[Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visited the Diocese of Western North Carolina April 6-8, leading a retreat where members of the diocese explored the theme, “Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly in a 21st Century World.”
The retreat, held at Lake Logan Episcopal Center in Canton, North Carolina, focused on what mission means and how the church can be encouraged and inspired to do God’s work. Jefferts Schori stressed that missionary work is necessary at both the local and the global level. “The universe is connected in all scales in God’s transcendent, created reality,” she said. “The dream of God is that abundance is possible if we’re not selfish.”
Jefferts Schori’s address is available here.
A panel discussed mission work in far-flung places, like Haiti and India, as well as local projects that support the homeless, the hungry, and the under-educated. “We share the same destination, whether that is heaven or hell on earth,” Jefferts Schori said.
Western North Carolina Bishop G. Porter Taylor said that regardless of where we go to do missionary work, “we don’t go to tell them anything – we go there to discover and to be open to that power that transcends us.”
Jefferts Schori stressed that it’s not a decision about whether to do local work or global work – that we can think globally and locally, and take action in both. “We’re all called to do different things,” she said, encouraging everyone to find a passion and to connect to that ministry.
Taylor agreed: “If our theology is sound and we’re all connected, then we need to ask, ‘How can we react to that?’”
The presiding bishop used the Five Marks of Mission to describe how to approach mission work thoughtfully, but also encouraged everyone to “Fear not – be creative.”
The panel discussed what inspired them in their mission, with panel member Shawnee Irwin talking about the relationships she’s built in the companion diocese of Durgapur, India, and saying, “I keep hearing the voice of our Lord, and he keeps saying – ‘Go back, go back, they need you’ – and I need them.”
Jefferts Schori said her inspiration comes from hearing stories like the ones told during the retreat. “That’s a gift,” she said, “and then I can take those stories and share them wherever I go. That sustains me.”
— Chris Goldman is communications officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.