Proclaim Good News

Proclaim the Good News!

Proclaim Good News!  This is our joy to do as believers in Jesus Christ.   It is also part of Bishop Little’s vision of the future of the Diocese of Northern Indiana… that we “will bequeath to future generations of Christians” the Good News of Jesus Christ.  This imperative for our diocese is our focus for this month’s new writings in By Word and Example.

 Our Word article is written by Mother Michelle Walker, a proud graduate of our Diocesan Congregational Development Institute (DCDI).  Mother Walker reflects on a tool that invites the Holy Spirit into our conversations, the Relationship Life Cycle. 

 Our Example article, by Kelley Renz, is an eye-witness account of a very public celebration of 175 years of Episcopal ministry in Fort Wayne, where the lay and clergy from all three Fort Wayne parishes were on parade.  Bishop Little even joined the procession in a carriage! 

Bishop Ed Little commemorating Fort Wayne's 175.

Bishop Ed Little commemorating Fort Wayne's 175.

 The purpose of By Word and Example is to inspire congregations to act on the Five Imperatives of Ministry for our diocese.  If you have an example to share, or would like to provide a word article about a lesson learned, or a book review, please contact me via email. 

 In His service,

Linda Buskirk

Linda Buskirk, Editor, By Word and Example



The Relationship Cycle in Real Life

Example: Proclaim the Good News

By Mother Michelle Walker

When I arrived for my first weekend of CDI over six years ago I had NO idea what to expect.  My priest had urged me to attend proclaiming that “it would be good for me.”  I (mostly) willingly went along.  I’ll admit that those first few weekends were tough.  Not only was Church Development a new topic for me, the whole experiential approach to learning was not exactly comfortable.  What I didn’t realize then, and am only beginning to realize now, is how those skills and tools have formed me and how they help me share my faith in my day to day life.

In the last six months, one tool specifically has risen up to be my constant companion.  That tool is the Relationship Life Cycle (page 80 in the CDI manual).  You might remember that it begins with Create and Negotiate Relationships, continues on to Agreement, and eventually reaches Stability where everyone is happy.  Life is good.  The thing with that tool, however, is that it accurately depicts The Rubs, possibly Blowouts, that happen in everyday life when our friends and family don’t do exactly what we want them to do.  And from those Blowouts specifically it shows us that we either Withdraw and Terminate the Relationship, Go Back and pretend that nothing happened, or Accept New Realities and then Renegotiate that relationship.  Here is where the reality encounters my personal life.

For reasons only known to God, I have experienced Rubs and even Blowouts with several of my good friends in the last six months.  I can’t explain where any of them came from but I was able to recognize in the moment that a Blowout was happening.  I even went to my CDI manual to refresh myself on the options after Blowout and made a conscious prayerful choice about how I wanted to proceed.  For me, it’s natural and even sometimes easy to Withdraw from the relationship.  I refused to allow myself to do that.  Instead I reminded myself how Christ calls us to be in community with one another, even when it feels overwhelmingly difficult … like it did so many times in the early Church (see Acts for loads of details!).   It wasn’t easy for me, nor the early Church.  That whole Renegotiating Relationship piece can be painful and full of tears and it was filled with more prayers than I’d ever imagined.  However, I can say that on the other side of it is a stronger relationship with the person and a deeper faith, based in experience, that the Holy Spirit is always there to help me.  I just have to listen.

Interestingly enough, a few weeks ago I had an opportunity to coach two young men through this very same Relationship Life Cycle.  A Blowout hit.  A little Withdrawal happened.  Then a coming together to discuss the situation followed.  I was blessed with the opportunity to help them navigate those murky waters.  And who would have thought that on a hot sweaty afternoon at a picnic table I would be proclaiming the Good News of Christ by teaching the Relationship Life Cycle?  But I did.  As I explained the model, we talked about Jesus and forgiveness and friendship and by the grace of God they came together as friends again.  It was a sacred moment for all of us.

 I don’t share this story because I am some great CDI trainer that has all the tools and models in her back pocket.  I share this story because I believe deep in my heart that the best way we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ is through how we act and interact with the people around us, particularly when we’re in a compromised situation.  In these instances I was able to utilize a CDI tool to frame the situation and respond in a Spirit-filled way instead of an instinctual-Michelle way.  I can guarantee you that the Spirit-filled way is always, always, always going to be better.  So I am thankful that I’ve allowed myself to be stretched through my CDI experiences and that God began providing me with tools to share His Love long before I even knew what to do with them.  May the tools from CDI (and beyond) do the same for you!


A Proud Moment in the City of Churches

WORD -- Proclaiming the Good News

By Kelley Renz

On May 10, 2014, the three Episcopal Churches of Fort Wayne – Trinity, St. Alban’s, and Grace – gathered with Bishop Ed Little to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the founding of the Episcopal Church in this, the city of churches. Dozens worked together for months to plan the celebration. Over 200 joined in. Pictures donned the pages of the Journal Gazette. Reporters walked around asking questions, and I – with the others gathered to sing, celebrate the Eucharist, and reconsider our history – smiled broadly and whispered profound gratitude to God.

Reverends Thomas Hansen, Kathy Thomas, and Dan Layden

Reverends Thomas Hansen, Kathy Thomas, and Dan Layden

The priests – Tom, Kathy, and Dan – walked together down Berry Street. They wore their vestments, announcing to every onlooker that this was about God, this parade on a beautiful Saturday morning in May. Our Bishop sat atop a horse-drawn carriage. He made me think of Bishop Kemper, the diocese’s first Bishop, traveling here, perhaps the very same way, and envisioning a parish, a place for those who longed for the liturgy, the word of God, and the Book of Common Prayer.

Bishop Kemper would help Our Lord lay the foundation for three parishes, three separate houses of worship filled with thousands of people who, through the years, have been nurtured, challenged, and sent to proclaim what they received week to week at the hands of God and one another.

On May 10, 2014, we came together to do what they did, and very publicly so.

Trinity's Robert Beatty

Trinity's Robert Beatty

Bishop Little reminded everyone this wasn’t a past event we were commemorating; it was a reminder to be the people God calls and enables us to be, to attract others to Him, to spread His message, to fulfill the mandate of our diocese by nurturing a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a heart for the lost, a willingness to do whatever it takes, and a commitment to one another.

For me, carrying the flag of the Episcopal Church in that parade, and watching my brothers and sisters walk, sing, laugh, talk, and praise God, this celebration was about an identity we were willing to wear in front of the entire city, and I wanted to make sure that identity was well understood. I looked at Ron and Linda, Mick and Kathy. I looked at Nyla. I saw John and Amy with their kids Robert and Julia. I knew we were all so different, different backgrounds, different economic classes, different political beliefs, and probably even different values. But our love for Jesus Christ and our knowledge of His inclusivity, our hunger for the Eucharist, and our deep awareness and recognition that we grow better with one another than separately, that perhaps begins to describe our identity as Episcopal Christians.

Yes, Jesus can be loved in other churches. He can be served and known under different flags, but the flag I carried that day, the flag of the Episcopal Church, reveals Jesus in a unique way, in a challenging and exciting way, in a way each of us, as Episcopal Christians must search for and find the right words to proclaim.

What is Your Apostolate?

By: The Rev. Susan B. Haynes

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Everyone likes to talk about the Mission of the church. We all want to be more missional. We are in fact commanded, as in the Scripture above, to find ways to preach the Gospel everywhere we go. Many of us feel ill equipped to do so. Where do we find the wherewithal to become evangelists?

We come to church on Sunday morning and sometimes during the week too, because we desire renewal and strength. Our life of worship at St. Paul's is something we do out of a commitment to stability and a desire to be obedient. In this weekly observance, we are renewed then to go out again into the world to exercise our various ministries.

Our life in the world is not and should not be compartmentalized from our life in the Church. The way we exercise our Baptismal vows in the world is actually an extension of the ministry of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. And so it's a cycle, renewal in the church leading to ministry in the world. This ministry in the world is called our apostolate. Each of us is called to exercise an apostolate and for each of us, that apostolate looks different. For some it is a call to the ministry of companionship through volunteering at places like Hannah's House, St. Margaret's House or Hospice. For others it is working with the homeless or the illiterate.

Sometimes the apostolate looks like this: a young mother staying home to mother a child who will grow in God's love. Or it is the line worker who gives his very best in the factory to build a part or a product on which many will come to depend. Some are teachers, some healers...the list goes on and on. The lines of hope and healing which extend from St. Paul's are as many and varied as the members who gather on Sunday to make up her body.

What is your apostolate? How are you called to express and fulfill the promises you made at your Baptism? During the months of October and November, we will be hearing during worship from various parishioners who express their apostolates or ministries in different ways. All of these disciples of Jesus depend on St. Paul's to be the place where they can come to be fed and renewed so as to venture out again to bring the Word and Hope of God to others. In a way St. Paul's is a haven of renewal. Many depend on it as the source of strength and nurture for their own ministries.

As you think about your own ministry or apostolate, know that I am giving thanks for you and praying for your renewal.


Something to Strive For

By Jon Adamson

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

- Philippians 3:14

There was a sermon sitting right in front of him, the Baptist pastor who officiated by the funeral of my wife’s grandfather, Gerald. Seated in the pews were members of the family and friends—men and women alike—each wearing one of Gerald’s neckties. A grandchild had suggested this as a way to honor him—a token of remembrance. But it was more than a token—it was a word waiting to be heard, obeyed, lived, and preached. There was a sermon sitting right there in front of him, but he didn’t preach it.

Instead, it was the usual cookie-cutter assemblage of humorous anecdotes, pop culture references from days gone by, and overly glowing eulogizing—words that everyone expected to hear, could nod to and take some brief comfort from, and then summarily forget. It was forgettable because it asked nothing of them, because it missed the point of a funeral liturgy, and because it ignored the word that was surrounding them.

What was this word? Briefly, it was “marked,” as in “You are marked as Christ’s own forever.” Perhaps the Baptists do not have that sentence in their baptismal rite, so the pastor could be forgiven for not hearing it. But there it was nonetheless. Each man, woman, and child in the place was marked—marked with Gerald’s neckties, marked by his death, and marked by his life.

They were marked by his service as a faithful bread-winner, who due to a remarkable constitution and a stubborn will, never took a sick day in over forty years of his professional life. Though that was lauded by the pastor, it rang empty, for Gerald’s obedience and stability were never set in the context of markedness—how he might have heard and lived the call of Christian fatherhood and how that good gift might mark his descendants.

So there we were sitting the pews with the word around us. We were marked, marked by disobedience, dislocation, and death—those traits and consequence of the fall so readily brought to mind by the casket in front of us. But we were not all marked by that alone. The baptized among us were marked by another death—Jesus’ death—marked by water and the Holy Spirit as truly as we were wearing neckties. And not just marked by his death, but by his Resurrection and Everlasting Life.

That is the point of the funeral service—to sing the Gospel song at the grave! There was an opportunity for the pastor to exhort those assembled to take on Jesus—to be marked by him, his death and his life. To those baptized, to order their lives around the vows of stability and obedience that we might be further changed into the likeness of Christ, experiencing conversion of life again and again and again, so that in the end we are completely marked by him. And to those who were not, to acknowledge that thing, death, that we all fear and that marks us and to offer to them a little first step that leads into life.

The Gospel is always ready to be preached and lived. The word is always surrounding us. It is no accident that the word “obedience” is related in its root to the word “listen”. If we open our senses to God, to listen in our daily tasks and to follow up on what we heard in the community in which we have been called to live, we will experience conversion of life. St. Benedict sets that promise before us in his Rule. None of us has attained the fullness of that life, but it is something to strive for.