By the Rt. Rev. Mdimi Mhogolo, Bishop of Central Tanganyika, Tanzania
Amid the complexities of life, can the Church still focus and sustain God’s mission on earth? Are our structures agile and light enough to meet any mission change and challenge of the world?
I am reminded of the story in Mark 9, where the failure of the disciples of Jesus to bring healing to the epileptic boy and restore the welfare and peace of the whole family led the disciples to spend their time and energy arguing theologically with the counter-Jewish theologians of the day. Their action did not help the boy or his father. Instead they increased the desperation and exasperation of the father toward the disciples, and made the father of the boy question the love and power of Jesus to respond to human needs.
The world needs the healing of bodies and hurtful memories, and the reconciliation of peoples, faiths and ideologies for peaceful co-existence and for the good of the world. The Church’s message of forgiveness, fellowship and hope, and the renewal of its strengths and energy, are much needed for a world that is uncertain of its own future.
I hope and pray that the focus of God’s mission to the world may become the concerns of the Episcopal Church and the General Convention. When one looks at the agenda, and at the resources that support the programs of the Church, can one know for sure that the focus of the whole Church is to be and do God’s mission here on earth? What are the items of God’s mission that are being emphasized and promoted in the agenda, and how many resources are being allocated for the same? Are those programs crucial and fundamental for the core mission of God in the world?
For many years, the Episcopal Church has been balancing its mission in its local setting with its mission and leadership in the world. Its agendas and resources have reflected and served well its mission. If one scrutinizes the agendas and budget for the coming years, is the story still the same?
We know that major changes have taken place in the world. Has the Church changed and become effective in moving with those changes in order to serve faithfully its world and people?
It may also be a good idea to look at the Church’s structures and ask whether those structures still serve faithfully the mission of God. If the structures have become heavy and cumbersome, only serving the needs of the structures themselves, the Episcopal Church may have the opportunity to lead the worldwide church of God in designing structures that can stand the challenges and changes of our contemporary world.
It may be that the Episcopal Church can lead others in taking a hard look at our Church structures to see if they need change.