On May 25, 2017, the School of Theology, the University of the South, announced that Invite*Welcome*Connect, will become a program of its Beecken Center on July 1, 2017.
Invite*Welcome*Connect, created by Mary Parmer and developed through the Episcopal Diocese of Texas Newcomer Ministry Project, is a transformational ministry that equips and empowers congregations and individuals to cultivate intentional practices of evangelism, hospitality, and connectedness rooted in the gospel imperative to, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Designed to accommodate congregations of all sizes, the work has been integrated into 40 dioceses in The Episcopal Church, seminaries, colleges, and other parts of the Anglican Communion. The Beecken Center will host the third Invite*Welcome*Connect summit in 2018, date and location to be announced.
“Invite*Welcome*Connect is something we, as Episcopalians, can do. It’s a way of evangelism that meets with who we are, that doesn’t have us trying to be somebody we aren’t, but actually calls us to be exactly who we are in Jesus Christ, and to invite, and welcome, and connect others to that life-giving reality.”—The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, 27th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church.
Parmer will continue to lead this program’s development as a member of the staff of the Beecken Center. In speaking of her work, she writes, “We need to be agents of imagination in our communities and empower people to take risks, trying new things for the sake of the gospel. In order to expand this important work, a home for Invite*Welcome*Connect that honors this approach is needed. I am confident that the Beecken Center is just the right place for this work to thrive, to develop, and to grow.”
Dr. Courtney Cowart, associate dean and director of the Beecken Center has noted that, “With the addition of Invite*Welcome*Connect as a ministry of the Center, the opportunities to train transformative leaders of the Jesus Movement increase dramatically. I can think of no other sister in Christ I would more gladly welcome to the Beecken Center team as a collaborator in building beloved community throughout the church and in the world than Mary Parmer.”
Parmer comes to Sewanee from Austin, Texas, where she held the position of director of the Gathering of Leaders, a national leadership group of young Episcopal clergy. Parmer has served as lay deputy or alternate lay deputy to the 75th, 76th, 77th, and 78th General Conventions of The Episcopal Church, and is a member of the Task Force on Clergy Leadership Formation in Small Churches (GC 2015-A045). Parmer holds a degree in religious studies from St. Edwards University in Austin and has formerly served as director of adult ministries and evangelism at St. Stephen’s, Beaumont, Texas.
Invite*Welcome*Connect is only one of many ways that the School of Theology at Sewanee is poised to support the presiding bishop’s efforts in evangelism, reconciliation, and the care of creation,” explains Bishop Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology. “Continuing to make this program available to the whole church is but one of Sewanee’s contributions to embodying the spirit and the work of being part of the Jesus Movement in The Episcopal Church.”