Through a Glass Darkly: The Next Chapter in the Life of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas

This past meeting of the Executive Council, a member sagely asked for a concise summary of our vision and strategy going into the next few years. We attempted a version of this in our 2024 budget, which was organized around ‘oneness,’ the office of the bishop and various endeavors to underline our being one body, ‘flourishing’, help offered to specific parishes, and ‘the future,’ actions we hope are getting us ready for what is to come. These categories are also implied in this short statement. 

Strategic plans have an implicit tilt toward new initiatives. In fact a great deal of our time at the diocese has been, and will continue to be, with the perennial, and crucial, work: pastoral care, support in searches, help with stewardship, teaching, etc.

Years ago I heard about how Brown University put in its campus sidewalks. It let students walk for a year, and then paved the parts they had already worn clear. In a similar spirit,  I offer this response to the request: a statement that aggregates what we are already doing in a way, that shows how ecclesiological assumptions and contextual trends conspire to show a path ahead. It is a draft, since the context we minister in is changing constantly. This has no official status, nor do I anticipate any vote on it. If it provokes conversation, that would be a good outcome.

I could have said more about what the next General Convention may bring. It is included on list. Be assured that we will provide sessions of both ‘pre-game’ and ‘post-game’ commentary.

Of course the only vision statement we really need we already have:   ‘forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:14)

Peace +GRS

The Next Chapter 

Insofar as society in north Texas will be…

-Increasingly ethnically diverse,


-Politically divisive,

-Recovering still from the trauma of COVID,

-Graying among the Anglo populace (including Episcopalians),

-Rapidly growing economically and demographically, and

-Challenged in unprecedented ways technologically


And insofar as we as the Diocese of Dallas have

-A vocation of remembering our theological tradition, on behalf of the whole Church,

-Lived out in a spirit of ‘communion across difference,’ and

-A sense of the Church as one across racial lines,

-At once bound canonically to our own Church, and missionally to the wider Anglican Communion                                                

We aim in the next three years to

  • Plant two Churches in growing communities north of Dallas, (as well as getting ready in Sherman, Kaufman County, etc.)
  • Strengthen multi-cultural and Spanish-speaking congregations, (e.g. east McKinney)
  • Continue to ordain young people, many of whom are on the ‘Canterbury Road’, with a
  • Special focus on female and bi-lingual ordinands
  • Continue to revive youth ministry in the diocese, (as we ‘travel lighter’ in infrastructure),
  • Support and make flexible use of residential theological education,
  • Encourage forms of cooperative ministry among smaller congregations,
  • Strengthen our ties with predominantly African- American Churches,
  • Forge new parish ties with global Anglican partners (e.g. our Cairo missionaries)
  • Provide theological opportunities and fellowship for clergy and laity (clergy conference, RADVO, theology and technology lectureship, parish and mission days, new Spanish Stanton Center offerings)
  • In a renewed Cathedral complex, including
  • Contemplative prayer and healing ministry, to supplement our evangelistic efforts, and
  • Articulate our vision and common life in relation to prospective changes out of General Convention 2024


Complete the Race (II Timothy 4:17)

At the end of our vacation we find ourselves in Chicago for its Marathon weekend (the fastest, I have read this morning, perhaps because it is cool and relatively level). Marathons offer many good things. You can see world-class athletes from places like Ethiopia and Kenya. There is a feel of fiesta with signs by family members, getups by some for-fun runners, and food for sale.

But as I looked out my hotel window at 7:30 a.m., I watched the race of competitors who have lost legs or their use. Wheeling vehicles by arm for 26 miles means serious fitness and determination.

Those competitors were to me, this morning, a symbol of the Church too. For each is wounded. The larger family cheers them on. Each by grace has risen up to run the race. Ahead is the goal, the prize, the welcome home. We find the companionship of Jesus the Lord, there, and along the route too.