Preparations for the Diocese of Bethlehem’s pilgrimage are underway.
Announced at diocesan convention by Bishop Sean Rowe, the diocesan pilgrimage will be “a time of discernment, planning and decision making about the mission strategy of the diocese.”
The process, led by the Very Rev. Tony Pompa, dean of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, and the Rev. Charles Cesaretti, a retired priest of the diocese and Renewal Assembly founder, will begin in earnest at Epiphany and conclude at next year’s diocesan convention, when a new mission strategy will be presented.
The process that will produce this strategy will be unique to the diocese, Pompa says. “We want people to be aware that we don’t have a curriculum that we are going to drop on them. We aren’t going to say, ‘Here’s what we are going to do for the next year.’” Instead, he says, the diocese is going “to make the path by walking,” and by relying on the gifts of its people.
Since convention, Cesaretti and Pompa have already discussed plans for the early stages of the pilgrimage at the diocesan clergy conference, with diocesan council and at an initial meeting of lay and clergy leaders through whom they hope to reach people in every corner of the diocese and in every order of ministry.
“We’ve asked every parish in the diocese to lift up a contact person and we have begun to receive names,” Cesaretti said. “We have begun to form a local network for communication, consultation, and cooperation.”
At Tuesday’s diocesan council meeting, Pompa told the group that the goals of the pilgrimage were to “grow closer to God, to grow closer to one another and to prayerfully listen to what God is asking of us and who God is calling to us to be.”
Cesaretti said that in the wake of recent meetings, a sense of the skills necessary to sustain the pilgrimage have begun to emerge. “We have begun to identify and invite people who have the pieces of the toolbox we are going to need,” he said. “That includes people who can help to create liturgies and biblical reflections, people who have experience creating surveys and those with gifts of facilitation.”
The pilgrimage will be supported by a blog, which, during Advent, will include meditations written by the Rev. Canon Maria Tjeltveit, rector of Church of the Mediator, Allentown, and the Rev. Canon Anne Kitch, the diocese’s canon for ministry formation and transitions.
The Rev. David Green, rector of St. Gabriel’s, Douglassville, and the Rev. R. Jane Williams, assisting priest at St. Andrew’s, Allentown, volunteered to help develop a strategy for involving clergy in the pilgrimage, including soliciting resources such as Bible studies on the themes of pilgrimage, trust and leadership.
In addition, Pompa said he and Cesearetti would soon be getting in touch with people who can help communicate news about the pilgrimage at the parish level.