoice with the angels in heaven that another soul has been saved. I pray that he and the people in the churches in Kansas will continue to work for evangelism and discipleship our our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

  12. midwestnorwegian says:

    “Booming” as in…finally getting rid of anyone and everyone opposed to the official agenda and surrounding ourselves with sycophants?

  13. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    #12 … nah, that’s nothing new. When involved with the diocesan discernment process for ordination back in early ’03 I was told that they would flat out not recognise any studies at Trinity or Nashotah. “Too extremist.”

    +Smalley did an incredible amount of damage to this diocese, and he allegedly started out as a conservative, but “grew in office.” He eventually tried to promote the blessing of hetero-sexual unions other than marriage when that arrangement would lead to advantageous tax situations or allow couples to defraud the government by maintaining the appearance of independence. Disgusting. Consequently, +Wolfe did indeed walk into a huge mess not of his own making and he was able to salvage at least something out of it. Christ Church was but one small part of the problem.

    That said, +Wolfe’s two previous positions had been in Massachusetts and Berkeley, California, so he is nothing even remotely resembling a conservative.

  14. Ed the Roman says:

    [/i]

  15. TonyinCNY says:

    #11: Does this: “Moreover, when he speaks of “over 500 new members!” I rejoice with the angels in heaven that…”

    Mean this: “another soul has been saved.” ???

    Or this “the people in the churches in Kansas will continue to work for evangelism and discipleship our our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” ???

    Church growth does not always mean that evangelism and discipleship are happening, particularly discipleship as it pertains to the gospel. Mormons, for example, grow churches, and they seem to do a pretty good job of discipleship within their belief system.

    Just asking.

  16. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    the square brackets for html are kinda wonky, no?

    Bart, actually they should work fine. Looks like you had a typo in your coding. You used square brackets to start the italics, but then angle brackets to close it. The usage has to be consistent. Using square brackets is best.

  17. Old Soldier says:

    Ed the Roman took the words right out of my mouth.

  18. Statmann says:

    Two data points provide no confidence that a trend has happened as there is only one way to put a line between two points (called zero degrees of freedom). Since 1996, membership has fallen by about 16 percent and real (adjusted for inflation) plate & pledge has also fallen a bit. But the worse news is that average worship attendance has fallen about 16 percent since 2002. Statmann

  19. William P. Sulik says:

    TonyinCNY, #16

    Let us be charitable and hope so.

    I am often cynical (I was the guy who asked whether there were any Christians on the list of candidates for bishop in Chicago) and recognize that ECUSA/TEC is turning its back on the AC. Nevertheless, our God is a God of miracles, who can bring streams of living water forth in the desert. Let us hope that in Kansas there are people who are hearing the Gospel and committing their lives to Jesus Christ, even in TEC.

    (I’m striving for both parts of this formulation: “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”)

  20. TonyinCNY says:

    I share your hope, William.

  21. Chip Johnson, cj says:

    Craig Loya was newly ordained in the Dioceses of South Dakota when I arrived almost five years ago. South Dakota’s loss is definitely Kansas’ gain. Great work Craig and Susan! Keep it up.

    [blockquote]It appears that this growth has happened in both large and small parishes, and it has happened primarily through the efforts of strong local leadership and good old-fashioned “elbow grease”: more contacts, more phone calls, more visits, meaningful worship, effective education for children and youth, a clear commitment to mission and outreach, and clear and intentional programs for incorporating newcomers into the life of the parish family.
    [/blockquote]And the answer, my friends, is evangelism, pure and (not so) simple. Somebody in KS has had a vision, and it is the right one.
    Now, if only the other 99 dioceses could see what is really meant by evangelism, not MDG’s (Peace and bessings be upon them), or other psycho-social rant, but pure evangelism…one hungry beggar telling another where he found bread.

  22. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    You used square brackets to start the italics, but then angle brackets to close it. The usage has to be consistent. Using square brackets is best.

    Off topic, I know, but it appears at least that I can use more standard coding. I simply forgot where I what and let my fingers do the talking.

  23. robroy says:

    [blockquote] We believe our membership is growing. Over the past two years we may have gained more than 500 new members![/blockquote]
    Was responding to a [url=http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/feb/21/church-mark-150-years-diocese/?city_local ]newspaper article[/url] and I found this thread. It seems that Dean Wolfe’s preliminary numbers were not accurate. This is what I wrote:
    [blockquote]The diocese is marking 150 years. But will it make another 20? That is very dubious.

    Attendance in all the parishes has fallen 37% since 2000, 13% last year alone, and now stands at just over 4,000. I note that Dean Wolfe (who stated that he would have voted to consent Gene Robinson) has only been bishop since 2003. He can only be credited with the fall since 2003, where the attendance has “only” fallen by 26%.

    Mr. Wolfe had tried to focus on membership (which has many people on rolls that have dropped out or died) rather than attendance when he said in October, “We BELIEVE our membership is growing. Over the past two years we MAY have gained more than 500 new members!” Well, there was a slight uptick of members in in 2006 by less than 400 after a disastrous drop of over 2,000 in 2005, but the final numbers in 2007 showed a 466 drop more than erasing the uptick.

    Four thousand attendees is a large church to some. Is it enough to justify supporting a bishop and his staff?

    And for the really bad local news: The parish dropped an incredible 65% in attendance last year alone. [/blockquote]