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Bishops write pastoral letter to vestries

The College of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter to Vestries, 2024
to be read or circulated on the Sunday of the parish’s annual vestry meeting

To the clergy, churchwardens and parishioners of the Diocese of Toronto:

Dear friends,

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

Simple and elegant. These few words capture the essence of a Vision that we have been pursuing and discerning throughout the Cast the Net process, a visioning exercise that began while we were still in pandemic mode. Over the course of several consultations, we listened to one another, and for the leading of the Holy Spirit. With time, sifting and testing, 20 Calls were revealed at Synod, which were supported with enthusiasm. A final version of the Calls will be received by Synod Council in February. We continue to be grateful to the Steering Committee and consultants, who have led our work together over the past 18 months. And now the work begins to incorporate these Calls into the life and ministry of the whole Diocese. This is the time for parishes large and small, missions, ministries, committees and Synod Council to animate the Calls in our own contexts. It is almost impossible for one community to embrace all 20, but by serving together from Mississauga to Brighton, Midland to Minden, and all points in between, we can!

We begin this journey with a Season of Spiritual Renewal. We embrace the Call to deepen our walk together as communities by immersing ourselves in prayer, reading and reflection on scripture, worship and sharing our stories of faith with one another. As we promised in our baptism: we will “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.” This Season will be supported by the Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Paulsen, members of a steering committee and the College of Bishops. We hope that you will be able to join us for Diocesan worship events, learning opportunities, programs and fellowship that entice us all to walk more closely in the footsteps of Jesus.

We are delighted to reach across our borders to deepen our friendship with the Diocese of Brasilia. Brasilia is a relatively new diocese, birthed in 1985, with a small number of parishes, missions and ministries. We were delighted to welcome their Bishop Mauricio Andrade and his wife Sandra to our Diocesan Synod in November. We will learn from, grow with, and support one another as we strive to serve Christ in our unique circumstances. And we look forward to opportunities for delegations of our clergy and laity to visit back and forth, both in-person and online, as we deepen our affection for one another.

We are proud of and amazed at the ministry taking place across our Diocese, especially in the areas of youth, ecumenism, creation care, diversity, and faith formation. We encourage you to consider this year’s diocesan Social Justice motion on housing, and to prayerfully support our Church’s advocacy for every person’s right to adequate shelter. We are convinced that the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding us, and challenging us to bravely find new ways to work and worship together, to increase in courage, to share our passion for the Good News of Jesus, and to seek and find new meaning as followers of Christ in the 21st century, where we are confronted with emerging economic and social challenges. We want to express our heartfelt thanks to all who make up our dynamic community of faith – lay people, deacons, priests – all helping to give a glimpse of the Reign of God as it unfolds in our midst.

As your bishops, we know the joy and privilege of serving the Church in this Diocese. We thank all those who have joined us in giving leadership over the past year. We have recently celebrated one year of our new diocesan leadership model, and we are immensely grateful to our new Territorial Archdeacons and Canon Administrator for stepping into their roles so effectively and with such faithfulness. The five of them have helped to ease the bishops’ administrative load, allowing us to focus on some of the other work to which we have been called and ordained.

Whether your work is changing this year, whether you are stepping out of your role at this Vestry meeting, or stepping into a new ministry, or continuing on in your good work, please know that we are here to support you in every way we can. We want to encourage you in Gospel ministry, in the initiatives and relationships that you are building, as you cast your nets ever wider in a world that is hungry for Christ – for meaning, connection and belonging.

Our mission statement is simple and elegant. And it invites us, like the dismissal at the close of the Eucharist, to action. We invite you to incorporate these words in your liturgies on Sunday morning:

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

Yours faithfully in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto

The Rt. Rev. Riscylla Shaw
Suffragan Bishop of Toronto

The Rt. Rev. Kevin Robertson
Suffragan Bishop of Toronto


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