The nearly 40 responses received in response to Bishop Stephen London’s invitation to join him on the way forward by identifying and addressing the key challenges we face as a church, have now been summarised in the document Finding Our Way: Discerning a Strategic Path for the Diocese of Edmonton.
“I am looking forward to meeting together as a Synod in October,” said Bishop London. “Part of the conversation of the synod is to look forward to our future. As you know, our church is at a significant crossroads. We are a church with many blessings, but we are a church with significant challenges in front of us. Some of those challenges have a particular urgency about them.”
Feedback to a previous document outlining the challenges of the diocese called, Together on the Way, was gathered by Bishop London and Canon to the Ordinary the Rev. Dr. Scott Sharman through video recorded responses and in writing. Of those responses, Sharman says six were submitted on behalf of parish-based groups and at least one deanery clericus group that had facilitated conversations.
People identified several common themes, agreeing for the most part that the outline provided by Bishop Steve in Together on the Way “touched on the most pressing challenges and opportunities” of our church today.
In addition, Sharman says, “many people noted the importance of things like apologies and declarations of commitment in relation to marginalised communities and issues of social justice. In each instance, people added it is even more important that we begin to implement policies, procedures, training, and concrete structural changes to begin to act on these things in more than words.”
Many respondents were also open to the possibility of addressing challenges together as a diocesan team, “rather than individual parishes trying to go it alone,” he said. “This was true across the board from larger churches to smaller churches, urban and rural, etc.”
Finding Our Way is intended to be a working framework “to help inform the decisions we need to begin to make at the synod in October," says Sharman. “I hope we will see resolutions to the synod which call on our church and our leadership to begin to implement necessary steps to pursue the 12 goals named in the strategic path document,” he says. “I expect this roadmap will function as a kind of touchstone for the next few years ahead; a roadmap to keep us all moving in the same direction as we seek to navigate well through a challenging time of uncertainty and transition. We will be able to go back to the 12 goals, the 5 principles, and the 1 Gospel-basis and do a regular test of ourselves; where we are making progress or where we might need to give more attention.”
Sharman also hopes this process of wider consultation and input into shaping the vision and direction of the diocese will become ingrained in the culture of the Edmonton diocese. “This process is not a one-time thing, but part of how we seek to become a synodal diocese for the long haul; where everyone's voice and ideas are listened to and taken into account in our discernment of where the Spirit is calling us.”