Slideshow image

Last week, the Diocese of Edmonton was blessed to welcome the Rev. Dr. Dawn Davis, director of leadership for ministry programs at Huron University College in London, O.N. Davis was invited by Bishop Stephen London to speak at Clergy Day on September 21, and also the Leaders with Heart public gathering on September 22.

Davis created Revive, a discipleship program to help active lay leaders grow in confidence as spiritual leaders. The Diocese of Edmonton joins several dioceses across the Anglican Church of Canada in offering Revive to parishes and ministries.

In this time of transformation, Bishop Steve says, “I’m a big believer that there are resources across the church we can utilise to learn and grow.”

The Revive small-group program is designed to “transform lay leaders of practical church ministry into confident spiritual leaders.”

“During this challenging time in our wider world, when there's all kinds of uncertainty, turmoil, shifting and change, it's also a challenging time to be the church,” says the Rev. Canon Dr. Scott Sharman, Canon to the Ordinary, Edmonton diocese. “The church has come through a period of several centuries where it had quite a bit of influence, access, and power. Sadly, it has sometimes misused that power.”

In addition to making amends for the damage it has been done, “the church struggles to be a voice people listen to in a more diverse and plural world,” he says. We must be “thinking about new ways of adjusting to fewer people, different kinds of resources, and how we're going to organise communities in the future.”

The Edmonton diocese has been visioning and imagining, “about how we can faithfully grow, change and adapt to continue to be the same kind of gospel people that we've always been called to be, but in a very different world with very different realities.

“Through a strategic visioning process, we have been listening to people in parishes about what they see as the biggest opportunities and the biggest challenges now facing the church from their experience,” says Sharman.

Ministry -- where it happens, how it happens, who does it -- has emerged as a common theme. “Previous models of ministry were thought of as a thing professionals do, and ordained people do. But we have been trying to imagine and reawaken something that's always been at the core of the people who follow Jesus. It’s understanding that all of us have gifts, all of us have callings, and all of us have things that the church needs for it to be fully itself,” he says.

“We are offering the Revive program to parishes to help people explore this concept and feel confident and prepared to share their gifts in the ways their church needs them to. 

“The ministry of the church is probably going to look different than it looked a generation ago, or before that. And so, one of the reasons why we're grateful for Dawn (Davis) is that she and Huron College have been wrestling with a lot of those same kinds of questions.

“Although we don't necessarily know where the church is going, God tends to prepare people in advance for what we're going to need in the future. And we already have the people and the gifts that we will need to be that church of the future.”

Davis funneled her passion for helping people grow spiritually into creating the Revive program, published by Forward Movement. Through a process of “engaging in prayer life and engaging in the scripture, we see people start to have spiritual experiences, and spiritual formation starts,” says Davis. “It’s just amazing. And then they come into the groups, and they share, which is just incredible. I mean, it's just a total privilege to be part of this.”

The last module of the Revive program, which is on vocational call, looks at “who you are in the life of the church, and your purpose. What is it that God is asking, what yearnings are within you that are prompting you forward? These can be hard to discern. So how do you start to get at that?” Revive looks at disciplines and practices and ways to help.

While Davis designed Revive as a 10-month, small group program, she says it is a versatile resource, that can be broken down into smaller sessions, depending on a parish’s needs.

“We’re excited that Revive –- as an entryway into discipleship -- is one of the programs the Edmonton diocese has invested in,” she says.

To hear more about the Revive discipleship program, watch Part 1 of Dawn Davis’s “Leaders with Heart” presentation at All Saints’ Cathedral.