Mission strategy, world concerns top Diocesan Convention agenda

This year's Diocesan Convention will be marked by a special spirit of celebration as the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston reopens its doors to the diocesan community after having been closed for more than a year for renovations.

Bishop Alan M. Gates, who in September completed his first year as bishop of the diocese, will be officially seated and the newly renovated cathedral church will be rededicated during a service of Holy Eucharist on Friday, Nov. 13.  The public service begins at 7 p.m.  All are welcome.

Diocesan Convention 2015 blue
Clergy and delegates representing the congregations of the diocese will regather on Saturday, Nov. 14, for a full day of regular Diocesan Convention business, to include resolutions on several world concerns and voting on a $9-million proposed diocesan budget for 2016.  The convention will also hear about plans underway for crafting over the next year a new mission strategy for the diocese.

Diocesan Convention registration is open online here.  A series of four pre-convention forums will be held in locations around the diocese and are an opportunity to learn about and discuss the issues and business to come before the convention.  Find the schedule here.

Mission strategy
Last year's convention postponed to this year the canonically required triennial review of the diocese's mission strategy.  Convention will hear a report from the design team that has been at work since May devising a process by which input can be widely gathered from across the diocese to inform the crafting of the new strategy, which will be presented in final form for approval next year.  More information about that process is available here.

Two of the three resolutions coming before this year's convention focus on the Middle East. 

One acknowledges persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and urges support for them through Episcopal Relief & Development. 

Though Episcopal Relief & Development doesn't have a program specifically for persecuted peoples, it does provide emergency assistance through its ongoing disaster response efforts, according to Malaika Kamunanwire, the organization's senior director for marketing and communications.  As an example of recent work, she highlighted Episcopal Relief & Development's partnership with the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches to offer support to displaced people in Syria and around the region.  (Read more here.)

The second resolution to be considered at Diocesan Convention asks for endorsement of initiatives encouraging members of the diocese to visit the West Bank of Palestine "to witness what life is like for those living under military occupation" and to develop relationships with churches and institutions in the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which comprises Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.  The resolution also encourages congregations to seek financial assistance for mission pilgrimages to the Diocese of Jerusalem through the diocesan Mission Tithe Matching Grant program.  The Mission Tithe Matching Grants are funded by money raised through the diocesan Together Now campaign and were established to foster and expand congregationally based global mission relationships--especially those with a hands-on mission component, according to grant program materials.

A third resolution supports the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights as the standard of treatment for people fleeing their countries, and specifically commends initiatives that work toward addressing the root causes of Latin American migration.  It also calls on the Episcopal Public Policy Network of the church's Office of Government Relations to advocate that the U.S. government revise its interception policy for migrants at southern border crossings, that it stop detaining asylum seekers with credible claims and that it play a role in supporting the governments of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to address issues that lead masses of people to leave those countries. 

Full texts of resolutions are available in the convention handbook, here.

Among other business, the convention will vote on the proposed $9-million diocesan budget for 2016.  It includes $6.9 million in core revenues and expenses and $2.1 million in supplemental ones.  "The budget offers a balance between maintaining support for ongoing programs and initiatives while providing flexibility to Bishop Gates, diocesan leadership and the full diocese itself as we embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead," the introductory letter in the budget book says.  Most notable, it says, is explicit funding of $40,000 for the discernment process now underway that will lead to the creation of the new diocesan mission strategy to be presented for approval next year.

Three people are running for the open lay position on the Standing Committee.  They are Alice Krapf of St. John's Church in Charlestown, John Iredale of the Parish of St. Chrysostom in Quincy and Margaret Smist of Grace Church in Medford.

Running unopposed for other positions are:  Rebecca Alden of St. David's Church in South Yarmouth and the Rev. Karen Coleman of St. James's Church in Somerville for Provincial Synod; Stephen Mascoll of St. Bartholomew's Church in Cambridge and the Rev. Natasha Stewart of Trinity Church in Bridgewater for the Board of Directors of the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center; and the Rev. Andrew Stoessel of St. Michael's Church in Marblehead as clerical member of the Standing Committee.

Also running unopposed are the Rev. Mary Scott Wagner of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Reading, the Rev. Kathleen Lonergan of St. James's Church in Groveland and Dan Clevenger of the Parish of St. Chrysostom in Quincy for the Disciplinary Board; the Rev. Cameron Partridge, Chaplain, Boston University, and Mary Beth Mills-Curran of St. James's Church in Cambridge for the Cathedral Chapter; Lauriann Kloppenburg of St. Anne's-in-the-Fields Church in Lincoln for the Trustees of Donations; Lisa Garcia of the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, for treasurer; and Leon Brathwaite of Grace Church in Vineyard Haven for secretary.

Visit the Diocesan Convention 2015 page for more convention information.

Updated 10/27/2015 to include Nov. 13 live webcast.