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Diocesan Digest - July 13

[Episcopal News Service] 
  • Central Florida: Clergy sign statement opposing standing committee action
  • Massachusetts: Bishop makes statement on Gaza
  • Olympia (Washington): Nominations open for diocesan bishop 
  •  Pittsburgh: Resources seek to "set record straght" on diocesan issues
  • Texas: Bishop, deputies reflect on General Convention; text, audio online

Central Florida: Clergy sign statement opposing standing committee action

[Source: Episcopal Voices of Central Florida] The following statement, signed by 32 priests, was sent to Bishop John Howe July 10. The statement came after the diocesan bishop and standing committee's June 29 "open letter" requesting "Alternative Primatial Oversight" after actions of the 75th General Convention. (The open letter is online at

Episcopal Voices moderator Donna Bott said the first portion of the July 10 clergy statement is, in essence, the first paragraph in the purpose section of the Constitution of the Diocese of Central Florida. The second rejects schismatic actions.

"We, the Clergy of the Episcopal Church in Central Florida, acknowledge our allegiance due to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ and recognize the body known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America otherwise known as the Episcopal Church to be a true branch of said Church, having rightful jurisdiction in all its dioceses, and hereby declare our adhesion to the same and accede to its Constitution and Canons.  We do not accede to any action or effort on the part of Central Florida's diocesan leadership or convention which seeks to disassociate us from the Episcopal Church, the actions and authority of General Convention, or the Anglican Communion."

The statement was also made available for others to sign at a July 11 diocesan meeting of the clergy.

More information about Episcopal Voices is online at

Massachusetts: Bishop makes statement on Gaza

[Source: Diocese of Massachusetts] Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, of the Boston-based Diocese of Massachusetts made the following July 12 statement concerning Gaza.

"We pray for an immediate and peaceful halt to the hostilities raging for the past two weeks in the Gaza Strip and for the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine," said Shaw.

Shaw has traveled to Gaza and Israel several times in the past four years to try to build bridges of understanding, most recently in January with two groups, one including college students.

 "I believe the best way to achieve peace in the Middle East is to allow families and businesses to live, work and operate in an environment free of danger.

"I am most concerned about the destruction of the power plant in Gaza which is endangering the life, health and safety of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims." Shaw cited an incident this past weekend in which an Episcopal priest was attempting to wire $5,000 to the Al Ahli Anglican Hospital in Gaza that has only days of power left but could not confirm its transmission. "We cannot let the most vulnerable people suffer as a result of this deliberate destruction of the infrastructure," said Shaw.

In May of 2005 Shaw issued a public statement rejecting proposals for divestment in Israel.  In that statement, he said: "I will continue to work for the rights of the Palestinian people and a secure State of Israel."

In June the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed the following resolution which was recommended for approval by the committee co-chaired by Bishop Shaw. The text is below:

Resolution A015

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention encourage the dioceses of the Episcopal Church to urge their congregations and institutions to pray for our sisters and brothers in the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East; to visit the Christian congregations in the Holy Land; to receive visitors from the Holy Land; to work for justice, peace, and reconciliation in the Holy Land with renewed commitment; and to urge elected officials and policy makers to seek solutions that will realize these goals for  all.

On June 30, The Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America sent a letter to President Bush expressing deepest concern for the ever deteriorating situation in Gaza and urging him "to find a diplomatic solution which will not further impoverish and burden ordinary Palestinians."

Olympia (Washington): Nominations open for diocesan bishop

[Source: Diocese of Olympia] The Profile of the Diocese of Olympia, the Episcopal Church in Western Washington, and the nomination forms for discernment in the election of the 8th bishop of the Diocese of Olympia were launched on the Bishop Search website July 10.

The multi-media project was launched jointly by the Bishop Search Committee and Axis Studios of Seattle. (The site is online at, click Profile.)

Included in this launch is a section of the "Voices" diocesan newspaper, comments from listening sessions across the diocese, and hot links to each congregation and diocesan group website. This provides candidates with "a transparent look at thousands of comments about the diocese and what it seeks in a bishop," organizers say.

Approximately 75% of the diocese's 102 congregations held listening sessions. Numerous gatherings for clergy solicited comments and insight of the diocese for potential candidates.

Nominations and applications will be accepted until September 10 by the Bishop Search Committee. All application forms and required information for candidates is posted. Full instructions are on the site. A printable PDF "white paper" of the Profile is also on the site.

Media disks with complete information to engage the website will be sent to all bishops, standing committee chairs, deployment officers across the country as well as all clergy and congregations in the Diocese of Olympia by the end of July.

Information will continue to be added to this site to engage congregations with teaching tools and educational curricula about the process of electing a bishop and explaining a diocese.

A final slate of candidates will be announced in February with an election slated for May 12 and consecration anticipated Sept. 15, 2007. Bishop Vincent W. Warner Jr., will retire at that time having served as bishop for 18 years.

The Diocese of Olympia comprises 34,000 Episcopalians in 102 congregations guided by 400 ordained clergy in Western Washington state.

Pittsburgh: Resources seek to "set record straight" on issues facing diocese

[Source: PEP] — Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) has released two new resources for parish education.

"An Appraisal of the Diocese of Pittsburgh's 'Withdrawal' of Consent to Inclusion in Province III" is a thoughtful discussion of the precedents, implications, and canonical issues of Pittsburgh Standing Committee's recent declaration that it is withdrawing from Province III "in expectation of a new Province being created for traditionalists." No action has been taken churchwide to form any such province.

"Setting the Record Straight" is a short flyer providing factual information to correct exaggerations and misinformation circulating in the wake of General Convention 2006. Both resources are available on the PEP web site

"Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh is interested in fostering informed discussion on the current church issues," said board member Nancy Lapp. "'Setting the Record Straight' makes a great bulletin insert or handout, while the piece on Provinces would make great reading for an adult education session. We hope they will be used widely."

PEP President Joan R. Gundersen said she prepared "Setting the Record 
Straight" out of concern about misinformation circulating in comments written after the recent General Convention. "My hope is that this little handout will let people begin their dialogue on a solid base of information," she said.

Lionel Deimel, author of the piece on provinces, said, "After our Standing Committee made its announcement, I began researching the provincial structure, so that we could understand what the resolution meant. I soon realized that others around the church would be looking for the same information."

The 10-page white paper includes both carefully researched information and commentary. Most notably, it has an extended discussion of the Missouri precedent cited by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh as supporting its announced withdrawal from Province III.

PEP members say that at least 13 of the diocese's 70 congregations are on record as opposing the standing committee's recent vote, among other actions.

Texas: Bishop, deputies reflect on General Convention; text, audio online

[Source: Diocese of Texas] Bishop Don Wimberly of the Houston-based Diocese of Texas and its deputation to the 75th General Convention met with more than 150 clergy of the diocese June 28 to discuss impressions of General Convention.

"Let me begin by saying: we are called to bear witness within the Anglican Communion," Wimberly said in a section of his remarks titled "Our Calling."

"You know the church is my home," he continued. "You know I have spent much of my life as an Episcopal priest and Bishop. You know I love our Anglican heritage.  More importantly though, I intend to remain in this church because I believe that the Diocese of Texas is called to witness to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion that we may be unified beyond differences into a church that is about the work of the Gospel of Christ."

Wimberly's full remarks are available online in text and mp3 audio file at