“During this Year of Service, we will have opportunities to learn a theology of service and learn about opportunities to serve others right now. I urge all congregations to participate in training and get to know your parish – the neighborhood outside the church’s walls. Because your neighborhood is your parish.” – Bishop Susan Brown Snook, 49th Diocesan Convention
When asked what the greatest command in Scripture was, Jesus said that it was to love God with every fiber of our being but that the second greatest command was of equal importance—to care for our neighbors in the same way we care for ourselves (Matthew 22:37). Serving with and for our neighbors is a demonstration of our love for them. During the 2023 Year of Service, members of the diocese will commit to getting to know our neighbors, serving our neighbors, and, by doing so, loving our neighbors as a demonstration of how much God loves them.
Learning about Service – Before Lent
The diocese hosted four webinars on theology and practice of service. Please find the recorded webinars below:
Week 1—Jan. 18: Theology of Service Part 1 – Bishop Susan Brown Snook
Week 2—Jan. 25: Theology of Service Part 2 – Bishop Susan Brown Snook
Week 3—Feb. 1: Serving Refugees & Immigrants – Ms. Rachel Ambasing
Week 4—Feb. 8: Caring for Creation – Ms. Adrienne Elliott
Learning about Service – During Lent
Each congregation is encouraged to conduct a book study of The New Parish by Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, and Dwight J. Friesen. Each chapter concludes with questions for conversation and missional practices for congregation members—making facilitating a book study much easier.
Here is a suggested book study schedule for reading and discussing each week:
Week 1—Feb. 22 to Mar. 1: Introduction and Chapter 1
Week 2—Mar. 1 to Mar. 8: Chapter 2 and Chapter 3
Week 3—Mar. 8 to Mar. 15: Chapter 4 and Chapter 5
Week 4—Mar. 15 to Mar. 22: Chapter 6 and Chapter 7
Week 5—Mar. 22 to Mar. 29: Chapter 8 and Chapter 9
- Select a leader, time, and place to meet
- Set up sign-ups for participants and provide information for members to acquire book ahead of time
- Promote and invite members
- Utilize Faith to Go resources for small groups: myfaithtogo.org/mycommunity
- Consider the eight tips for enjoying a book study offered by Communications Director Chris Tumilty’s article here
April: Creation Care Month of Service
Serving our Neighbors – And God Saw That It Was Good!
In the spring season, we are reminded of the beauty of God’s creation as plants around us bloom and share their bounty. In the account of creation captured in the book of Genesis, God calls the created world “good.” It is our duty to care for the good world God has given us. With Easter Sunday, Earth Day, and Arbor Day all falling during the month of April, it is a perfect month for us to turn our efforts toward loving our neighbors by taking care of God’s creation in our communities.
During the month of April, choose a community partner to partner with or join in a project or activity related to care for the earth. Please register here to let us know you plan to participate in the Creation Care Month of Service, even if you don’t yet know who you will partner with or what your project/activity will be.
June: A Month of Care for Refugees and Immigrants
Serving Refugees & Immigrants – I Was A Stranger & You Welcomed Me
Scripture speaks to God’s affection for—and how God’s people are to care for—refugees and immigrants (often referred to as “strangers” in the Bible) over 50 times. Due to our proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border and the many services provided in metro San Diego, our diocese has a significant number of refugees and immigrants from Latin America as well as from around the globe.
World Refugee Day (June 20, 2023) is a perfect time to seek out new opportunities to serve those far from the land they call home and cherished by God.
Serving our Neighbors—Sharing the News
We would love to share the good news of your service activities in your community with the rest of the diocese. Please take lots of photos, and document your stories and the quantitative—or qualitative accomplishments for the day. You can share these with us by email at email@example.com.
Serving our Neighbors—Guiding Principles & Questions
Here are some guiding principles for you as you plan your congregation’s service projects and activities:
- Pick something local—something that will impact the community around which your congregation worships.
- Partner with locals—find individuals, community organizations, and civic institutions that are already seeking the goodwill of your neighborhood through caring for the environment, refugee support, or military/servicemember aid, and partner with them.
- Be practical—select activities that align with your congregants’ availability and abilities.
- Have fun—service is something to be joyful about!
- Who do you already know? Use the Relationship Inventory guide from EDSD’s community engagement work to consider who you might already have connections with.
- Who can you partner with? Ask your community partners who need help! If you still are looking for partners, consider a few practices to familiarize yourself with the surrounding community. Simple: Put your church’s address in Google Maps and slowly scroll out. Do you see schools, parks, or non-profits in the community? In-Depth: Register on the MissionInsite website using the diocesan agency register code (3353D) to conduct a deeper study of your neighbors.
- How can we help right now? After determining who you can partner with, match the service opportunity with the times your people are available and the ability levels they have.
Still, having trouble getting started? Contact our Community Engagement Missioner, Deann Rios firstname.lastname@example.org. She would be happy to help you get started.