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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Epiphany 4C  February 3, 2019

Jeremiah 1:4-13
Psalm 71:1-6
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30

Once again, our readings tell us God’s truth. God tells Jeremiah and us that God knew and loved us before God formed us in the womb, and God has put God’s words in our mouths. God has given us everything we need to carry out our ministry. In our gospel, our Lord tells us that God reaches out to those who are outside the household of faith. Our epistle tells the quarreling and competitive Corinthians and us that the greatest gift of all is love.

St. Paul traveled around the Mediterranean basin preaching the good news to people who were outside his original household of faith. He was called to share the love of God in Christ to the Gentiles. He planted congregations and then left them to spread the good news on their own with God’s help and Paul’s support through letters and visits.

The ministry methods of St. Paul are the foundation for what we now call Local Ministry Support Teams or mutual ministry or baptismal ministry or total ministry. Paul’s approach was the subject of an article by Roland Allen called “Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?” Roland Allen was born in England in 1868 and served as a missionary in China from 1895-1900 and then again for a short period ending in 1902. From his studies of St. Paul’s ministry, he pioneered the idea of indigenous ministry.

Back in the nineteen sixties and seventies, some of us here in Vermont had the joy and privilege of watching a film about a more contemporary example of indigenous ministry. The Rt. Rev. William Gordon, who served as Bishop of Alaska from 1948 until 1974, would fly his own plane all over that huge diocese to remote mission stations that could be reached only by air. Members of each congregation would be called to serve as local priests, deacons, members of pastoral teams, parish administrators, liturgical planners, financial teams, and any other ministries needed to carry on the ministry of Christ in that place.

Here in Vermont, the Rev. David Brown, Rector of Christ Church, Montpelier and Canon Missioner to the Northeast Kingdom Regional Ministry, helped congregations put these principles into practice.

The basic premise of a Local Ministry Support Team is that the local parish has all the gifts it needs to be the Body of Christ in that place. The members gather and prayerfully discern what ministries are needed in order carry on their congregational life and support the members of the parish. These ministries might be worship, pastoral care, administration, Christian formation (education). Then the team prayerfully discerns what roles are needed in each ministry area and  the competencies needed for these ministries.

Keeping in mind the competencies needed for each ministry, the individual members of the team discern who is called to be a priest (This person is a sacramentalist who presides at the Eucharist but does not do all he duties of a traditional priest); who is called to be a deacon, who is called to plan worship (Often this is done as a group); who is called to administrative/financial ministry, who is called to offer pastoral care. In a small parish like ours, each person may be called to several ministries. This is done by giving each person a piece of paper with the different ministries listed and each person, with prayer and thought, writing the name of the member or members they feel are called to that ministry.

The training for members of a Local Ministry Support Team takes place in their local church. Usually there is an Itinerant Priest who serves as a link between the parish and the Bishop. Currently, that function is served by the diocesan Companions.

We have one person here who has already participated in the Diocesan Study Program, which, unfortunately, was discontinued. But that gives a good start. I have a list of books which folks have read in order to educate themselves in the areas of The Holy Scriptures, Church History, Christian Theology, Christian Ethics, Contemporary Issues, Liturgy and Church Music, and Theory and Practice of Ministry. Most of you love to read, and I think if we went over the list of suggested books. many of you have already read a goodly number of those books. Many times at coffee hour, your discussions have been excellent formation.

At this point, we on the Commission on Ministry and Discernment are thinking that there are parishes that do not have to start from scratch in this process. These are parishes where there are people who are voracious readers who have already done a significant amount of formation. There are also parishes, such as Grace, where the members have the personal qualities and competencies needed for ministry.

Many of the congregations who have chosen Local Ministry Support Teams have experienced growth in numbers. New people have come in and have taken up their own ministries. The key thing it that is is a team. The members support each other.

We are at the point in the Episcopal Church in Vermont where we are  developing ways to meet parishes where they are and to form teams with the least possible numbers of hoops to jump through and the greatest respect for the learning and experience which folks already have.

I asked Shelie Richardson to come to be with us in May, thinking that weather conditions will be improving by then. She has offered May 5 and 19. May 12 is Mother’s Day. Please let me know your thoughts. I have also brought several of the Books on the current reading list for you to look at. I think Grace Church is already a Local Ministry Support Team, with each person offering his or her gifts to share God’s love inside the community of faith and beyond. May God continue to lead us and guide us. Amen.

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