A message to the diocese from Bishop Breidenthal

We are at a moment as a church and a culture when questions raised in the Book of Exodus are prominent. What does it mean to be a stranger in a strange land? What does it mean to leave behind all the things we thought we knew? What does it mean to see our communities change? As such, beginning August 27, 2017 and running to April 7, 2018, I am inviting everyone in the diocese to come together to read the Book of Exodus.

I asked a team of clergy and lay people to consider formation opportunities for the diocese, and they expressed a desire for us all to engage in scripture more deeply. This “planning group” developed the idea of a diocesan “Big Read,” and settled on Exodus as the topic for the reasons given above. My hope is that intensive study of Exodus will help form us for our essential mission of following Jesus into the neighborhood.

Several special events are planned for the seven months during which the diocese is reading together, but the most important part of the project will be the integration of our scripture study into every part of the life of the diocese. I ask that committees, councils, task forces, congregational staffs and vestries and mission councils devote fifteen minutes to the study of Exodus at the start of their meetings. The planning group will provide materials to help do so, and will also suggest some secondary texts that can help individuals study on their own. They will also provide materials for adult formation programs (most particularly online resources made available through ChurchNext, an online video learning tool) that congregations can use on Sunday mornings during forums and other adult education gatherings. I ask congregations to consider using these materials, or create their own forums and classes that delve into the richness of the Exodus story.

More information about this project will be forthcoming in the next few months.  For now, please put the following dates on your personal and congregation’s calendars:

Sunday, August 27 – Launch Day!  Exodus readings appear in the lectionary and clergy are asked to preach on Exodus.
Saturday, September 16 – Exodus Convocation at Procter Center.
Thursday, October 5 – Fall Clergy Day. Guest speaker on Exodus.
November 10-11 – Diocesan Convention. Special emphasis on Exodus.
January 2017 Jubilate Conference – The Liturgy & Music Commission’s annual conference will have an Exodus theme.
April 7, 2018 – Capstone Event. We will be joined by Old Testament scholar Terence Fretheim as we end the Exodus Project and summarize what we’ve learned.

Other diocesan-wide events that occur during this time (i.e. Best Practices Conference, etc.) will also be asked to incorporate the study of Exodus into their program. Watch Connections and e-Connections for more information about the Exodus Project as it becomes available.


+Tom Breidenthal