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Revisioning the Neighborhood Parish : Focus Groups (Parousia VIII)

During the Diocesan Convention 2022, Bishop San encouraged parishes to convene focus groups. “As churches begin to conceive regathering models, I am advising Diocesan Convention to direct parishes to organize ‘focus groups’ of their members to prayerfully discern the challenging issue of CPR & ASA within their parochial context. The exercise will include identifying concerns, crafting solutions and testing ideas. Every member is invited into this holy project, providing multiple voices and experiences. Ideally, the diocese will end up with thirty-eight (38) models to be shared inter-diocesanally.”

Check back here in the coming weeks for additional questions that may be used to ‘jump start’ your parochial conversation and craft your responses. Read the Bishop’s Convention comments on CPR, ASA, & PIP below. 

Let us know the results of your conversations via email.

Church Presence and Relevance (CPR) – A New Measurement for a New Era

Convention I strongly believe, this is the opportune time for our diocese to recommit to the spirit of resiliency, reliability, and adaptability: ever robust, ever recreating, ever resourceful and ever renewing and redeeming traditional norms. We are called to this work with the sure knowledge and steadfast confidence that with Jesus in the storm alongside us “nothing is impossible” (Luke 1: 37). 

That being said, it has become even more apparent that the church is no longer simply a ‘village parish’. Clergy are now more than the vicar of a physical space, rather they are vicars of Christ to a much broader network, both in community outreach, pastoral care and in digital spaces. And so, we must reexamine our measurements of vitality to include ‘Church Presence and Relevance’ (CPR) and not just the ‘Average Sunday Attendance’ (ASA). The CPR and the ASA are complementary one to the other and are of equal importance in church life. Neither could fruitfully survive without the other. 

Clergy, you will agree with me if I were to testify, that many churches in this diocese have more people coming through their doors from Monday to Saturday experiencing God’s unfailing love and care then ‘people in pews’ (PIP) on Sunday mornings. St. Andrew’s Church, Hurlock, for example, greets people into their food pantry every week in their rural town, (reaching numbers as high as 150 in the pre and early Pandemic). This feeding ministry is bearing additional fruit in the renaissance in membership of that parish. St. Andrew’s is not the only parish with this kind of story to tell... Being present and relevant involves paying attention, asking questions, and organizing for the common good and alleviation of suffering.

We are called to be ‘the Church Relevant’. Under Jesus’ leadership and spiritual inspiration, the diocese is poised for a more secured future.