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Diocesan Digest - January 5, 2006

ENS: ENS010506-01
[Episcopal News Service] 

CHICAGO: Clergy mentoring program gets $900,000 from Lilly Endowment

NEWARK: Bishop search committee accepting nominations

PENNSYLVANIA: Interim budget approved by diocesan council

PENNSYLVANNIA: Court says parish holds property in trust for diocese

TENNESSEE: Three nominated for 11th bishop


CHICAGO: Clergy mentoring program gets $900,000 from Lilly Endowment

[SOURCE: Diocese of Chicago] Making Excellent Disciples, the Diocese of Chicago's program for mentoring new clergy, has the continued confidence of the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Three years after granting the diocese $1.6 million to launch the Making Excellent Disciples (MED) program, the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment has granted $900,000 to fund the program's second phase which focuses on developing "mustard seed" congregations. A portion of the grant will also go toward supplemental funding of selected mentoring congregations. The award extends the MED program through June 2009, two years beyond the original projected five years.

"It speaks well about their faith in the process and the results so far," said Canon Scott Hayashi, canon to the ordinary.

The grant is among $38 million given out to date by Lilly Endowment under its Transition-into-Ministry program, a program created in 1999 that is aimed at strengthening the preparation of pastoral leaders.

The first phase of the MED project, launched in summer 2003, assigned five newly ordained clergy as curates at five mentoring congregations for two years of mentoring in pastoral care, preaching, teaching, liturgy, administration, diocesan involvement, spiritual discipline and self-care. The following year five more clergy were assigned as curates at five new mentoring congregations. Each year for a total of five years five new clergy are brought into the program until 25 clergy have been mentored.

Lilly Endowment communications director Gretchen Wolfram said the board was excited by "the very creative model of partnering large established congregations with small 'mustard seed' congregations."

The second phase of Chicago's MED program places mentored curates in "mustard seed" congregations where they serve as rectors for a minimum of three years.

A mustard seed congregation is defined as having less than 150 members, and having supportive lay leadership, financial viability, a clearly defined community mission, a potential for significant growth, a desire to make changes, and willingness to accept diocesan direction on clergy assignments and to enter into a covenant agreement.


NEWARK: Bishop search committee accepting nominations

[SOURCE: Diocese of Newark] The Nominating Committee for the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Newark has begun taking nominations for candidates to replace retiring Bishop Jack Croneberger.

"It is exciting to consider persons who might lead us as bishop at this time," said committee co-chair Dr. Louie Crew. "The Diocese of Newark is poised for dynamic renewal and significant new service. Our next bishop will have a great opportunity to serve with us."

The committee will select the candidates to be considered in a special diocesan electing convention September 23. The next bishop will take office in January 2007.

Nominations will be accepted until February 15. After a screening process to narrow down the field, the committee plans to announce four to six finalists on June 28.

Those who are interested in nominating a priest to be the new bishop can get the required form and instructions by going to the committee's website,, and clicking on "Profile."


PENNSYLVANIA: Interim budget approved by diocesan council

[SOURCE: Diocese of Pennsylvania] The Diocese of Pennsylvania has an approved program budget for 2006, but it faces revision just two weeks after it goes into effect and those revisions may include cuts in staff and programs.

The Diocesan Council on December 15 passed a resolution approving an interim budget that, while reducing spending slightly over the one rejected by the diocesan convention in November, primarily allows the diocese to authorize expenditures in the new year and gives departmental heads more time to consider their 2006 needs.

On January 12 the council takes a hard look at decreasing the use of unrestricted net assets (UNA) to $950,000 or less, a cut of approximately $318,000 from the $1.26 million contained in the interim budget.

The December resolution mandates that the council lower the budget to equal any potential shortfall in congregational pledges actually submitted and the $1.5 million currently budgeted for 2006.

The interim budget also allows for a "special 2006 feasibility study" of a diocesan capital campaign.

Results of that study will be reviewed at the March 23 council meeting, at which time even further recommendations will be made and a third "Final Budget" will be considered covering the remainder of 2006, said Program Budget Committee (PBC) Chair Kevin Cavanaugh.

The PBC estimates that reductions made on January 12 may range from a minimum of $325,000 to a maximum of about $650,000.

"Where we end up within this range is solely dependent on the amount of congregational pledges received by January 12, 2006," the committee said in its resolution.

As of December 15, the deadline for congregations to submit their pledges to without being in violation of the canons, 117 parishes had pledged a total of $1.35 million.

The interim budget does cut $11,581 from the document submitted in November but allowed for some growth based on what seemed to be the wish of convention, according to the Program Budget Committee.

The interim budget freezes salaries for all lay and clergy staff for a savings of $34,581 and reduces the budget for General Convention expenses by $5,000 but restores $13,000 to the youth ministry events budget line and approves a new $15,000 grant to the Dolphins of Delaware Valley from the restricted income of the Parker-Bulmer Fund.

Cavanaugh said it was apparent to him that a tiered-approach to the budget may be the only solution in a situation where there are such disparate opinions across the diocese, especially in regards to the UNA.


PENNSYLVANNIA: Court says parish holds property in trust for diocese

[SOURCE: ENS] Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has ruled that the Church of St. James the Less in Philadelphia is bound by Episcopal Church canons concerning the use of parish property.

The parish has been involved in disputes with the diocese since 1977, when it was not permitted to vote at the annual diocesan convention because it was not paying its annual assessment, according to the court's decision.

In 1995, the parish agreed to pay its assessment in exchange for having then-Diocesan Bishop Allen L. Bartlett send another bishop from outside the diocese to the parish for canonical visitations. At the time the parish declared that it did not agree with any policies or practices of the Episcopal Church.

In 1997 the then-new diocesan bishop, Charles E. Bennison, refused to renew the agreement, according to the court decision. The parish then began discussing leaving the Episcopal Church. In 1999 its members voted to separate from the church and to merge with a non-profit corporation the vestry had created in an effort to deal with the property issue. The fallout from that decision prompted legal proceedings on which the Supreme Court ruled on December 29.

The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Orphans' Court Division, ruled in March 2003 that the bishop and Standing Committee were the title holders and trustees of St. James' property on the basis of the Episcopal Church's Title I, Canon 7.4, the so-called "Dennis canon." The Dennis canon states, in part, that parish property is held in trust for Episcopal Church and the congregation's diocese. St. James claimed that it had never agreed to the canon and that, therefore, the canon did not apply to its actions.

On appeal, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the trial court's order. The parish appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Commonwealth Court that the diocese has a trust interest in St. James' property. It noted that St. James' charter declares that if it ever dissolves, its property will be placed in trust for the Diocese.

However, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Commonwealth Court's support of the trial court's ruling that the diocesan bishop and Standing Committee are the title holders and trustees of St. James' property.

The Supreme Court instead ruled "that St. James retains legal title to its property and that St. James' members and vestry, rather than the Bishop, are required to act as the trustees of St. James' property and thereby, use the property for the benefit of the Diocese."


TENNESSEE: Three nominated for 11th bishop

[SOURCE: Diocese of Tennessee] The Diocese of Tennessee recently announced its nominees for bishop.

Out of 44 nominations submitted to the diocese's episcopate committee over the past year a half, the committee chose the Rev. Canon F. Brian Cox, IV, rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, Calif.; the Rev. Canon James B. Magness, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Kentucky; and the Rev. Canon Neal O. Michell, canon missioner for strategic development in the Diocese of Dallas.

Nominations came from seven provinces and all three dioceses of Tennessee.

The deadline for convention delegates to supply additional nominees by petition is January 11. The nominating petitions should be submitted to the Rev. Randy Dunnavant, chair of the standing committee and rector of Church of the Good Shepherd in Brentwood.

In late February, all nominees will be presented in a series of forums for clergy and laity in Nashville and Sewanee.

Lay delegates and clergy representing 50 congregations will gather March 18 to select a successor to the Right Rev. Bertram Herlong who retires at the end of 2006. The bishop-elect or bishop coadjutor elected at a diocesan electing convention in March will become the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.

The convention will be held on at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville.

The Diocese of Tennessee is the state's oldest Episcopal diocese, comprising 50 congregations from Dickson to Cookeville in the east. There are approximately 14,000 Episcopalians in the diocese.

For additional information about the nominees and nominating petition, go to: