The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana has entered the second phase of its involvement in Baptized for Life, a discipleship initiative of Virginia Theological Seminary, funded by the Lilly endowment. The goal of Baptized for Life is to empower churches to help people live lives of meaning and purpose. The focus is Christian Formation that focuses, not just on Sunday morning, but on Monday through Saturday. Three parishes in Northern Indiana have been selected to participate: St. Paul’s, Mishawaka, St. Thomas/Santo Tomás, Plymouth; and Gethsemane, Marion.
The first phase of the program involved participating in a spiritual life inventory, sponsored by Renewal Works of Forward Movement. Every parishioner was encouraged to participate in the online survey, and the results were provided to a team of people in each parish that had been formed specifically for this effort. Each team is chaired by a lay person and clergy are advisory. During this phase, the team received feedback from the survey which helped them to identify strengths and growing edges in the parish’s spiritual formation program.
Armed with this information, members of each parish’s team travelled to the Claggett Retreat Center near Baltimore, MD to prepare for work in the second phase of the initiative. The teams gathered with other teams from the 22 parishes and six other dioceses in the country who are participating for a week of retreat and learning.
Now, the teams are moving into the second phase, which is to discern a project which will help them implement changes in their program that will enable parishioners to deepen their spiritual lives. Questions that each team is encouraged to ask as part of their discernment include:
Where is your Baptized for Life Mission Field?
Who in that mission field is desperate for Good News?
What are the unique gifts of your church and how will you use them to meet this desperate need?
Each team has received a Request for Proposal from Virginia Theological Seminary, which will help them to apply for grant monies that are available for this initiative from the Lilly endowment. Proposals are funded up to $25,000, with the first installment being made as early as this December. Applications are due in October. Ministry projects will begin in 2020.
Submitted by the Rev. Susan B. Haynes