By the time you read this we will have three new suffragan bishops-elect for the Diocese of Toronto. We have also just approved a new strategic plan for the diocese. I have been asked why we did not wait until after the election of the new bishops before developing the strategic plan. There are two simple reasons. First, the planning process began a long time before we knew we were having elections. Second, this is a broad vision for the diocese, developed in consultation with more than 750 people – the majority laity – representing the spectrum of the diocese, and approved by Diocesan Council.
The strategic plan addresses the opportunities and the issues facing our diocese, and takes into account our demographics both as they are and as they are projected. It recalls us to our faith in Jesus Christ and our commitment to Christ’s presence and mission in the midst of our communities. It builds on what we have been doing and invites us to imagine what else is possible as we respond in faith to the Spirit’s leadership. It is not the bishop’s vision nor the bishops’ vision – it is our common vision as a discernment of God’s call to us as Anglicans in this place at this time. You will note the name: Growing in Christ.
The specific ways the plan will move from aspiration to action are still being worked out (and will continue to be worked out over the next months and years.) There will be ample scope both for the new area bishops and the people in their episcopal areas to develop specific actions to implement the diocesan vision in the local context.
Like everyone else, our diocese is in a time of change and transition. We face a number of challenges both internal and external and we will respond to them by coming together as a community rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ, our shared values in the Gospel, and led by the Spirit, adapting to our context as the church has in every age.
Our diocese’s mission statement defines what is ours to do as a diocese within the Anglican Church of Canada: We build healthy, missional Anglican communities that engage faithfully with the world and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our vision is to be an Anglican community committed to proclaiming and embodying Jesus Christ through compassionate service, intelligent faith and Godly worship. We are committed to working collaboratively as a team, bringing the complementary gifts that God has given us, and valuing different types of structures of ministry that allow us to nurture our relationship with God, increase our faithful discipleship and make a positive difference in the world.
There are five areas that we want to give specific attention:
- Leadership and Formation in Christian discipleship.
- Building a culture of trust and mutual responsibility.
- Encouraging bold innovation based on good evidence and experience.
- Streamlining our governance structure to serve our needs.
- Being wise and effective stewards of our resources.
You will hear more over the coming months as these are fleshed out. The new bishops will be integral in that process, as will you.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light,
look favourably on your whole church,
that wonderful and sacred mystery.
By the effectual working of your providence,
carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation.
Let the whole world see and know
that things which were cast down are being raised up,
and things which had grown old are being made new,
and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
More information about the diocese’s strategic plan, Growing in Christ, will be published in The Anglican.