The Discernment Committee would like to thank everyone who participated in the various surveys, listening sessions, and parish meetings over the past month as we’ve sought to gather input to use in our diocesan profile to present the Diocese of Maine to candidates for our next Bishop.
Over 800 people from across Maine filled out the electronic survey, 39 parishes submitted feedback from their conversations, and about 60 active and retired priests and deacons participated in three different listening sessions designed for clergy input. In addition, we solicited and received feedback from Diocesan staff and from Bishop Steve.
While we anticipate releasing our final profile in early May, we wanted to share some of the broad strokes of what we’ve heard. These are not exhaustive or complete thoughts by any means, but simply some strong first impressions:
We love God and one another. We heard about how the churches and ministries of the Diocese help us to know the love of God in Christ, and how that love has led to caring relationships among our communities. Parishes, clergy, and staff said over and over again “We love each other.” We felt that being an open and inclusive community was what we do best in the Diocese.
We are diverse. Rural and urban. Rich and poor. From here and from away. Small churches, big churches, Jubilee centers, and ministries in hospitals and prisons. Some love our ancient traditions, others delight in new expressions of worship.
We are facing a time of change. Across the Diocese, we are all touched by the national decline in religious affiliation. We all struggle with money and with bringing in new members, especially younger ones. While some hope to turn things around, the prevailing wisdom is that it is time to try new ways of being faithful in a changing world.
We want a bishop who loves Jesus and loves us. We are seeking a leader who is grounded in faith, and is willing to get to know us and love us in all our complexity.
We are humbled by your trust and openness in this process. Please know that every piece of feedback is being read and considered as a part of our work. If your parish has not yet submitted its feedback, or if you have other thoughts, there is still time to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org to help with the profile.
Thank you again for your input! Please continue to keep us in prayer as we go about our work.
Yours in Christ,
The Discernment Committee