Vision & Mission
Mutuality, Vitality & Viability: Pray, Learn, Serve & Grow
A Covenant and Characteristics for Congregations Growing in Mission
The Diocese of Eastern Michigan is a baptismal community fostering deeper generosity, hospitality, meaning and formation among the people and congregations who are the diocese.
Statement of Mission
Empowered for ministry through our baptism, the Diocese of Eastern Michigan is called to love God and neighbor through our relationship with God in Christ and through covenantal relationships characterized by collaboration, mutual accountability, and capacity building. We live this mission by praying, learning, serving and growing.
Diocesan Core Values
- Shared Baptismal Ministry
- Right Relationships
- Mutual Accountability
- Capacity Building
- Love God and Neighbor through Christ
The Bishop and Mission Council have made recommendations to the Standing Committee regarding the development and growth of congregations, particularly in regard to diocesan resource allocations. Emerging from this work are an emphasis on mutual interdependence of individual congregations and the diocese as a whole and the concepts of vitality (a congregation’s lively response to God’s mission) and viability (the stability and strength of a congregation’s finances, property and administrative functions). This document sets forth both a covenant of mutual interdependence and two sets of characteristics, one for vitality and one for viability, with the vitality characteristics organized according to the themes of praying, learning, serving and growing by which we join one another in God’s mission.
Covenant of Mutuality
As the People of God gathered by grace and bound together through Christ in holy community in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan:
We give thanks:
- For our calling to join one another in God’s mission through praying, learning, serving and growing;
- For the ministries to which we are commissioned in baptism and which we profess in our baptismal covenant; and
- For the blessing of our mutual life and work in one diocesan community as bishop, clergy and people, in the fellowship of The Episcopal Church.
- That as one diocese, our common participation in the mission of God is grounded in the ministries of local congregations — small and large; rural, urban and suburban, worshipping in
styles adapted to local culture;
- That our individual local congregations depend upon one another, and on the diocese as a whole, for their origins and continuing health and strength;
- That as local congregations we hold our resources and real property in trust for one another, the diocese and The Episcopal Church as a whole, for the purpose of furthering God’s mission; and
- That as local congregations we will best thrive in faithfulness to our calling:
- when we hold ourselves accountable one to another and to the diocese as a whole for the use that we make of our gifts and resources, and
- when we embrace opportunities to work in partnerships of prayer, learning and service one with another, and together as one diocese.
We therefore pledge through this covenant:
- To adopt characteristics by which to assess our congregations’ vitality and viability,
- the characteristics of vitality indicating a congregation’s lively response to God’s mission of praying, learning, serving and growing; and
- the characteristics of viability indicating the stability and strength of a congregation’s finances, property and administrative functions;
- To use these characteristics as a tool of study, reflection and discernment, within and among our congregations for purposes of accountability, strategic planning and the faithful allocation of resources;
- To devote resources within and among congregations, and in the diocese as a whole, in support of opportunities for transformation and growth in vitality and viability, including the creation of new congregations; and
- To reallocate in the service of God’s mission those resources of the diocese and local congregations that do not actively serve congregational vitality and viability.
Characteristics of Vital Congregations
Each congregation in our diocese has unique God-given gifts for mission and ministry that we offer together as the body of Christ. Carrying out God’s mission through the church’s ministries is the joint responsibility of both clergy and lay persons. The diocesan Mission Strategy calls upon each of our congregations to consider how we are currently using or might better use our gifts to create communities of faith that Pray, Learn, Serve and Grow. Our Mission Strategy also encourages our congregations to work in partnership with one another to develop effective ministries in order to carry out their mission.
The “Characteristics of Vital Congregations” that follow are a way of initiating a dialogue with congregations about their participation in God’s mission and ministries in the world, with the hope that, from these discussions, the entire diocese — laity, bishop, priests and deacons — will commit itself to engage in the work of mutual upbuilding and transformation. No congregation possesses all of these characteristics; as a starting point, each congregation is invited to make a self-assessment using these characteristics and also to identify areas where they are strong and have resources to offer and areas where needs are unaddressed or help is needed for growth. There is no need to take them in order or all at once; congregations may want to start in areas where they feel strong.
- Worship is both vibrant and fresh in expression and rooted in tradition with the result that people are energized and inspired for Christian service and ministry in their daily lives.
- The planning and leadership of worship invites participation and engages the creativity of the entire congregation: all age groups, newcomers and established members.
- Worship expresses the cultural diversity of the congregation and its neighboring communities.
- The congregation appropriately and strategically considers alternative worship times, venues and liturgies.
- The congregation has fellowship opportunities in addition to Sunday morning, after worship fellowship times (for example: dinner groups, meals in the parish hall, discussion groups, etc.).
- The congregation uses fellowship opportunities to deepen the discipleship of its members.
- The congregation gathers to celebrate, support and care for each other in the midst of congregational life.
Mission Discernment and Accountability
- The congregation has a mission and/or vision statement which is clear, concise, broadly known and periodically reviewed by the vestry and congregation.
- The ministry and mission of the congregation reflect this vision.
- The congregation has achievable and measurable goals, strategies and objectives which members know and support.
- The vestry and clergy engage in annual reviews of their common ministry to and with one another, such reviews focusing on goal achievement in relation to the congregation’s participation in God’s mission.
Education/Formation for Discipleship
- Education and formation opportunities for discipleship are offered to children, youth, young adults, adults and senior adults.
- The Baptismal Covenant is used as a framework for designing and implementing education and formation opportunities.
- There is clear designation of clergy and lay leaders responsible for planning and implementing education and formation programs.
- The curriculum, educational programs and/ or resources offer a global perspective and celebrate diversity and equality.
- Lay and clergy leaders are actively encouraged to enhance their own skills for ministry through participation in diocesan, provincial and national learning and training opportunities.
- The congregation reflects the demographics of its surrounding community.
- The congregation shows hospitality to visitors and has a process for new member incorporation.
- The congregation has adequate outdoor lighting and signage.
- Signage (indoors and outdoors) and bulletin boards are neat, clear, accurate, engaging and readable.
- Phone messages are welcoming, timely and contain times of worship and other events, as well as
the location of the church.
- To the greatest extent possible with human and material resources available, the congregation uses electronic and print communications vehicles including newsletters, website and electronic newsletters which are engaging, accurate, and timely and which convey contact information for the congregation’s office, clergy, and lay leaders, as well as directions, service times and mission statement.
- The congregation has a media relations program that builds good relations with local media, including press releases, op/ed commentary articles, letters to the editor and appearances on local television and radio stations.
- The congregation conducts creative outreach activities such as, but not limited to: direct mail, advertising; newspaper, radio, and television advertising; and special events and collaborations with advocacy, non-profit, and community groups.
- At least 10 percent of the parish budget, excluding the diocesan tithe, is spent on outreach.
- The congregation has at least one signature effort of service, witness or advocacy that includes a broad cross-section of congregational members and has broad congregational support.
- The congregation looks for opportunities to engage in collaborative ministry with other congregations and faiths.
- The leadership reflects the gifts and talents of the congregation.
- The leaders embody the theology of servant ministry: they delegate responsibilities and duties, encourage and empower others and communicate openly.
- The congregation’s budget and financial information are available and transparent to the congregation, and members have an opportunity to engage in the budget process. Community Connections
- The congregation has a visible presence in the community, and clergy and lay leaders are engaged in community activities and leadership.
- People in the community who are not members of the congregation know about the congregation and are regularly informed of the congregation’s activities and offerings.
- People in the community come to the church for a variety of reasons in addition to worship (for example: lectures, afterschool programs, day care, etc.).
- The congregation has engaged a community issue during the past year.
- Members of the congregation understand stewardship as their response to God’s love and God’s call to tend and care for the whole of creation, including our selves, our possessions and “this fragile earth, our island home.”
- Members of the congregation practice simplicity of life and generosity in giving as spiritual disciplines rooted in gratitude to God.
- Throughout the year members of the congregation are asked to support the ministry of the churchwith their time, talents and treasure, especially through the practices of proportionate giving (or tithing) and witnessing to God’s work in their lives.
- The congregation intentionally and systematically helps its members discern their gifts for ministry in the congregation as well as in their families, workplaces, communities and beyond.
- Once gifts for ministry are discerned, the congregation helps its members understand where they are called to exercise those gifts and encourages them to pursue that call.
- The congregation’s current mission initiatives stretch its members by calling them to work alongside and on behalf of people who are different from them in language, culture, ethnicity or economic status.
Characteristics of Viable Congregations
Viability characteristics are those elements of congregational and diocesan life that are considered basic and essential. They represent the fundamental obligations and responsibilities that each congregation undertakes as a constituent part of this diocese. While these responsibilities rest largely with the vestry, clergy should work cooperatively with the vestry to maintain the viability of the parish in these areas. Congregations that discover that they are experiencing difficulties in meeting one or more of these responsibilities should contact the office of the bishop for a referral for specific help.
- Essential leadership positions (wardens, vestry, treasurer, clerk) are filled and have regular turnover per congregation bylaws.
- Clergy and staff salaries and pensions are paid in a timely manner and meet at least minimum diocesan recommended compensation levels.
- The congregation is current with all financial obligations, including payment of the full diocesan tithe.
- There is an annual giving (stewardship pledge) program.
- A congregational financial budget is prepared annually.
- Church properties (buildings and grounds) are free of major defects or these are being addressed.
- The congregation files an annual parochial report and a yearly financial review or audit per diocesan canons.
- The congregation has By-laws by which it closely governs its affairs and that are reviewed at least every three (3) years.
- All clergy and appropriate lay persons have received training in Safeguarding God’s People and Safeguarding God’s Children as required by diocesan guidelines.