As Vicar General of the newly-forming Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest, I have had the privilege of an inside look at the birthing of a new diocese.
In the case of the Upper Midwest we began to view our situation like the early pioneering moments of the United States because we have a big chunk of land similar to the Northwest Territory. Our prayer and hope is that, in time, congregations will be planted and multiplied into all of the Northwest Territory.
Our newly-formed Constitution and Canons were written to provide a vision for church planting and multiplication in a revival of Word and Sacrament. We gave scope to three geographical deaneries—subdivisions within the diocese (with the hope of more to come)— in Chicago, Wisconsin and Minneapolis. Hopefully, these deaneries will grow into multiple dioceses. Greenhouse has congregations in each of these regions with the express purpose of serving the various regions and multiplying congregations.
Delegates from each congregation came together for worship and to affirm the Constitution and Canons of the newly-forming diocese in our Convening Convention. When you look at the picture of the various signatures, you might notice what a broad spectrum of contexts our congregations represent. Some speak English, and others speak Spanish during the worship service. Some congregations are in suburban areas, and others meet in city storefronts; and another meets in a rural barn. Some are in nursing homes, and others are in church buildings and others in homes.
In the current culture of church planting, potential leaders must first take assessments to see if they have the behavioral skill set to "succeed" in church planting. But what if the paradigm were to shift? (Now don’t get me wrong—there is a place for that model—but there is place for other models, also!) What if EVERYONE and EVERY gift were called forward to multiply the church into every nook and cranny of a region? What if we just assumed that EVERYONE is called to be part of church multiplication and planting? What if we helped everyone in the discernment of the gifts that the Lord has given them for the blessing of others?
What a blessing that Bishop Nathan Gasatura helped lead us at the Convening Convention! His leadership was born out of the East African revival—where the ministry of all of God's people multiplies congregations. Greenhouse in the Upper Midwest has witnessed the very first fruits of this in multiplying from 4 to 18 congregations in the last 2-½ years in a model similar to the Global South Anglican church. The first fruit of this kind of multiplication is beginning to happen in various dioceses throughout North America.
What fuels this kind of church multiplication? A red-hot desire for those who are far from the Lord to come within his loving embrace! May we have a revival of Word and sacrament in the Upper Midwest and, indeed, in all of North America—that many more dioceses will be birthed with the vision to disciple North America, and the nations through multiplying congregations.
Photos from the Convening Convention are here.
Canon William Beasley serves as Director of the Greenhouse Movement, working directly with Archbishop Bob Duncan in the Anglican Church in North America to help establish new congregations in the Upper Midwest and throughout North America. Canon William is both a regional leader and a rector of multiplying congregations.
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