We pray to be generous and visible people of Jesus Christ
Believing that God calls us to discover together his transforming presence in our lives and in every community, in Jesus Christ we pray:
- To engage fully and courageously with the needs of our communities, locally and globally
- To grow God's church by finding disciples and nurturing leaders
- To deepen our commitment to God through word, worship and prayer.
These words emerged from a process that started with Imagining the Future. Through that booklet, Bishop Stephen invited us as a diocese to engage in a conversation with him. Discussions at Diocesan Synod, the Bishop's Council, deanery and chapter meetings and individual responses were collated. The result is our new diocesan vision. We believe it is a distillation of all that God is calling us to be.
We aim for the vision to become in essence who we are, what we are known by and what we live by.
The second part of the statement contains the three imperatives. These are intended to guide our thinking and decision-making at every level and in all our partnerships, at home and abroad. They are about how we discern God at work and then join in.
The vision will ultimately become the plumb line by which diocesan strategy is developed, resources are allocated and ultimately by which objectives and outcomes are measured.
Unpacking our vision
We ... This word is the foundation on which everything else stands. Central to the gospel and to the Church of England's life is the transformation of human relationships by God. He calls us into community with himself and with one another. We are people of Jesus Christ. The church is the primary way in which we are visible; as a society, as a 'we'.
Pray ... Our life as a society is made possible by God's life in us through prayer. Prayer is the beginning, middle and end of all things. We do things and we undertake work not in our own strength but under God. All our activity and interaction needs to be underpinned in prayer.
Generous ... Generosity is a summary word for our response to the gospel. As God gave himself generously, unstintingly to the world He loves, He calls us to reflect His nature. The gospel commands, 'Freely you have received, freely give' (Matt 10:8). Its implications run through both our relationships with others in the church, with those outside the church, our use of money, and time, and so on.
Visible ... Daring to be out and about in the places where God has put us – working as salt, light and yeast. Not taking refuge in our buildings, or always remaining where we are comfortable, but being present where people are. Serving our communities, working with others for the common good.
We are also very visible through our buildings. Often they cannot be ignored. As Bishop Stephen reminded us, they are 'sacraments in stone' - visible reminders of God in our midst.
People of Jesus Christ ... We do not belong to ourselves, but to the God who bought us at a price (1Cor 6:20), the death of His Son. So we do not live for ourselves, but as disciples of the one who died and rose again. We are His witnesses as we call others to join us to follow Him.