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Reports to Council reflect a church on mission

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
ENS 031006 - 1
3/10/2006

ENS/Jan Nunley
The Episcopal Church Executive Council's "Class of 2006" bids farewell at the closing dinner, March 9 at the Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   (ENS/Jan Nunley)

 
[Episcopal News Service]  The Executive Council, meeting March 6-9 in Philadelphia, heard reports from a number of staff people and guests, including:

+ Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) vice president for program, who outlined her agency's work around the world. Nelson told the council that ERD works with Anglican Communion partners to merge immediate relief with development efforts that address systemic community and regional issues, including stable access to adequate food, primary health care, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, malaria initiatives,  and post-conflict reconciliation efforts.

+ Margaret Larom, director of the church's office of Anglican and Global Relations (AGR); the Rev. Emmanuel Sserwada, AGR's Interim Partnership Officer for Africa, and Alex Baumgarten, International Policy Analyst in the church's Office of Government Relations, who reported about a trip by a number of staff members to Sudan and northern Uganda. They said the Episcopal Church can be proud of the work it does in Africa to help people heal from the continent's many conflicts and the policy advocacy work it does with its African partners. Baumgarten called it a "constant, consistent and unremitting" voice, adding that he discovered that, despite differences in the Communion, Anglicans can work together.

+ Chief Operating Officer Patricia Mordecai, who announced her intention to retire at the end of 2006 to her home in Maine after three triennia at the Episcopal Church Center.

“These have not been easy times in the Church but I think that we as a Council have been focused on and committed to mission, and many good things have been accomplished during this time,” she said, citing “a growing connectedness and collaboration between the Council and members of the staff” and the use of task forces on various topics by the Administration and Finance Committee.

“I feel very good about what we have accomplished on behalf of the Church in carrying out a total renovation of the Church Center after many, many years of delayed maintenance and the need for a better stewardship of resources,” she pointed out, adding that she believes “we have come a long way in trying to align our mission with what we believe are the priorities for our work at this moment in time.”

+ Katrina Browne, producer and director of "Traces of the Trade," a documentary film about Browne's New England ancestors—the DeWolf family, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history and a prominent part of the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island. The film is still being filmed and edited, and gets part of its financial support from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Council members watched 15 minutes of the rough cut and afterwards passed a resolution (NAC 045) encouraging General Convention planners make every effort to show the film to the entire convention. The convention will consider council-proposed resolutions and ones from other sources to have the Episcopal Church apologize for its role in the perpetuation of the slave trade and to study the complicity of the 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.

+ Bishop Clayton Matthews from the Office of Pastoral Development, who told the council about the work of being a pastor to the church's bishops. His office helps with episcopal elections and transitions and offers formation programs for bishops. He also deals with complaints against bishops and requests for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO). Matthews told the council that the House of Bishops has changed a lot in recent years. By the end of 2006, 91 new bishops will have joined the house since 1997, and about half have been in office for five years or less.

+ The Rev. Reynolds Cheney, chair of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church, who discussed his committee's charge to analyze information from congregations' parochial reports and take a triennial "snapshot" of the church. He urged the council to ensure that the Parochial Report resume the practice of asking whether the congregation supports the one percent budgetary contribution to Episcopal seminaries. He said that when the question was removed from the report, seminaries reported a drop in contributions. The council passed a resolution (CIM 052) instructing the committee to do so.

+ The Rev. Linda Tyson, Episcopal coordinator of the Pastoral Leadership Search Effort (PLSE - www.theplse.org), who described the program in which the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist church, the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church have received grants from the Lilly Foundation, by way of the Fund for Theological Education, to help denominations and congregations identify and cultivate gifted young people interested in exploring the ministry as a vocation. Tyson said research shows that one-third of active Episcopal parish clergy will retire in the next six and a half years. At the same time, ordination of people younger than 35 has declined from the rate of about 300 in the mid-1960s to 83 in 2004, she said. Tyson told the council PLSE wants to help shape the next generation of leadership, both lay and ordained. PLSE also wants to change the discernment process at the congregational and diocesan levels to make it more aware of young people's discernment and participation needs. PLSE's three-year Lilly Foundation grant will end in June and Tyson said the group is working on ways to continue, including asking for full funding from the church in the next triennial budget.

+ Ann Bonner-Stewart, a student at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and a graduate of the Episcopal Church's domestic internship programs (www.episcopalchurch.org/49662_51236_ENG_HTM.htm), told the council about her experiences and how they helped her in her vocational journey. Bonner-Stewart spoke about her faith journey and how she might not have entered seminary if she had not participated in her two internships. She said that the congregations and other organization involved in the internships "get an extra pair of hand and an extra heart" while interns get support in "trying to shape yourself in the shape of Christ."

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 composed of 38 members, including bishops, priests or deacons, and lay people, 20 of whom are elected by General Convention and 18 by provincial synods.

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Members of the Council whose terms expire at General Convention 2006:

Black, The Very Rev. Cynthia L. / Western Michigan, V
Brooks, Mrs. Carmen / Honduras, IX
Coburn, The Rev. Ann S. / Massachusetts, I
Crew, Dr. Louie / Newark, II
Daniels, The Rt. Rev. Theodore A. / Texas, VII
Espinal, The Rev. Miguelina / Dominican Republic, IX
Godden, The Rev. Edward E. / Delaware, III
Harte, Ms. Sarah Taylor / Long Island, II
Kesselus, The Rev. Kenneth W. / Texas, VII
Lane, The Rev. Canon Stephen T. / Rochester, II
Little, Thomas A. / Vermont, I
Oberly, Mr. Frank L. / Oklahoma, VII
Palmore Jr., Mr. Russell V. / Virginia, III
Pollard, Ms. Diane B. / New York, II
Prior, The Rev. Brian N. / Spokane, VIII
Roskam, The Rt. Rev. Catherine S. / New York, II
Snow, Ms. D. Rebecca / Alaska, VIII
Thornell, The Rev. Kwasi A. / Southern Ohio, V
Vann, The Rev. Tim E. / Nebraska, VI
Yeager, Dr. Lillian E. / Kentucky, IV

Ex officio:
Ingham, The Rt. Rev. Michael C., Canadian Partner+
Lee, The Rev. Dr. Randall , ELCA Rep.+
Griswold, The Most Rev. Frank T. (Chair), PB & Primate/ Chicago, V Mordecai, Mrs. Patricia C., Chief Operating Officer, DFMS/ New York, II Werner, The Very Rev. George L.W., President, HD/ Pittsburgh, III

Members of the Council whose terms expire at General Convention 2009:

Anderson, Ms. Bonnie , Vice President, House of Deputies / Michigan, V Bowden, Mr. R.P.M. / Atlanta, IV Byham Esq., Edgar K. / Newark, II Denton, Mrs. Sharon F. / Western Kansas, VII Fuller, Ms. Dorothy J. / El Camino Real, VIII Glover, Dr. Delbert C. / Western Massachusetts, I Gossen, Mr. Thomas R. / Kansas, VII Hicks, Ms. Josephine H. / North Carolina, IV Holguín, The Rt. Rev. Julio Cesar / Dominican Republic, IX Kimbrough, The Rev. Timothy E. / North Carolina, IV McPhee, Ms. Sandra F. / Chicago, V Mollegen Jr., Mr. Albert T. / Connecticut, I Presler, The Very Rev. Titus L. / Texas, VII Ramos-Orench, The Rt. Rev. Wilfrido / Connecticut, I Roberts, Ms. Terry / Minnesota, VI Rodman, The Rev. Canon Edward W. / Massachusetts, I Sauls, The Rt. Rev. Stacy F. / Lexington, IV Vanderstar, Mr. John / Washington, III Yumoto, Mr. Ted M. / San Joaquin, VIII