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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Followers of Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, serve the world God loves!

Dear Friends,

At our Synod two weeks ago, the Diocese of Toronto endorsed the work of Cast the Net (CTN). Over the past 15 months, the visioning process engaged in listening to youth, youth leaders, diocesan volunteers, lay leaders in parishes, staff at 135 Adelaide, deacons, priests, bishops and more. Listening takes time. It takes patience and discernment. Our CTN consultants and steering committee took what they heard and wove it into patterns. The result was the 20 Calls that were shared and enthusiastically received at Synod.

You’ll be hearing so much more about the Calls in the weeks and months to come, particularly as our newly elected Synod Council comes into formation and frames its work for the next two years on the promptings of these Calls. Stay tuned for more! What we heard again and again in this exercise of listening was the desire to deepen our spiritual lives and our formation as disciples of Jesus. To this end, we invite the whole Diocese to step into a Season of Spiritual Renewal. This season will be coordinated by the Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Paulsen and enabled by a soon-to-be-named steering committee. I am so excited to see how the Holy Spirit will prompt us to fresh discipleship so that we might become revitalized Christians for a new era in the life of our Church.

I want to draw your attention to the vision statement:

Followers of Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, serve the world God loves!

A part of every visioning process is to come up with a simple, memorable statement that encapsulates what has been heard. It’s one thing to try and capture all that we hope to be and do in 20 calls to action. It’s quite another to distill the essence and purpose down to less than 15 words. Most vision statements are just that… statements. This one is different. It is at once aspirational and inspirational, invitational and imperative. It describes who we believe we are at our best, and what we try to be more and more every day, with God’s help. It welcomes others to join us on this journey, and it sends us into the world, determined to live into these words with faith, in action. There is a liturgical nature to this statement. It is shaped like the Dismissal that sends us back into the world.

I want to encourage you all (but thinking especially of our Community of Deacons) to consider – over the next two years, up to Synod 2025 – using this in worship as the dismissal at the conclusion of the liturgy. I’ve been gratified to hear of a few parishes that have already started to do so, and I’m told that “it works!” As the Diocese learns to live into the net model of interconnectedness, here is one liturgical way that our diocesan family can express our solidarity with, and affirmation of, the vision, goals and hope of Cast the Net.

In this fresh new Church year, and in this season of Advent, let us begin where we are, and pray and work our way towards becoming who God is calling us to be:

Followers of Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, serve the world God loves!
Thanks be to God!

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto