In this new year, we at the Mercer School are positioning ourselves for a robust response to the Bishop's charges to the Diocese presented in his address to the 151st Convention on November 11: Sisters and brothers, the people of God need us to be the church. We need to expand our formation programs, educational offerings, pastoral care and assistance. This is not a time for the church to retreat into self-serving endeavors and internal concerns.
In addition to offering a full ordination preparation program through our School for Ministry ("S4M") Mercer acts as the principal "service delivery" arm of the Diocese. We continue to provide facilities, logistics, event planning and coordination, meals and other services to the various departments of the Diocese. In partnership with the Cathedral of the Incarnation, we are supporting a set of activities and programs centering on the St. John's Bible, a massive multi-year project to create a Bible using materials and methods of writing and illumination as they were used in medieval monasteries but within a contemporary artistic framework. One volume of this magnificent work is on display in the Cathedral sanctuary. Three candidates for ordination to the vocational diaconate have completed the equivalent of two full academic semesters of work in preaching and liturgics within one semester – in time for ordination later this month. We've had a full and busy fall semester!
We now look ahead to an increased level of activity in 2018, as we approach the celebration of our sesquicentennial anniversary. As a follow-up to the successful launch of the first segment of a program to train Godly Play storytellers, the remaining two modules of the series will be offered in February and April by local parishes – one in Queens County, and one in Suffolk. We will also provide additional offerings in spring 2018, to support new initiatives proposed by the Canon for Ministry Support, as well as to help prepare a new class of postulants for Holy Orders to begin formal academic preparation in September 2018.
Bishop Provenzano summarized the work ahead for us: This year the Mercer School of Theology will provide opportunities for clergy and laity to develop teaching skills, engage in necessary continuing education, and begin to enhance and encourage programs of formation and education across the diocese. It's time to teach and form Christians in serous engagement with scripture, with our traditions and the proper, holy use of right reason. We must learn better and teach better in order to witness better.