Celebration Eucharist to Launch
Bishop’s Institute &
Center for Creative Ministry
On Saturday, January 4, 2020
Bishop’s Institute Main Campus
St. Paul’s Church, Hebron
To provide all the faithful saints of the Diocese of Easton training and formation needed to become intentional disciples and effective evangelists sharing Jesus’ love.
A Case for Lay Empowerment
On the eve of Jesus’ sacrificial death, his closest friends got involved in a heated argument. According to Luke, “a dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest” (Luke 22:24). This was not the first time that such an argument had erupted among Jesus’ apostles. In this critical moment, as Jesus agonized on his betrayal and crucifixion, he had to remind them of the character of anyone desiring to minister. He proclaimed, “The greatest must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves” (Luke 22: 26).
Jesus introduces a new concept from that to which the apostles were accustomed. Their perception of ministry was more position-oriented, prominent and authoritative. However, any genuine interpretation or reference to ministry has to conform to the Jesus model, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matt 23: 11).
The word used in the New Testament to describe ministry is diakonia, which is interpreted as “service”, and diakonos, meaning “deacon or servant”. These terms characterize the fundamental way the church practices ministry. Paula D. Nesbitt defines ministry as:
Both an office and a function designated for serving the religious, pastoral, and human needs of a group or community . . . . Ministry takes three different forms: that of the Word, which involves preaching, proclamation, teaching and evangelization; that of the Sacrament, or worship, which concerns leadership of liturgy or collective ritual; and that of Service, which entails assisting those in need either by helping individuals or by seeking social change. 
Robert S. Paul also refers to the theology of ministry. He includes the specificity of function, with emphasis on the divine call to servanthood:“ Ministry in many denominations has been undergirded with a theology of divine call to vocation and servanthood.” Here, the word servanthood represents “not status but the serving relationship of the minister to the one served: following the example of Christ is at the heart of the Christian understanding of ministry.”
Jesus institutes the divine standard for the “minister” which he epitomizes in his own life; that of giving generously to others in complete and unconditional love. He patiently explains to the disciples the peculiarity of that standard, when he said, “For the son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Generous love captivated the entire ministry of Jesus and motivated his ministry to the physically and spiritually oppressed. He spent a significant amount of energy and time teaching the disciples to display the same giving attitude. “When he saw the crowd, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36). This focus on giving and on serving the needs of others is what made Jesus’ approach to ministering so distinctive.
Spiritual development of the Christian faith is an integral aspect of the edification, formation for transformation, equipping, growth and maturity of the people of God. This process doesn’t in any way compromise doctrine, meaning and import we have grown accustomed to professing. Rather, it confirms with the faith practice of the Early Church as described in Acts 2: 42-47
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…. day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved”.
The apostle Paul’s three missionary journeys were inundated with a plethora, a series of teaching and formation sessions with the faithful. He committed his life to this in order to provide them with appropriate tools for their work as witnesses to the teachings of Jesus as professed by the church, in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.
This is how the apostle described the Spirit’s divine activity in the lives of the faithful:
“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ”.
Personal development means each aspect of life expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is ‘changed’ from one thing into another. Paul was ‘changed’ (Greek word ‘metanoia’) from one way of life to a completely new spiritual awareness, physical, emotional, psychological and faith formation; a direction different from that to which he was previously defending – Judaism. As such, I would constantly use the theological term ‘redemption’ to describe what God is doing in our diocese.
Beloved, we aren’t seeking to change diocesan ethos, polity, structure or direction but giving the Holy Spirit space and freedom to take what is already within us and transform it into something new and relevant for the time we are ministering.
The diocese’s vision is consistent and in conformity with Canon III of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons. It encourages every diocese of this church to vigorously and robustly articulate the wisdom and appreciation for the Ministry of All Baptized Persons.
Formation in discipleship, evangelism, liturgical practices, preaching, fundamentals of church organizational life and lay leadership are critical Christian disciplines that translate into New Testament servanthood ministry, the hallmark and ultimate purpose or mission of our Christian faith. The Institute’s work is geared toward offering various opportunities for growth, knowledge and maturity in our pursuit for diocesan wide lay and clergy formation. Our diocese is devoted and dedicated toward our lay and clergy accessing a variety of learning and formation opportunities.
In support of this ministry and in the promotion of this diocesan wide acknowledgement in our diocese, we gather today here at St. Paul’s Church, Hebron, to officially install the Reverend Dr. Daniel K. Dunlap, PhD, to serve in the position of non-stipendiary and honorary Canon Theologian of the Diocese of Easton. The function of the Canon Theologian is to ensure what we teach and articulate is theologically grounded in our faith practice and in conformity with the historic traditions of the church and in touch with the reality of the 21st century church. He will continue work with and be a member of the Commission on Ministry even after his current term on the commission expires. He will do so in an ex-officio member capacity.
Jesus is the only authentic bishop of this church and every bishop is a derivative of his bishopric. Likewise, every baptized member is an embodiment of Jesus, a derivative of Jesus for in baptism we take on the fullness of Christ, a fullness that imparts followers with gifts Spirit for ministry.
The Bishop’s Institute and its vision isn’t something new in my experience. In almost every diocese that I have been involved with there was a forum for formation. When I was Bishop of Seychelles, we established the Seychelles Anglican Lay Training Institute (SALTI), in the Diocese of Florida there is the Bishop’s Institute, in the Diocese of Alabama, Alabama Integrative Ministry School (AIMS) as are many other similar formation center initiatives across dioceses of the Episcopal Church.
One of the gifts I bring to this episcopate as your bishop is that I was already twelve years a bishop, fifteen to date. Ten of these years have been spent in the House of Bishops of this church. In ten years, I have interacted with hundreds of bishops, attended numerous workshops, heard and participated in several presentations. Heard the stories and learning of the respective responses to the varied and dispersed challenges facing the 21st century church. These years have been very informative, learning opportunities and the acquisition of vast amount of knowledge on church revitalization, renewal and reimagination. They have undoubtedly placed your servant in a good position to respond to the many challenges of this church. This was true when you called me in June 11, 2016 to walk alongside you. Beloved, we do this work collectively, humbly seeking God’s face in a spirit of recommitment to do the work of ministry under the guardianship of the Holy Spirit.
Today, as we launch this new project in diocesan life, we on behalf of our diocesan family, do so with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation. As we do so, we give thanks to members of the Commission on Ministry for their hard work and pioneering vision in supporting and encouraging this institute’s establishment. We eagerly look forward to all that shall be emerging from the three centers: Bray House, St. Stephen’s Church, Earlville and here at St. Paul’s Church, Hebron, that will act as the main campus.
We give thanks to God for Dee Reinhart for so willingly taking on this ministry as Director for the Bishop’s Institute, Laura McCarty, Associate Director and all the many faithful servants of this diocese listed in the Order of Service bulletin.
Finally, we give thanks to God for the good and faithful saints of this ‘little gem’ on Route #50 whose vision to preserve its legacy for posterity has made this innovative project a reality. The faithful members of this parish have engaged a year-long discernment and with open hearts and minds led by the Holy Spirit they have come to the decision that has given greater energy and impetus to the reality of this institute. In their selfless and generous contribution, they have willed their funds and property to the diocese. This act of ‘kenosis’ – self-emptying has given rise to this vision of God for the church on the eastern shore of Maryland. Your diocese is eternally grateful. It is my hope and prayer that this model of collaboration and forward thinking sets a timely and appropriate model for other churches to follow. This, hopefully and prayerfully, is the first of many new and innovative initiatives in this new decade of God’s church in resurrection – PAROUSIA CHURCH– SECOND CHANCE CHURCH – the witnessing of a new and forwarding thinking mindset, one that articulates the dismantling of decades of unhealthy and unproductive chronic parochialism that has effectively stymied and stifled ‘God’s little Gem’ on the eastern shore of Maryland.
May God in God’s Spirit bless and make fruitful these our efforts to live into our common blessing of shared, equipped and edified ministry! May Christ’s love invigorate our lives as his faithful family and the Holy Spirit guide, sustain and redeem our failings! Amen
Paula D. Nesbitt, “Ministry,” in Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, ed. William H. Swatos. Walnut Creek : Altamira Press 1998, 301.
 Robert S. Paul, “Ministry,” in Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 9, ed., Mircea Eliade (New York: MacMillian Publishing Co., 1998), 538.
Guiding TEC Canons governing the implementation of the Bishop’s Institute Ministry
2018-C005 Appoint Task Force to Study Implementation of Canon III.1
Resolved, that the 79th General Convention direct the President of the House of Deputies and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church to appoint a Task Force on Formation and Ministry of the Baptized including members experienced in Christian formation and education, and consisting of a minimum of two bishops, five (5) priests and/or deacons and five (5) lay persons, who represent the diversity of the Church; and be it further
Resolved, that this task force identify or develop curricula, practices, and strategies that can be used by dioceses and congregations to encourage and engage all the baptized in the work of building up the church by identifying their gifts for ministry, employing their gifts for ministry, and focusing on full engagement of their ministries in daily life, work, and leisure; and be it further
Resolved, that this task force report to the 80th General Convention with recommended strategies for the affirmation, development, and exercise of ministry by all baptized persons in the areas of gifts discernment, education and training for ministry, and leadership development; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $60,000 for the implementation of this resolution.