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LONG ISLAND: Bishop sees signs of hope despite conflict

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

Long Island Bishop Orris Walker  

[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, meeting November 10-11 in its 140th annual convention, received a written report form Bishop Orris Walker outlining the signs of hope he sees in the diocese and the Anglican Communion.

Walker made his report in writing to allow Bishop Suffragan Rodney Michel to be the convention's speaker.

After describing the growth of a number of diocesan ministries, Walker reported that one diocesan congregation, St. James in Elmhurst, New York, is "in revolt against the Episcopal Church" and that the diocesan chancellor is working to resolve the ensuing conflict.

Walker said that the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the 26th Presiding Bishop and Bonnie Anderson as the president of the House of Deputies during the June General Convention "represented hope that the stained glass ceiling was being shattered in new and unperceivable ways."

"It was a joy to be an Episcopalian," he said.

The diocese is moving forward in mission, Walker said. "I call upon you to continue your work in congregational transformation and to remain true to our goal of becoming a Mission Minded Diocese," he said. "So many of you are providing ministries of hospitality by feeding the hungry, providing places for those without shelter to have a night's rest, offering clothing and school supplies and opening yourselves to community meetings, tutoring, and twelve-step meetings. I applaud these important ministries and urge you to explore including a justice and advocacy component to your provision of direct service."

He also called upon the diocese to support the Millennium Development Goals, to become a "green" diocese, to practice good stewardship, to minister to the growing Hispanic presence in the diocese, to look for new mission partnerships, and "to respect the opinions of all and to love all, making sure that there is a seat at the Eucharistic banquet table for all."

Neither Walker's nor Michel's address have yet been posted on the diocese's website.

The convention approved resolutions to:

  • declare four congregations extinct because they have been previously closed;
  • set a 2007 clergy compensation schedule whose base cash salary will range from $34,110 to $40,132;
  • rescind a long-standing convention action that required the diocese to pay pension assessments, and then charge the congregation, on behalf of clergy whose congregation had not made those payments for six months or longer; and
  • change the vehicle for meeting diocesan requirements for housing equity allowances for clergy.

The complete texts of the resolutions are available here.

The Diocese of Long Island comprises about 56,100 Episcopalians worshipping in 146 congregations.