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UTAH: Convention considers eco-friendly strategies, expresses ‘disappointment’ in B033

By Dick Snyder and Mary Frances Schjonberg
11/13/2006

Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish of Utah  

 
[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of Utah, meeting October 27-28 for its 101st convention in Layton, Utah, took a large step toward what its bishop called "healing the earth."

The delegates also went on record expressing "disappointment" with Resolution B033, passed at the 2006 General Convention.

Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish, marking her 10th year as diocesan bishop, told the convention Eucharist that she was pleased with the convention's response to the workshop about global warming, which was led by mayors Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City and Dave Sakrison of Moab.

Sakrison is also an Episcopal priest serving at St. Francis Church in Moab. The workshop resulted in the development of an Interfaith Power and Light chapter in Utah.

"I was overjoyed at the response so many of us felt to the presentations of the mayors yesterday," Irish said. "Repentance came very near to us, as we chose to engage the task of healing the earth -- bit-by-bit and person-by-person. And our response was not just one of fear of what will happen if we don't change our ways; it was an expression of love for God's creation, and thanksgiving for our lives in it."

She spoke about the "greed of our culture, as we over-consume the earth's resources."

"We thoughtlessly and irreverently cause damage to water, soil, air, and other living creatures -- and through 'passive politics' we allow others to do so as well," she said.
"Joy comes when we live in the right relationship with our creator and with creation."

Recently retired California Bishop William Swing was keynote speaker October 27.
 
"We're going through some bumpy times (in the Episcopal Church), and some talk about leaving," said Swing. "But there are only nine or 10 [bishops] in that camp; 110 others will not budge."

He said that there is an overwhelming sense of unity among the members of the House of Bishops.

The actions of the Episcopal Church have found opposition among some members of the Anglican Communion, he said, "but the church is as close to being in the 21st century as it can be, and more than anyone else. God has called us to do a very specific thing -- and by God, we're doing it," he said to thunderous applause.
 
A year-long celebration of the founding of the diocese was announced by Craig Wirth, chair and coordinator of the 140th Committee.
 
He explained that 140 years ago, Bishop Daniel Tuttle arrived in Utah to begin the church's mission and ministry.

During the coming year, work will be completed on a remodeled St. Mark's Cathedral -- originally designed by Tuttle -- and on a new diocesan office complex adjacent to the cathedral.

To help mark the Episcopal presence in Utah, Wirth displayed posters, bumper stickers and other items -- in English and Spanish -- to help Episcopalians celebrate the year.

A series of DVDs is available as part of the project. The first, outlining the church's first 50 years in Utah, was introduced at convention.

Delegates reviewed a budget of approximately $5.3 million for 2007. 

The delegates also passed resolutions to:

  • call for the diocese and its parishes to explore and adopt alternative energy use practices;
  • endorse passage of a minimum wage approximating a living wage;
  • call for the diocese to advocate for the elimination of "predatory and usurious lending and collection practices," such as payday lending firms;
  • call for a resolution at the next General Convention in 2009 which would ask the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop prayers of thanksgiving for the life, and to observe the loss, of a companion animal;
  • require anti-racism training for every member of every diocesan commission, committee and task force;
  • provide for financial support for alternate deputies to General Convention;
  • create a task force to examine practices in other Province VIII dioceses regarding terms used for categories of congregations;
  • change the diocesan canons to allow for congregations to decide how elections for vestry members will take place;
  • realign the regions of the diocese;
  • approve a companionship relationship with the Diocese of Mexico; and
  • amend the constitution regarding participation of clergy at convention.

Delegates defeated a resolution which would have limited deputies to General Convention to no more than three consecutive terms.
 
The Diocese of Utah comprises about 6,671 Episcopalians worshipping in 22 congregations.