"Gratitude & Celebration": Diocesan Convention is Nov. 2

Climate change and environmentally responsible financial investing are among the issues that will come before the 228th annual convention of the Diocese of Massachusetts, as will a request to continue the antiviolence campaign it began a year ago.

Clergy and delegates will also vote on an $8.2-million budget for 2014 and elect deputies to send 2013 Convention logo to the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention in 2015.

The annual legislative gathering, which brings together about 600 clergy members and elected delegates from each of the diocese’s congregations, takes place on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, with Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE and Bishop Gayle E. Harris presiding.

The diocese recently completed a $20-million fundraising campaign that is now making possible an array of mission strategy initiatives. It is also preparing for transition in episcopal leadership, with the election in April 2014 of a bishop coadjutor to succeed Shaw upon his eventual retirement. It's in the context of marking those milestones that the diocesan community gathers this year to conduct its annual business and worship together.  The convention’s theme is “Gratitude and Celebration.”

Four forums in October are an opportunity for convention-goers to learn about the issues and business to be decided at the convention.  [Find the forum schedule here.]


Three proposed resolutions will come before Diocesan Convention.   [Full text of resolutions is available in the convention handbook, here.]

One asks for a continuation of the work of the Jorge Fuentes Antiviolence Task Force, established by last year's convention.  It calls congregations to get involved in at least one of several areas identified by the task force as "action steps toward peace."  These include supporting youth programs; creating jobs for teens and young adults; partnering with underresourced public schools; addressing needs of youth and families through support and leadership programs; gun law reform; and education about the root causes of violence.  The resolution also asks for the development of "a training for trauma response and resiliency education for clergy and lay leaders" to be approved at next year's convention.

The other two resolutions focus on climate change and environmentally responsible investment.

One calls for support of "efforts to establish a carbon tax to discourage the use of fossil fuels" and asks the convention to endorse Massachusetts House Bill 2532, which proposes a state tax on certain fuels to raise revenue for one or more of a variety of transportation measures.

The second, under the umbrella of "environmentally responsible investing," asks numerous commitments and actions of various entities, including:  that "all members of congregations and all affiliated organizations" make "a moral commitment" to reduce their carbon footprint and fossil fuel use and to get involved in various kinds of advocacy toward the same; that "all managers of Episcopal endowments" freeze "all direct investments in the Carbon Tracker top 200 fossil fuel companies"; and that the Trustees of Donations identify "best in class" fossil fuel companies and report back next year with a plan for making the Diocesan Investment Trust free, by November 2018, of investments in ones that are not.  It also calls on the Trustees of Donations to design "an alternative investment vehicle" that excludes fossil fuel production companies, to conduct a survey to gauge interest in such a vehicle and to report widely on its findings.

Convention will also be asked for its assent to several procedural matters related to the April 2014 election of a bishop coadjutor for the diocese.


The convention will vote on a budget for 2014, which, as proposed, reflects core and supplemental revenues and expenses totaling $8.2 million.  [The complete budget is available here.]

“A budget reflects the perceived priorities which we believe God is calling us to establish in the coming year, bearing in mind that it is God’s abundance over which we have been given stewardship,” Lisa Garcia, Treasurer, and the Rev. Stephen Voysey, Budget Committee Chairperson, wrote in their introduction to the budget.

“We believe our work in preparing this budget represents a good faith effort to provide financial support to the greatest effect possible.  As required by canon, the budget is balanced and reflects the diocesan mission strategy,” they said.


Diocesan Convention will elect, from among the following nominees, four lay and four clerical deputies to the Episcopal Church's General Convention in 2015:

Samuel J. Gould (St. Stephen's Church, Lynn); Elizabeth Graham (Grace Church, Medford); Lallie Lloyd (Trinity Church, Boston); Betsy Ridge Madsen (Church of the Advent, Boston); Sarah Neumann (Church of the Redeemer, Lexington); Byron Rushing (St. John St. James Church, Roxbury); Fredrica Harris Thompsett (St. Barnabas's Church, Falmouth); The Rev. Thomas J. Brown (Parish of the Epiphany, Winchester); The Rev. Jane Soyster Gould (St. Stephen's Church, Lynn); The Rev. Elizabeth Grundy (Christ Church, Swansea); The Rev. Edwin Johnson (St. Mary's Church, Dorchester); The Rev. Canon Mally Ewing Lloyd, Canon to the Ordinary; The Rev. Karen B. Montagno, Director of Congregational Resources and Training, Diocese of Massachusetts; The Rev. Cameron Partridge, Chaplain at Boston University; and The Rev. Mary Scott Wagner (Church of the Good Shepherd, Reading).

Running unopposed for other positions are:  Jennifer McCracken (Christ Church, Needham) and The Rev. Patrick C. Ward (Trinity Church, Boston), Cathedral Chapter; Colin Johnstone (All Saints Parish, Brookline) and The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz (Emmanuel Church, Boston), Standing Committee; Patricia A. Scarpetti (Grace Church, Everett) and The Rev. Alan Hesse (Epiphany Church, Walpole), Board of Directors of the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center; The Rev. Christopher Wendell (St. Paul’s Church, Bedford) and The Rev. Christine Whittaker (Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cambridge), Disciplinary Board; James F. Gammill (Parish of the Epiphany, Winchester) for treasurer; and Leon A. Brathwaite II (Grace Church, Vineyard Haven) for secretary.

--Tracy J. Sukraw

Online registration and all convention materials are available here.