Climate change, elder ministry among issues to be considered by Diocesan Convention

Response to climate change and a commitment to developing new ministry with elders are among the issues coming before delegates and clergy at the upcoming Diocesan Convention.

Diocesan Convention 2017 logo

The convention will also hear recommendations from the team that has been working over the past year to organize the implementation of the new mission strategy that the convention adopted last year.  And, it will vote on the $8.8-million budget proposed for 2018 and elect alternate deputies to next summer’s General Convention of the Episcopal Church, among other business.

The convention takes place on Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston.  A live Webcast of the day's proceedings is planned via  The event hashtag for those participating via social media is #DioMassCon17.

Find materials and updates at


Mission strategy
Last year's convention approved a new diocesan mission strategy that calls for "embracing brave change" by “reimagining our congregations,” “building our relationships” and “engaging our world."  A 15-member implementation organizing team has been working over the past year to identify next steps and new initiatives that uphold those themes, and to develop a prioritized implementation plan.  The team will report its recommendations at the convention.

"We have focused on ways to deepen our personal relationships with one another, to increase congregational collaboration and to facilitate the building of ministry networks across our diocese.  We believe that increasing our strength and capacity in these areas helps us engage the deeper work that has been articulated in our mission strategy for future years," the team wrote in a pre-convention letter to delegates and clergy.

"Together, we have prayed and dreamed over these many months.  We have connected with people, inside and outside of our diocese, and collaborated frequently with our bishops.  It has been a year of hard work, rich debate and much joy.  Now, we are ready to share the fruits of our work with you in November and see what the Holy Spirit will do next among us," the team wrote.

Read the full letter here.

The convention will vote on a proposed 2018 diocesan budget of $8.8 million, down from the $9.2-million budget adopted last year for 2017.

In April, the Diocesan Council approved a new assessment formula for calculating each congregation's annual contribution to the diocesan budget.  The new formula was a response to requests from congregations for assessment relief, voiced during the listening process that led up to the creation of the new diocesan mission strategy adopted last year.  The new assessment formula results in a 10 percent aggregate decrease in assessment revenue when compared with the previous formula.

New mission strategy priorities and the reduction in assessment income "have demanded that we address our mission aspirations with fewer resources at the diocesan level," the diocesan treasurer, Lisa Garcia, and Budget Committee chair Ted Ts'o write in a letter accompanying the proposed 2018 budget.  "With the guidance of Bishop Gates, a new structure for diocesan staff and program will be implemented in the coming year to align with our newly articulated mission priorities.  A more robust process for evaluating existing strategic ministries and identifying new ones has begun to take shape and will continue to be developed in the coming year.  And while this year has given us the challenge of turning those realities into a balanced budget, we are persuaded that this is an opportunity to respond to God’s abundant gifts with our good stewardship."

Find the budget book here.

Two resolutions will come before the convention for its consideration.

One is a response to climate change that asks the convention to affirm Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry's June response to President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord and to "praise the 'We Are Still In' declaration in which hundreds of signatories pledge support" for Paris Climate Accord goals.  The resolution also asks the convention to make a general commitment of time, financial resources and prayer "to call on our congregations and every person of faith to set a moral example by making decisions of integrity in our energy choices and holding our leaders accountable to likewise reduce carbon emissions"; to "call on our clergy and lay leaders to speak from the pulpit about our moral obligation to protect God's creation"; and to "call on our communities of faith to be bold and courageous in proclaiming the urgency of the climate crisis in the public square."

The second resolution that the convention will consider encourages the formation of a diocesan network of congregations and individuals devoted to ministry with the elderly, to focus on offering practical support on issues affecting elders and their caregivers, and on developing resources and training that will help church leaders address the needs of aging people in their congregations.

Read complete text of the resolutions in the Handbook, here.
The convention will elect alternate deputies to the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention in 2018, to serve in the event that any of the eight deputies elected last year cannot.  Four lay and four clerical alternate deputy positions are to be filled, but there are only two lay nominees and three clerical nominees:  Betsy Ridge Madsen of the Church of the Advent in Boston and Susannah Perkinson of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Duxbury for lay alternate deputy positions; and, for clerical alternate positions, the Rev. Karen Coleman of St. James's Church in Somerville and acting chaplain at Boston University, the Rev. Debbie Phillips of Grace Church in Salem and the Rev. Canon William C. Parnell, Canon to the Ordinary.

The Diocesan Council will need to appoint people to fill the still-open positions.

Nominees for a lay position on the Cathedral Chapter are Kevin Miller of Epiphany Church in Walpole, Paddy Cavanaugh of Emmanuel Church in Boston and Betsy Munzer of St. Paul's Church in Brookline. 

Standing for a clergy position on the Disciplinary Board are the Rev. Terry Pannell of the Church of St. Mary of the Harbor in Provincetown and the Rev. Mary Scott Miller of Christ Church in Needham.

Read more about the nominees in the Handbook, here.