by Sue Awes

(This post was originally written for our diocese website,

The setting for our first Bishop’s Council was Church of the Cross, Hopkins, Minnesota, and our hosts were Fr. Christian and Molly Ruch. We gathered there on Friday, January 31, for a candlelight dinner followed by an evening of sharing and Compline.


One by one we went around the table, answering Bishop Stewart’s two questions: ‘How did you come to faith in Christ?’ and “What are your hopes and dreams for our new diocese?’ The answers were varied and rich and laid a framework of trust among the Council members, many of whom were strangers until that day. The evening closed as we stood in the church chancel, praying together and saying the ancient words of Compline.

Saturday morning began with prayer and Bishop Stewart’s challenge to us from Matthew 17 on faith. “Faith is openness to God”, he said, and this became the watchword for the rest of the day, even as we moved into the business of 2013 financial reviews and discussion of the proposed 2014 diocesan budget. Here the signature word was ‘transparency’. Throughout the day there were thoughtful and hopeful reports given on church planting, leadership, college mission and staff appointments and in each we heard testimony of the Spirit’s moving.

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A highlight of Saturday’s session was a spirited discussion of the upcoming Upper Midwest Annual Gathering, scheduled for May 15-17. Ideas were pouring out and there was a clear sense of energy and anticipation and openness to great things happening. Many details are being worked out, but the vision of the Bishop and the Council is that God is doing a new thing and we will follow with joy!

We shared the Lord’s Supper and prayed once more together before we parted. This first meeting will be remembered; faith is openness to God, be intentional in your Kingdom work, pray without ceasing, anticipate the unexpected and give thanks for your fellow pilgrims.