Home > Bp. Breidenthal, DSO News > Church of the Good Shepherd (Athens Oh) to enter into discernment regarding “Common Ministry”

Church of the Good Shepherd (Athens Oh) to enter into discernment regarding “Common Ministry”

25 January 2010

From the January 2010 newsletter of Church of the Good Shepherd (p 1):

On December 12, our wardens, several vestry members, and two clergy traveled to Procter to take part in a workshop about common ministry.  “Common ministry” is the term Bishop Breidenthal is using to speak about the ministry we share as baptized Christians.  Like many of us, our bishop believes that the authority and responsibility for ministry must be broadly shared and that the barriers between our congregations and the surrounding world must become more porous and permeable, to promote cooperation and invite others into the risen life of Christ.

Good Shepherd is one of seven congregations who’ve been invited to participate in an exploratory program over the next two years.  Our invitation reflects our bishop’s belief that we are already taking steps in the right direction.  In the program, we would receive assistance from experienced consultants in developing a vision and a mission strategy tailored to our context, as well as lay and clergy leadership teams to implement that strategy.  At the December vestry meeting, those of us who went to Procter shared our perceptions of the program, which were very positive.  Our vestry has decided that it is time for the whole parish to enter into an intentional period of spiritual discernment about whether or not we want to participate.  This would involve a lot of time and energy over the next two years.  My sense is that we would get out of it at least as much as we put in.  There is no monetary cost to Good Shepherd, since the program is fully funded by a grant. 

Very interesting.  Church of the Good Shepherd is located less than 15 minutes from the Wistoria community, who as we have seen on this blog, are pagan and like to have lots of big pagan festivals.  I have to wonder whether Good Shepherd is prepared to engage this community of pagans.  Frankly, I have to wonder whether Good Shepherd is distinctively Christian, or just another typical Episcopal “I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay and going to Heaven anyway,” parish.  If either are the case, then they would be woefully unprepared to interact with members of the Wistoria community. 

I honestly don’t know that much about Good Shepherd, which is why I’m wondering outloud. 

Regarding this Common Ministry thing unveiled by Bp. Breidenthal at DSO’s November meeting-  My first impression is that the bishop is getting DSO ready for the necessity for congregations to double up and / or for multiple small congregations to share one priest.  I still believe that, but in the January Good Shepherd newsletter, it sounds like there is also an emphasis on encouraging laity to become more active in the life of their parish;  effectively freeing the rector from the Episcopal mindset that the rector is the parish’s Chief Cook and Bottle Washer ( a mindset I am convinced is at the heart of the crisis in TEC ).  I think both of my impressions are true. 

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.  I hope that parishioners at Good Shepherd know what they are getting into, and that God prepares them for the rough road ahead. 

– Elder

Categories: Bp. Breidenthal, DSO News
  1. Anna Schwarz
    25 January 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Growing up in DSO, you realize that it was at Procter that I received my very own copy of “I’m OK, You’re OK”. Although I have no first hand info on Good Shepard, Athens’ ELCA church is really liberal (my Aunt is sort of like a deacon there and has considered going to seminary) and with OU being there, it would make sense that Good Shepard would be just as left leaning.

  2. Elder Oyster
    25 January 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for writing in !

    RE: “I received my very own copy of “I’m OK, You’re OK”. “..

    Did you mean that there is a booklet put out by DSO literally entitled, “I’m okay, you’re okay,” or that you received literature through a Procter event that endorsed Universalism?

    – Elder

  3. Anna Schwarz
    25 January 2010 at 9:20 PM

    I was at a youth retreat back in the 70’s sometime and I was given the book. I don’t remember exactly which retreat as I attended several. Waylon (I don’t remember his last name anymore) was the diocesean youth leader at the time. To be honest, I don’t remember much theology being taught there, mostly it was stuff about feeling good about yourself and being able to stand up to peer pressure. We kids were more interested in who liked who for that weekend and being excited about staying up all night.

  4. 12 February 2010 at 1:07 AM

    I was confirmed at Good Shepherd in 2000. Since I was a resident at a nearby dorm at Ohio U, the location was convenient and, as an evangelical discovering liturgy and the Church Fathers, the Episcopal Church was where I thought I should be at the time.

    I remember the parish being pretty liberal, although I recall the deacon threatening to become Orthodox if TEC kept on its current path (which, in 2000, wasn’t nearly as far advanced as today…I wonder if he ever made good on that threat). The rector, a nice enough guy whom I liked, was interested in the Jesus seminar and John Spong. A friend of mine, an old Eastern Orthodox professor, used to complain the homilies were always about Cuba or gay rights as opposed to anything Biblical. Once, at a student Eucharist, a student gave the homily starting out with “I don’t know much about the Bible, but here goes…” (a bad sign), and recited a poem about how God is a lesbian who is mad at right-wing Christians. This was all back in 2000, the only year I was there, since I went to grad school the next year. Even though I am Roman Catholic now I do still have some fond feelings for Good Shepherd…it takes me back to my senior year at OU.

    My biggest concern has always been how a parish that is literally on the campus of Ohio University (literally…it is even in the same architectural style, and right across the street from the library), can have so few students. I guess the “new thing” doesn’t work too well.

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