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
At its February 2020 meeting, the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church
on February 18, 2020 adopted a resolution as required by General Convention
Resolution 2018-A238 to effect the admission of the Diocese of Cuba as a
Diocese of The Episcopal Church.
Our entire Province II shares in mourning the passing of Bishop G.P. Mellick Belshaw, IX Bishop of New Jersey. Bishop Belshaw’s leadership and ministry provided us all a pattern for a life lived for Jesus. Bishop Belshaw and his family remain in our prayers.
Into your hands. O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Mellick.
Acknowledge we humbly beseech you a sheep of your own
fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming.
Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest
of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company
of the saints in light. Amen.
May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through
the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
The Rt. Rev. George Phelps Mellick Belshaw, who served as the 9th Bishop of New Jersey until his retirement in 1995, died peacefully at his home in Princeton, NJ. The funeral will be Friday, March 6, at 11:00 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church at 33 Mercer Street in Princeton. Obituary >
A congregation in Western New York recently received a $194 solicitation disguised as a bill for website listing services from a company titled "Internet Networx" in Duluth, Georgia. Scams like this are common at this time of year; please check unusual bills to avoid becoming victims of this type of "phishing" attack.
If you are uncertain whether a solicitation or bill is a scam, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Louie Crew Clay, a longtime advocate for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in The Episcopal Church, the founder of Integrity and a former member of the House of Deputies, died on Nov. 27 at age 82 with his husband by his side, according to the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, a close friend.Known commonly as Louie Crew, he is remembered across The Episcopal Church as a tireless trailblazer for sexual minorities and outcasts, a prolific author and a devoted husband and friend.
[December 2019] The Rev. Canon Johnnie E. Ross has been appointed the Province II clergy representative to serve an unexpired term on the Province II Council of the Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Dahn Gandell, Province II president, noted, “The Rev. Canon Johnnie E. Ross possesses the skills, the talents and the spirituality that are needed for this role, and he will be an invaluable member of Council.”
Ross is the Dean for Small Church & Pastoral Development for the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester and serves as rector for Grace Church in Scottsville and St. Andrew’s in Caledonia. He served in various positions, churches and committees in the Diocese of Rochester and the Diocese of Lexington. He has served as a General Convention deputy and/or alternate five times since 1997.
“What a wonderful opportunity to serve the 12 dioceses of this province and the greater Church,” Ross said. “I have long been an admirer of the work of provincial councils and look forward to learning more, serving when and where I can, and experiencing the great diversity of Province II and the greater needs of Episcopal Church. I look forward to serving alongside ‘old’ friends and those friends I have yet to meet. To my clergy colleagues nominated and not chosen, I am sure you have ideas of what you would like to see accomplished on the provincial level. Should you feel comfortable enough to share those thoughts with me, I promise to hold them as sacred gifts and bring them to the table whenever appropriate.”
More than one dozen clergy expressed interest in the position. Gandell reviewed the nominees and presented Ross to the Province II Council, which consented to her recommendation.
Ross will join the Province II Council immediately. Duties include attending Province II council and Synod meetings, participating in the business of the Province, and offering advice and insight to the Executive Board of Province II.
The term expires following the conclusion of Provincial Synod in April 2021.
Province II of the Episcopal Church includes 12 dioceses in New Jersey, New York, Europe and the Caribbean. The Province II dioceses are: Albany, Central New York, Cuba [anticipated effective March 2020], Episcopal Churches in Europe, Haiti, Long Island, New Jersey, New York, Newark, Rochester, Virgin Islands, and Western New York.
For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, communications consultant at email@example.com .
Alfred Price, of the Diocese of Western New York, has been given the Bishop Walter Decoster Dennis Award by the Union of Black Episcopalians. Price has served on the Province II Council as representative to Executive Council. This recognition is well deserved!
The Executive Council met June 10-13 at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. I was honored to be the deacon at the opening Eucharist along with Suffragan Bishop, Ann Hodges-Copple, from North Carolina.
After roll call and announcements by Secretary Barlowe, the Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Michael Curry, opened with his remarks. He gave us an update on the Bishops’ meeting in March with regards to the spouses attending the Lambeth Conference. He acknowledged that the Bishops had a vigorous and wholesome discussion on the matter and that some work is on-going. The bishops and spouses will be gathering for their regular fall meeting in September. An update will be given when we reconvene in October.
He continued with a shout-out to the staff of The Episcopal Church. He said, "We have a remarkable staff, they are just extraordinary, and it is a privilege to serve with them." Both President Jennings and Secretary Barlowe have shared the same feelings with him. He went on to talk about the recent in-house staff meeting where they really wrestled with how can we more effectively and faithfully equip the Saints for the work of ministry? After a well developed discussion, they concluded that the goals of Evangelism, Racial Reconciliation and Care of Creation really make sense for our church. Then he talked about the community of faith in the church through the lens of Ephesians 4: how our varied gifts exist to equip the saints for work in ministry. "Our job is to equip the church to be the Jesus Movement in the world." He ended his remarks telling us about Bayard Rustin, who orchestrated the March on Washington. He said, “It may be our role as Staff and Executive Council to be the Bayard Rustin for the Jesus Movement, witnessing and walking the Way of Love.”
Following the Presiding Bishop’s address were remarks from our illustrious President of the House of Deputies, Gay Jennings. She welcomed us to the Maritime Center, and stated that she is looking forward to our meeting. She welcomed our guests: Dr. Ursuline Bankhead, who led our implicit bias training, and Dr. Mathew Sheep, who recently completed 2 mutual Ministry Reviews with members from the Executive Council in 2016 and 2018.
Jennings also spoke about the in-house staff of the Episcopal Church Center. She was glad to speak with them about why their work is essential to the mission of the church. She reflected on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, where Allied troops landed on the beaches at Normandy, beginning the liberation of France which led to victory on the European front of World War II. President Jennings said the reason it’s on her mind now, is that she believes it provides us with an opportunity to consider the role of institutional structures in changing the world.
She hurriedly said that she is not a warmonger, nor does she have a rose-colored understanding of America’s imperial past or present, but she is fascinated by the fact that, 75 years on, we are still captivated by the logistical and operational undertaking of landing 156,000 troops on the beaches at Normandy. However, she said, we are deeply suspicious of the kind of institutional structures that made it possible. In the church, every three years, we go to General Convention to debate the budget, and listen to how we should be funding mission, not governance and institutional structures, as though the mission happens by itself. If we intend to be the Jesus Movement, and we do, we have to remember that governance is mission. General Convention’s commitments to creation care, racial reconciliation and evangelism would mean very little without the governing structures of the church that help make them happen.
President Jennings continued on, "Many people here today have made significant contributions to making mission happen through governance, and I am grateful to all of you. One of you has done more than anyone I know to help Episcopalians everywhere understand the ministry of church governance. Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter, has reported the church’s news for nearly fourteen years as a staff member, and she is set to retire on July 1. We all owe her considerable gratitude for her uncompromising standards." Mary Frances has covered the election and tenures of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the story of Bishop Gene Robinson’s election and episcopacy, and the church’s move toward the full inclusion of LGBT people.”
At the announcement of her retirement, Mary Frances said, “I have been blessed to have what all journalists hope for: the chance to witness history and be able to write about it,” President Jennings said to Mary Frances, "For your commitment to the governance of our beloved church, for your dedication to transparency and truth, and for your ministry of journalism that has been so essential to the work of the people of God, I am honored to present you with the House of Deputies Medal."
Matthew Sheep, who teaches management, organizational behavior and leadership at Illinois State University, provided results of his Mutual Ministry Review. Sheep, told the council that the participants in the most recent review in November 2018 are open to considering a number of “possible futures.” The 2018 review found that participants feel there is a “rebuilt trust” among council members, officers and the church wide staff. The council has an improved organizational climate and the participants are also concerned about sustaining those improvements.
Some of the areas that need improvement are the financial cost of governance, further clarification of roles and responsibilities, methods to bring the Way of Love to all levels of the church, and strategies for dealing with tensions as they arise. Sheep encouraged the council’s willingness to look at “possible futures,” envisioning what it might look like to improve these areas “and where it might lead.”
We heard a report from Treasurer Kurt Barnes that showed that the 2019 part of the church’s triennial budget is on track. Barnes also noted that the Episcopal Church Center in New York is fully leased. The two newest tenants are a True Value Hardware store, which has taken over the former bookstore space on the street level, and a physical therapy practice. Barnes reported that the church’s Annual Appeal from 38,000 constituents has raised $90,000 towards the $250,000 goal. Additionally, the churches’ effort to raise money to provide future retirement benefits for current and retired clergy in the Episcopal Church of Cuba has raised $730,000 through the end of May.
Jane Cisluycis led a discussion on norms, which was described as a kind of covenant of how we are going to live together. Norms followed by previous Executive Councils were distributed, and the Council was given 20 minutes for table group discussion of what we want to see in our norms.
Development Officers, Ms. Malm and Mr. Houlihan, gave a presentation to the Executive Council about work of the Office of Development, including priorities and the role of the Executive Council in fund raising efforts and as trustees of a non- profit corporation.
Following the Development Office presentation, Russ Randle facilitated a panel discussion on rural ministries. The panel discussed things that dioceses could do to assist small and rural congregations in ways like helping with payroll, and the reality that seminaries are not necessarily training clergy to meet the current needs of the church. A second panel of bishops spoke of challenges and collaborations in their dioceses.
Bishop Curry introduced Pastor Will Voss, liaison from the ELCA. Pastor Voss brought greetings from his Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and also from his own bishop in Nebraska. He mentioned his deep appreciation for our partnership in ministry and announced that this would be his last meeting of Executive Council because his term as liaison ends with General Assembly in August. Bishop Curry presented him with the Presiding Bishop's medal.
Dr. Ursuline Bankhead, a New York psychologist led the members in an interactive training on implicit bias. We all became aware of our individual bias through this interactive awareness training. Bankhead explained what implicit bias is and how we can change our automatic preference for certain groups over others. She explained the way it operates and is usually learned and taught. After her presentation we went into our individual committees to debrief what we had learned. Dr. Bankhead went to all committees to answer any questions.
Resolutions approved from my committee, Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church:
The Rev. Lillian Davis-Wilson
The annual conference of Episcopal Communicators was held in Denver, Colorado on April 30-May 2, 2019. In addition to informative workshops to assist parish, diocesan, and other church communicators in their ministries, the keynote address was given by the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber. The group was able to worship together at the Cathedral of St. John in Denver. The culmination of the event is always the Polly Bond award ceremony, at which outstanding submissions from around the church are recognized. This year Province II communicators had many recognitions. Congratulations all around! Now, watch for the 2020 conference dates! If your communications person is not a member of Episcopal Communicators, find out more and join this wonderful, supportive group.
General Excellence: Best Campaign
Honorable Mention: Alan Yarborough, The Office of Government Relations (Civil Discourse Curriculum)
General Excellence: Best Periodical (Digital) - Diocese/Organization
Award of Merit: Meredith Kadet Sanderson, Episcopal Diocese of Central New York (The Messenger | Newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York)
Honorable Mention: Alan Yarborough, The Office of Government Relations (Civil Discourse Curriculum)
General Excellence: Best Periodical (Digital) - Parish/Cathedral
Award of Merit: Sonja Slother, St. Paul's Cathedral (eLetter) (Buffalo, WNY)
General Excellence: Best Periodical (Print) - Parish/Cathedral
Award of Merit: Kristin Vieira, Cathedral of the Incarnation (Cathedral Events Newsletter) (LI)
General Excellence: Best Website
Award of Merit: Lisa Jaycox, Trinity Church Wall Street (TrinityWallStreet.org Refresh)
Audio/Video: Short-form Video (In-house produced)
Honorable Mention: Stephen Richards, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester (Leadership)
Award of Excellence: Matthew Townsend, The Living Church (A Little Hope on the Prairie (part one) and and From Forgiveness to Hope (part two))
Honorable Mention: Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service (Impeccable pigeon captivates 79th General Convention with real, digital presence)
Honorable Mention: Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service (Exclusive: General Convention Pigeon reveals its human avatars/agents to ENS)
Award of Excellence: Matthew Townsend, The Living Church (Ending 50 Years of Solitude)
Award of Merit: Kirk Petersen, The Living Church (St. James Reopens After Three-Year Lockout)
Honorable Mention: Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service (Presiding Bishop’s pilgrimage ends with Good Friday in Jerusalem)
Writing: Theological Reflection
Honorable Mention: Matthew Townsend, The Living Church ( Silence, Sound, and the Power of God)
Visual Arts: Graphic Design
Award of Merit: Kristin Vieira, Cathedral of the Incarnation (Growing in Faith)
Honorable Mention: Sonja Slother, St. Paul's Cathedral (Christmas Card 2018 for St. Paul's Cathedral)
Honorable Mention: Sonja Slother, St. Paul's Cathedral (There's a New Dean in Town Invite)
Honorable Mention: Kristin Vieira, Cathedral of the Incarnation (Long Island Early Music Festival Poster)
Visual Arts: Photography
Award of Excellence: Nina Nicholson, Episcopal Diocese of Newark (New bishop happy dance)
Award of Excellence: Lisa Jaycox, Trinity Church Wall Street (Community Carol Sing Video)
Award of Merit: Lisa Jaycox, Trinity Church Wall Street (Music at Trinity Church Wall Street)
Social Media: Facebook Post
Honorable Mention: Alan Yarborough, The Office of Government Relations (Virtual Vigil for Family Unity)
Social Media: Instagram Post
Award of Excellence: Rebecca Merrill, Cathedral of St. John the Divine (EWE have questions?)
The Rev. Dahn Gandell and the Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe attended the ordination and consecration of the Rt. Rev. Mark Edington in Paris on April 7, 2019
April 6 was a glorious day in Paris to gather for the Consecration/Installation of the new bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. The Rt. Rev. Mark Edington became the third bishop of the Convocation. Both prior bishops, The Rt. Rev. Jeffery Rowthorne and The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, were in attendance and we celebrated Bishop Pierre's time as leader of the Convocation.
On Friday night, the American Cathedral was transformed into an international festival with each country in the Convocation providing a table of delicacies from its region of Europe. Vice President Bishop DeDe and I were warmly welcomed, and I had a number of members of the Convocation stress to me how important a relationship with the Province is to them. They wanted me to let all people in Province II know that they are welcome to visit the Convocation and they are encouraged to reach out when in Europe! It was a beautiful and amazing experience to hear the wealth of languages being spoken.
Every Sunday, Episcopal Worship happens in five different languages in the Convocation, and all five were used in the service of Consecration. The Presiding Bishop preached at a packed cathedral on Sunday morning and Bishop Mark preached in Munich after taking a train there Saturday evening following the consecration and reception. Bishop Mark is very committed to being part of Province II and is looking forward to working on the Province II event we hope to hold in the next triennium.
I was so honored to be able to attend this event--as folks know, nothing takes the place of in-person gatherings. I was inspired by meeting so many Episcopalians who traveled from all over Europe to be there and thrilled to have so many young people taking part. The day of the consecration was also my husband, David's, birthday, and Bishop Mark joked that he got the hat and David got a cake! I appreciated getting to see the GC deputies from the Convocation and look forward to visiting again in August.
Sending love and light to all!