Transforming Vocation
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At once “travel guide” and vision for the future, the Transformation series is good news for the Episcopal Church at a time of fast and furious demographic and social change. Series contributors - recognized experts in their fields - analyze our present plight, point to the seeds of change already at work transforming the church, and outline a positive new way forward. What kinds of churches are most ready for transformation? What are the essential tools? What will give us strength, direction, and purpose to the journey?
Each volume of the series will:
Explain why a changed vision is essential
Give robust theological and biblical foundations
Offer a guide to best practices and positive trends in churches large and small.
Describe the necessary tools for change
Imagine how transformation will look
In the Episcopal Church, it seems the only real purpose and end of Christian discernment is professional ordination, either to the priesthood or to the vocational diaconate. This book deals with such questions as, How can both communities and individuals discern a call from God within the vocations and tasks in which they find themselves? How can the Church deal creatively with its confusion about the differing roles and authority of ordained and lay ministers?



Publié par
Date de parution 01 mars 2008
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780898698206
Langue English

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Transforming Vocation
Transforming Vocation

CHURCH PUBLISHING an imprint of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York
2008 by Sam Portaro All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.
Unless otherwise indicated, all passages from the Hebrew scriptures are from Tanakh: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures according to the Traditional Hebrew Text. 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society. Passages from the Christian scriptures are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Portaro, Sam Anthony.
Transforming vocation / by Sam Portaro.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 978-0-89869-586-1 (pbk.)
1. Discernment (Christian theology). 2. Vocation (Christianity). 3. Authority-Religious aspects-Christianity. 4. Episcopal Church. I. Title.
BV4509.5.P65 2008 248.4 83-dc22
Printed in the United States of America.
Cover design by Stefan Killen Design. Study guide and interior design by Vicki K. Black.
Church Publishing, Incorporated 445 Fifth Avenue New York, New York 10016
5 4 3 2 1

Series Preface


1. Why Am I Here?

2. How Did We Get Here?

3. God s Gift to the World

4. Why Are We Here?

5. The Whole Church

A Guide for Discussion


Notes and Sources
a note from the publisher
This series emerged as a partnership between the Office of Mission of the Episcopal Church and Church Publishing, as a contribution to the mission of the church in a new century. We would like to thank James Lemler, series editor, for bringing the initial idea to us and for facilitating the series. We also want to express our gratitude to the Office of Mission for two partnership grants: the first brought all the series authors together for two creative days of brainstorming and fellowship; and the second is helping to further publicize the books of the series to the clergy and lay people of the Episcopal Church.
Series Preface
Be ye transformed (KJV). Be transformed by the J renewing of your minds (NRSV). Fix your attention on God. You ll be changed from the inside out (The Message). Thus St. Paul exhorted the earliest Christian community in his writing to the Romans two millennia ago. This exhortation was important for the early church and it is urgent for the Episcopal Church to heed as it enters the twenty-first century. Be transformed. Be changed from the inside out.
Perhaps no term fits the work and circumstances of the church in the twenty-first century better than transformation. We are increasingly aware of the need for change as we become ever more mission-focused in the life of the church, both internationally and domestically. But society as a whole is rapidly moving in new directions, and mission cannot be embraced in an unexamined way, relying on old cultural and ecclesiastical stereotypes and assumptions.
This new series, Transformations: The Episcopal Church in the 21st Century, addresses these issues in realistic and hopeful ways. Each book focuses on one area within the Episcopal Church that is urgently in need of transformation in order for the church to be effective in the twenty-first century: vocation, evangelism, preaching, congregational life, getting to know the Bible, leadership, Christian formation, worship, and stewardship. Each volume explains why a changed vision is essential, gives robust theological and biblical foundations, offers guidelines to best practices and positive trends, describes the necessary tools for change, and imagines how transformation will look.
In this volume Sam Portaro takes on the topic of vocation and identity in the Episcopal Church. Individuals and communities of faith require a strong sense of call, purpose, and identity for this new time. Vocational discernment brings clarity in a changing and sometimes confusing environment. How can communities and individuals discern a call from God within the vocations and tasks in which they find themselves? How can the church deal creatively with its confusion about the differing role and authority of ordained and lay ministers? Where are the seeds of transformation to be found? This is a serious concern for leaders, church members, and seekers alike.
Like Christians in the early church, today we live in a secular culture that can be apathetic and even hostile to Christianity. Living in a setting where people are not familiar with the message or narrative of Christian believing requires new responses and new kinds of mission for the Body of Christ. We believe this is a hopeful time for spiritual seekers and inquirers in the church. The gospel itself is fresh for this century. God s love is vibrant and real; God s mission can transform people s hopes and lives. Will we participate in the transformation? Will we be bearers and agents of transformation for others? Will we ourselves be transformed? This is the call and these are the urgent questions for the Episcopal Church in the twenty-first century.
But first, seek to be transformed. Fix your attention on God. You ll be changed from the inside out.
JAMES B. LEMLER, series editor
While writing is often solitary, no author works alone. This book has drawn on many friendships and resources, only some of which are recalled and included here. At the outset I thank Cynthia Shattuck, under whose firm hand I have had the pleasure to write much and at whose behest I undertook this project. Jim Lemler and my companion authors in this series offered advice and encouragement, especially David Gortner, who made many helpful suggestions early on. For Vicki Black and the staff at Church Publishing who labor to bring my work to fulfillment I am deeply thankful.
Friends who read drafts are very dear, for they sacrifice time, suffer typographical errors, grammatical and syntactical snarls, and head-cramping leaps of logic and meaning, often responding with kindness, helpful insights, corrections, and always grace. Among them I thank Diana Butler Bass, Douglas Fenton, Don Frye, Michael Johnston, and Joyce Mercer. I particularly thank Diana Butler Bass and Joyce Mercer for valuable conversations that led to new resources and deeper reflection.
Mark Duffy at the Episcopal Church Archives and Mitzi Budde at the Bishop Payne Library of Virginia Theological Seminary responded quickly and efficiently to requests for information that greatly enhanced my memory and accuracy.
The congregations of the dioceses of Western North Carolina, Southern Virginia, and Chicago, especially Epiphany in Newton, North Carolina; Canterbury at William Mary and Bruton Parish; and Brent House at The University of Chicago endured my own learning and formed me in ministry. They are abundantly present in these pages.
Conversations and consultations are a rich source of information and reflection. I am glad for the privilege of sampling the life of many communities and congregations, whose clergy and members have extended warm hospitality. Their names and locations are listed among the sources at the back of this book.
My colleagues and participants in CREDO, a wellness project of the Episcopal Church Pension Fund based in Memphis, Tennessee, have heard portions of this book in presentation and assisted with feedback and encouragement.
To all who generously allowed inclusion of their stories, with or without attribution, thank you.
My steadfast partner, Chris Dionesotes, has put up with frequent and long absences, fielded phone calls, and shielded from distractions. I thank God and his parents, George and Margaret, for him. Both of us rejoice in the opportunity to live more fully into our shared vocation of life together.
chapter one
Why Am I Here?
WANTED: Persons for a vocation that leads God s people in bearing witness to God s new creation revealed in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Work schedule is shaped by relationships, focusing on what is important in people s lives, and depends on regular rhythms of work, rest and play. Compensation is shaped by a mutual discernment of what is necessary in order for the persons (and, where appropriate, their families) to have an appropriately well-lived life. The vocation involves cultivating holy dispositions, preaching and teaching, nurturing rigorous study and shaping practices of faithful living in church and world. Lifelong education and formation is expected in order to enable others also to grow throughout their lives. The successful candidate will collaborate with others toward the same ends. The person with this vocation reports to God.
- G REGORY J ONES , J OB D ESCRIPTION , in The Christian Century (10 January 2006)

Vocational discernment has in some circles become nearly as lively an interest, and as nebulous a subject, as spirituality. And like spirituality, considerations of vocational discernment have tended toward a rather narrow treatment, suggesting that vocational discernment is limited to an elite or specialized few, and that those who undertake it are, or ought to be, set apart. Little consideration is given to vocational discernment outside the realm of ordained ministry in the church.
This book aims to encourage a renewed commitment to the

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