The Right Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom visited St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday and toured Parsons as part of her diocesan tour, the Southeast Kansas walkabout.
Bishops are to tour the diocese comprising 44 churches in the eastern third of Kansas every three years. Bascom, who began in March, would like to visit the churches yearly.
She said she visited Labette Assistance Center, Head Start and the Parsons Arboretum on Monday. These are among the places in the community where St. John’s parishioners have ministerial roots.
The bishop, who came to Kansas from Iowa, enjoyed the arboretum. She has an interest in plants and has a book coming out in March about prairie restorations and flood events called “Of Green Stuff Woven.”
On her walkabout, she said she’s bringing with her a discussion about strengthened collaborations among churches.
She hopes two, three or four churches could form minster neighborhoods and share resources. She wants to keep a priest or deacon in each church, so she does not want churches to share clergy. But perhaps youth groups could meet together, or churches could share administrative tasks to lessen duplication.
“I think it will help us to sustain,” Bascom said.
She said churches in the southeast part of the diocese have done this to a certain degree and she hopes to share their experiences with churches in urban settings.
Episcopal churches as other denominations have struggled with declines in congregations in the past decade or more, but Bishop Bascom said there are new creative ideas springing forth in the church that come from living the gospel in the community. St. John’s is an example of this from its parishioners’ bringing the good news of the gospel to the community.
Churches have seen growth, she said, including younger people returning to the traditions of the church and finding contemplative ways of prayer.
Bishop Bascom’s visit included a meal and meeting Monday night with St. John’s vestry.