by the Rt. Rev. Shannon Rogers Duckworth

During the installation of a rector, a variety of gifts are given to the priest. These include such things as oil, bread, wine, a stole, a prayer book, and water for baptism. Representatives from the parish present these as symbols of the ministry of that community of faith. This portion of the liturgy concludes with the bishop saying these words:

“Let all these be signs of the ministry which is mine and yours in this place.”

I have heard these words many times over the years; but as with so much else right now, they take new shape and meaning for me as your bishop. So, as we move not only into this holy season of Lent, but also into this new season of ministry in the diocese, what does it mean for us to fully embrace the ministry which is ours to share? What is at the heart of the command to be the agents of the life-giving, loving, and reconciling work of Christ?

The diocesan staff has been hard at work envisioning how we more fully embrace and expand the messaging around who we are as The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. You may have seen the hashtag #geauxinfaith. Stories of faith will provide a theme for our communications throughout the year. In addition, over the next few months, the leadership of our various diocesan ministries will engage in in-depth conversations around their ministry goals.  What is the message that we want to convey? Who do we want to reach? How can we be more effective bearers of the Good News? This work will not only refine goals but will also culminate in the redesign of our diocesan website. Our objective is that will be not only a place of information and resources but also more effectively convey our mission.  In the meantime, check out the new format of EDoLA News, and be sure to like us on Facebook and Instagram!  I am learning all about how to make reels!

The ministry and voice of Blessed Frances Gaudet is one that resonates deeply with us here in Louisiana.  Her life and legacy speak to truth and hope, even now, so many years after her death. We have already begun conversations about how various diocesan groups can find not only inspiration but also commonality in purpose within her wide embrace. For example, the Commission of Racial Healing, the Diocesan Youth Leadership Committee, and the Creation Care Commission have already begun to meet together to dream about what is possible within a shared ministry. We are also very close to announcing an exciting development within our Latino ministry. We are on the edge of doing something entirely new in the diocese—something that will connect deeply to not only who we are now, but also to the legacy of a woman whose ministry is still alive and well and making a lasting difference in our community. I am excited about how this will develop in the months and years to come.

Our youth and young adult team is actively re-visioning how we reach out to our younger generations and this has been met with a wonderful response. Ministry Architects has been a tremendous resource to us for the last few years and there is the possibility of some exciting new initiatives on the horizon. I invite you to check out what’s coming up…and oh yes…don’t forget Bowling with the Bishop!

Finally, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Solomon Episcopal Conference Center, I have invited the SECC board into a conversation about what we can do to ensure that the conference center continues its ministry for many years to come. In conjunction with a team from the Episcopal Camps and Conference center, the SECC board and the Executive Board will be engaged in planning around who we are, what we hope for, and how we can ensure the legacy of this incredible resource. I encourage you to take advantage of the SECC whenever possible, either for personal retreat or a group gathering. The newly designed rooms, lovely common areas, beautiful setting, and delicious food will make your time there memorable. Be sure to join us on April 29th for the celebration. (Register here)

Whatever we do and wherever we go, as we move forward together as a diocese, may these symbols be a sign of the ministry that is mine and yours to share.