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COLORADO: Convention makes canonical changes to support growth

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

The Rt. Rev. Robert O'Neill  

[Episcopal News Service]  Colorado Bishop Robert O'Neill told the diocese's 119th diocesan convention, which met October 5-7 in Denver, that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have no choice but to walk together.

"Because we are already one in Christ -- bound together not by our own choice but by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (God's free gift to us) -- we have no choice, frankly, but to walk together," he said in his welcome on October 7. "That is the way of the cross."

He called the current time in the Episcopal Church and the Communion "filled with many temptations and dangers, to be sure, but a time also that is ripe with divine possibility."

The full text of O'Neill's sermon and welcome are available here.

The convention was held in what O'Neill called a "resolution-free environment."

Through 14 seminars and two keynote addresses, he said, the diocese was "maximizing the time that we have to learn, to be formed and to be equipped for the mission of the Church."

The convention did consider three pieces of legislation, canonical changes that O'Neill said were meant to put in place a framework "to support the work of planting new congregations and redeveloping existing ones."

They include:

  • giving seat, voice and vote at the diocesan convention to a clergy member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who serves congregations of the Diocese of Colorado
  • revising and expanding the make-up of the diocesan commission on ministry, and
  • revising the canons pertaining to parishes, missions, special congregations and ministries, including addition of provisions for determining the future of a declining parish

The texts of the canonical changes are available individually.

O'Neill praised what he called the faithfulness with which four Colorado congregations made the decision to close.

Church of the Holy Spirit and St. Francis in Colorado Springs, All Saints Episcopal Lutheran Mission in Pueblo West and St. Michael's Episcopal Mission in Paonia all faced different circumstances, he said, but all had a "posture of faithfulness" and "prayerfully, thoughtfully" asked what God was calling them to do.

"Having faced some difficult decisions, they know also that in making those decisions they are in turn planting new seeds for mission," O'Neill said.

In one case, Holy Spirit made a $50,000 gift to the Sangre de Cristo region to support a new congregation.