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MAINE: Convention dispatches business quickly in the face of wind storm

By Heidi Shott

Diocese of Maine photo
Maine Bishop Chilton Knudsen welcomes Ken Barrett, who received the diocese’s 2006 Scribner Medalist, with his wife, Eve.   (Diocese of Maine photo)

[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of Maine, meeting in its 187th annual Convention October 27-28 at the Spectacular Events Center in Bangor, passed a number of resolutions including one that set a minimum wage for lay employees of congregations and diocesan-related ministries.

During the business session on October 28, with the forecast of a severe wind storm across Maine and a promise to help delegates get on the road for home as soon as possible, Bishop Chilton Knudsen gave a brief version of her annual State of the Diocese address.

"The mission of the church, here and abroad, keeps calling to us, even as the church also continues to struggle with controversy," she said. "In deciding where we will commit our energies, resources and attention -- to mission or to controversy -- it appears that we as a people are already answering the question. As I travel around the diocese I see youth ministry, campus ministry, Hispanic ministry, prison ministry and ministry among the aging."

The full text of Knudsen’s address has not been posted on the diocesan website.

The convention passed resolutions that:
* changed the formula for congregational payments to the diocesan Episcopate Fund;

* provided to lay employees “some of the same protections, guarantees and benefits” provided to diocesan clergy;

* called for raising the diocese’s median clergy salary to the median of all New England dioceses;

* set the minimum clergy compensation packages (cash stipend, self-employment tax reimbursement, and housing and utilities allowance) in a range of $52,880 to $69,178, depending on congregation size;

* made the diocese one of the first in the Episcopal Church to set a minimum hourly wage for lay employees ($8.50 for employees who work 250 hours a year);

* amended the diocesan constitution concerning the due date for parochial reposts (first reading);

* encouraged each congregation to “study and reflect on the history, heritage and ecclesiology of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a way of continuing both the Windsor Report study process urged in Resolution 5 of the186th Diocesan Convention and of reflecting on decisions made at General Convention 2006;”

* affirmed and embraced the Millennium Development Goals and encouraged the diocese, congregations and individual Episcopalians to give 0.7 percent of their income for international development work;

* directed the Diocesan Council to reactivate the diocese’s Alcohol/Drug Committee; and

 * set special rules of order for the election of a bishop coadjutor at the 188th convention.

Members of the Bishop Search Committee rolled out their timeline for the search process and asked for comment on the draft diocesan profile. The report included a skit, led by the Rev. Carolyn Metzler of St. Thomas', Winn, which suggested some dioceses can have unrealistic expectations about how perfect their next bishop should be.

The convention rejected a resolution, presented by the Maine Chapter of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, which recommended an effort to support establishment of a U.S. cabinet-level Department of Peace.

More information about the resolutions is available here.

The convention also approved a 2007 diocesan budget of $1,951,130.

The Rev. Elaine Hewes, a Lutheran pastor from Bangor, preached at the convention’s Eucharist October 27. The text of her sermon is available here.

The convention also applauded Ken Barrett of St. George's, York Harbor, as the recipient of this year’s Scribner Award, which honors a lay person in the diocese who has demonstrated faithful use of the gifts with which he or she has been blessed by God.

Barrett, Knudsen said, has "the rare ability and holy gift of looking at church, and other organizations, using two lenses simultaneously: the relational lens which sees every person as worthy of respect and care, and the quantitative lens which clearly sees numbers trends, expenses, income and the variance between them."

Barrett has been treasurer of the Diocese for seven years and also served on the Trustees of Diocesan Funds, Task Force on Assessment Review, Capital Campaign Advisory Group, One in Christ Capital Campaign, Finance Committee, and the Pastoral Relief Task Force.

The Diocese of Maine comprises 14,800 Episcopalians worshipping in 66 congregations.