February 4, 2020
As the December deadline for submission of case studies (BMERS) approached, it became clear that there would be an insufficient representation of Partners to hold an effective and productive meeting. The Coordinators, therefore, choose to claim a reduced contract at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Phoenix for a time of discernment and visioning around the ministry and future of the Living Stones Partnership.
The Rev. Elizabeth Short, an experienced facilitator from the Diocese of Calgary, was invited to help us move through our reflections and deliberations. Over two full days of discussions, the collected coordinators, bishops, and available alumni, listened carefully to the experiences of all and the observations of both veterans and recent participants. Much history was shared and the dynamics of our current contexts were articulated.
The reality that became clear to all of us is that the structure and processes of our Annual Meetings are no longer viable. We know of former partners who have lost interest in this expression of Ministry of All the Baptized, others whose new Bishop is exploring other opportunities for ministry development, and some who simply cannot afford to send teams.
Therefore, with a majority of Coordinators present, the Annual Meeting unanimously voted to dissolve the Living Stones Partnership.
The remaining funds held by the Partnership will be held in trust within the Diocese of Northern Michigan and Eric Metoyer will remain treasurer until such time as the funds are dispersed or re-purposed.
Each person present embraced a strong desire and hope that we could find an expression of Ministry of All the Baptized which could yet be offered to the wider Church. Toward creating a space where new ideas might be lifted up, we spent an evening discussing the core values of the Partnership.
Each of us promised to circulate these values among our Living Stone connections and other ministry development supporters within our relationship circles. Each will be asked if they can affirm these values or re-express them in more experienced or more contextual ways. It is our intention to meet again in June 2020 to see if there is enough interest among or beyond the Partnership communities to engage in creation of a new experience that will form the Church in the meaning of Ministry of All the Baptized.
On behalf of the colleagues present at the Phoenix meeting, I share with you our grief over the end of Living Stones. Its twenty-eight years of ministry development have shaped each of us in some vital way. We also share with you a deep gratitude for all who have gone before us: visionaries, coordinators, bishops, guest speakers, and team members upon whose shoulders each of us stand. We deeply felt our forerunners encouragement and circumspection as we deliberated.
We invite you into prayer for all who have ever toiled in the Living Stones garden and to join us in expressing gratitude to everyone who raised you up in this ministry.
Yours in gratitude and hope,
Brian Thom (Idaho), on behalf of
Ellen Bruckner (Iowa), Lydia Bucklin (Northern Michigan), Jason Caroll (Calgary), Susanne Watson Epting (Iowa), Steve Godfrey (Iowa), Pat Harik (Northern California), Steve Kelsey (Arizona), Julie Lytle (Bexley Seabury), Heather McCance (Rupert’s Land), Eric Metoyer (California), Rayford Ray (Northern Michigan), Sue Ray (Northern Michigan), Kay Rohde (Navajoland), Holladay Sanderson (Idaho), Elizabeth Short (Calgary), and Thomas Steffensen (New York)