Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the 36th annual convention, meeting in Fallon, Nevada, October 7-9, that she celebrated with them "the health and strength I can see here."
She said that the diocese is a "rich blessing" to Nevada and the part of Arizona that it encompasses, and to the larger world.
Jefferts Schori will end her ministry in the Diocese of Nevada on October 25 and be invested as the Episcopal Church's 26th Presiding Bishop on November 4 at Washington National Cathedral.
The retiring bishop of Northern California, Jerry Lamb, will serve as the diocese's interim bishop, beginning in January and continuing until the diocese elects Jefferts Schori's successor in October 2007.
"We have lots to celebrate in Nevada and that part of Arizona belonging to Nevada," she said. "Most of the governing and oversight systems here are healthy – the Standing Committee, the Commission on Ministry, and the Diocesan Council. They are providing strong leadership and growing in their ability to make good and effective decisions, and they understand the complexities and depths of their particular ministries."
She noted congregations that "have begun to forge new and creative partnerships based on mission."
"In each of those instances, people and congregations have been able to look beyond their normal 'turf' or boundaries to see creative possibility," she said. "The implanted word that says, 'go and love the people around you' has trumped parochialism and fear. And God is glorified in the midst of it all."
Jefferts Schori praised the "flowering of mission beyond our diocese, work that is going on here and around the globe," citing participation in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (http://er-d.org/programs_36756_ENG_HTM.htm) and diocesan partnerships with dioceses in Kenya.
The diocese's congregations have looked creatively at how to improve their worship and program spaces, she said, as well as having developed "exciting and innovative responses to the needs of their communities" and seen opportunities for mission and new congregations in the areas of the diocese that are experiencing population growth.
Ministry within the prisons located within the diocese is thriving, according to Jefferts Schori.
In addition, "the rate of immigration to Nevada from other states and countries continues to be high, and we could do much, much more in bringing good news to those who haven't yet heard that God loves all people," she said, noting that the diocese cannot yet fund a Hispanic ministry.
"All of these opportunities come with challenges, particularly the challenges related to financial resources," she said. "It is abundantly evident that this diocese will need to seek greater resources, both internally and externally."
She praised the Diocesan Council and Standing Committee for noting the need for a formal program of planned giving, a capital campaign and a diocesan foundation.
"One of my firm hopes for the next few years is that the Episcopal Church as a whole will address the funding needs for dioceses with small financial capacity, particularly in rapidly growing areas like Nevada. We need to find a way, as a larger church, to support the domestic mission fields in our own church," Jefferts Schori said.
"This diocese will need to continue thinking outside the proverbial box, building partnerships across old boundaries, and finding new answers to old dilemmas," she said, noting especially the need to minister to and with young people.
"We are lacking in both kinds of resources, adult leaders and dollars, and that says something about the quality and depth of our purpose, clarity, and passion," she said.
Jefferts Schori acknowledged that her work in the diocese is nearly finished.
"There is sadness in the parting, but great delight in the growth we have shared. Our common task now is to let go of each other, and to bless the parting," she said. "I will carry you in my heart forever, and I give thanks daily for your courage in calling a stranger to share this ministry with you."
The convention had no policy resolutions to consider. The diocesan website is located at http://www.nvdiocese.org/.