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Diocesan Digest - February 2, 2006


ENS Photo
Washington Bishop John Chane greets Thurgood Marshall's widow, Cissy, who was present for the vote on adding her husband to "Lesser Feasts and Fasts." She was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation when she was introduced after the resolution passed.   (ENS Photo)

[Episcopal News Service] 

CALIFORNIA: Former choir boy leaves $18 million gift to cathedral
CENTRAL FLORIDA: News of mission marks convention
EASTERN MICHIGAN: Coadjutor nominees announced
NEWARK: Convention wants Communion money held in escrow
PUERTO RICO: Bilingual Eucharist honors black history month
ROCHESTER: Bishop inhibits priest who claims Ugandan affiliation
TENNESSEE: Convention extends relationship with Littoral, affirms Windsor Report
SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA: Council agrees to line of credit
VIRGINIA: Lee asks council for coadjutor
WASHINGTON: Convention focuses on congregational development


CALIFORNIA: Former choir boy leaves $18 million gift to cathedral
[SOURCE: Grace Cathedral] Grace Cathedral in San Francisco has received a gift valued at $18 million, the largest in its history, the Very Rev. Alan Jones, the cathedral's dean, has announced.

Henry William Edwards Jr. willed real estate to the church several months ago, according to church spokesperson Brent Andrew. That real estate was sold, the proceeds going to benefit the church. Edwards joined the Grace Cathedral choir in 1925 as a young boy, according to the church. When his voice changed he left the choir, but its memory apparently did not leave him.

"This generous gift takes us much further than we expected to be at this point in our development work and we are grateful for it," said Jones. The gift, Jones said, would provide the basis for an endowment. It is intended to pay for maintenance and restoration of the church buildings and grounds.

CENTRAL FLORIDA: News of mission marks convention
[SOURCE: Diocese of Central Florida] Mission was central to the five-hour meeting of the Diocese of Central Florida's 37th convention, held January 28.

The convention started at 10 a.m. at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, Florida, and adjourned at 2:50 p.m. One resolution was discussed briefly and passed. It affirms the recommendations of the Windsor Report and calls the 75th General Convention to do likewise.

During his convention address, Bishop John W. Howe told the deputies that he had no intention of breaking away from the Episcopal Church, noting he had not absented himself from House of Bishops meetings or broken communion with bishops who disagree with him.

"But, as I have also told you before, if [the Episcopal Church] breaks away from the Anglican Communion it breaks away from me. That is the only place I know where to stand. And if the choice is forced upon us - Episcopal or Anglican – all of us are going to have to decide where we stand," he said.

He told the convention that three congregations that had lost members because of disagreements over policy and the direction of the Episcopal Church were recovering well, although at different levels. St. John's, Melbourne, and Shepherd of the Hills Mission congregation in Lecanto have seen strong recovery but Church of the New Covenant in Winter Springs saw most of its remaining members begin to attend St. Richard's, Winter Park. They meet together to retain their identity, Howe said.

Howe announced that the diocese would plant a new congregation, tentatively to be called the Church of the Incarnation, in the Oviedo/Winter Springs area. Howe also said the diocese was exploring an Episcopal-Lutheran mission just west of New Smyrna Beach.

Latino congregations continue to grow in the diocese, Howe said, and he praised Trinity Church in Vero Beach for its $10.5 million expansion project. Other congregations have bought land and built new buildings, while others are beginning or considering capital campaigns.

Howe praised the hands-on involvement of nearly all the congregations with hurricane victims in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. He said that a "conservative guessimate" put congregational giving to a number of relief agencies, including Episcopal Relief and Development, at more than $500,000. The diocese's Christmas toy drive filled a U-Haul truck with gifts and bought $20,000 in Wal-Mart gift cards.

Howe told the convention that, after sustaining investment losses in the economic downturn of 2001, the diocese learned that the brokerage it had hired to manage its investments "were not at all following either our written investment policies or the clearly stated objective on file at the brokerage."

Howe said the diocese discharged the brokerage, restored all money held in trust for congregations immediately, and restored the diocesan trust fund levels by the end of 2005 without using operating budget money to do so.

Howe reported that the diocese's capital campaign raised more than $6 million for diocesan and congregational development.

EASTERN MICHIGAN: Coadjutor nominees announced
[SOURCE: Diocese of Eastern Michigan] Five people are on the slate for bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, the nominating committee has announced.

The Right Rev. Edwin M. Leidel, Jr., the first bishop of the diocese, has announced his plan to retire at the end of this year.

The nominees are:

+ the Rev. Daniel S. Appleyard, 51, rector of Christ Church, Dearborn, Michigan;

+ the Rev. Canon Margaret Babcock, 52, canon for congregational development for the Diocese of Idaho;

+ the Rev. Bruce William Gray, 46, rector of St. Matthias' Church in Whittier, California;

+ the Rev. Canon A. Gordon Okunsanya, 63, interim rector of the Church of the Incarnation in Atlanta, Georgia; and

+ the Very Rev. Robert A. Schiesler, 56, Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, Des Moines, Iowa.

Nominations by petition will be received by the standing committee until February 15. The electing convention will be May 6 at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Grand Blanc, Michigan.

NEWARK: Convention wants Communion money held in escrow
[SOURCE: ENS] Deputies to the 132nd annual meeting of the Diocese of Newark, which met January 27-28, took a stand on the Episcopal Church's financial support of the Anglican Communion and refused to say where it stood on nominees to the federal judiciary.

The deputies voted to ask General Convention to put in escrow any increase in the church's payments to the Communion until the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada deputations to the Anglican Consultative Council are reinstated as full members with seat, voice and vote. They also ask the convention to hold the money in escrow until it is certain that all bishops with jurisdiction in the Episcopal Church are invited as "full and equal participants" in Lambeth Conferences.

After a lengthy debate, the convention refused, 164-191, to encourage New Jersey's senators to confirm only federal judicial nominees who support a federal constitutional right of privacy including reproductive rights, the propriety of the judiciary to "exercise restraint over the executive and legislative branches of government," the gains and progress of the civil rights movement and the right of workers to organize.

Bishop John Croneberger told the convention that there is no cookie-cutter approach to congregational development and advised advocates for congregations to discern their own approaches. He praised the fact that the diocese's Congregational Growth and Development Fund has financed $619,899 in grants to 20 congregations who had reached such clarity. He said he has asked the trustees of the diocese to tithe 10 percent of the sale of present and future properties for the ongoing life of the fund.

The diocese has at least eight bilingual clergy with two more in the ordination process and another six clergy who are at various stages developing their Spanish language skills. Seven congregations conduct Spanish-language services on a regular basis. "Ministry to and with the Latino/Latina community is simply part of who we are and who we are called to be as the holy people of God in northern New Jersey and we are making solid progress," he told the convention.

Croneberger reported that a dialogue is taking place between Christ Episcopal Church and Grace Lutheran Church in Teaneck as they explore the possibility of doing ministry together. The Diocese of Panama is considering Newark's offer of a "covenant of companionship," he said.

Croneberger praised the diocese for being one of four in the church to be wrestling with the issue of reparations for slavery.

He also announced the appointment of a task force on lay compensation to "report back next year with guidelines and principles for justice in the workplace."

Croneberger told the convention that he does not support a moratorium on same-gender blessings, calling his stand a personal matter of conscience and belief. "I do not ask others to agree with me about this, but I am personally convinced that any kind of moratorium on this ministry is simply unacceptable, and I will proceed accordingly," he said, adding that he prays that the members of the Anglican Communion will find ways to journey together.

The convention passed a number of resolutions concerning actions it would like to see taken by the 75th General Convention. They include having the convention:

+ reaffirm the right of workers in the United States to organize and form unions and commend the work of Interfaith Worker Justice,

+ declare that the Anglican Communion is a treasured and precious gift that has always had "a wide diversity of disciplines" and affirm the right and obligation of every province to apply the Gospel and its values to its specific cultural context, and to respect the decisions that other provinces make for their people,

+ direct the Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements not to propose to any General Convention for its approval any site for an upcoming General Convention located in a state that prohibits domestic partnerships or the rights associated therewith (the resolution passed 191-170), and

+ establish an Executive Council task force to study, document and report on "the complicity of the Episcopal Church in the enslavement of Africans and their descendents and to acknowledge, repent and apologize for its complicity in the legacy of slavery which helped to establish systemic and institutional racism within the United States of America" and support federal legislation to study reparations proposals.

PUERTO RICO: Bilingual Eucharist honors black history month
[SOURCE: Diocese of Puerto Rico] The Very Rev. Ashton Jacinto Brooks, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of the Virgin Islands and former canon of St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City, will be the celebrant and preacher at a Black History Month Bilingual Eucharist at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in San Juan February 12. The service will also feature choirmaster and pianist Kurt Faussette, past organist of St. Mark's Methodist Church in Harlem.

ROCHESTER: Bishop inhibits priest who claims Ugandan affiliation
[SOURCE: Diocese of Rochester] Bishop Jack M. McKelvey of the Diocese of Rochester has sent a letter to the Rev. David Harnish, who was rector of the former All Saints' Church in Irondequoit, telling him that he is no longer allowed to function as a priest in the Episcopal Church.

The diocese closed the congregation of All Saints' Church in Irondequoit at the 2005 diocesan convention. Since then, Harnish has continued to hold services on the diocesan property, and has refused to turn over the property and the parish records to the diocese, according to the diocese.

After the parish was closed at convention, Harnish announced that he is a "priest in good standing in the church of the Province of Uganda." The diocese said that he indicated that he and his church are under the authority of the Church of the Province of Uganda, led by the Rt. Rev. Henry Luke Orombi.

These actions by Harnish are considered a violation of ordination vows to live by the discipline of the Episcopal Church, the diocese said. The Standing Committee recommended to the bishop that Harnish be inhibited. This means he will not be allowed to lead services, baptize, officiate at marriages, or preach.

The inhibition lasts for six months. During that time Harnish may talk to the bishop about returning to the Episcopal Church; renounce his ordination vows voluntarily; or do nothing. If he chooses to do nothing, McKelvey, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, will have no choice but to depose him, which means Harnish will no longer be a priest of the Episcopal Church, the diocese said.

In a pastoral letter that was read on January 29 to the people of the 52 congregations of the diocese, McKelvey said that this action came after consultation with the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council, and follows the action at convention.

"It's just a sad turn of events that brings us to this place," McKelvey wrote.

TENNESSEE: Convention extends relationship with Littoral, affirms Windsor Report
[SOURCE: Diocese of Tennessee] During its 174th annual meeting, held January 27-28 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro, the Diocese of Tennessee extended its companion relationship with the Diocese of Littoral (Ecuador).

The two dioceses have related as companion dioceses for several years. The Rt. Rev. Alfredo Morante, bishop of Littoral, was present and brought greetings to the Convention.

The convention reaffirmed its 2005 acceptance of and submission to the Windsor Report. Congregations and clergy were once again strongly encouraged to study the document and "To Set Our Hope on Christ," the Episcopal Church's response.

The diocese resolved to strive toward fulfilling the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight goals that seek to reduce human suffering across the globe.

The delegates voted to permit each congregation to deduct that portion of its share of the annual budget of the diocese designated for the Episcopal Church. Congregations can send that amount directly to the Episcopal Church or to other local, national, or international ministries designated by the congregation's vestry or mission council. The convention adopted a budget totaling $1.4 million.

Bishop Bertram Nelson Herlong told the convention that no congregation has left the diocese in response to the actions of the 2003 General Convention. Although the diocese has not quite met its goal to grow from 12,000 to 40,000 members by 2006, the bishop reported growth of more than 30 percent. "In the midst of very troubled times, percentage-wise, we are still the fastest growing diocese in the Episcopal Church," he said.

He reported the diocese had started seven congregations since 1995, all of which are expected to have achieved parish status by 2010.

Herlong reiterated his determination to remain within the Episcopal Church and within the Anglican Communion, emphasizing, "I was born and raised an Anglican Episcopalian and I intend to remain exactly that."

This was Herlong's last convention as its bishop. On March 18 the diocese will elect the 11th Bishop of Tennessee. Nominees are the Rev. Brian Cox of Christ the King Church in Santa Barbara, California; the Rev. James Magness, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Kentucky; the Rev. Neal Michell, canon missioner for strategic development in the Diocese of Dallas, and the Rev. Winston Charles of Christ Church, Raleigh, North Carolina.

SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA: Council agrees to line of credit

[SOURCE: ENS] Southwestern Virginia Bishop F. Neff Powell told the diocese's 87th annual council, meeting January 27-29 in Roanoke, that the diocesan budget needed a line of credit to make it through the year.

The need developed, Powell said, after St. John's, Roanoke, "the most generous congregation in the diocese," could not continue that performance in 2006. Powell said that St. John's was not the only congregation having trouble being as generous as they had been in past years.

Powell said the diocese needed to establish an $114,000 line of credit to balance the 2006 budget and avoid immediate layoffs. This financing will allow the executive council to reflect on the diocese's priorities. The 2006 budget is $1.075 million, up 2 percent from $1.05 million last year.

"In the long run, some programs will need to find other sources of income, face radical reduction in funding, or be closed," he said.

"Despite this gloomy news, I remain convinced in my bones that God always gives us the gifts and talents to carry out the mission to which we are called," Powell told the council. "The only limit is our imagination. The desire to serve and to do mission, answering the call to engage in mission -- these come first. The funding comes second."

The request for a line of credit provoked lengthy debate. Some delegates balked at any borrowing and suggested cutting expenses, avoiding deficit budgets and freezing salaries for the bishop and top administrators. In the end, the council approved the financing. The convention also asked for a study of the budget process.

Powell spent the first part of his address describing the mission of the congregations of the diocese. That work includes a new church built by Good Shepherd, in Galax, Virginia, an ecumenical Episcopal/Lutheran congregation.

Powell applauded the diocese's 2005 St. Nicholas Day Offering of $50,000 to further the work of the Marc Nikkel School for Sudanese Children, located in the Diocese of Bor in southern Sudan, by providing wind-generated electricity so that a clinic can be added. The school is named for the late Marc Nikkel, a priest of Southwestern Virginia who served the people of southern Sudan. The vestry of St. John's in Waynesboro voted to give 20 percent of an unexpected bequest, dedicating $30,000 to the St. Nicholas Day Offering.

During its business session the council passed resolutions:

+ asking the bishop and convocation deans to ensure monthly celebrations of the Holy Eucharist in congregations that do not have full- or part-time clergy;

+ allocating half of the annual earning of its Fund for Mission and Outreach for 2006 grants;

+ affirming "our desire for the full inclusion of all God's people in our Church and in our society," recognizing "that this position puts a strain on the bonds of affection that hold the Anglican Communion together," "pledging to seek reconciliation and healing wherever there is a division over this or any other issue in order to demonstrate the reconciling power of our Lord Jesus Christ to the world around us," and pledging a year-long dialogue "seeking creative ways to celebrate our unity and to tolerate our diversity";

+ telling the 75th General Convention that "although we as a diocese still remain divided on many issues concerning the Windsor Report," the council commends the House of Bishops for the actions it has taken over the past year "in regard to the concerns of the wider Anglican Communion while still remaining faithful to the polity of the Episcopal Church, United States of America"; and

+ endorsing and embracing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by giving a minimum of 0.7% of the annual diocesan budget to fund international development programs, directing the diocesan Executive Board to include this provision, challenging all communities of faith and Episcopalians in the diocese to do the same, calling for the appointment of a diocesan task force on global reconciliation and encouraging members of the diocese to write to their elected representatives urging support of the United States' fulfillment of its similar commitment.

VIRGINIA: Lee asks council for coadjutor
[SOURCE: Diocese of Virginia] Virginia Bishop Peter Lee, who will be 68 in May, called for the election of his successor in the spring of 2007 during his address to the 211th diocesan council meeting.

He told the council he would retire no later than some time in 2010.

Lee noted in his address that the diocesan budget had increased because of many congregations' efforts to bring their pledging close to the diocesan plan of proportionate giving. He also said that the diocesan capital campaign, the Fifth Century Fund, had exceeded its first-phase benchmark of $12 million by raising $13.8 million.

Describing the diocese's mission, Lee noted that 202 young people confirmed in the diocese have claimed vouchers for mission trips in all over the world. Some 79 grants totaling $877,000 have been made to help congregations grow in their ministries and 13 church plants have been assisted.

The diocese is examining its ministry-discernment process, Lee said, and has begun a new formation process for lay leadership and the vocational diaconate called the Episcopal Leadership Institute (ELI). ELI will be an intensive year-long program.

The bishop announced that he had appointed a special committee chaired by chancellor Russell Palmore to work with churches that are troubled by the decisions of the 2003 General Convention and "to help those churches get on with their mission in as close a unity as possible with the diocese."

"We must pay attention to our differences in a spirit of listening to one another not so much to reach agreement but more to witness to our unity in Christ's mission," Lee said.

Lee said that the diocese would soon mark the 400th anniversary of the gathering of the church in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607. "That commemoration of our history will be incomplete unless it leads to a renewal of mission," he said.

Lee also urged the diocese to commit to the United Nations' Millennium Development goals, noting that it would mean devoting $33,000 of diocesan budget to the goals.

The council, which met January 27-28, passed a number of resolutions, including:

+ a resolution on end-of-life issues recommending that all members of the diocese have a current medical durable power of attorney and that they discuss such issues with their families and/or other appropriate persons so their wishes will be known and honored;

+ a resolution encouraging parishes and missions to spend focused time in prayer and fasting for the bishops, deputies, and other leaders of the diocese and the Episcopal Church as they prepare for the 75th General Convention;

+ a resolution applauding the work of the Rt. Rev. Daniel Deng Bul and the people of the Diocese of Renk in southern Sudan for building St. Matthew's Cathedral and noted the diocese's relationship with the diocese. The resolution notes that three Anglican provinces -- the Sudan, the United States, and England -- are working effectively together in the Sudan, calling that work "a joyous affirmation of our unity in the Anglican Communion";

+ a resolution asking for a committee to suggest ways to improve the process of presenting and adopting convention resolutions; and

+ a resolution asking for the organization of an emergency task force and urged all congregations to prepare for all kinds of disasters.

The council also crafted a resolution to substitute for 11 other resolutions dealing with the Anglican Communion. It says that Lee models "grace and civility in the midst of disagreement" and notes that he and bishops David Jones and Francis Gray have tried to keep the diocesan members in relationship with each other. The resolution notes the Anglican tradition of holding together people with differing or conflicting gospel emphases.

It commits the diocese to "seek the highest degree of communion possible with those members of the Body of Christ with whom we find ourselves in disagreement . . ." It pledges to listen and "to seek always to be respectful of one another and to stand together at the foot of the cross."

The text of the resolution available at: was listed on the website as "pending review," as were the texts of all of the council's resolutions.

WASHINGTON: Convention focuses on congregational development
[SOURCE: Diocese of Washington, ENS] The centerpiece of the Diocese of Washington's 111th diocesan convention meeting, held January 27-28 at Washington National Cathedral, was a review of Bishop John B. Chane's episcopacy.

Chane commissioned the "Three Years Out" report to review his tenure and set a course for the future. Consultants polled approximately 500 members of the diocese to identify top concerns. Their findings, presented to deputies as both a written report and a short film, identified congregational development, youth ministry and domestic and global mission as priorities.

"It is incumbent upon me as your bishop to take this work seriously and to take the information received and act upon it," Chane said in his address, adding that he was both "energized and challenged" by the group's findings.

The main challenge the diocese faces in moving forward with these goals is financial, he said, calling on parishes to increase their pledge to the diocese. He also asked for a task force to explore the development of financial resources to purchase land for new congregations and help existing congregations expand their facilities.

"If we expect to grow in numbers, and if we expect to grow in ministry, we can no longer rely on contributions of a little over seven percent of net operating income from our parishes, supplemented by income from the Soper Trust," he said. "We can no longer ignore what we know must be done if we are to be faithful to Christ's Gospel in growing the mission and ministry of this diocese . . . The time is now to bite the bullet, or the bullet will bite us."

Since 2003, the diocese has been using interest from the Soper Trust, an unrestricted fund, to balance its budget.

Diocesan Finance Committee chairman John Welch presented the $4.54 million 2006 budget, noting its $50,000 increase is less than 1 percent, "well behind the rate of inflation." The budget assumes a 5 percent increase in giving from congregations to the diocese.

"Domestically and globally we are now poised to really become a mission-driven diocese for the 21st Century," Chane said. "The question before this convention is; 'Are we now ready to step forward and accept the challenges and opportunities that are ours?' Are we ready to share the people and material resources of our parishes for the benefit of the ministries of all our parishes? Are we ready to do the hard work that will be required of us to make us the church and diocese that God would want us to be? I already answered this question when I accepted the election to become the eighth bishop of Washington. What will your answer be?"

During the convention's business sessions, deputies passed a resolution recommending that the Episcopal Church add former Supreme Court Justice and Civil Rights leader Thurgood Marshall to "Lesser Feasts and Fasts," the church's calendar of saints and establish May 17 as a day to commemorate his Christian witness in the diocese.

They also passed resolutions: + supporting the National Workshop on Christian Unity;

+ urging congregations to get involved with the work of the of Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light and that the 75th General Convention do the same and reaffirm its commitment to environmental protection;

+ supporting legislative and other efforts in the district to protect domestic workers;

+ affirming the "Call to Partnership," presented to a United Nations summit in September 2005 by participants in the Consultation of Religious Leaders on Global Poverty, and asking that the next General Convention do the same; and

+ reaffirming congregations' desires to develop and adopt rites for same-gender blessings by way of a rubric stated on page 13 of The Book of Common Prayer, reaffirming the right of dioceses to elect bishops in accordance with the constitution and canons of the church, affirming the Windsor Report's support for provinces and dioceses to establish rules for such elections, and commending Washington's bishops for attempting to find common ground in the Anglican Communion.

The convention postponed indefinitely proposed resolutions on compliance with the Windsor Report and parish giving.