The Episcopal Divinity School was the first seminary to join the Living Stones Partnership. Currently comprised of 20 dioceses and/or schools, the Living Stones Partnership is a covenential community seeking to advance the ministry of all the baptized. Starting with an assessment of gifts, and seeking to match them with needs, these groups are to serve through whathas been called Baptismal Ministry, Mutual Ministry and Shared Total Ministry.
I have had the good fortune of working with these diocese since 2005 when I was hired as a consultant to the Pastoral Excellence Project directed by the Rev Sheryl Kujawa Holbrook and Fredrica Harris Thompsett. Through their vision, we were beginning to find ways to extend the Episcopal Divinity School campus to support rural and isolated communities from Maine to Maryland and Vermont to Wyoming using digital media.
One of the blessings of the Living Stones Partnership, is an annual Conference. The primary focus of these gatherings is the sharing of BMERs -“Baptismal Ministry – Experience and Reflection.” These case-study type offerings enable partners to share experiences, gain one another’s wisdom, and theologically reflect on their efforts to serve God’s mission.
This year, our team (Katherine Ragsdale, Liz Magill, Linda Wilson, and I) joined with representatives from the Associated Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI, Canada), the Diocese of Nevada, and the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Though not the specific focus of our time, the question of what is church and what is essential to be church were underlying themes of each of our BMERs. This was particularly true for APCI which is not a diocese, does not have synods, and has no canon (see why as they tell their story) and Fort Worth which is battling to reclaim its name and properties.
Consider the implications of what it means to be church as you watch this video from the Diocese of Fort Worth.