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Executive Council will wrap up triennium's work, look ahead to Columbus

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
[Episcopal News Service]  Saying good bye to departing members and taking stock of the work to come will be major parts of the Executive Council's last meeting before General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, June 13-21.

The council will gather March 6-9 at the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia.

The gathering will include a dinner March 8 in honor of Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold and House of Deputies president George W. Werner, whose terms of service will end later this year. Their successors will both be elected during the 75th General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, June 13-21.

The last Executive Council meeting of a Presiding Bishop's term is normally held in a diocese with a connection to the bishop's life. Philadelphia is Griswold's hometown and he was elected by the General Convention that met in 1998 in Philadelphia.

Another dinner March 9 will be a farewell to 20 of the 38 council members. Their terms expire after General Convention. They will be succeeded by 12 members elected by Convention and nine members elected by the Episcopal Church's nine provinces.

Council members Bonnie Anderson, Stephen Lane and Ted Yumoto will lead the council through a two-hour evaluation of their work together on March 7.

As part of their pattern of making a connection with the worshipping life of the diocese in which they are meeting, council members and staff will participate in the March 8 noon Holy Eucharist at St. Mark's Church near the hotel on Rittenhouse Square in downtown Philadelphia. St. Mark's noon Eucharist is normally held in the church's Lady Chapel where Griswold celebrated his second Eucharist after his ordination. The size of the March 8 Eucharist will no doubt require the larger gathering space in the nave.

The council will have lunch with Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison Jr. on March 9. It is anticipated that Bennison will bring members of the diocesan staff with him.

The council will also hear a number of reports from Church Center staff and invited guests as well as spend time meeting in its four committees, Administration and Finance, Congregations in Mission, International Concerns and National Concerns.

Among the planned reports and presentations:

  • Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) chair Bishop John Paterson, former Primate of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, will speak to the council about the Anglican Consultative Council.
  • Bishop Clayton Matthews of the Office of Pastoral Development will give the council details of the work done by his office.
  • Margaret Larom, director of the church's Office of Anglican and Global Relations, will report on her office's work.
  • Katrina Browne, producer and director of "Traces of the Trade," a documentary film that will be shown to the council telling the story of Browne's New England ancestors, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history and a prominent part of the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island, will be available for questions. The council will ask the General Convention in June to authorize a study of the complicity of the Episcopal Church in the institution of slavery and subsequent segregation and discrimination, the economic benefits that the church derived from the slavery, and how the church could share those benefits with African American Episcopalians.
  • The Rev. Reynolds Cheney will report on the work of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church, which he chairs.
  • Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) vice president for program, will give an update on ERD's activities.
  • Linda Tyson, Episcopal coordinator for the Pastoral Leadership Search Effort (PLSE), will report on the program which helps denominations and congregations identify and cultivate gifted young people interested in exploring the ministry as a possible vocation.
  • Ann Bonner-Stewart, a student at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and a graduate of the Episcopal Church's domestic internship programs, will speak of her experiences and how they helped her in her vocational journey, as Thom Chu, director of the church's Ministries with Young People office, discusses how the church offers support and coordination to the interns.

The Executive Council carries out programs and policies adopted by the General Convention and oversees the ministry and mission of the Church. The council is comprised of 38 members, including bishops, priests or deacons, and lay people, 20 of whom are elected by General Convention and 18 by provincial synods.