-Places evangelism, robust but diversified investments, advocacy, others at the core of its operations
The Episcopal Church of Liberia has launched its five-year strategic plan, which is expected to see more emphasis on evangelism, advocacy and other activities that will cater to the spiritual and physical needs of parishioners and the Christian community at large. The plan seeks to reinvigorate the spiritual activities of the church, while at the same time diverting more attention to health and education needs, as well as engaging in meaningful and responsible entrepreneurial activities to ensure growth.
Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Jonathan B. B. Hart, said at a special convention held on Friday, February 15, that the plan is a systemic process of envisioning a desired future and serves as a guide to the ministry of the church—reflecting all elements of its work in advancement of “God’s kingdom in the Liberian vineyard.
Though approached with renewed vigor, Bishop Hart noted that the idea has been reflected upon in a variety of ways over the past few years. The plan rallies Episcopalians across the country to work towards a more vibrant Diocese. The Episcopal Church is also endeavoring to augment, improve and diversify its investment portfolio in the country.
Bishop Hart said the church feels the need for a strategy now more than ever before, in order to infuse the ministry of the Diocese with a renewed trust. This trust, he noted, is occasioned by the need to expand the base and meet the needs of not just the Episcopal churches, but the Christian community.
“There exists an urgent need to spread the gospel across the country and impact unfinished work of reconciliation and healing and the need to comprehensively engage our people. This can be done when Episcopalians have a common vision and are resolved to target that vision,” he said.
The plan, as endorsed, will guide the development decisions of the Diocese for the next five years. It is subject to an annual review starting 2020.
The church’s vision, under this plan, is to build vibrant, loving, caring, welcoming and inclusive Christian community nurtured by worshipping, living and serving according to the teachings of the Bible.
“Our mission is to win souls for the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ by means of preaching, teaching, healing, sharing, advocating and transforming lives,” said Bishop Hart.
The chairman of the committee that crafted the strategic plan, Mr. Debar Allen, said the need for a strategic plan cannot be overemphasized as the Church is currently in a very precarious financial crisis.
Amidst the current harsh economic times, the decaying educational and health sectors and the decadence of the Liberian society, especially in terms of morality and societal sanctity, Mr. Allen added that the Church is demanding its congregants to respond to the demands of the times and circumstances by recalibrating and infuse energy into the plan.
The Church commits to the fulfillment of its mission by striving diligently to achieve five goals , he disclosed.
As one of its prime goals, the Church wants to maintain, improve and expand existing mission areas and educational institutions—through preaching, spiritual healing, evangelism and transforming the lives of the people. It also intends to improve and expand existing advocacy and development network beyond its current scope.
Mr. Allen also disclosed that the Church, through the plan, will endeavor to develop a Diocesan Health Service Program; strengthen and expand its ecumenical relationships as well as enhance economic activities trough robust but diversified investments to support the vision and mission of the Diocese.
For investment, he said the committee has highlighted investment in agriculture; especially palm plantation and cold-storage facility. “We want to diversify our investment plan as the real estate we have been reliant upon is no longer serving us well. We now want to divert toward agriculture and other investment initiatives,” he said.
Allen noted that the Diocese has worked out a matrix that delegates responsibilities with a timeline and details as to how these should be done with specified contemplated outcomes.
The church is being challenged at all of its institutional levels to drive this revival and renewal. “No one is a spectator in this process. All of our human and material resources must now be marshaled to expand our mission, development work and advocacy, ecumenism, healing ministry and enhanced economic activities,” Allen said.
He said while many of the immediate deliverables outlined in the five-year plan are set for no later than the general convention that comes in 2020, it is anticipated that the various thematic plans will create practical, measurable and achievable milestones that are impactful and transformative and can be delivered over the life of the plan.
The strategic committee encouraged the Bishop to, within 30 days from the special convention, appoint special committee(s) specially tasked to commence studies on the feasibility of transforming the archdeaconries, in stages, into dioceses.
The Bishop was also encouraged by the group to reconstitute the board of planning and development, which shall have the responsibility of managing the implementation of the strategic plan by coordinating the activities of the various boards and committees, providing timely advice to the Bishop and others of the potential lapses and threats to the successful achievement of the document. “We want the Bishop to consult extensively when reconstituting this board,” Allen said.
He disclosed that the current financial position of the Diocese is dire and, as such, it is imperative that every Episcopalian makes the extra sacrifices by going the extra mile to help resuscitate the church and set it on the path of growth. “This will require giving above and beyond what we currently do. This will also call for a properly managed, focused and accountable funding drive that will involve all,” he said.
He added that it is expected for the Bishop to appoint a Special Diocesan Fund-raising Committee no later than 30 days following the special convention. The funds to be raised, it is anticipated, will be for bridging the operational budgetary gap, implementing contents of the strategic plan and for investment purposes.