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We may speak of “strategic directions” for the Diocese of Huron but we can never forget that it is not our direction, it is not our plan. It is God’s plan. It is God’s mission and we are trying to be led by it so that we can participate in it.

*Your comments and feedback, as people of the Church, on the draft of this plan (attached) are requested. If you would like to provide feedback on the draft of this diocesan plan, please contact The Rev. Brendon Bedford prior to May 28 to receive details of a Zoom meeting where feedback may be provided to Huron Church House. Your feedback can also be submitted online here.

By Bishop Todd Townshend

The season after Pentecost (usually late May to late November) is often seen as a time for growth and maturation in faith. We seek to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and plunge more deeply into life in Christ. The colour for the liturgical season is green.

In my travels, I have seen a lot more “green” lately—coming out a bit at a time on the trees, in the fields, and from the churches. It just takes a hint of green, just a shoot coming out of a seemingly-dead tree, to see what God may be bringing out of the winter. At the same time, running in the background in my prayer life and other work, there has been an urgent need and desire for planning-out how we will “be” the Anglican Church in Huron over the decade to come. What kind of growth and maturation will it be?

A response to this question is taking shape in a diocesan-wide plan called “Turning to Grace” which was first drafted in February and is being gradually honed and improved through a series of consultations across the diocese.

“Turning to Grace” is deliberately not called a “strategic plan,” which has very business-like and secular-management connotations. The Diocese of Huron is not a market-driven business. It is a Church, the gathered Body of Christ in this place. We may speak of “strategic directions” for the Diocese of Huron but we can never forget that it is not our direction, it is not our plan. It is God’s plan. It is God’s mission and we are trying to be led by it so that we can participate in it.

The draft Diocesan Plan is rooted in formal and informal conversations that began in 2020, which were themselves informed by the October 2019 episcopal election. They have continued since then at Diocesan Synods, Diocesan Council Meetings, and other gatherings at the Deanery and Parish levels.

The overall direction was set by a series of “Bishop’s Charges” that I gave to Synod through 2020-2023 and it is shaped by the Five Marks of Mission and the Lambeth Calls, which came from the 2022 Lambeth Conference gathering of Bishops from across the entire Anglican Communion.

By mid-June, Archdeacons Phibbs and McClatchie will have met with clergy and lay groups in every deanery area, in a process of consultation, so that by June 7 our Diocesan Council can spend a day discussing and refining a final draft.

Over the summer it will be produced in its final form, formatted for access in both electronic and print formats, and a condensed version will accompany it for those who prefer the “coles notes”. The September Diocesan Council meeting will approve the plan (or not) and send it to the October Synod for endorsement.

That’s the timeline. But what is it about? Who is it for? Why? These are the questions that need to be continually asked so that the plan will actually serve God’s desire for the future of our life together.

As it says in a draft 4.0, one “objective of our Diocesan Plan is for each one of us to embrace the moment that we have been given and to believe and trust that the One who has promised is faithful. It is not about institutional survival, for it is not we who are called to save the Church. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain (Ps 127:1); we already have a Saviour. A second objective for us, collectively, is to get the will to do the things that we know that we need to do in order to be responsible stewards not only of those who came before us but also and perhaps more importantly for those who will come after us. Amongst the hard questions that must be asked is how our resources are allocated—existing, future, and potential. And, so, the Plan tries to be direct and honest in its assessment of where we are and where we can be.”

By the time I will mark five years serving as Bishop of Huron (the end of 2024), our direction and priorities for the next five years should be clear. I pray that clear direction will be given to the diocesan work of our church—the governing bodies, the committees and task forces, and the regional work we do in various ways.

A Property Strategy, a Stewardship Strategy, and a clear direction for Indigenous Ministry will also be woven throughout and clearly articulated as highest priorities. There is a lot of re-shaping to do so that the ministry of Anglican parishes can flourish now, in 2030, and beyond.

And speaking of parishes, this is where most of our ministry happens. Everything the diocese does as “a network of parishes” (the best simple definition of “diocese” that I know) must serve to strengthen and deepen the particular gifts and ministries of the many “congregations”. “Turning to Grace” will include sections entitled “Encouragement to Parishes” that will not prescribe activities that each parish must do but, rather, will describe some of the common expectations and best practices for the many different contexts. I pray that these will become genuinely encouraging for you in your faithful service.

Copies of the developing Diocesan Plan, “Turning to Grace” have been made public during the consultation process so please check out or ask for a copy from your clergy or lay delegates to Synod.

Blessings to all for this season of growth and maturation in Christ!


Bishop of Huron