We have one purpose: To form people as disciples of Jesus Christ so they can carry out God’s mission of reconciliation in the world. We share a vision of every congregation in the Diocese of New Jersey in an interconnected community of schools of discipleship.
The Discerning our Common Call Steering Committee works with leaders, congregations, committees, commissions, and task-forces across the diocese to help coordinate our work together around this focus on discipleship and formation in all that we do.
In 2018, DOCC invited the diocese to join together in reflection on scripture at all regular meetings, and began publishing a Dwelling in the Word bible study, which has been used by congregational Vestries, study groups, and committees, diocesan task forces, boards and committees regularly for years. This resource helps draw us together in reflection on how all our work is rooted in our call as disciples of Christ.
In 2021, the Lifelong Christian Formation Committee took over the quarterly publication of our Diocesan Dwelling in the Word.
At the 233rd Convention of the Diocese of New Jersey in March 2017, Bishop Stokes called for a process of discernment around our call and ministry as a diocese. While this process was initially prompted by the sense of urgency around underfunding of our ministry, seen in the projected diocesan budget for 2018, it became clear that the source of our financial challenges was rooted in our understanding of our call to ministry together. A Steering Committee for Discerning Our Common Call was formed to lead a process of listening to and engaging stakeholders in our common ministry: lay and clergy, parishes and missions, staff and congregants, from all parts of the diocese.
The work of discernment took several forms in 2017: a series of open conversational forums with the Bishop, two Days of Discernment focusing on core values of the Diocese, a series of Charrettes focused on how we implement those values as budget priorities, and a Special Convention held in October 2017.
From the Forums, we learned that communications, community, formation, and youth and young adult ministry were areas of common and urgent concern to members of the diocese. The Days of Discernment highlighted a sense of shared values such as Collaboration/Communication, Evangelism, Formation/Discipleship, Inclusion, Justice, Outreach, Youth, and a sense of the centrality of our faith in Jesus as our highest core value. The Charettes engaged participants in several brainstorming exercises around prioritizing ministry funding and new resource development, based on the core values.
In response to this process, the Special Convention in October tasked the Finance and Budget Committee to consider the results of these conversations in preparing the 2018 budget.
The Special Convention also called for the continuation of this work of discernment throughout the diocese and for the exploration of a capital campaign and created two task forces: The Task Force on Resources and Revenues to work on stable, long-term resourcing of the ministry of the diocese, and the Task Force on Mission, Budget, and Structure to work on aligning the structure and financing of our diocese with the Anglican Marks of Mission. Those completed their work in early 2020, and reported to the 2020 Convention.
The Discerning Our Common Call Steering Committee continued its work, sponsoring forums and discernment conversations in convocations and among diocesan leadership, and bringing together various diocesan leadership bodies to coordinate their work around our common purpose.
In 2018, we began to focus our work around the mission and call of our diocese articulated by Bishop Stokes: Our purpose is to form people as disciples of Jesus Christ who participate in God’s mission of reconciliation in the world.
As these conversations continued in the diocese, a new vision for the diocese began to emerge: that we become an interconnected community of– schools of discipleship; in other words, a network of congregations, communities and ministries that teach, form, and support the continual development of disciples of Jesus Christ.
For more information, please contact The Rev. Emily Mellott.