A Yearning for and Renewed Commitment to Mission by Missouri Episcopalians

Saint Louis, MO (PRWEB) November 25, 2009

In his address to the 170th yearly meeting of the Diocese of Missouri, the Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith detailed the series of conversations held this past year, with clergy and with laity. Meeting twenty at a time, each conversation over a shared meal and with a scribe to record the exchange, these were times to share the dreams and possibilities for the diocesan community. The three topics of deeper spirituality and formation, yearning for authentic community, and engagement in mission kept being voiced. Bishop Smith said, “Many of you have told me about your dreams for this Church, and it is precisely where the seeds lie for the very life that will sustain us. More. Community. Mission.”

“The work of mission becomes all the more crucial for a Church like the Episcopal Church, which continues its numerical decline,” reported Smith. Over the last decade the Episcopal Church has lost 16% in Sunday worshipers. In the one year from 2007-8 average Sunday attendance declined 3.1% among domestic dioceses. In that same one-year period the Diocese of Missouri showed a .4% increase in Sunday worship, which continues the same pattern of radical stability this Diocese has seen for the past decade.

“For a Church in decline mission is not a option. It becomes all the more important to know that the heartbeat of the Episcopal Church is ‘mission, mission, mission,’ to use the Presiding Bishop’s metaphor,” continued Smith. The temptation is to turn inward, but it is in the counter-intuitive turning outward through mission where Christians find life. “It is where we have always found life,” said Smith, “Mission is life-giving. Mission is our joy and our duty.”

The Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile, assistant professor at Luther Seminary, delivered the keynote on topics of mission and radical hospitality and included stories from the parish he serves as associate, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, MN. “I recall one exchange between an American born man and a Kenyan about how disconnected and fragmented life is here, ” Zscheile said, “The church was seen as the one communal space in which significant ties of belonging and relationship could be developed across lines of social class and culture. What would it mean for our churches to be the villages in that African proverb? That means that church is a public space—not a voluntary society of individuals who associate to meet their private spiritual needs, but a truly public space belonging to God and open to the stranger.”

“We are trying to rediscover Christian identity in a post-Christian society. That is our challenge. I suspect many of our institutional structures may not make it intact into the future. The corporate, bureaucratic forms of denominational life that we’ve inherited from the mid-20th century must be transformed for a post-Christendom, network age,” continued Zscheile. “But that isn’t the real issue. The real issue is for us to relearn what it means to be the church as the people of God sent in mission wherever we are.”

This year’s annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri was held November 20-21, 2009 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Order of Business included the receiving of Church of the Transfiguration from mission to parish status, the welcoming of new church plant Columbia Hope, legislation and passing the diocesan budget for 2010. Multimedia vignette celebrating the work of diocesan Youth Ministry, the diocesan Commission on Dismantling Racism, Waters of Hope, the bicycle ride around Missouri to raise awareness and funds for clean water project in the Sudan, and the newly received parish and host parish, Transfiguration and Christ Church Cape Girardeau, respectively.

Nine missioners were commissioned; they left the day after convention for a two week trip to the Diocese of Lui in southern Sudan. The companion relationship sponsors missioners traveling to Lui and supports students from Lui coming to Missouri to study at Eden Seminary in St. Louis, in addition to infrastructure projects including deep water wells, a grinding mill, current medical texts and hospital supplies, and workshops on topics chosen by Lui diocese. This trip includes workshops on ministry led by Bishop Smith and the Rev. Dan Handschy, office management, adult literacy, agriculture, public health, and a very special art project shared between the children of Lui and Missouri facilitated by the Rev. Anne Kelsey.

Complete text of the Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith’s address:


Complete text of the Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile Keynote:


More information about the children’s art project with the Diocese of Lui, Sudan



Helsinki Vacation Travel will Heat Up with Renewed Focus on Overseas Travel

Norwalk, CN (PRWEB) February 3, 2006

The upswing in the economy and a renewed emphasis on the quality of life has many Americans looking overseas for their next vacation. Though perennial favorites like London, Paris and Italy will see the biggest upswings in travelers, other destinations including Helsinki will see an increase in tourism.

Helsinki is a beautiful city that is ideal to tour on foot because of its compact layout. From Senate Square to Market Square, there are great sites, sounds and tastes for travelers of any age, style and taste.

Suomenlinna offers you the ability to tour one of the largest maritime fortresses in the world, built on six islands and full of museums, great restaurants, terrific cafes, many special events and things to do.

Helsinki is a great family vacation destination with the biggest attractions being: the Sea Life & Helsinki Zoo and the Linnanmaki Amusement Park. This amusement park adds a new attraction every year and has a legendary rollercoaster. One visit to the park and you will see why it is the highlight of every Finnish child’s summer vacation each year.

With great art museums, beautiful old churches and wonders around every corner, Helsinki is a great vacation destination. Virgin Vacations recently announced Helsinki vacation packages that start at 9 per person, depending on dates selected, occupancy and departure city (details can be found on Virgin Vacations’ website: www.virgin-vacations.com).

With the anticipated increase in travel across Europe and with Virgin Vacations announcement of great travel packages including Helsinki vacations, the travel industry will continue to heat up in these winter months.

About Virgin Vacations:

Virgin Vacations was first established in 1994 as the inclusive tour arm of Virgin Atlantic Airways, operating under the name Virgin Atlantic Vacations. The primary focus was to provide inclusive tour options to passengers on Virgin Atlantic routes. In May 2002 Virgin Vacations was

established as a separate company under the parent of Virgin Atlantic Limited. Virgin Vacations continues to promote and sell great deals, such as the Florence & Venice travel deals as well as many other worldwide destinations.

Virgin Vacations Contact:

Jeanne De Smedt

747 Belden Avenue

Norwalk, CT 06850

Phone: 203.750.2081

Fax: 203.750.6403

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