Executive Council: January 2021 Province II Council Report: February 3, 2021
Major Decisions: White Supremacy Resolution
TEC-wide Repercussions Racial Justice Audit has been released via Canon Stephanie Spellers’ office, Evangelism, Creation and Reconciliation
Major long-time coming TEC-wide initiative to garner valuable information and statistics about the ethnic and racial composition of TEC, lay and cleric.
I was interviewed while the report was being compiled; I was also a reviewer of a draft of the document.
The Audit is comprehensive and includes some telling excerpts of narrative testimony by some voices included in the audit.
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Task Force to Study the Church Pension Fund This report is the result of a 60-year call via various GC resolutions.
Its immediate impetus was resolution A060 from the 79th GC in 2018.
The Task Force report was anticipated in December 2019.
An executive summary of the Task Force report is available.
Sally Johnson, chancellor to PHOD, explained the legal structure of the Church Pension Fund, its creation out of TEC resolution, but its separation as a fiduciary corporation, subject to NY state laws.
A clerical member of Executive Council narrated his family’s three generation relationship with TEC pensions.
Testimony inadvertently highlighted the inequities in financial remuneration and therefore pensions between white clergy and newer clergy of color in TEC.
Ministry Within Deliberations and Reports Reports from
Church Planting Grants
Evangelism and YACM Grants
Department of Faith Formation Resolution C014 (2018): Suicide Prevention Over 1000 licenses provided for those trained to counsel against suicide.
EYE Large Youth Gatherings: Postponed until COVID safe environments.
Executive Council Meeting Overview of January 22-25, 2021
By The Rev. Lillian Davis-Wilson Clerical Representative to Executive Council
Many of you saw the daily morning plenary sessions since it was lived streamed. Therefore, this will be an overview for our province members who were not able to live stream the meeting.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry expressed that the church has much work to do in affirming Jesus’ way of love and rejecting the divisive threat of Christian nationalism. Quoting from Biden’s inaugural address, “we must end this uncivil war” as he connected the Christian call to love one’s enemy. Curry said I believe that we have been given our marching orders: our mission from God is to heal God’s lost creation, to bind up the broken, to repair the breach, to do the hard disciplined work of love. This way of love is unselfish and sacrificial, it is the way to save a democracy and save the world. It is our hope.”
Curry repeated several times Biden’s inaugural call for unity. If Jan. 6 was a “vision of hell,” he said, the inauguration was filled with reasons for hope. “It had nothing to do with whether a Republican or Democrat got elected, I saw some hope,” Elected leaders from both parties came together to witness the peaceful transition of power, “I saw some hope,” when the nation welcomed Vice President Kamala Harris as the first woman, first Black American and first Asian American to hold that office, there was more hope. “There is always light, if we are brave enough to see it, if we are brave enough to be it,” Curry said quoting from Amanda Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Curry spent part of his opening remarks highlighting “From Many, One,” a campaign that the church launched this month to encourage Episcopalians to engage in thoughtful conversations with people who disagree with them. “We need to reach out to each other across our differences, across the divides. We need to reach out and bless each other as people made in the image of God, as children of God.”
The Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, expressed hope for the future as she recounted how some of the rioters who stormed the Capitol “declared allegiance to Jesus and the former president, sometimes conflating them” in the signs, banners and flags they carried. “The stories, signs and symbols of our faith are being put to violent use by people who want to establish a nation in which power and privilege is held exclusively by white Christians.”
“The use of Christianity to advance white supremacist extremism did not begin in 2016, and it did not end at noon on Wednesday (January 20th). … This violent and exclusionary movement is on the rise in the United States. … We have a special responsibility to stand against it.” Some of her comments paralleled those of The Presiding Bishop.
Jennings also spoke of “Zoom fatigue” in her opening remarks and thanked everyone for their continuing perseverance navigating this new, way of carrying out church business. She highlighted the numerous executive actions by Biden during his first days as president. By executive order, Biden committed the government to fully implementing a June 2020 Supreme Court decision ending workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people. Jennings and Curry were lead signers of a legal brief calling for that court ruling, with more than 700 other faith leaders. The Supreme Court’s decision was never acted on, but with Biden’s action, LGBTQ people have been assured of the legal protections the court ordered. “This is an enormous victory,” Jennings said. “The Episcopal Church’s witness made a difference in moving the United States closer to justice for all of God’s children.”
Jennings also spoke of the need for the country to heal after the Capitol riot, but she also offered a word of caution. “We hope and pray that it’s over now because the former president is out of office and off of Twitter.” But Jennings underscored the continued need to pursue “deradicalization” in the United States – an issue that The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations had outlined in a paper in October. The Episcopal Church has the opportunity to respond to this threat by offering an ‘off-ramp’ for those who have joined extremism groups, expanding the possibility of reconciliation and forgiveness.”
After the opening remarks a treasurer’s report from Chief Financial Officer, Kurt Barnes assured Executive Council that the balance sheets continue to contain mostly “good news.” Income and expenses for 2020 were mostly in line with the revised budget for the year. Investment income, was a bright spot, with a return of nearly 20% for the year. The church’s annual appeal topped $500,000, far exceeding its goal, a strong year of fundraising by the Development Office. And despite fears about how the pandemic would affect the bottom line for dioceses and congregations, nearly all paid what they had pledged in assessments. “As I’ve sort of preached all year, we should remain calm during short-term jolts,” Barnes said, while acknowledging, “we’re still looking at economic forecasts that are uncertain.” The Executive Council’s ongoing racial reconciliation efforts continue as we broke into small breakout groups to discuss dismantling racism, the attack on the Capitol, law enforcement’s response and poet Amanda Gorman’s poem.
The Council met in committees in the afternoons of the 4-day meeting and reviewed the racial justice audit of Episcopal leadership, New life in Church advocacy in Public Policy- rejoining the WHO, the Paris Agreement, immigration followed by our wrap up and resolutions on Monday:
Passage of a resolution pledging to assist cash-strapped dioceses during the pandemic, responding to the pandemic’s economic toll. Separate from the existing waiver process. This initiative is intended for all 109 dioceses.
Passage of a separate resolution on deradicalization. The resolution reaffirms the church’s rejection of white supremacy, acknowledges the church’s past complicity with racist systems and asks staff to coordinate with ecumenical and interfaith partners to develop a strategy for combating white Christian nationalism.
Passage of a resolution on Carbon – Capture Technology. This resolution endorses research and testing of carbon-capture technologies, with a proviso that the use of such technologies should not contribute to environmental racism.
The application process is now open for the Constable Fund Grants for the 2021 grant cycle from the Episcopal Church. The Constable Fund provides grants to fund mission initiatives that were not provided for within the budget of The Episcopal Church, as approved by General Convention 2018, with a stated preference for work in the area of religious education. In 2020, Constable Grants ranged from $2,500 to $50,000. The 2020 grants totaled $209,500.00, distributed among nine grant recipients. Please note:Individuals, congregations, and dioceses must submit their grant proposals to their provinces for consideration. Each province may then approve only one grant application for submission to the Constable Fund Grant Review Committee. Only applications with provincial approval from within the nine provinces of The Episcopal Church will be considered. The deadline for submitting Province II proposals is Monday, February 1. Submit your proposals to Neva Rae Fox, Province II Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org. Only completed proposals will be considered. For more information: in English:https://tinyurl.com/yyz7r3dj In Spanish here: https://tinyurl.com/yxo4awpp In French here: https://tinyurl.com/y4rt26qq
The Executive Council met October 9-12 virtually. It was an excellent meeting with the morning worship services totally inclusive. Several different members participated in the service. Presiding Bishop Michael opened the meeting referencing Matthew 5: 6-7 and stated: “We are meeting in the midst of some pretty difficult times, but the Gospel teaches that Christians can be a light against that darkness. Now is not the time to hide this light under the bushel. Now is the time to lift up this light … this light that we’ve gotten from Jesus, and let it shine, even, and in spite of, whatever may happen around us.” This is a message needed while Civic unrest continues to plaque the country with unlawful and mishandling of arrests culminating in death and others taking the law into their own hands. It is time for everyone to have their voices heard and vote their consciences for a democracy where all are equal and policies are followed to the full extent of the law. As Curry said, we need to be the light and let nothing hinder us from letting that light shine so all can see our works glorifying our Father. He said we need to pray continuously and drive the Lord crazy. Just pester the Lord and tell him I told you to do so. Curry mentioned some of the ways we can have a pastoral presence: attending some of the services and webinars being held October 24- November 4:
Washington National Cathedral is hosting an ecumenical prayer service on Nov.1.
TryTank, a project of Virginia Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary, is launching a prayer hotline with more than 200 volunteers.
The Diocese of Indianapolis developed a campaign centered on the symbol of a candle: “Light, Pray, Vote.”
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, opened her remarks by saying she was looking forward to welcoming the Rev. Chris Rankin-Williams on Oct. 10 for his presentation to Executive Council about parochial report revisions. She said Oct. 12 will mark 50 years since General Convention in 1970 approved women to be seated as members of the House of Deputies. There were 29 women who became deputies that year, but many of them have never been formally memorialized at General Convention. She hopes to correct that at the 80th convention. Jennings said the church is in a unique position to be a moral voice in these troubling times, especially with misinformation running rampant. “These are sobering times in which to live and witness to the Gospel, because truth matters, voting maters, and history matters. May God grant us wisdom and courage for the facing of this hour.”
Mr. Kurt Barnes gave the Treasurer’s Report, which had already been distributed. He said that the financial picture remains positive. Expenses are within budget, debt to equity ratio is good and there is good liquidity. Ms. Lloyd spoke about the 2021 budget, and reminded Executive Council of the decision to reduce expenses only when necessary. The budget assumes a 15% assessment with waivers, a 5% draw and other income, which was based on the 2019-2021 approved budget. Other variables included the 3% COLA, medical increased only by 4%, and finally budgeting for the increase in DFMS contribution to lay pensions. The 2021 budget, after much discussion by members, was subsequently approved at approximately 46 million including 1 million for relief for struggling dioceses.
Ms. Andrea McKellar gave an update on the progress of the 2022-2024 budget process. Budget priorities remain the same. The budget is due to the JSC on Program, Budget and Finance four months before General Convention. If General Convention takes place as scheduled in 2021, the budget will be due to PB&F on March 1. The timeline is to present the budget to Executive Council in January, and have a special meeting at the end of February to approve it. If General Convention is postponed, Executive Council can approve the budget in the spring.
Bishop Curry called on the Hon. Rose Sconiers, along with Canon Stephanie Spellers and Ms. Diane Pollard, to lead the discussion about diocesan diversity efforts. Canon Spellers spoke about church-wide efforts toward Becoming Beloved Community. Justice Sconiers shared a pledge of faith and action against racial injustice from the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwest Pennsylvania. Ms. Pollard provided historical content and current undertakings in the Diocese of New York. Resources were shared and Executive Council members were urged to bring this important work back to their respective dioceses. On Saturday, Chris Rankin-Williams, Chair, of the State of the Church Committee, explained that the committee was charged with revising the parochial report to capture changing metrics of importance to the church. The goal of the committee is to help make the Parochial Report a tool for congregations to use in strategic planning and other matters, rather than just reporting statistics. They are interested in learning about new ministries “opportunities, innovations and challenges” that congregations experienced while dealing with the pandemic. Racism is another new section in the report, with congregations being asked to discuss how they are “actively addressing and working toward racial justice and reconciliation.”The report encompasses virtual worship attendance, and does not require reporting on communions during the period of the pandemic. They hope to revise the entire report for 2021.
Sunday, October 11 the meeting began with a prayer service, and then Bishop Curry called on Mr. Thomas Alexander to provide an overview of the program planned by the JSC on Governance and Operations (GO). Mr. Alexander explained that the program was designed in response to General Convention resolution 2018-A059 that was referred to GO. Bishop Curry introduced The Rev. Dr. Stuart Hoke, who spoke to the Executive Council about the disease of alcoholism. The Executive Council was then supposed to go into breakout rooms for discussion. Ms. Jane Cisluycis moved to go into Executive Session for this discussion. The motion was seconded and adopted. The rest of the morning was spent in Executive Session.
Monday, October 12, after an opening prayer service commemorating Indigenous People Day and announcements by the Secretary, committee reports began. The committee chairs gave recognition to the Indigenous population in their respective areas, acknowledging and commemorating Indigenous People Day. This was followed by their respective committees’ work over the past 4 days and approval of any proposed resolutions.
The secretary reported that the status of General Convention has not been determined as to the format or whether it will be held in June of 2021. Executive council is expected to have a special meeting in November and a decision on convention is expected at that time. The Executive Council meeting was adjourned.
Respectfully submitted by, The Rev. Lillian J. Davis-Wilson
Yes, diocesan conventions will happen, but they will be virtual.
Here is a run-down of the plans for diocesan conventions in the province. There is no information about Haiti or Cuba
Diocese of Albany 152nd Diocesan Convention has been moved to Saturday, October 24, 2020 - “2020 Vision: Fix Your Eyes on Jesus" - Virtual Convention
Diocese of Central New York Sustained in God’s Love: Our Rule of Life, Vision, & Mission in Practice The 152nd Convention of the Diocese of Central New York Saturday, November 14th and Sunday, November 15th, 2020 Virtual Convention
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe October 22-25, 2020 Virtual Convention: http://www.tec-europe.org/convocation/conventions-how-we-work-together/the-annual-convocation-convention/
Diocese of Long Island The 154th Convention of the Diocese of Long Island Saturday, November 14, 2020, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Virtual Convention
Diocese of Newark The 2020 convention was held on January 31-February 1, 2020 The next convention has been postponed until July 2021 News as of March 17, 2021: Watch for the Call to Convention Convention will be held Saturday, June 26 at Christ Church, Short Hills. The official Call to Convention will go out tomorrow, March 18 (100 days before Convention). Clergy and elected Lay Deputies are asked to note the Convention date and watch for communications from John King, Secretary of Convention.
Diocese of New Jersey 236th Diocesan Convention Online November 14, 2020
Diocese of New York 244th Annual Diocesan Convention - Virtual Convention starts with the first Convention Roll-Out Meeting on September 9, 2020 Continues with the weekly one-hour Roll-Out Meetings through October 28, 2020 Convention Liturgy, Sunday, November 1, 2020 Convention business session and voting on November 7, 2020 Virtual Convention - Live Streaming from the Cathedral St John the Divine, New York City: Behold, I am making all things new! (Revelation 21:5b)
Diocese of Rochester 2020 Convention 89 will meet ONLINE via ZOOM Becoming Eucharist! October 31, 2020
Diocese of the Virgin Islands 2020 Diocesan Convention - July 16-17 - BVI Deanery
On Tuesday, September 1, a short special Province II Synod meeting was conducted which will ensure smooth and legitimate operations in the future. The business meeting was prompted by the pandemic, which has caused a move to almost complete virtual meetings and actions throughout the country.
Meeting in a convenient location off the NY State Thruway - Woodbury Commons Shopping Center in Central Valley, NY - deputies from eight of the 12 Province II dioceses comprised the necessary quorum.
Members and their dioceses attending were: The Rev. Katherine Alonge-Coons, Albany; the Rev. Wanda R. Copeland, Central New York; the Rev. Karen Davis-Lawson, Long Island; the Rev. Cynthia Black and Sue Morgan, Newark; Bishop William H. Stokes and Canon Paul Ambos. Esq., New Jersey; Yvonne O'Neal, New York; the Rev. Canon Johnnie Ross, Rochester; and Elisabeth Brauza-Hughes, Western New York. Also present were the Rev. Canon Carrie Schofield-Broadbent, Canon for Transition and Church Development, Central New York; Neva Rae Fox, Province II Provincial Coordinator; and Catherine Ambos, New Jersey.
The amendment to the Provincial ordinance that was approved will allow the virtual meetings of Province to conduct elections for officers and representatives for various offices, approve budgets, and other critical business.a
Summary of the Executive Council Call Meeting by The Rev. Lillian Davis-Wilson, Clerical Representative to Executive Council
On July 22, 2020 a virtual meeting of the Executive Council was called to keep members updated on changes brought on by the Pandemic.
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry opened the meeting with prayer and asked for changes to the agenda. Ms. Julia Harris, Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Mission Within the Episcopal Church, added resolution MW30, Safe Church Training. Ms. Jane Cisluycis, Chair of JSC on Governance and Operations, withdrew resolution GO17, Proposed By-law Amendments. Changes were accepted and the agenda approved as amended. When asked if there were any changes to the June minutes, The Rev. Mally Lloyd, chair of Finance requested a clarification change. There being no objections, the minutes were approved as amended.
Ratification of the Executive Committee actions: Approval of UTO 2021 Grant Focus and Criteria, Financial support to the Dioceses of Atlanta and Georgia for Dismantling Racism, Awards for 202-21 School year, Grant use under COVID-19 Conditions, and Authorization for the COO to seek RFP's for the interim relocation of TEC archives, were ratified. The election of the new member to the Executive Committee was held, Canon Dr. Steven Nishibayashi was elected on the second ballot.
Love and prayers were the focus of the opening remarks of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry. He reflected on the varying degrees of the COVID-19. He asked the Executive Council to keep the world, the medical caregivers, researchers and our leaders in prayer so they will be wise, just and loving, in their leadership. He asked us to encourage everybody to be gentle, as these are tough times psychologically and probably a little bit claustrophobic. Because everybody’s a little bit on edge, tired, and weary as we’ve only just begun. He quoted Shirley Chisholm, "we all came over here on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now and we’ve got to figure out how to row together." So, pray for the whole human family.
He inform us that, the Lambeth Conference of bishops has been postponed until 2022. The bishops will be meeting next week for two days. They had to add an additional meeting in September because they have a lot of business to take care of. The focus will be, “Communion, Human and Divine: Holy Eucharist and Racial Reconciliation”. This was intentional because these are two concerns that the church and our bishops have been wrestling with and facing in a variety of ways. He begged our prayers for them.
Lastly, he encouraged us as a church to be mindful of the conflation of difficult realities to deal with all at once: the COVID-19 virus, schools trying to figure out, do we open or not, the politics of a face mask, the reality of racism and white supremacy, and re-imagining police. He said everybody is trying to figure out what is the right thing to do. You've got all that going on. It’s as though you’ve already got a fire and then you just take the gasoline of a presidential election and throw it on top of the fire. That’s what the fall is going to look like, not to mention that we’re about to enter into hurricane season. Put all of that together and you have a cacophony of human chaos. He takes seriously the power of prayer, and he knows we do too. He thinks we’ve got to ramp up our prayers during this season in particular, not just here in the United States, but around the world. The tensions and the divisions are real and they’re deep. But we need not fall victim to them. So we will need to be praying and we’ll need to be speaking to make a Christian voice for the way of love, justice, compassion, human decency, and adult behavior as values and norms by which we live as human beings.
He said, "I’m beginning to see, that may be one of the great evangelism challenges facing the church in the coming months. It may well be a challenge to the basic values of this country, the very soul of this nation... I’m talking about how we live together. Dr. King really was right. 'We will either learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we will perish together as fools.' The choice is ours, chaos or community. I believe we must choose community and we must lift up our voice and help our countries, our cultures and our society choose God’s beloved community, God’s dream."
President Gay Jennings followed with her opening remarks. She Greeted everyone and said, she was glad to be with everyone today. She graciously thanked everyone for their continued commitment to stepping up our work and meeting schedules during the pandemic. She especially thanked everyone, for their Zoom stamina. She entered into a new phase of Zoom life being at home. She had more time for her favorite pastimes, building spreadsheets of deputies. This spring, her spreadsheets made it clear that nearly all of the deputies to the 80th General Convention have been certified.
Even though we are still considering alternatives if the pandemic prevents us from meeting next summer as planned, our deputies can now begin to gather—on Zoom, of course. These first meetings are especially important to Jennings because, as has been the case in recent years, nearly half of our deputies are first-time deputies. Our online gatherings foster our ability to welcome new people to the community of the House of Deputies. We began a series of webinars for deputies and alternate deputies to hear from fellow Episcopalians about the ministry of governance to which we have been called.
Our first guest was the only Episcopalian in the church who has received more media attention in the last year than our Presiding Bishop: former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. Thanks to Deputy Brian Grantz, who is dean of the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend, She was able to spend an hour with Mayor Pete on Zoom. Deputy Grantz introduced Mayor Pete, who he says has sat “in the same seat on Sunday morning in the fourth pew from the back, every Sunday for 10 years. She remarked,” Obviously, he is a true Episcopalian if he sits in the same pew every week!"
After his opening remarks, Grantz was able to ask Mayor Pete questions submitted by deputies from across the church both in advance and during the webinar. We got to hear his story of coming to The Episcopal Church, his thoughts on how faith communities can help rebuild trust and equity in our political and civic institutions, and how Truman and Buddy, the famous rescue dogs with their own Twitter account, are doing. The video can be viewed on the House of Deputies Facebook page, on the House of Deputies website, or on the Deputy News YouTube channel. She is grateful to Egan Millard of Episcopal News Service for his story about the event, and she commends that to you.
Grantz said, Perhaps my favorite moment in our time with Mayor Pete was when I got to ask him my own question: Why does it matter when church bodies like General Convention pass resolutions advocating on national and global issues? Does it matter? Here’s what Mayor Pete said, and it warmed her heart, “It does matter. It matters to me. It matters precisely, I think, because it comes from outside of the traditional political space. It matters because there’s a kind of moral authority. … When there is an expression about the moral values that religious faith leads a certain community toward, that have consequences, that should … affect the way that leaders in either party respond. That’s a powerful way to cut through some of the noise. Because it doesn’t originate from one political party or the other.”
President Jennings stated that she appreciated Mayor Pete’s reminder that our witness for gospel justice, our ministry of advocacy matters. She hopes that his words are empowering to deputies, to all of us here at Executive Council and to Episcopalians across the church as we continue seeking ways to confront the pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism.
In September, deputies and alternate deputies will gather for another webinar. Vice President Byron Rushing will host a conversation with two former deputies, Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of Indianapolis and Bishop Deon Johnson of Missouri. In November, we will hear from our newly appointed theologian of the House of Deputies, Professor Scott MacDougall of Church Divinity School of the Pacific. MacDougall will talk with us about the work of church governance as theological work. Our structures, he says, are relational theology embodied. “What a critical responsibility it is to be in the position to theologically enact what it means to be church,”
While I suffer from Zoom fatigue as we all do, I have renewed gratitude for the ways that our newfound online skills are allowing us to gather, to build the community of deputies, and to think deeply about our call to the ministry of governance. Thank you all for answering that same call, especially in these extraordinary times.
Bishop Curry called on the Chair of Finance, Mally Lloyd and the Treasurer and CFO, Mr. Kurt Barnes for the financial update. Mally Loyd stated the JSC on Finance has met four times since the June 8th Council meeting. The financial position is strong and they believe we can get through 2020 without further reductions to the budget. FIN 105, 2020 budget adjustments was moved and approved. Ms. Julia Harris for JSC on Mission within the Episcopal Church moved MW 30, Safe Church Training and Material and spoke to it. The resolution was adopted. A motion to adjourn was moved, seconded and adopted. The Rev. Kurt Weisner, Chaplain offered a closing prayer, and the meeting was adjourned.
Are you currently working in the ministry of communications in the Episcopal Church? You are not alone. Episcopal Communicators invites you to join the group to gain access to your most valuable resource: your peers. Membership information is available at https://episcopal-communicators.wildapricot.org/Membership.
One of the real joys of being a member is the opportunity to participate in the annual conference. In addition to being a chance to attend a fun gathering of bright, enthusiastic people engaged in communication for the Episcopal Church, the speakers and workshops of the conference provide a continuing education opportunity not to be missed.
We were afraid we might miss the conference this year. It was to have been held in Savannah, GA in April, and we all know what was happening in April. At that point many communicators were working frantically to figure out how to live stream virtual church. The good news was that the event was postponed until August and then re-worked as a virtual conference. Wow!
The plenary sessions were both incredibly timely. The recordings will become available for those who were unable to attend.
The first plenary was by the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, the founding director of TryTank. What’s that? TryTank https://www.trytank.org/ is an experimental lab for church growth and innovation. You’ll have to visit the website and sign up for the newsletter to get a real idea of the exciting things going on. TryTank has tried some exciting things and some that fell flat, but gave insight into what might work better. The next webinar, “Leadership Skills for the Next Ten Years” is scheduled for December 9, 2020 as an online event. The recordings of the last two webinars are on the website: Being a Dispersed Church and Faith in the Future.
The second plenary session was “Becoming a Beloved Community: A Panel Discussion”. The panel was moderated by Miriam McKenney, Development Director, Forward Movement, and the panelists were: Gerlene Gordy, Communications, Navajoland Area Mission, Bishop Frank Logue of the Diocese of Georgia; Sandra Montes, Interim Director of Worship at Union Theological Seminary and Spanish Language Resource Consultant at ECF. They discussed questions about the stories we are called to tell: What is the role of Episcopal Communicators in helping tell stories around race? What are the stories we tell, and what are the stories we hide? What happens after you tell the story? Join us for a discussion about Becoming Beloved Community as we discern how the stories we tell move us closer to becoming the beloved community God dreams for us. This was a moving presentation.
In addition to the Plenary Sessions, there were three opportunities to attend workshops on Zoom, which allowed for some interaction. These were all outstanding!
Building Your Communications Plan by Josh Hornbeck, Canon Missioner for Communications, Diocese of Olympia
Website Analytics by Joseph Merrill, Digital Communications Manager, Trinity, Boston
Images: Best Practices by Jeremy Tackett, Senior Manager for Creative Services, the Episcopal Church
Podcasting by Kendall Martin, Communications Manager, Episcopal Migration Ministries
Communications strategy conversation (open forum) hosted by Jason Merritt, Forward Movement
Social Media 201 - Engagement in the Digital Neighborhood by Alli Gannett, Digital Storyteller, Diocese of Connecticut
Content Calendars by Jeremy Tackett, Senior Manager for Creative Services, the Episcopal Church
Communicators as Instruments of Peace by Alan Yarborough, Church Relations Officer, Office of Government Relations
Storytelling with Racial and Ethnic Consciousness by Miriam McKenney, Director of Development & Mission Engagement, Forward Movement
Working as a One-person Communications Shop with Moderator: Natalee Hill, Associate for Communications & Administration, Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia Panelists: Walter Baer, Archdeacon, Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe; Gerlene Gordy, Communications, Navajoland Area Mission; and Nina Nicholson, Director of Communications & Technology, Diocese of Newark
Media Relations by Steve Richards, Communications Director, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Finally, the eagerly anticipated event that ends every conference is the Polly Bond Awards presentation. Inspired by Polly Bond, a beloved communicator and founding member of the organization, the Polly Bond Awards for Excellence in Communication recognize outstanding work produced by members, across a variety of categories. Members may submit up to 10 entries for consideration, with a maximum of three in one category. Independent judges — accomplished professionals in the fields of journalism, writing, editing, graphic design, electronic media, social media, marketing and related fields — review these entries, provide written feedback for each, and awards up to three levels of recognition. Province II was well represented and congratulations go to:
General Excellence: Best Campaign - Honorable Mention: Sonja Slother, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, | Pets in the Park Campaign
Audio/Video: Long-form Video - Award of Merit: Lisa Jaycox, Trinity Church of Wall Street | Courageous and Just
Audio/Video: Short-form Video (In-house produced) - Award of Merit: Lisa Jaycox, Trinity Church Wallstreet | Stonewall: A Priest Remembers and Honorable Mention: Stephen Richards, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester | Leadership: Supporting All, Young and Old
Marketing/Education/Outreach: Advertisement - Award of Excellence: Lisa Jaycox, Trinity Church Wall Street | The Path to Closing Rikers
An excellent conference! Now we’re waiting to see what will happen in 2021. The General Convention Year Conference is traditionally held at Kanuga in NC and the venue has been scheduled. Of course, no one has any idea what will happen in 2021, so we will all just have to wait and see when, where and how EpisComm21 unfolds. Meanwhile, if you work on communications in the Episcopal Church, become a member now!
The Rev. Yamily Bass-Choate of the Diocese of New York has been named the Province II representative to the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism and Reconciliation (ECCAR) to fill an unexpired term. Province II Vice-President the Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe announced the appointment, which is effective immediately. “Yamily has shown great leadership in the field of anti-racism and reconciliation, and I am thankful for her contributions to ECCAR and the wider Episcopal Church,” Bishop Duncan-Probe said. Bass-Choate currently serves as the Liaison to Global Mission and is the former Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries in the Diocese of New York. “I look forward to continuing my ministry with ECCAR and its important initiatives,” Bass-Choate said. In 2009, she was named a Trinity Transformational Fellow, and for ten years she served as the Vicar for San Andres, Yonkers, NY. A native of Colombia, South America, Bass-Choate has resided in the United States for more than 40 years. She has been a social worker for youth, a counselor to victims of domestic violence, and a high school Spanish Teacher. She received her Master of Divinity from General Theological Seminary in New York. After seminary, Bass-Choate served as Canon for Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Mississippi and the Coordinator for Hispanic Ministries for Province IV.Returning to the Diocese of New York in 2005, she now lives in Yonkers with her two daughters. In the Diocese of Mississippi, she was appointed to the Anti-racism Commission for the Episcopal Church. She was a board member for Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, the YMCA Jackson Metropolitan area, and CONTACT, the emergency crisis line for Mississippi. She initiated and organized a statewide Spanish language crisis line, AYUDA. She served as Camp Director at Camp Bratton Green, the Diocesan camp in Mississippi. She pioneered a traveling multicultural Vacation Bible School across the diocese and a Total Immersion Spanish Education Program. She was elected three times, at General Convention 2009, 2012, and 2015, as a trustee for the Board of the General Theological Seminary. Currently, she is a member of the Episcopal Church's Trust Fund for Hispanic Theological Education, a post she has held for the last nine years. For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Provincial Communications/Coordinator, NevaRae@aol.com.
Report of the Clerical Representative to Executive Council Winter Meeting February 13-15, 2020
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, vice-chair of council and president of the House of Deputies, presided over the Executive Council meeting at the Hilton hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was with us on the meeting’s second day after recovering from a bout of food poisoning.
The meeting opened with a Eucharist celebrating Absalom Jones lead by The Rev. Charles Graves, The Rev. Deacon Lillian J. Davis-Wilson, a sermon by The Rev. Ronald Charles Byrd, and with music played by The Rt. Rev. Scott Hayashi, Bishop of Utah. What a beautiful and unifying service.
This was followed by a heart-wrenching presentation by Mr. Forrest S. Cuch, a longtime leader of the Ute people, former director of Utah’s Division of Indian Affairs and the bishop’s warden at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church on the Uintah-Ouray Ute Reservation. He shared the way the “Doctrine of Discovery" dehumanized the Native American. The Doctrine of Discovery was a concept that asserted the superiority of white Europeans and their descendants over the indigenous peoples. It was used to justify taking of native lands and countless other injustices. The Episcopal Church formally rejected the doctrine and repented for its complicity at the 2009 General Convention. Cuch's presentation showed that injustices still live on.
Mr. Cuch stated, "That as a nation, we are in big trouble, due to the extreme degree of cruelty and nastiness that is being displayed in our nation’s capital, I believe it is of a diabolical nature. And it needs to be taken seriously.”
The Rev. Cornelia Eaton of Navajo land and the Rev. Angela Goodhouse-Mauai of North Dakota (both members of council) shared, through personal experiences and historical events, topics of racism from an indigenous perspective. They provided narratives of the ways the church can be an instrument of oppression and erasure of Native peoples or a source of strength and empowerment for them. Goodhouse-Mauai said, “In the Episcopal Church, we meet in the paradox of everything. How do we meet in the middle to continue this work together that we’re called to do?”
Racial Reconciliation is one of the cornerstones of the church's mission. It should be at the forefront of the movement to undo the damage of the Doctrine of Discovery and root out racial discrimintion where it still grows, the presenters said.
The Rev. Michael Carney, vicar at St. Elizabeth’s, showed some of the many ways his church is working to heal and renew the people of the Uintah-Ouray Ute Reservation. Through talking circles and art projects, children can share traumas openly, receive support and express difficult emotions. Native storytellers share the Ute creation stories, so they can reconnect with the cultural heritage that was taken away from them.
The next morning Kristine Stache, interim president of Wartburg Theological Seminary, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America affiliate, made a presentation and spoke about ways to interpret and respond to The Episcopal Church’s membership decline as depicted in the most recent parochial report data.
Stache started off with a brutally honest look at those declining statistics. She said, "If the rate of decline experienced over the past decade continues, The Episcopal Church will have no Sunday attendance in 30 years and no baptized members in 47 years. As with other mainline Protestant Churches, it depicts a church that appears to be dying, perhaps.” But, she argued, other signs show a church that is not dying but transforming. Stache encouraged council to see this difficult transformation as a sign of God’s presence, not God’s absence, citing Isaiah 43:18 “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing. Now it springs forth; do you not perceive it?” Stache said, while “innovation” has become the buzzword of choice in discussions of how to deal with these changes, it often consists of creating new pathways to traditional models of ministry or coming up with solutions to perceived problems. That’s not what the word really means or what the church needs.
She argued "Innovation" gives us permission to say, ‘We don’t have it figured out. But we trust that God has a future and it includes the church. We ask new questions and experiment, creating a culture of failure by which we learn something. The church should become something truly new, something we have yet to imagine. This kind of thinking looks nothing like what we’ve ever done before. We don’t have the current knowledge or solutions to address this work. In fact we can’t even define the problem, but that’s the point. Living in this space is about a mental shift to a focus on questions instead of answers.”
Next, Michael Barlowe, as secretary of General Convention, formally certified that the Episcopal Church of Cuba had met the requirements for readmission to The Episcopal Church as a diocese. After a unanimous vote, it was official: The Episcopal Church of Cuba became the Episcopal Church in Cuba, joy and excitement burst forth to a round of joyful applause.
Addressing the council Cuba Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio spoke in Spanish with a great deal of emotion and said, “Each one of us has been living a very emotional time in our life in the Diocese of Cuba because the church lived for more than 50 years all by itself. I want to express my gratitude to each one of you … who has worked so arduously to achieve this moment. We will continue serving our people, our country – however, we will do it in your company.” I feel this is an exciting time for our province.
I Chaired the Joint standing committee Beyond the Church this session and, after hearing reports from the Office of Government relations, we presented two resolutions to the body. The first was False and Misleading Information when it Comes to Our Elections, urging Episcopalians and political leaders to fight misinformation and enact election security measures in the United States and elsewhere. The second resolution was On Anti-microbial Resistance. This resolution urges the research and support needed for advocacy. We have come to the end of our ability to use antibiotics against these "super bugs" that are a threat to individuals and society.
Other resolutions adopted by council included an assessment waiver for the Diocese of Alabama, the adoption of a Covenant for Care of Creation and a plan for its implementation. Another high point of the meeting was the selection of Louisville, Kentucky, as the site for the 2024 General Convention and congratulations and farewell to Georgia's Bishop elect Frank Logue.
After completing the enormous work of this session, a blessing from Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry was given adjourning the meeting on a high note.
Respectfully submitted by, The Rev. Lillian J. Davis-Wilson