In his recent newsletter article, the Rev. Ran Chase described many of the highlights of the Diocesan Convention. What follows is a brief summary of the meeting from Epiphany’s lay delegates to the convention, Carolyn Pershouse and Scott Street, along with some web links for those who want additional information.
The 232nd(!) convention of the Diocese of Massachusetts was held on 5 November at St Paul’s Cathedral in Boston. Epiphany was represented at the convention by clergy delegates the Revs. Miriam Gelfer and Ran Chase, and by lay delegates Carolyn Pershouse and Scott Street. Also in attendance from Epiphany were Lisa Garcia (Diocesan Treasurer), interim Cathedral Organist Louise Mundinger, Intern Paul Shoaf Kozak, and parishioners the Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas and Brett Johnson.
Our day began with a Eucharist that featured enthusiastic congregational participation, robust hymn singing (accompanied by Louise), and an extended sermon/address by Bishop Gates. In his address, Bishop Gates told a delightful and provocative fable, the moral of which is: sometimes we have to deal with immediate issues instead of what we might prefer to tackle; we must always deal with more than one thing at a time; and, in the end, there will always be a song. The full text and video of his address can be found here.
A significant portion of the Convention was spent on financial and organizational matters. The biggest financial issue is the impact of the recent 10% change in the Diocesan assessment (the amount each Parish is expected to contribute to the Diocese for its operations and ministries). This decrease in revenue has lead to major staffing changes (layoffs and redeployments) and a decrease in Diocesan services. An excellent and detailed summary of the budget can be found here.
Another portion of the Convention was devoted to the mission of the Diocese. The three key initiatives presented were the launching of a cross-congregational relationship building process modeled after an approach developed in South Africa called “indaba”; Mission Match, a web-based inventory of ministry resources that will help us “to better describe our communities’ gifts and resources for ministry, in order to strengthen our capacity to directly connect people and congregations in collaborative mission”; and, continued discussion to determine how best to organize the Diocese. More on these initiatives can be found here.
Other business included the passage of resolutions to support the goals of the Paris Climate Accord, to create a network of congregations and persons engaged in elder ministry, to adopt the Diocesan budget, and some other housekeeping matters. We also elected and/or acknowledged the appointment of many individuals to various roles, including our own Miriam Gelfer (Commission on Ministry co-chair), Lisa Garcia (treasurer), and Dutch Treat (Barbara C. Harris Camp Board of Directors). Additional details can be found here.
The Convention adjourned an hour ahead of schedule, to the surprise and delight of many.
On a personal note, we came away with the strong impression that Epiphany is part of something much greater than our Parish alone. We saw in action what Bishop Gates described as “Anglicanism’s historic affirmation of the Diocese, and not the congregation, as the basic unit of the church is an expression of Saint Paul’s vision of the earthly body of Christ, made up of many parts.” It was a privilege to serve as Epiphany’s delegates to the Convention, and we are grateful for the opportunity to do so.