Bishop’s Address to the 107th Diocesan Council

In his annual address to the 107th gathering of Diocesan Council, the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge focused on the broad and great works of the Diocese of West Texas, our accomplishments, and a few projects planned in our near future. Lillibridge incorporated the diocesan theme for the year, “A Sower Goes Out to Sow,” from the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, and encouraged the continuation of our missional church conversation and what it means to be a missional people.

The bishop assigned the book of Ephesians for each congregation to study in 2011. He thanked each congregation for its steadfastness during the financial hardships of the past few years and reinforced the importance of developing a year-round stewardship program.

Lillibridge encouraged each congregation to create a Lenten appeal to raise funds to help with a national effort to rebuild the cathedral in Haiti, which was completely destroyed by the earthquake in January 2010. The Episcopal Church is responding to Haiti’s need; Haiti is the largest diocese in the Church.

Lillibridge announced an ongoing conversation between the Commission on Ministry and the Standing Committee, looking more closely at our discernment process and how they might support an intentional congregational discernment. The Diocese of West Texas is also engaging in a program to form a three-year course of preparation for bi-vocational clergy, adapted to meet local needs. The DWTX is joining in on this effort with the Diocese of Texas’ IONA School, the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, and five other charter dioceses.

The bishop gave a report on the Department of Camps and Conferences, noting their recognition by the national Episcopal Camps and Conferences Center as a “thriving camp ministry.” He noted improvements that have been made to the Camp Capers campus and said the final plans for major renovation work will be presented at Council in 2012.

Turning to our theme for the year, Lillibridge reminded council of the “missional church” conversation we began in earnest last year. Reggie McNeal, who spoke at our Abide in Me II Conference last June, told us “the Church doesn’t have a mission, God’s mission has a church.” Lillibridge said Jesus is missional and in considering who Christ is and what Christ is calling us to do, being missional becomes life changing.

Lillibridge reiterated we have a lot ahead of us and he hopes we all share the passion for what God is growing in and through us. Lillibridge reflected on what we’re all about, stating, “I believe in the initiative of God. I come back to the knowledge that all of this is a result of God’s loving initiative.”

Read more detailed coverage of the Bishop’s Address in the upcoming March/April edition of The Church News, due in your mailbox in mid-March. You can also find the text and audio files of the bishop’s address on the Council Live page.