A diocese engaged in the Gospel mission of Jesus Christ locally, domestically and globally must be a diocese consistently centered in corporate and private prayer. It must be a diocese that sees its parishes as being part of the whole mission of the diocese and the larger church and not just a diocese where parishes are “stand-alones” living into the concept of independent contractors and local franchises. For any parish to be an active agent of the mission and ministry of the Gospel in the 21st century, it must come to recognize that its ministry must extend beyond the local, regional and domestic environment, but must be connected to the global community as well. The diocese provides the very best and most visible way in which to do this. The Internet, satellite communications and almost instantaneous email access throughout the world makes our international neighbors as close to us as our neighbors who live in the house next door to us. We must not become a diocese or a church in isolation interested only in local parish issues.
There are a few occasions when I travel around the diocese when during a parish visit someone will say; “Bishop, we just can’t compete with the non-denominational mega churches that seem to be surrounding us on every side. We just don’t have the resources that they have.” At first glance this observation would seem correct. Non-denominational mega churches have parking lots jammed packed on Sundays, and are almost filled during the week, often with local police directing traffic. Some of these churches have seating capacities of 3000. But for a moment, don’t think parochially; think about the diocese as the church. In the Diocese of Washington if you were to see the diocese as the church and our parishes as supporting congregations, over 24,000 persons attend Episcopal services on average every Sunday. Unlike mega, non-denominational churches, we are linked together by a Common Lectionary, mostly common hymns, and the Book of Common Prayer that is the same in every congregation with very few variations. When I think of the diocese as the church and our parishes as the congregations that make up the diocese as church, then we become much larger than any mega church on any given Sunday or on any given day. In fact through the diocese, we are connected throughout the Episcopal Church nationally and with our Episcopal Church neighbors in Mexico, The Caribbean Basin, Central and South America. But, we are even larger than that, and stronger than any non-denominational community for we are partners with the 77 million member world wide Anglican Communion.