A Report
from the Diocesan Deputation at General Convention

Minneapolis • July 31, 2003


 

 

Greetings from Minneapolis ...

There is one thing we all wish we could send back to you from Minneapolis: rain. We had showers here three times today and quickly discovered that folks who deal with mountains of snow in the winter think nothing of a little shower -- or even a downpour. They walk about the streets without umbrellas, confident that "this, too, shall pass."

 

     
A good place to take shelter when the rain hits is the lobby where this blown-glass sculpture stands, at the corner of Nicollet Mall and LaSalle. Upstairs are corporate offices for Target.

Deputies and Bishops returned
from after-lunch committee
meetings to attend plenary
sessions till about 6 p.m.

 

Business of the Houses

The consecrations of 10 bishops-elect will be considered for consent (approval) at this General Convention. The Consecrations Committee has been meeting since early in the week, and the names of six persons have already moved from the committee to the House of Deputies. After approval by that body, they are forwarded for a second consent in the House of Bishops. Today two new bishops were granted seats in that body, their elections having been approved by both houses. The new bishops are Joe Goodwin Burnett of Nebraska and George Edward Councell of New Jersey.
The bishops also considered a proposal to require that all new seminarians be proficient in a language besides English. They amended the resolution to say that proficiency would be recommended rather than required.

In the morning the House of Deputies became bogged down by its own parliamentary procedure in the process of admitting the deputation from Puerto Rico. During the afternoon session the deputies heard a report concerning the 20/20 movement, which seeks to double the size of the baptized membership of the Episcopal Church by the year 2020. Training programs such as Faith Alive, Cursillo, and Alpha were commended for their effectiveness as tools of evangelism.
Near the close of the afternoon's session , a resolution was presented calling on every Episcopalian to be able to articulate his or her faith; it also urged dioceses and congregations to create opportunities for these stories to be told.

 

 

Judy Mayo addresses the House
of Deputies concerning
a resolution passed by the
Evangelism Committee.

Committee Hearings

Evangelism

Deputy Judy Mayo reports that the Evangelism Committee, on which she serves, has "lots of good, positive energy. Members talk frequently about the Lord, and there is enthusiasm for the 20/20 vision.
"There is lots of energy around the planting of new churches and bringing in unchurched people, with an eye to diversity and multi-cultural resources.
"The committee is also looking at resolutions for the church to adopt a vision of trained children's ministers, youth ministers, and young adult ministers in every congregation. There is great demand for Christian Education directors, youth ministers, etc. Since this level of staffing may be out of reach for small congregations, the committee hopes that General Convention will provide a fairly large sum of money for the next triennium to make all this happen."

 

 

Fr. Hightower

 

Ministry

A standing-room crowd gathered at 2 p.m. for a Ministry Committee hearing on several resolutions. Four resolutions on confirmation were considered together. At issue was whether confirmation was required of those wishing to participate in church governance. Dana Allen, a youth observer at the convention, told the committee that her confirmation class had helped her understand the structure of the church, as well as its beliefs. "If it hadn't been for my confirmation class, I'm not sure I would be here today," she said. Others speaking in favor of the confirmation requirement noted that participation in the sacrament assures that those baptized in other faiths, as well as those who received infant baptism, affirm their personal commitment to the Episcopal Church at confirmation.

Of special interest to the deputation from Fort Worth was another resolution under consideration at the hearing, which would seek to have the national church enforce women's ordination on the three holdout dioceses: Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin. No speakers came forward to defend the resolution. Those who did speak voiced concerns about the selective enforcement of canon law; specifically, that a number of dioceses are without women in the permanent diaconate, yet they are not scrutinized for this evident lapse in compliance. (The Diocese of Fort Worth has nine permanent deacons, of whom seven are women.)

Three Fort Worth deputies spoke against the resolution. Fr. Thomas Hightower expressed doubt about whether the church's national Executive Council had enforcement power and asked, "Which diocese is next in line (for coercive measures), and what will be the pretext for that invasion? Dean Ryan Reed testified, "We have bishops and priests (within the Episcopal Church) who deny the Resurrection of Jesus, the uniqueness of Christ, and the authority of Scripture. It's ironic. The only thing we are required to believe in this church is that women can be ordained." Dean Reed also noted that there is a provision in place to allow women in this diocese who ordination to the priesthood to pursue their goal under the auspices of the Bishop of Dallas.

Two bishops spoke against the proposal, the Rt. Rev. John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida, and the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith of Springfield. Bishop Lipscomb served on the committee appointed three years ago to review the three dioceses. The committee concluded, he said, that "all three dioceses were moving forward in the spirit of our church." Bishop Beckwith said that in 38 years of ministry "I have found that you can't create a system to bring change in the church. ... If you force something down someone's throat," he noted, "they'll gag."

 

 


 

 

Dean Reed faces the committee

 

Jo Ann Patton

 

Bishop Peter Beckwith
of Springfield

 

   

National Altar Guild Association

Lollie Twyman and Sue Yarger offer this report:

Mary McGregor, Director of Leadership Development for the Diocese of Texas, spoke to the NAGA body today challenging us to look at the changes in the church and in society that affect Altar Guild membership in our churches. She offered new ideas to meet these challenges through recognition of the needs of different generations within our congregations. Members need to explore ways to make training more accessible and improve parishioners' understanding of the guild's ministry.

           
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Click on a link to see other reports

Report for Wednesday, July 30

Report for Friday, Aug. 1

Report for Saturday, Aug. 2

Report for Sunday, Aug. 3

Report for Monday, Aug. 4

Report for Tuesday, Aug. 5

Report for Wednesday, Aug. 6

Report for Thursday and Friday, Aug. 7 & 8