House of Deputies prepares to elect new president, vice president as candidates declare

by dpaulsen |

[Episcopal News Service] There are at least two announced candidates for president of the House of Deputies, and more may come forward in the next two weeks, with opt-in candidate forums scheduled for June 4 and June 13 on Zoom.

“Thank you for the discernment that has led you to consider standing for election for president or vice president of the House of Deputies,” the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, the house’s current president, said in a May 12 message that was addressed to potential candidates. “Please know that each of you is in my prayers as you continue to discern God’s call to you in this pivotal time for our church.”

Jennings is finishing up her third and final term as House of Deputies president and, according to term limits established by The Episcopal Church’s Canons, will step down at the end of the 80th General Convention, July 8-11 in Baltimore, Maryland. She has served as one of the church’s two presiding officers for 10 years – one year longer than expected because the pandemic prompted a one-year postponement of the 80th General Convention.

Julia Ayala Harris

Julia Ayala Harris is seen in photo posted to her website announcing her candidacy for president of the House of Deputies.

Julia Ayala Harris, a deputy from the Diocese of Oklahoma who serves on the church’s Executive Council, announced her candidacy to succeed Jennings in March. “I am uniquely positioned to hit the ground running as the next president of the House of Deputies,” Harris said in a post on her website, citing her role as chair of Executive Council’s Committee on Mission Within the Episcopal Church.

“I am already working alongside our presiding officers to make difficult and urgent decisions. I am ready and eager to serve our church in this pivotal time,” she said.

The Rev. Devon Anderson, a deputy and priest from the Diocese of Minnesota, announced her candidacy on May 20. She, too, serves on Executive Council and is rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota.

Devon Anderson

The Rev. Devon Anderson is seen in photo posted to her website announcing her candidacy for president of the House of Deputies.

“Navigating the church through times of dramatic change will offer both challenges and opportunities that will require open hearts, deep faith, and greater unity,” she said on her website. “My vision is grounded in relationships, collaboration, and trust-building across polarities that have, at times, vexed the church.”

Anderson’s mother, Bonnie Anderson, served as president of the House of Deputies from 2006-2012.

Earlier this week Jennings and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry endorsed a plan to scale-down the 80th General Convention, as the risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly at large gatherings, continues more than two years into the pandemic. The convention will still take place in person, but with fewer attendees and over a shorter period – down from eight days to four.

Curry, Jennings and other church leaders now must determine which legislative priorities will be taken up by this General Convention; noncritical matters will be shelved until the 81st General Convention in 2024. Elections, including House of Deputies president and vice president, are among the actions that, they say, cannot wait.

Byron Rushing of the Diocese of Massachusetts, the current vice president, is completing his third term and cannot run again, so deputies will also elect his successor.

The General Convention Office facilitates all churchwide elections. Any deputy interested in being considered for president or vice president was required to submit an application to the General Convention Office by March 8 and agree to a background check. Those applicants still have time to decide whether or not to officially declare candidacies for the leadership roles.

Gay Clark Jennings

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings thanks the House of Deputies in 2018 just after the house reelected her as their president for her third and final term. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Although Jennings is not involved in staging the elections, her May 12 message to potential candidates invited them to complete a voluntary survey by May 31 if they wanted their personal information and vision for the church to be included in online profiles of announced candidates. They also have until the end of the month to commit to participating in the two Zoom forums, at 2 p.m. Eastern June 4 and 2 p.m. Eastern June 13, moderated by the Rev. Albert Cutié, rector of St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Plantation, Florida.

The House of Deputies’ Rules of Order specifies that candidates for president must officially inform the house’s secretary of their intent to stand for election by General Convention’s third legislative day, with the election occurring on the fourth day. That timeline likely will need to be amended for the 80th General Convention, to accommodate convention’s shortened duration.

The election of vice president takes place after the election of president. The two positions cannot be held by members of the same order, clergy or lay. If a priest is elected president, for example, only lay deputies will be on the ballot for vice president.

This also will be the first time the House of Deputies will elect a new president since the 79th General Convention in 2018 approved a financial compensation plan for the position. Previously an uncompensated volunteer, the president is now considered a contractual employee and paid a fee for her work, set annually by Executive Council.

Jennings’ compensation is set at $223,166 for 2022, making her the lowest paid of the church’s officers. The president is considered an independent contractor and  receives no employee benefits.

The vice president remains an unpaid volunteer position.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Guatemalan bishop visits LA diocese to forge future ministry relationships

by emillard |

Bishop Silvestre Romero of Guatemala (fifth from right), along with Bishop John Harvey Taylor and Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy, meets with Hispanic clergy and those who minister in Spanish-speaking congregations of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

[Diocese of Los Angeles] Multicultural ministry, the future of Latino/Latina ministry in The Episcopal Church, and immigration issues were among the topics explored by the Rt. Rev. Silvestre Romero, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Guatemala, during a weeklong visit to the Diocese of Los Angeles concluding May 15.

Bishop John Harvey Taylor catches a selfie with Abel Lopez, rector of Messiah, Santa Ana; Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy; Bishop Silvestre Romero of Guatemala; and Pat O’Reilly, vicar of St. George’s Church, Hawthorne during Romero’s recent visit to the Diocese of Los Angeles. Photo: John Taylor

Several members of the border ministries committee of the Diocese of Los Angeles who were Romero’s guests in February during a visit along Central America’s “migrant road” hosted the bishop during his visit. Among them was the Rev. Pat O’Reilly, vicar of St. George’s Church, Hawthorne; and the Rev. Norma Guerra, associate for formation and transitions for the diocese, whose father, Armando Guerra Soria, is retired bishop of the Guatemala diocese, which is part of the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America, a province of the Anglican Communion.

Romero’s visit, he said, gave him a sense of what might be done with cooperation among U.S. and Central American dioceses. “I’m excited about the possibilities of what we can do with each other and for each other as we are working for the common subject of justice, well-being and the love of God,” Romero told diocesan staff members at a lunch in his honor on May 12.

One of the possibilities, according to O’Reilly, is formation of a transnational church-based network to help provide assistance for migrants.

A food distribution program at St. Michael’s Ministry Center in Riverside was one of the ministries Romero visited during his stay in the diocese. Photo: Kelli Grace Kurtz

Romero kept up a busy schedule during his visit, which started with a meeting with Taylor, the diocese’s Refugee Committee and Troy Elder, missioner for migration ministries for the Diocese of San Diego.

O’Reilly took Romero to Riverside to learn about the work being done at Episcopal facilities in the area: St. Michael’s Ministry Center, which has a food sharing program and is in the process of building an affordable housing project; and All Saints’ Church, which also has an extensive food distribution program and helps host a Laundry Love program, among other ministries. He and the Rev. Kelli Grace Church, rector of All Saints, discussed creative approaches to liturgy that reflect the local community.

Romero also paid a visit to St. Stephen’s Church in Hollywood and St. Be’s in Eagle Rock, where he met with the Rev. Jaime Edwards-Acton, founder of Episcopal Enterprises, and assisting priest the Rev. Carlos Ruvalcaba. The bishop met with staff at IRIS, the diocese’s refugee and immigration ministry; talked social justice with Guillermo Torres of CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice); and met with Elder and the California Episcopal Public Policy Network.

Jaime Edwards-Acton and Romero discuss the ministry of St. Stephen’s Church in Hollywood, where Edwards-Acton is rector.

The Very Rev. Tom Carey, rector of the Church of the Epiphany and dean of Deanery 4, showed Romero his church, which was a historic center of Chicano activity during the 1960s and ’70s. The bishop also visited CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights); Careen, another immigrants’ rights organization; Jovenes Inc., a ministry to youth founded by the Rev. Richard Estrada of Epiphany; and Homeboys Industries, the gang-intervention program founded by Roman Catholic priest the Rev. Greg Boyle. Romero met with Latino clergy and with the Rev. Anthony Guillén, Hispanic missioner for The Episcopal Church. He worshiped with the Holy Spirit Fellowship congregation in Atwater Village. He finished his packed itinerary by joining Taylor for a Saturday evening gala in his honor at Iglesia de la Magdalena in Glendale (which, according to Taylor, has members from 12 different Central and South American nations) and by preaching at the Church of the Messiah, Santa Ana, on Sunday.

Romero said he anticipates great things from the relationships he is building with people of the Diocese of Los Angeles. “I’m looking forward to how this visit will unfold in practical and tangible ways.”

— Bishop John Harvey Taylor, the Rev. Kelli Grace Kurtz and the Rev. Pat O’Reilly contributed reporting for this story.

General Convention budget committee debates funding for proposed anti-racism coalition

by dpaulsen |
Kitagawa and Douglas

The Rev. John Kitagawa of Arizona, top on screen, and Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, below, present the recommendations of the Presiding Officers’ Working Group on Truth-Telling, Reckoning and Healing to the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance on May 18. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] Questions about the financial details of a proposed new churchwide anti-racism coalition commanded much of the discussion this week at a two-day meeting of General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance.

Meeting in person May 18 and 19 near Baltimore – the site of the 80th General Convention in July – the members of the budgetary committee generally focused their discussion of the coalition on a few main points of concern: the $2 million in funding every three years that has been suggested for the coalition; the budgetary mechanisms that would be needed to yield that funding; the church’s methods for ensuring financial accountability, and the risk that the coalition’s work will overlap with existing church offices and programs.

Despite raising such concerns and seeking greater details on the plans for the new coalition, members of the General Convention budgetary committee appeared to agree with the coalition proposers’ central point – that a long-term approach is needed to confront the church’s historic complicity with racist systems and the ways that legacy is still embedded in the governance and culture of today’s Episcopal Church.

“Our church and its ecclesiology and its structures are part and parcel of white supremacy,” Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, a member of Presiding Officers’ Working Group on Truth-Telling, Reckoning and Healing, said via Zoom in a presentation to the budgetary committee on May 18. He was joined on Zoom by the Rev. John Kitagawa of the Diocese of Arizona, a co-chair of the working group.

“We’ve been caught up in the racist project of white supremacy, which is at the heart of our nation and at the heart of our church,” Douglas said.

The proposed Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice would be a voluntary network of dioceses, parishes, church institutions and individuals operating outside of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, The Episcopal Church’s corporate entity. The coalition would be dedicated to improving the church’s uneven track record of prioritizing racial reconciliation and addressing the harm of colonialism and imperialism, at the denominational level and across its more than 100 dioceses.

Resolution A125, which would establish the coalition, doesn’t include a precise funding request, though it suggests a symbolic tithe on The Episcopal Church’s financial holdings, which the proposers estimate would yield $2 million for the coalition each triennium. The coalition would be able to supplement that amount with its own fundraising.

“I support the initiative, and I think it’s the beginning of important work and real work,” Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely said, echoing other members of Planning, Budget and Finance. “But I’m concerned that the unintended consequence will be to reduce monies available for aid to dioceses, for overseas partnerships. … I’m worried that by doing this work, we would undercut other work that’s helping communities that have suffered from colonialism and imperialism.”

“This is exactly the hard choices that General Convention will have to make,” Douglas responded.

The Joint Standing Committee on Budget, Program and Finance’s meeting was held at the Maritime Institute Conference Center. Over two dozen members, legislative liaisons and church staff members filled a conference room for the morning plenary sessions, all wearing face masks, while about 10 more people joining via Zoom appeared on a large screen at the front of the room.

It was the committee’s first in-person session of this legislative cycle, after holding several meetings and a May 5 hearing on Zoom. This and other General Convention committees have been meeting online since November as part of an extended preparatory period made possible and necessary by pandemic-fueled changes to the 80th General Convention.

The upcoming convention initially was to take place in 2021 but was postponed a year in the hopes that pandemic conditions would improve enough by July 2022 for an in-person meeting. Conditions have improved, but the presiding officers announced last week that they intended to scale down the 80th General Convention due to the continued threat of COVID-19 outbreaks despite public health precautions and the widespread availability of vaccinations.

On May 17, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, issued a follow-up message saying the convention would be reduced from eight days to four days, July 8-11. More planning updates are expected later this month, with the final plan expected in the first week of June.

The Rev. Mike Ehmer, the Program, Budget and Finance committee chair, alluding to the presiding officers’ announcement a day earlier, said he couldn’t offer any more details yet. “What we know is in the announcement,” he said. The decision could have profound impacts on this and other committees’ work. Church leaders are working out the legislative logistics of a shorter, smaller meeting, which likely will leave little time for budget amendments in person.

Ehmer’s committee is required by General Convention’s Joint Rules of Order to present its budget three days before the end of the convention, though bishops and deputies could vote to move that presentation a day later to accommodate the new timeframe. The committee, facing a sudden time crunch, plans to meet online again before convention.

The Rev. John Floberg, a committee member and priest from the Diocese of North Dakota, noted that General Convention has strived to make its budget process more open and transparent in recent triennia. “This really, really challenges that process of becoming more transparent,” Floberg said. “How do we not appear to backtrack on all that we gained?”

Program, Budget and Finance’s 27 members are appointed by the presiding bishop, who serves as president of the House of Bishops, and the president of the House of Deputies, with one bishop and two deputies chosen from each of the church’s nine provinces.

The Rev. Patty Downing, the committee secretary from the Diocese of Delaware who also serves on Executive Council, presented an overview of the proposed $100.7 million churchwide budget plan for 2023-24. A two-year plan will mark a one-time but significant change from the church’s typical three-year plans, she said. She also outlined several distinct considerations in this budget, including the flexibility afforded by past surpluses produced largely because of pandemic-related income and expenses. Executive Council, which drafted the budget plan now being considered by Program, Budget and Finance, proposed setting aside $6.5 million in surplus for use either in the 2023-24 budget or the following triennium.

The pandemic also will shape how the church plans for the future, both the potential for financial turmoil and the appreciation of the loss and pain felt by so many in the church, with the death toll from the coronavirus now reaching 1 million people in the United States. “We need to hear that. We need to absorb that. And then we need to take it into the future with us,” Downing said.

Another major consideration, Downing said, is the budgetary impact of the seven General Convention resolutions proposed by the Presiding Officers’ Working Group on Truth-Telling, Reckoning and Healing in its March 23 report.

Most of those resolutions were assigned to General Convention’s committees on Racial Justice & Reconciliation, which held a hearing on them May 11. Program, Budget and Finance doesn’t consider the merits of such resolutions, only the ability of the church to incorporate their financial implications into its budget.

Byron Rushing, vice president of the House of Deputies and a member of the presiding officers’ working group, said most Episcopalians agree that the church should work to root out racism in its structures. “We are suggesting the most expeditious way to get that done,” he said. One key characteristic of the coalition, he added, would be that it would be accountable to General Convention every three years, not to Executive Council, which is the church’s governing body between meetings of General Convention.

Newark Bishop Carlye Hughes raised concerns that the scope of the coalition’s work could overlap with the church’s existing staff-led Becoming Beloved Community initiative. The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, was asked to respond and said that her staff was not consulted on the working group’s resolutions to General Convention.

“There would likely be redundancy in the system once the coalition is up and running,” she said, though she also suggested that such redundancy could be alleviated as the coalition takes shape and that the church may find benefit in “the kind of independence that this organization is proposing.”

Stephanie Spellers

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, speaks May 18 to the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Several members of the budgetary committee raised other concerns that the financial implications of Resolution A125 remain unclear.

In the concluding plenary session on May 19, Bishop Suffragan Jeff Fisher of the Diocese of Texas, vice chair of the committee, summarized those concerns in a proposed resolution. The committee “desires to support the establishment” of the coalition, the resolution said, but it “cannot fully support” that plan without more clarity on the following details:

  • How would the “financial holdings” of the church be defined for the purpose of calculating the triennial funding of the coalition?
  • How would coalition funding affect the 5% draw from investment income that already supports the churchwide budget?
  • Will the coalition require start-up financing in 2023-24 up to or equal to the suggested $2 million?
  • What effect will this have on future churchwide budgets?
  • Does the 80th General Convention have the ability to commit funds in budgets that will be considered by future General Conventions?

“This might not be an all-exhaustive list to some of the questions you might have,” Fisher said.

The committee approved an amendment to the resolution Knisely proposed that committed the body to working with the presiding officers’ working group and General Convention’s Racial Justice and Reconciliation on figuring out an acceptable financial plan for creating the coalition.

The budgetary committee also approved an amendment proposed by Bill Fleener of Western Michigan that would address the potential for redundancy between the new work of the coalition and the continuing work of the presiding bishop’s Racial Reconciliation Office staff.

With those amendments, the committee passed the resolution in a unanimous voice vote.

Douglas spoke to the point of the latter amendment, amount redundancies, in his presentation a day earlier.

“There was huge and deep appreciation for the work that the church is already doing in our commitments to dismantle racism, white supremacy and anti-Black bias,” Douglas said. The coalition’s mission would be “building on, extending and advancing that incredible, good work. … This is not in any way seen as competition for and/or an alternative to that good work.”

The budgetary committee on May 19 also narrowly approved a resolution, in an 11-10 vote, that would hold the church’s investment draw for the 2023-24 budget to 5% or less, despite some members arguing the current percentage rate could limit the church’s budgetary flexibility.

The Rev. Mally Lloyd, the chair of Executive Council’s Finance Committee who also serves as the House of Deputies presidents’ liaison to Program, Budget and Finance, reminded the committee that if the anti-racism coalition or other General Convention actions require additional funds, the $6.5 million surplus would be available if the investment draw can’t be raised.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

World Mission committees hear call to acknowledge and grieve colonialism

by lwilson |

Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah asks for a show of hands while chairing the May 16 online meeting of the General Convention legislative committees on World Mission. Screenshot: Melodie Woerman

[Episcopal News Service] General Convention’s legislative committees on World Mission heard testimony May 16 on Resolution A017, which calls The Episcopal Church to “acknowledge and grieve” its past practices of colonialism in mission efforts around the world.

The church’s efforts toward racial reconciliation helped inspire the resolution, said Martha Gardner, a Massachusetts deputy and chair of the Standing Commission on World Mission, which proposed A017 in its 2020 Blue Book report. “We felt that in addition to doing the work in terms of the United States, we also need to look historically at our work in terms of global mission,” she testified. Noting the work of the Presiding Officers’ Working Group on Truth-Telling, Reckoning, and Healing, she added the resolution addresses what she called “a unique lane” in the church’s approach to global mission – to explore historical complicity and to examine how dioceses and congregations now undertake mission work outside the United States.

“Is it still with this kind of colonial imperialism, racist attitude?” she asked.

After a one-year postponement and now a reduction in size, duration and scope, the 80th General Convention is now scheduled to take place over four days in Baltimore, Maryland, July 8-11. In the lead-up to convention, two-dozen bishops’ and deputies’ committees are holding hearings together online. For a schedule of online hearings, click here.

The Rev. Judy Quick, an alternate deputy from Alabama and a standing commission member, said this resolution helps highlight “the power dynamics which have been historically present and in many cases may still be present in our global mission.” She also stressed what she called a “theology of companionship,” included in the guiding principles of a digital mission toolkit developed by the Standing Commission on World Mission, the church’s Office of Global Partnerships and the Global Episcopal Mission Network. These principles, Quick said, stress “the importance of mutuality and acknowledgement and that everybody has God-given gifts to share, and that we can learn from each other.”

The Rev. Grey Maggiano, rector of Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, said that his parish has done a lot of work around the issue of reparations, and it’s time to take a similar look at the church’s imperialist role around the world. “How we talk about mission in the church leaves a lot to be desired,” Maggiano said. He said both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church have perpetuated evils in the name of Jesus, either done by the church or in the church’s name.  “This resolution really serves to guide the work of the Standing Commission on World Mission on cataloging some of these evils and processing our history of colonialism, so that we as a church can be better focused going forward,” he said.

Gardner pointed out the collaboration taking place in the Triangle of Hope as a model of a change in mindset. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, the Church of England’s Diocese of Liverpool and the Anglican Diocese of Kumasi in Ghana form the triangle and are working together in a “covenantal community dedicated to transforming the long history, ongoing effects, and continuing presence of slavery in our world through repentance, reconciliation, and mission.”

Committee member Bishop Prince Singh, bishop provisional of the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, asked how the success of this anti-colonialism work will be measured. Maggiano said that before anything else can happen, “We’ve got to know exactly how bad it is.” Gardner said one measure would be if those engaged in mission are thinking and acting differently than they did before. “Are they going into these relationships looking at not doing projects for but with?” she asked.

The committees also added funding to the resolution, proposing that $50,000 be budgeted for the Office of Global Partnerships to oversee this work. In total, three people spoke in support of A017.

The committees also heard testimony on Resolution A028, also proposed by the standing commission, which offers support for the work of the Global Episcopal Mission Network and celebrates its 25 years of encouraging global mission. It also would provide $50,000 from The Episcopal Church budget to GEMN to support its work.

Quick offered support for the resolution and for the work GEMN does, especially its Mission Formation Program, a two-year program that “really equips us for mission and allows us to go deep and understand the history of mission.” Gardner said GEMN helps convene grassroots advocates at the diocesan and congregational level and that “this partnership is really important” for the church’s work of mission across the world.

–Melodie Woerman is a freelance writer and former director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.

Diocese of Florida elects Charlie Holt as bishop coadjutor, to become ninth diocesan bishop

by emillard |

The Rev. Charlie Holt. Photo: Diocese of Florida

[Diocese of Florida] The Episcopal Diocese of Florida selected the Rev. Charlie Holt as its bishop coadjutor-elect during its 2022 Special Electing Convention on May 14 at St. John’s Cathedral in Jacksonville, Florida. Holt will ultimately succeed the diocese’s current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, upon his retirement in late 2023 to serve as the ninth bishop in the diocese’s 184-year history.

Holt was born in Gainesville and raised in Jacksonville, graduating from the Episcopal School of Jacksonville and the University of Florida. He has served The Episcopal Church for almost 25 years – with stops in Charlotte, North Carolina, Lake Mary, Florida, and currently Houston, Texas, where he serves as associate rector of teaching and formation at The Church of St. John the Divine.

Prior to becoming diocesan bishop, Holt will assume the temporary role of bishop coadjutor upon his consecration in October 2022. In that role, he will learn from and assist Howard in diocesan matters until his late 2023 retirement.

“Coming back to my roots to lead this diocese into its next chapter and serve the wonderful people in it is a tremendous honor,” said Holt. “Throughout the search process, I enjoyed getting to know individuals throughout the diocese as well as the other candidates – each one of them brought a special skill set to the table and I’m thankful to have fostered relationships with them. I’m looking forward to further immersing myself in this loving community, making disciples, and sharing the Good News of God across our region.”

Holt was elected by a voting body of approximately 250 people across the diocese, which consisted of clergy and lay delegates as well as diocesan officials. The election required three rounds of voting until a concurrent majority was reached by clergy and laity on the same ballot.

The four other candidates considered were the Rev. B. Wiley Ammons, Jr. of The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville, the Rev. John Fletcher Montgomery of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville, the Rev. Miguel A. Rosada of St. Luke’s/San Lucas Episcopal Church in Jacksonville and the Rev. Beth Tjoflat of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville.

When asked about the election, Howard said: “Saturday’s election of a bishop coadjutor was an important day in the Diocese of Florida. All five nominees were exceptional candidates. I look forward to welcoming Father Holt into our diocese and to serving with him in the year ahead, as we continue to strengthen our diocese’s ministry and growth for the future.’”

The election was the result of a multi-month search and vetting process by the diocese, which included open nominations, essays, interviews and several public meet-and-greet sessions open to the public. Click here for more information.

Archbishop of Canterbury issues call to prayer for the 15th Lambeth Conference

by emillard |

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has issued a call for people to pray for the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, and to set aside Trinity Sunday – June 12 – as a dedicated day of prayer. Bishops from dioceses in more than 165 countries have been invited to Canterbury, England, for the once-a-decade gathering, which will take place from July 26 to Aug. 8 at the University of Kent in Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral, and Lambeth Palace.

“The Lambeth Conference theme of ‘God’s Church for God’s World’ reminds us that we are called upon as Christians to pray for the needs of the world,” Welby said in a message posted on the official Lambeth Conference website. “There are many calls upon our prayers at this time: world peace, the global climate crisis, the effects of the pandemic – to name but a few.

“I invite you to call all those in your care to pray for the Lambeth Conference,” he said. “Please pray that as we meet and consider our shared mission and ministry, that we may hear the call from God. In turn, that we might add our voices to call others to make a difference for Christ in the world.”

Read the entire article here.

Shannon Rogers Duckworth elected bishop of Louisiana

by emillard |

The Rev. Shannon Rogers Duckworth. Photo: Diocese of Louisiana

[Diocese of Louisiana] The Rev. Shannon Rogers Duckworth was elected the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana during a special convention on May 14, at Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans. She was elected on the 1st ballot after attaining a majority of both clergy and lay votes. The election concludes the yearlong process of seeking a successor for Bishop Morris King Thompson, Jr. who began his service in the diocese in 2010 and will retire in October 2022.

Duckworth is the first woman to be elected bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. She was one of two nominees. The other nominee was the Rev. Frederick DuMontier Devall IV, rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Metairie.

A native of Mississippi, Duckworth, is currently serving as the diocese’s canon to the ordinary. She was ordained a priest in 2001 after graduating from General Theological Seminary. She has previously served as curate at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ocean Springs, Mississippi; vicar at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Lexington, Mississippi; chaplain at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Jackson, Mississippi; and associate rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Jackson, Mississippi. She is married to James Duckworth and has two sons, Nicholas and Tucker. Click here for a full bio.

Addressing the assembly, Duckworth said, “I am humbled and grateful to accept your call as the 12th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. First of all, I want to thank you, clergy and laity, the people of this diocese. Over the past months, you have shared with me your vision and hopes. I thank you for your encouragement and energy. You inspire me and I will hold with great care the trust that you instilled in me. I love doing this work with you and I am excited about the future that stands before us.”

At the conclusion of her address, Duckworth said, “As I close, I invite you to pray. Pray for me, my family, and each other. Pray for your churches, for this diocese, and for our communities. May the Holy Spirit shape us, mold us to be the people the Diocese of Louisiana is called to be. Now, it is time to look forward, to draw on our tremendous strengths, face our challenges, and lean into our future. With God’s grace, the light of Christ will shine brightly here in this church we all love so much.”

Watch the full acceptance address here.

Pending consent of a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction and the diocesan standing committees, Duckworth will be ordained and consecrated on Nov. 19, 2022, at Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will preside.

Presiding officers endorse plan to shorten General Convention to 4 days, July 8-11, and limit attendance

by lwilson |
Jennings and Curry

The design group formed by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has released its first set of recommendations for the 80th General Convention. Photo: Sharon Tillman/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The 80th General Convention will now be held July 8-11 in Baltimore, Maryland, shortened from eight to four days under a recommendation from the design group charged with planning a “shorter, smaller, safer” gathering, according to a letter to the church sent May 17 by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies.

In addition to the shortened duration, the Presiding Officers’ General Convention Design Group recommended that attendance be restricted to bishops, deputies, essential staff and volunteers and a limited media presence, with visitors generally not allowed. Dioceses would be asked to send only two alternate deputies (one lay and one clergy) and inactive bishops would be asked to stay home. There would be no exhibit hall and all church-affiliated organizations would be asked not to hold events and receptions in Baltimore during July 8-11.

“Like many of you, we continue to grieve our inability to gather as a whole church this summer,” Curry and Jennings wrote, acknowledging they endorsed the design group’s recommendations. “But even since last week, when we first made the decision to reduce the scale of the meeting, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the United States have continued to rise steeply. Although we regret that need to make this decision, we are confident that we have chosen the right path.”

General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church. It typically meets every three years as a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, composed of deputies and bishops from each diocese. It is also the largest churchwide gathering, drawing together upwards of 5,000 attendees. The 80th General Convention was originally scheduled for July 2021 but was postponed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curry and Jennings first discussed their preliminary plan for a modified General Convention at a special meeting of Executive Council held last week. At the time, they said that neither cancelation nor another postponement of General Convention was a viable option and appointed the design group to reduce the size and duration of the convention and limit it to essential functions.

The design group, led by Bishop Sean Rowe and Deputy Bryan Krislock, parliamentarians in each of the respective houses, held its first of three scheduled meetings May 17. Next week, the design group is scheduled to develop recommendations on COVID-19 protocols and arrangements for worship and other large events. The week of May 30, it plans to develop recommendations on the legislative process, working with legislative committee chairs to prioritize the resolutions assigned to them. In the meantime, two-dozen bishops’ and deputies’ committees are holding hearings together online in advance of convention. (For a schedule of online hearings, click here.)

The design group plans to finish its work by May 31. During the first week of June, both the Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements and Executive Council will meet, allowing the presiding officers to formalize the new plan for General Convention.

“While these plans will not be official until the first week in June, we have every confidence that our colleagues in leadership will receive them well,” Curry and Jennings wrote. “We give thanks for those who are working tirelessly to make this General Convention safer for everyone who will attend and everyone who will receive us in Baltimore. As the United States marks the grim milestone of 1 million deaths from COVID-19, we ask you to pray for all those whose lives have been lost and all those whose lives will never be the same.”

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.

Episcopal leaders step up advocacy of Indigenous issues, including at United Nations forum

by dpaulsen |

The Rev. Bradley Hauff, The Episcopal Church’s missioner for Indigenous ministries, left, and Ronald Braman from the Diocese of Idaho pose for a photo inside the United Nations building in New York during the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from April 25 to May 6. Photo: Lynnaia Main, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal leaders have been increasingly focused this spring on highlighting Indigenous issues, particularly The Episcopal Church’s past involvement in the federal Indigenous boarding schools system, as the church prepares to consider acting on those issues in July at the 80th General Convention.

Episcopal engagement with Indigenous issues is occurring both within the church and with ecumenical and global partners, including at the recently concluded United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. A small Episcopal delegation attended the annual forum in New York and online April 25 to May 6. The theme of this year’s forum was “Indigenous peoples, business, autonomy and the human rights principles of due diligence including free, prior and informed consent.”

The Rev. Bradley Hauff, The Episcopal Church’s missioner for Indigenous ministries, told Episcopal News Service, that the U.N. forum’s emphasis on “free, prior and informed consent” resonated with him and the other Episcopalians who participated. It underscored for them the importance of tribal autonomy and self-determination, both of which European settlers and later the United State government so often took from Native Americans.

Nowhere was the violation of free, prior and informed consent more apparent, Hauff said, than in the forced assimilation at boarding schools – “when you have children taken from their homes and forced into an educational process where they don’t know what they’re getting into … when they have everything about them that’s Indigenous taken away.”

Hauff, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, was joined at the U.N. forum by Ronald Braman from the Diocese of Idaho, who is Shoshone, as well as Lynnaia Main, the church’s representative to the United Nations. The Rev. Tina Campbell, Cherokee from Northern California, and Melissa Skinner, Standing Rock Sioux from South Dakota, participated in some of the online discussions.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was formed by U.N. resolution in 2000 to focus on Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. Its first meeting was held in 2002. It has continued to offer opportunities each year for Indigenous peoples to provide expert advice to global leaders through the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC, and to inform U.N. agencies working on a variety of international issues, from human rights to the environment.

Because The Episcopal Church is an ECOSOC-accredited nongovernmental organization, the Episcopal delegation was able to submit two official statements to this year’s Permanent Forum. One called attention to the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women as a human rights crisis. The other stressed the importance of preserving Indigenous languages, including through liturgies and songs at Episcopal worship services.

The delegation also helped organize a faith-based conversation on Indigenous issues in the United Nations’ chapel on May 4, followed by an interfaith worship service led by Hauff.

“There is a hunger and desire within the faith-based community to organize, to talk to each other about these issues,” Main said in an interview with ENS. Many religious denominations that participate in the U.N. forum have Indigenous members, maintain ministries that work with Indigenous peoples or advocate for policy reforms that affect them.

Main added that it was “enormously important” to return to an in-person gathering, even though the U.N. only allowed each organization three registered participants. “If we want to try and engage with member states who are the decision-makers, we’re not going to get anywhere with them just by sending emails or asking them to set up a Zoom meeting,” she said.

The issue of Indigenous boarding schools provided some context for the discussions but wasn’t addressed directly as part of the U.N. forum, Hauff said. Five days after the forum ended, however, the Department of Interior shined a new spotlight on schools when it released its May 11 report from the first part of a federal investigation into the system.

In the report investigators said they had identified 408 such schools across 37 states or territories from 1819 to 1969. Marked or unmarked burial sites have been found at 53 of the schools so far.

“The consequences of federal Indian boarding school policies — including the intergenerational trauma caused by the family separation and cultural eradication inflicted upon generations of children as young as 4 years old—are heartbreaking and undeniable,” Secretary Deb Haaland said in announcing the report. “We continue to see the evidence of this attempt to forcibly assimilate Indigenous people in the disparities that communities face.”

Although the report doesn’t go into details about the schools run by The Episcopal Church and other religious denominations, Hauff told ENS that it sheds new light on the coordination between churches and the federal government.

The report “did an excellent job of explaining how Indigenous boarding schools fit into the whole systematic agenda of assimilating Indigenous people into America culture,” Hauff said. “And it’s a history that unfortunately a lot of Americans are unfamiliar with.”

At least eight schools were thought to have Episcopal Church connections, though the dearth of churchwide records has made it difficult to fully account for the church’s role.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, have pledged to “make right relationships with our Indigenous siblings an important focus” of General Convention’s upcoming work. In a joint statement last year, they acknowledged the church’s past complicity in the federal boarding school system.

Executive Council, in a vote at its April 2022 meeting, affirmed the church’s commitment to researching and confronting that history, and it ordered the creation of a Committee for Indigenous Boarding Schools and Advocacy. The 15-member committee will be asked to gather information on boarding schools with Episcopal ties, to tell the story of the schools’ impact and legacy and to develop a plan for storytelling and advocacy centered on unequal treatment of Native Americans in the past and present.

Questions asked by the committee will include how many boarding schools had Episcopal ties, how many students attended, how many were sick or died there far from their homes, which church institutions founded and funded the schools and what is the current status of the schools?

Hauff said Executive Council’s action lays the foundation for additional discussion and response by General Convention. To further minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission the dates, duration and scope of the July meeting of the church’s triennial governing body are still being finalized, though church leaders have identified Indigenous boarding schools a priority as they determine what gets taken up at the meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, and which issues will be put on hold until the 81st General Convention in 2024.

Dioceses also are engaging in Indigenous issues in new ways this year. The Diocese of Northern Michigan, for example, announced on May 17 that it had named Miskopwaaganikwe Leora Tadgerson as director of diversity, equity and inclusion, with responsibilities that include promoting the diocese’s truth-telling and racial reconciliation efforts.

And on May 5, at an online budget hearing held by General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, the bishops in Alaska, Navajoland, North Dakota and South Dakota urged church leaders to renew and even increase the block grants the dioceses receive to support their growing Indigenous ministries.

“Without the help of the General Convention budget, we just would not be able to do what we do,” Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime told the committee.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Consecration of Chicago Bishop-elect Paula Clark set for Sept. 17

by emillard |

The Rev. Paula Clark. Photo courtesy Diocese of Chicago

[Diocese of Chicago] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has set Sept. 17 as the day he will ordain and consecrate the Rev. Paula E. Clark as the 13th bishop of Chicago. The service will take place west of the city at the Westin Chicago Lombard.

“Bishop-elect Paula E. Clark of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, in collaboration with diocesan leadership, has worked through tremendous challenges over the past year, and I am pleased to announce that I will serve as her chief consecrator in a liturgy now scheduled for September 17, 2022,” Curry wrote in a statement issued May 17.

Clark was elected bishop on Dec. 12, 2020. Her ordination and consecration have been on hold since she experienced a cerebral bleed while exercising in April 2021. Clark returned to work on March 7, alongside Bishop Chilton Knudsen, who’d been called to serve as Clark convalesced.

“I am overjoyed that God has brought us to this day!” Clark said the diocese’s announcement. “On September 17, we will make a new beginning together, and I could not be more excited to discover where the Holy Spirit will lead us in our ministry.”

The diocese has historically held its annual conventions in Lombard, a suburb about 21 miles from Chicago. Holding the service there rather than in one of the diocese’s churches will accommodate a larger crowd, said the Rev. Courtney Reid, director of operations on the bishop’s staff.

Also on Sept. 17, pending consents, former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will serve as chief consecrator for the Rev. Phyllis Spiegel, bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. Spiegel was elected on May 7 and is scheduled to be consecrated and ordained at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City.