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Diocesan Digest - July 6

[Episcopal News Service]   
  • Central Florida 'mainstream' group opposes standing committee action
  • Dallas bishop requests 'direct pastoral relationship'
  • Newark diocese announces two additional candidates for bishop
  • Nevada Episcopalians depart for Kenya to continue mission partnership
  • New York's bishop offers commentary on General Convention

Central Florida 'mainstream' group opposes standing committee action

[Source: Episcopal Voices, Orlando] A group of mainstream Episcopalians will meet in July to address the Central Florida diocesan Standing Committee's late-June decision to seek alternative oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Standing Committee took action citing disagreement with 2003 and 2006 actions of the Episcopal Church's General Convention. The Standing Committee's "open letter" is online at

Episcopal Voices of Central Florida, a group of lay people and clergy from all regions of the diocese, which extends to both state coasts, will meet at 10 a.m. on July 29 at St. Richard's Episcopal Church in Winter Park to discuss the standing committee's action and to plan a course for the future.

Although group members are of differing opinions about sexuality issues now creating a rift within the church, they are dedicated to remaining in full support and union with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, according to Donna Bott, Episcopal Voices moderator.

"We are extremely unhappy about the diocese's hasty decision which indicates an impending break with the Episcopal Church," said Bott. "A handful of people and the bishop have made a knee-jerk decision without thoughtfully consulting the membership of this diocese and seeking a wide consensus. Many people oppose breaking with the Episcopal Church, but our voices have not been considered in this action.

"Further, this action preempts the hope for reconciliation and healing as expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent statement as well as the Windsor Report," Bott said. "The diocese in no way speaks for me or for members of Episcopal Voices on this matter."

For the last four years, Episcopal Voices has worked to foster unity in the diocese, holding services and meetings to help people find common ground, Bott said.

"There is room in the church for people of all opinions to worship together," said Bott. "We oppose any attempts to further alienate the people of this diocese and to take our local churches, property and congregations from the Episcopal Church."

Bott noted that Episcopalians have weathered other controversies, staying unified in faith as revealed in scripture, tradition and reason.

"The current situation is polarizing the church and diverting attention from important mission and social issues that are confronting the church and people who live in our area," said Bott, who lives in The Villages.

Information about Episcopal Voices is online at

Similar organizations, some named "Via Media," are active in most of some 10 dioceses whose elected leadership has acted in opposition to 2003 and 2006 General Convention decisions.

Dallas bishop requests 'direct pastoral relationship'

[Source: Associated Press] Bishop James Stanton of Dallas is asking the Archbishop of Canterbury for a "direct pastoral relationship" from overseas, the Associated Press reported July 5 after a meeting of diocesan clergy the same day.

No related information was yet available on the Dallas diocesan web site at the time this edition of Diocesan Digest was posted. The web address for the 77-congregation diocese is

Dallas became the seventh diocese in which a bishop or Standing Committee is seeking "alternative pastoral oversight" citing 2003 and 2006 General Convention actions. The other dioceses are Central Florida (Orlando-based), Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Springfield (Illinois), San Joaquin (California), and South Carolina. The Episcopal Church has a total of 110 dioceses and a convocation of churches based in Europe.

In no case has a diocesan convention yet ratified these actions.

Comment is anticipated from Via Media Dallas, a group that affirms individuals and congregations in their ongoing participation within the life of the Episcopal Church. Information online:

Nevada Episcopalians depart for Kenya to continue mission partnership

[ENS] Continuing an inter-Anglican partnership, a team from the Diocese of Nevada has departed for a visit to Kenya, where the Diocese of Machakos shares close mission ties with Nevada Episcopalians.

Projects shared by the two dioceses include a medical clinic built near Machakos in 2003. Further information about the project is online at:

Machakos Bishop Joseph Kanuku recently informed the Nevada diocese of severe drought in his region.

"Natural water sources are drying up, livestock are dying for lack of feed and browse, milk production is down, prices for milk and milk-products are rising precipitately, disease among the livestock is increasing, crops are failing, and people are increasingly going hungry," Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori recently wrote in a letter to her diocese.

"There is immediate need for assistance with livestock vaccination, purchase of seed (many plantings fail when rains do not materialize), active food support, and ongoing development work -- teaching better agricultural methods and developing drip irrigation.

"This drought has continued for nearly six years, and shows no signs of abating," added Jefferts Schori, who was elected June 18 as the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop-elect.

"We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, and I hope you will respond generously," wrote the bishop, who visited Kenya in 2003. "This is one opportunity to make a personal investment in the Millennium Development Goals" (more about the MDGs is posted online at

Also posted on the Nevada diocesan web site is a drought report from Bishop Kanuku.

Newark diocese announces two additional candidates for bishop

[Source: Diocese of Newark] The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Newark has announced two additional candidates, nominated by petition, for the election of the 10th Bishop of Newark.

These candidates are in addition to the four candidates presented by the diocesan Search/Nominating Committee.

The petition candidates are the Rt. Rev. Carol Joy Gallagher, assistant bishop of the Diocese of Newark, and the Rev. William A. Potter, rector of St. Luke's Church, Hope, New Jersey. Gallagher and her husband, Mark, reside in Newark. Potter and his wife, Cynthia, reside in Hope.

When they become available, photos and a brief biography of each of the new petition candidates will be available on the Search/Nominating Committee web site at:
Kim Byham, president of the Standing Committee, said, "These nominees, together with those nominated by the Search/Nominating Committee will provide an outstanding opportunity for our amazing diocese, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discern who would best lead us into the next phase of Christ's mission in northern New Jersey."

The candidates nominated by the Search/Nominating committee are the Very Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe of San Francisco; the Rev. Mark Beckwith of Worcester, Massachusetts; the Very Rev. Petero A. N. Sebune of New York; and the Rev. William H. "Chip" Stokes of Delray Beach, Florida.

All the candidates will be invited to take part in a series of "walk abouts" throughout the diocese in September, where they will meet and talk to electors and others in the diocese. On September 23, a special convention will be held in Newark to elect the new bishop.

The voting will be in two orders, clergy and lay, and a majority of both orders on the same ballot is required for election. Following consents from other diocesan Standing Committees and bishops, the new bishop is to take over for retiring bishop John P. Croneberger in February.

New York's bishop offers commentary on General Convention

[Source: Diocese of New York] Reflecting upon actions of the 75th General Convention, Bishop Mark Sisk wrote a July 1 letter to the people of the Diocese of New York.

"This was an exceptionally important Convention for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the Reflection, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, on our work," Sisk wrote. "It seemed, therefore, worthy of some extended commentary.

"The Convention itself did three things: (1) it elected a new Presiding Bishop; (2) it wrestled with the requests of the Windsor report and associated requests from The Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and (3) everything else.

"Everything else: The third of these achievements "everything else" is easily over-looked in all the energy over the first two, but this third was extraordinarily important. Found here is a new focus on our faithful participation in the Millennium Development Goals (something this Diocese has been working on for some years), a commitment to our continuing focus on youth and young adult ministries (again something quite familiar here in New York), and a renewed attempt to help this Nation wrestle, in a constructive way, with the burden of the sin of slavery (once again something that the Diocese of New York took the initiative on in presenting before General Convention - it having been dropped in 2003). We approved interim Eucharistic sharing with the United Methodist Church. There were as well a plethora of liturgical measures considered, including the adoption of The Revised Common Lectionary (though a proposal to begin preparation for a new revision of The Book of Common Prayer was rejected -- happily from my personal view). A number of additional commemorations for Lesser Feasts and Fasts were moved forward or authorized, notably including Thurgood Marshall. As an indication of the actual importance of these items, as appropriate, they each found an appropriate place in the National Church budget for the next triennium."

Full text of Sisk's letter is online at