Resolution B011, a special missionary initiative directed at the Lake Pontchatrain Basin Area in Louisiana, and possibly the state of Mississippi, was passed in an unusual way by the House of Bishops on June 21.
Knowing the House of Deputies was also planning to take up the resolution during the last legislative session of the 75th General Convention, the bishops voted to concur with the amendment – in the event the House of Deputies adopted the resolution. The Deputies did, in fact, pass the resolution moments before the Bishops did the same.
Speaking to the House, Bishop Duncan Gray of Mississippi said the resolution grew out of the experience of having people come from across the country to Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, and "finding their own faith in the Lord Jesus and the Episcopal Church renewed."
"It seemed to me that by challenging the church to focus in particularly the mission field, for a particular moment, that we could take the pain of this Convention, the pain of our church, the division of our church and focus it in one particular place," Gray said.
The resolution aims to build on the spirit of ecumenism and mission currently surrounding rebuilding efforts in the dioceses of Mississippi and Louisiana. Equally important is the opportunity to gather accurate and comprehensive data on the effectiveness of church efforts in evangelism, advocacy and economic redevelopment as New Orleans and the Mississippi coast recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The initiative asked for $100,000 annually to support an office and a coordinator based in Louisiana. According to the resolution, the effort could possibly include "relief and development projects, leadership formation and training for personal and congregational evangelism and service with the diverse populations of the region."