Horizons 2015: The Journey to the Future
At the 225th Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of Maryland in 2009, the Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton said in his convention address, “I call for us to dream big dreams, and then discern which of those dreams we will choose to direct the bulk of our energies and resources. …we will take special care to return to and draw upon our diocesan history and traditions… Our ancestors are going to point the way for our future.”
Bishop Sutton called on every congregation and organization to name a Horizons lay representative to be a part of a year-long Horizons Gathering discernment process. In many cases these were people new to a leadership role in the diocese. A grassroots effort, it was essential that Horizons be a laity-driven process. Clergy members were invited into the process as were diocesan ministry and mission representatives. The Mission Strategy Group oversaw the process, hosting two large group meetings at the Bishop Claggett Center and several area meetings around the diocese. The group numbered around 160 members.
The Rev. Can. C.K. Robertson (Chuck), canon to the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, was the 2009 keynote speaker and facilitator of the year-long Horizons discernment process.
The Horizons Process
Over the course of the year, Robertson facilitated two Horizons Gathering meetings, October 2, 2009 and February 27, 2010. It was out of these meetings, plus several late-fall area meetings held around the diocese for the general public’s input, that the priorities of the diocese were created.
In addition, people across the diocese discovered commonality with others whom they might never have connected with but for the Horizons process. They began to network with one another and developed ideas and potential priorities. This was a surprising result of the process and one that can only benefit mission and ministry.
The eight priorities discerned by Horizons were presented by the Mission Strategy Group, as its last official act, to Diocesan Council on March 6, 2010. After some deliberation by Council, five final priorities and a list of “norms” that encompass three of the original eight presented, were voted on. Diocesan Council unanimously adopted the five Horizons priorities and list of norms.
The five Horizons 2015 priorities are a result of listening and reflecting in the diocese over the course of more than a year. Now that we have been living into these priorities for over a year through the establishment of task forces to discern what directions each of these priorities should take us, it is time to learn more about what is currently happening in churches in the diocese. We hope to celebrate those ministries in local congregations that reflect these priorities. We want to help build and strengthen relationships among churches and to share resources and great ideas. We desire to assist churches who might be looking for some new ideas and provide resources to support your ministries as we work together.
We have created visiting teams that have been trained to help congregations assess parish life. These are not “secret shopper” visits and no team will visit a church without an invitation. However, this program is designed to help churches gain a new perspective on everything from how it welcomes newcomers to its communications and its ministry offerings, especially those items specific to the Horizons 2015 priorities. This is intended to be a non-threatening, affirming, helpful and supportive process with mutual benefit to the congregation and the diocese.
Several churches in the diocese have begun “beta testing” this program with the Horizons visiting teams, comprised typically of three laypeople and a clergy resource person. They have scheduled their visits and members of the churches are completing a three-part survey. Together the visitors and the church members will report, review and discuss the finding, and have a conversation about the future.
To help congregations and visiting teams prepare for their time together, a survey has been created that prompts both church and visitors to consider programs, ministries and missions of the church as they relate to Horizons 2015.
The information provided by the church leaders on the survey, together with the face-to-face meeting, will allow the visitors to produce a summary for the congregation. The Horizons visitors will help link the church with resources to support and strengthen ministries, and/or help share resources with others. All conversations will be confined to the congregation, the team members, and the diocesan staff.
About the survey
The first section provides Basic Information about the specific congregation. It helps to create a file for the church. It can be quickly completed by a staff member or vestry officer.
The second section is Getting Ready. It is a more detailed questionnaire specific to the Horizons 2015 priorities and the congregation’s ministries and mission. Collecting this information ahead of the visit allows the Horizons visitors to become familiar with the congregation, and allows the time together to be more of a conversation about celebrations and dreams rather than simply a fact-finding mission.
The last section is named Let's Talk. It asks some “big picture” questions. It is designed to help the congregation reflect on the basic themes and topics that will be discussed with the visiting team.
Follow the links below to view the resources used during the Horizons process
Horizons 2015 Priorities Powerpoint Presentation
(MS Powerpoint slide show)
About the Horizons Area Gatherings
Minutes and presentations fromt he Horizons Area Gatherings
2009 and 2010 Convention addresses by Bishops Sutton and Rabb, 2009 Convention keynote address and presentation by Canon Charles Robertson, and more.