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)
The Next Chapter
Insofar as society in north Texas will be…
-Increasingly ethnically diverse,
-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