Diocese of Toronto | Anglican Church of Canada

Cathedral Visioning

In November of 2019 Dean Stephen Vail wrote a series of four articles about the Cathedral’s Visioning Process for 2020.

Please see below for each of the messages and join the Dean for a Town Hall meeting on Monday, January 27 at 7:00pm in the Cathedral Centre (65 Church St.). This meeting will focus on these articles, and is an opportunity for you to ask questions and us to dream together. Please note that finances will not be discussed at this meeting. That will happen at a later date in a budget pre-Vestry meeting. This is about vision and program.

Article #1 – November 10, 2019

Dear Friends,

Throughout November, I will be writing a series of articles about the path I intend to lead us along as we begin walking together as priest and people.

Soon after I arrived I was brought up to speed about some of the challenges we face, finan­cial and otherwise. The most important thing to remember is that we face them together. We didn’t get here overnight, so it will take us some time to get back to a more sustainable po­sition. Further, we really are in this together, which means we need the prayers, support and participation of the entire Cathedral community as we strengthen and grow our Cathedral. The projected deficit for this year is daunting, but I refuse to allow it to distract me from serving you from a place of joy, hope, encouragement and vision. We will need to think seriously what is realistic and what we are called to do as a community of faith. Some things will need to change, others will remain the same, and still other new and exciting things will be added.

In 2020, we will begin two important processes that will engage members:

  1. Core Values Exercise: This will explore fundamental questions of identity and purpose as we seek to discern where God is calling us as a Cathedral. By selecting a few key words of identity, we will be able to quickly gauge and evaluate how future ideas fit into that voca­tion.
  2. Visioning Exercise: This exercise will expand on the core values and begin to form import­ant statements that will shape our decisions around ministry and the use of our resources. The end products will be a Strategic Plan, a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement for the next three to five years.

Until then, the Interim Strategic Plan (adapted from 2017) will serve as our guide. Stay tuned as I speak in more depth about these plans and our Interim Strategic Plan. In the meantime, please pray for your beloved Cathedral in this challenging yet exciting time.

Article #2 – November 17, 2019

Dear Friends,

Last week I promised I would say more about our 2020 Core Values and Visioning exercises. Anytime I consult my GPS, it is to figure out where I am, where I want to go, and how to get there. Similar questions will shape our conversations next year:

“Who are we?” and “Why are we?”

These two questions are intimately related and deeply important. Although we sometimes say things like “my church”, it is important to remember that the Church belongs first and foremost to God. God created it, God determined its purpose, and God calls it forward in ministry. As the Church became more established, people sometimes lost sight of these truths and began to think the Church was about their own preferred way of doing things. In reality, the Church ex­ists to expand God’s reign of love through ministry as the body of Christ in the world. Our Core Values exercise will help us put into words who we are as St. James Cathedral, so that we might have a better sense of how God is calling us.

Where are we?

My Aunt Sally used to sing a song called “Bloom Where You’re Planted”. It was pretty cheesy, but also very apt. This Cathedral exists in a particular location in time, space and culture. What does the place we are “planted” have to say about who God might be calling us to be? Who are our neighbours? How can we reach out to them in the love of Christ? How can we invite them into community? It is all about connection. God connected with humanity in Jesus Christ and calls us to connect with the world around us in mission and ministry. This is the first stage of our visioning exercise and the second is below.

Where do we want to go?

This question makes a connection between the first two and begins to form a road map of how to move forward in God’s call to us. In this second stage, we celebrate who we are and what we do well, but we also form specific goals and aspirations around how our ministry will look over the next three to five years and – voila – we have a strategic plan. As we attune ourselves more and more to the mission of Christ, we will grow by the goodness and love of the one who planted us all those years ago.

Article #3 – November 24 2019

Dear Friends,

My last two articles laid out my visioning plan for 2020, which will result in a mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan. Your Executive Committee has drawn the following items from the “Strategic Plan Update” of the 2018 Vestry Report. They will serve as our Interim Stra­tegic Plan in the meantime.

There are three components, each with two specific goals. They aim to align the hopes of the past with the dreams of the future.

Interim Strategic Plan

Sound Financial Stewardship

  • Practice excellence in stewardship, working to achieve financial health by better balancing revenue and programs.
  • Restore financial sustainability through multi-year financial planning, programs that connect with young people, and engaging all members to contribute generously and regularly.

Inspiring Worship

  • Strengthen our relationship to the Diocese as its Cathedral Church through liturgy, music and events.
  • Attract new people to the community through liturgical innovation, openness and wel­come, and excellence in preaching and teaching.

Equipping Lay Leadership to Engage the Community

  • Hone our skills on being a welcoming, attractional community that knows its neighbours of all walks of life and engages with them.
  • Encourage greater participation by parishioners in all we do.

These are exciting times for us at St. James Cathedral and I bid your prayers and commitment as we move forward together in ministry.

Article #4 – December 1, 2019

Dear Friends,

In this last article of my visioning series, I want to inform you about two programs that will run in 2020.

The first is called Revive, a program for equipping lay leaders for ministry. Revive has been test­ed across the Anglican Communion and is being hailed as a game changer that empowers and equips all of God’s people to feel confident in carrying out the mission of the Church.

The second program is aimed at those seeking a better understanding of what it means to fol­low Jesus. Developed with Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church in the United States, The Way of Love is aimed at making and growing disciples. Andrew Kuhl and Fr. Andrew MacDonald are leading this program, which will run for seven weeks beginning January 8. I encourage you to be part of it and to invite curious friends seeking for a place to belong and be nurtured in the faith. Watch for details later this month.

I am excited about both of these programs and the impact they will have on our shared minis­try. Finally, I would like to say a few words about an overarching thought I would like us all to ponder as we move forward together.

I remember the first time I had a role in a Christmas pageant. I was the innkeeper, and my one line was, “There is no room for you.” A surprising number of people think this is how the Church feels about them. Advent and Christmas are seasons of welcome, and I encourage all of us to think and pray about ways in which we might be as warm and inviting a community as possible. How can we make room for those who are not already here?

Making room sometimes means doing things differently. How can we make room for those in our society who are hurting? How can we make room for children and young people so they know they are beloved members of God’s family? How can we make room for new ways of doing things so that others feel included and the door to our Inn is truly open?

The Advent and Christmas readings echo with invitation and promise of belonging. May God help us be an inviting and welcoming community for all who seek the love and grace of Jesus Christ.


Posted on: January 6th, 2020 by St James Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St James

106 King Street East, Toronto ON M5C 2E9 | Office & Mailing Address: 65 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E9
(416)364-7865 | info@stjamescathedral.ca

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