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CHICAGO: Convention honors Griswolds; bishop calls diocese to change

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

ENS photo by David Skidmore
Phoebe Griswold, wife of 25th Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, listens to a speaker during a tribute to her at the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago's recent convention. Canon to the Presiding Bishop Carlson Gerdau applauds.   (ENS photo by David Skidmore)

[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, meeting November 10-11 at Wheeling, Illinois, in its 169th Annual Convention, honored Frank Griswold, former Chicago Bishop and the 25th Presiding Bishop; his wife Phoebe Griswold; and the Rev. Canon Carlson Gerdau who served Griswold during his term.

The convention also heard Bishop William Persell call the diocese to change.

"We need not, and must not, accept mediocrity, lack of compassion, indifference, waste of resources, lack of mutual interdependence and accountability, racism, sexism, judgementalism, and lack of creativity in our life and worship," he said.

"From death God creates new and vibrant life. But sometimes we have to do our part of letting go of what is dead, that resurrection life may burst forth," he said. "Too often we want to hang on to dead bodies rather than reach out with our hands free to embrace new life."

Persell said that a "major task we face as the Episcopal Church is to work now and in the coming years to overcome the scourges of deep poverty, environmental degradation and war."

"We will do so by educating ourselves and others about the Millennium Development Goals, advocating for their support by our government, and giving generously starting with today's offering, to achieve them," he said.

The offering collected $24,000.

"With the human and financial resources wasted world-wide on war and weaponry we must be seriously about beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks," he said. "However, in this fallen world there will always be a need for military and police forces. Right now the world needs troops and the will to stop the brutal conflict in Darfur. We have a responsibility to protect oppressed peoples. But we waste so much, investing huge sums in weapons research, with far smaller investments in such things as renewable energy resources which could help reduce the dangers of global warming."

"Again, we seem locked in an embrace of death, rather than free to reach out to life. It is imperative that as a Church and as individuals we discover what it means to be the body of Christ in the 21st Century. We need a new vision for our common life, new ways of being the Church."

The full text of Persell's sermon is available here (

The convention passed resolutions to:

  • reduce the number of delegates needed to count ballots at convention;
  • change the diocesan constitution to allow diocesan convention delegates from campus ministries within the diocese;
  • adopt current practices for the governance and operation of the diocesan endowment fund;
  • commit the diocese to work with other organizations to achieve health-care options for all that are "universal, affordable, comprehensive, fiscally sound and sustainable and has shared responsibility;"
  • encourage the Episcopal Church's Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music to deal with General Convention's referral to it of a resolution about including the Feast of the Martyrs of Sudan in the calendar of the Church;
  • reaffirm its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, dedicate 0.7 percent of its 2007 toward ministries or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that support the MDGs and urge congregations and individuals to do the same;
  • ask Persell to appoint a diocesan task force on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);
  • set minimum premium level requirements to be paid by employers of full-time clergy in the diocese for medical and dental insurance;
  • require that the minimum cash compensation to be paid to full-time clergy in 2007 be $52,300 if no church housing or utilities are provided and $38,000 if housing and utilities are provided;
  • move responsibility for setting standards for minimum clergy compensation and benefits and procedures from the Convention to the Diocesan Council;
  • evaluate the diocese's patronage of vendors of color, set objectives for this patronage, and where appropriate, increase the use of vendors of color to supply goods and services to the diocese;
  • require the lay and ordained leadership of the diocese, including professional staff and those elected or appointed to positions on diocesan committees, commissions, and boards to take anti-racism training; and
  • invite congregations to adopt a Week of Prayer and Witness with Christians in the Holy Land during the season between Easter and Pentecost 2007.

The convention defeated a resolution that would have directed the Diocesan Council to develop and present to the 170th annual convention for approval, a system of mutual accountability for congregations based on their level of compliance with the guidelines for giving established by the convention.

The text of all passed, defeated and withdrawn resolutions is available here.

The Diocese of Chicago comprises about 44,000 Episcopalians worshipping in 130 congregations in 22 counties in northern Illinois.