Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori urged members of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy to keep their focus on sharing the harvest with those outside their congregations.
The Presiding Bishop met and shared her vision with several groups during her Oct. 1-2 visit. She told clergy during an early morning breakfast meeting about the scope and needs of the wider church. In an address prior to the convening of the diocese's annual synod, she reminded deputies that growth and abundance in their congregations comes when the focus is turned toward the needs of those beyond their own doors.
Diocesan youth from age eight through college age spent time with the presiding bishop during the Synod's business meeting.
In her homily during the synod's Eucharist, she told the congregants not to lose sight of keeping the walk of Jesus central even while the diocese may continue to struggle with legal issues, property concerns and the future path of the diocese.
In November 2008, a majority of the diocesan synod voted to leave the Episcopal Church and to realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, forming the Southern Cone Diocese of Quincy.
"Whatever decisions you make about the structures and future of this community, living like Jesus is the most central -- that is worth all you have and all you are, nothing less," said the presiding bishop.
"It means walking into the hard places, confronting the challenging questions, and being willing to see the suffering face of Jesus in our neighbors. That's the road, and ultimately it is filled with peace and joy and homecoming," she said.
The diocese presented Jefferts Schori with a check for $11,205.39, the results of a year-long campaign to help rebuild the church in Haiti, devastated by the January 2010 earthquake.
"The congregations in which you worship are caring for people within and beyond your communities -- taking meals when people are sick or grieving, working at food banks and homeless shelters, helping to rebuild the church in Haiti," said the presiding bishop. "Those are all worthy ways of taking the Jesus road."
The presiding bishop was also present when the diocese announced plans to host public community screenings of the new PBS five-part series "Women, War and Peace." The diocese plans to invite the public to join in conversations about empowering women and other victims in global areas of conflict as well as in local communities, using a discussion guide prepared by Anglican Women's Empowerment.
"The Millennium Development Goal is [about] the empowerment of women, and it is of central importance to the development of all people on a global level," the presiding bishop said.
In her remarks at the announcement, Jefferts Schori shared observations about her recent visit to the war-torn nation of the Congo, and what Anglican parishes there are doing to help victims of rape and other brutal trauma heal and find their way back into community.
"The treatment of women there is a societal, systematic issue," said Jefferts Schori. "The church offers ministry for the physical, spiritual, emotional and relational trauma that the women have experienced."
The presiding bishop's Quincy visit concluded Sunday as she served as the celebrant and preacher at St. Paul's Cathedral in Peoria.
"We are all merely tenants of this vineyard, and our elder siblings have suffered much from the work of more recent arrivals," she said during her sermon.
"We have a responsibility for how our brothers and sisters across the globe are faring, particularly because we contribute far more to the warming of the atmosphere than they do," said Jefferts Schori. "The landowner is asking for a share of the harvest, and we don't have very good fruit to offer."
The presiding bishops said "our job as tenants and stewards of this global garden is to be fruitful, and to see that the harvest is shared in such a way that no one goes hungry."
The diocese, headquartered in Peoria, serves Episcopalian congregations in 10 counties in west central Illinois between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.