This 145th DSO Convention was my first and I’m pleased to report, it was a positive experience.
In our family, we use the 1-10 rating system, and I’d give this a solid 8/10 for spiritual connectivity, effective use of time (voting was efficient and simple) and community building inspiration. We sang one of my favorite traditional hymns, “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing,” and I learned a few new ones, including the gospel song, “Bless His Holy Name.” Mary Melville and I were especially grateful for the beautiful alto behind us who helped us learn the song in full harmony. Actually, now that I think about it, that kind of exemplifies the tone of the whole convention: How do we use our voices together to sing beautiful songs of praise? We help each other to learn and sing with joy!
In his address to the Diocese, Bishop Briedenthal spoke about the importance of turning our focus away from the fear of diminishing Sunday attendance in our churches, and instead turning toward expanding the church outside of our own sanctuaries. How will we know the wonderful, creative and Jesus-loving the members of our diocese (and other faith communities!) if we don’t get out and find out? What is that church doing with their youth program? How welcome did we feel in a new place and how could we help someone feel more welcome in ours? Who is implementing innovative ideas to use their building to promote good stewardship of our natural resources? How is this church providing sanctuary for
neighbors in need? Which church is helping families of addiction and homelessness? How does that church offer pastoral care for their members? What program did this church do to expand our Beloved Community?
Most importantly, how can we support and share our massive treasure of collective assets? It seems so simple when we remember that we are not called to compete for God’s love by being the strongest and most attended church in the Diocese. God’s infinite love is already ours. We are called to share and magnify it in ourselves and others.
The Diocese of Southern Ohio has implemented the “Connect the Dots” initiative. This is a challenge for us to get out of our comfort zone and visit other churches in our Diocese. From November 17, 2019 through May 30, 2020 we are called to both invite and respond to invitations from other churches, and to visit outreach programs or missions within the Diocese.
How can we learn, share and build community together? The rewards of this program will become evident every time we expand our love by getting to know those in other churches, but as an added incentive, there is also a prize. Each time our parish visits another parish, mission or outreach program, we receive an entry to win $1000 to use toward an outreach project in our own congregation.
I’ve got a stack of “Connect the Dots” postcards to send out as invitations to other congregations. If you’d like to be on the visiting and welcoming committee, please let me know! It will be fun to go on a few road trips across town or across southern Ohio together, don’t you think? XOM