Mission Center: The Episcopal Church: Partnerships

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About Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical Officers
from the EIR Handbook
EDEO is the national network of those designated by their dioceses with special responsibility for encouraging the search for the wider visible unity of Christ's Church.

EDEO provides support and training for diocesan ecumenical officers, encourages ecumenical activity within parishes and dioceses, enhances communication throughout the Episcopal Church about ecumenism, and encourages liaison among all those whose ministries have, or should have, an ecumenical dimension. Communication is at the heart of EDEO's mission. EDEO's network is uniquely situated to bring the fruits of national and international dialogues to dioceses and congregations; to communicate diocesan and congregational experience to the Ecumenical Officer and the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations; and to share within the network ecumenical successses, challenges, strategies and needs. SCER, the Ecumenical Officer and EDEO are charged with upholding the ecumenical imperative and implementing actions adopted by the General Convention.

EDEO has supported ecumenical activity through educational events at parish, diocesan, provincial, and national forums. It regularly hosts ecumenical guests and dignitaries at General Convention, where its presence serves to focus attention on ecumenical issues. It works to urge this Church to provide the necessary resources to further the ultimate goal of visible unity.

The studies initiated and carried out by EDEO in cooperation with our ecumenical partners help to ground the expectations and goals of this Church in present realities, identify opportunities, and lift up the hope for progress towards unity.

Late in the 1950's, the then Joint Commission on Ecumenical Relations suggested that each diocese appoint an ecumenical officer. In 1964 an ecumenical officer, Peter Day, was appointed for the national church. Many bishops appointed diocesan officers, and in 1966 the first meeting of these officers was held in Chicago.

In 1969 diocesan officers were invited by the Roman Catholic National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical Officers (NADEO) through the national Ecumenical Office to join a National Workshop on Christian Unity, held in Philadelphia.

In 1970 diocesan officers met after the National Workshop on Christian Unity in Kansas City to receive a proposal from the Consultation on Church Union of a Plan of a Union. Dioceses then had a specific task: to study and report on the proposal. At this meeting the establishment of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission was also announced.

In 1971 the practice of denominational sessions prior to the National Workshop was initiated. With leadership from John Cosby as Assistant Ecumenical Officer, this meeting in Houston gave many the idea of a more permanent organization.

At Toledo in 1973 the Episcopal meeting resolved to ask Peter Day formally to appoint an ad hoc committee to study the situation and to present a proposal for a national organization of diocesan ecumenical officers.

After careful preparation by the committee, EDEO was officially organized in Charleston on March 13-14, 1974. More than fifty diocesan officers were present. By-laws were adopted, and John Bonner (Tennessee) was elected first chairman.

Bonner was succeeded in 1978 by William B. Lawson (Massachusetts), followed in 1982 by Warren Crews (Arkansas), in 1984 by Henry A. Male, Jr. (Bethlehem), in 1988 by Charles S. Womelsdorf (Western Louisiana), in 1992 by Richard W. Townley (New Jersey), in 1994 by Midge Roof (Indianapolis), in 1998 by Robert Miner (Connecticut) and in 2002 by Arthur Geissler of Massachusetts.

In conjunction with SCER and the Executive Council, a major triennial ecumenical study was carried out by EDEO in 1977-1979, with detailed surveys of existing practices and attitudes and diocesan and provincial consultations throughout the country, culminating in a National Consultation on Ecumenism in Detroit in 1979. This led to the book A Communion of Communions: One Eucharistic Fellowship. A follow-up National Consultation on Ecumenism in the Local Church took place in 1994. Meanwhile in 1979 William A. Norgren succeeded Peter Day as National Ecumenical Officer.

The EDEO-NADEO Standing Committee, begun in 1978, published studies on Anglican-Roman Catholic covenants, ecumenical marriages between Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, baptism, eucharist, ordained ministry and authority, the last three being responses to The Final Report.

A joint committee with the network of Lutheran Ecumenical Representatives (LERN) began in 1984 with surveys on interim eucharistic sharing and joint activities.

As part of a three-year ecumenical emphasis in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral mandated by the 1988 General Convention, EDEO published a compilation of ecumenical activities in the USA entitled Models of Ecumenism. In addition, EDEO contributed to the cost of a special edition of the Anglican Theological Review entitled Quadrilateral at One Hundred.

EDEO contributed a survey and participated in the 1993 Riverdale Consultation on Ecclesiology. Its report and papers are in Ecumenism of the Possible: Witness, Theology and the Future Church, available from Forward Movement Publications.

In 1995 David Perry succeeded William Norgren as Deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs, and was largely responsible for seeing the Lutheran-Episcopal full communion agreement to fruition. In 2001 Bishop Christopher Epting assumed the duties of Deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs.

Membership includes the ecumenical officer and the associate ecumenical officer from each diocese. It is strongly urged that these two persons be of different orders within the church.

The chief officer is the national president, elected for a three-year term and a vice-president is also elected for a three-year term at the EDEO meeting next after each General Convention. The secretary and a finance officer are appointed by the president.

Eight provincial coordinators are elected by the officers of their dioceses for two-year terms, with possible re-election to a second term. Their duties are to communicate ecumenical activity to the diocesan ecumenical officers of the province, to call meetings for regional consultations, to advise when necessary, and to report news of ecumenical interest for inclusion in the Ecumenical Bulletin and the EDEO Newsletter.

The Executive Committee consists of the president, vice-president, secretary, provincial coordinators, a member of the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, the representative of the Bishop of the Armed Forces, and the national Ecumenical Officer. The president may appoint two members-at-large to provide necessary balances. Liaisons are sent to the Executive Committee from the Episcopal Church Women and from the Anglican Conference on the Religious Life.

The EDEO Executive Committee acts for the organization between Annual Meetings, plans the Annual Meeting, and sends a representative to the National Workshop Planning Committee. Episcopalians who have chaired the National Workshop are John Cosby, John Bonner, William Lawson, Henry Male and Midge Roof.

EDEO's biggest resource is the time, talent, and commitments of its members, who volunteer their service and expertise. Financial support comes from annual dues paid by each diocese to EDEO which covers provincial activities, publications, and other sources. The General Convention's General Program Budget covers national expenses of the Executive Committee, its officers and standing committees.


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