Wednesday, November 18, 2009

“40 and FORWARD”—Diocesan Convention, Nov. 13-14

Our 40th Annual Diocesan Convention, with the theme “40 and FORWARD,” was held Nov. 13-14 at St. Paul’s, Key West.

Resolutions, election results and other details can be found at the Diocesan Convention link. There is also a Convention photo gallery.

In his address Bishop Leo Frade gave thanks for the leadership of the diocese’s first two bishops, the late James L. Duncan, and retired Bishop Calvin O. Schofield, Jr., as well as the “men and women, lay and ordained, who in the past through their sacrifice and obedience to our Lord established our church in this part of the world.”

Looking forward, he announced that he plans four “visioning days” in 2010 in different locations in the diocese, at which he will ask the people of the diocese to focus on “what God is calling us to do,” and to help him determine the direction of our diocesan ministries in the next five years.

The bishop also announced that he will name the Rev. Dr. Carlos Sandoval, a medical doctor and psychiatrist, as well as priest-in-charge of St. Simon’s, Miami, as Canon for Health, a new position intended to help the diocese address a variety of public health issues.

Frade also said that planning is almost complete for beginning a Portuguese-language ministry with the Brazilian community in the Pompano Beach area of Broward County. He noted that that the three towns in the United States with the largest populations of Brazilians are found in that area.

The preacher for the convention Eucharist was Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real. Gray-Reeves is a Miami native who grew up as a parishioner at St. Stephen’s, Miami, and served as rector of St. Margaret’s, Miami Lakes, from December 1998 until she was appointed diocesan Archdeacon for Deployment in early 2005.

“I am honored to be with you,” she said. “You are part of me, and I am part of you; I literally cannot unwind myself from you the connection is so significant.”

She told the congregation to “dwell in the word…to discern what the word is saying directly to us,” and to “dwell in our community… dwelling in a neighborhood means that you don’t study it, you have a relationship with it.”

“There is no substitute for a relationship,” she said.

“It is so important to remember that we do not exist for the institution, we exist for the sheep,” she concluded. “I stand here as a visible presence of the institution to say that we do not exist for ourselves…May we never forget that we exist for the sheep who long for Jesus, who long to be told they are loved, who long to come home.”

The Rt. Rev. Todd McGregor, area bishop for Tulear, in the Diocese of Antananarivo, Madagascar, and his wife, the Rev. Patsy McGregor, presented an update on their ministries. The diocese has partnered in various ways with the McGregors since they first went to Madagascar as lay missionaries in 1991, and Antananarivo is one of Southeast Florida’s companion dioceses. The offering from the convention Eucharist was divided equally between the McGregors’ work and Episcopal Charities of Southeast Florida.

As part of its convention presentation, Episcopal Charities asked deputies and guests to bring donations of non-perishable food items, which was offered at the convention Eucharist and presented to community food pantries in Key West and Marathon.

The convention passed an amendment to the diocesan constitution that would grant seat and voice in convention to each deanery’s Youth Coordinator. Other resolutions approved included three proposed by the diocesan Youth Commission: One calling for restricting the use of bottled water “at all church sponsored activities, starting immediately;” one designating the Bishop’s Spring Conference for 2011 as “an experiential music workshop,” and asking that the Bishop and the Executive Board form a committee to develop a list of music resources for the diocese to be presented at the 2010 Diocesan Convention; and the third calling for the formation of a steering committee to study the viability of establishing a diocesan Youth Retreat Center.

Another resolution called for the convention to give thanks for the newly approved full-communion relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Moravian Church and to send greetings to the Moravian congregations in southeast Florida communities—three in Miami and one in West Palm Beach.

The convention approved a budget for 2010 of $3,518,253, slightly lower than the amount approved at last year’s convention for 2009, but slightly higher than the revised 2009 budget of $3,399, 453 approved by Executive Board after the 2008 convention.

In the approved budget the assessment percentage for congregations will remain at the current 13.99 percent. In order to maintain this rate, diocesan staff will receive no COLA raises in 2010, and one staff position will be eliminated.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcoming “creatures great and small”

The Blessing of the Animals has become an annual event in many of our congregations; it’s usually scheduled on or close to the Oct. 4 Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, whose joy in all of creation is recalled in stories of his friendship with birds and animals.

Here’s a schedule of services at which parishioners and neighbors are invited to bring their animal companions to church for a blessing. This list will be updated as we receive more dates and times.

Oct. 2
10 a.m.-2 p.m. St. John’s, Hollywood (Event includes Fall Fest)
11 a.m. Church of the Resurrection, Biscayne Park
8 & 10 a.m. Holy Trinity, West Palm Beach
8 & 10 a.m. St. Luke’s, Port Salerno (Event includes pet costume contest)
9 a.m. Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Palm Beach
9 a.m. St. Mary’s, Stuart
10 a.m. Church of the Intercession, 501 NW 17 St., Ft. Lauderdale
10 a.m. St. Andrew’s, Lake Worth
10 a.m. Chapel of the Venerable Bede, Coral Gables
Oct. 18
10 a.m. St. Martin’s, Pompano Beach (Event includes petting zoo, refreshments, other activities)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Convention concludes

The volunteer "Ubuntu Choir" sang with guest musicians at every Eucharist during General Convention. Dean Jennie Lou Reid (second from right) and her husband, dioceasan Vice-chancellor Ben Reid, were among the choristers.

July 17, 2009
The 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church concluded this afternoon, somewhat ahead of the 6 p.m. scheduled closing, and having completed more legislation than any General Convention in recent memory.

Many who have participated in the convention have remarked that it was also a time characterized by the awareness of our interrelatedness with each other that reflected the theme of “Ubuntu”—“I in you and you in me.”

Bishop Jon Bruno of the host Diocese of Los Angeles called this “probably one of the least rancor-filled conventions I have been to.”

For reports on the work accomplished by the bishops and deputies, keep following the stories and at Episcopal Life Online.

For insights into the experience of being part of General Convention, there’s Char Vinik’s Diary of a Deputy and Dean Jennie Lou Reid’s “Priest’s Letter” at --or, for something completely different, haiku from General Convention. (Disclaimer: They’re written by your director of communications.)

In addition to our own photo gallery, which will be updated in the next few days with many additional photos, and the photos from the Media Hub, there’s an excellent gallery posted by Jim DeLa, director of communications for our neighboring Diocese of Southwest Florida.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Urging a vote for youth

July 16, 2009

One of the resolutions debated this afternoon in the House of Deputies, D066, asked that members of the Official Youth Presence, who now have seat and voice, but no vote, in the House, be given the right to vote with their deputations as lay deputies. This proposal would require a change in the Canons of General Convention.

Michael Sahdev from St. Benedict’s, Plantation, who is one of two Province IV representatives in the Official Youth Presence, spoke in favor of this resolution.

He said that giving youth a vote would “send a message to all the youth of the world…[that] we believe in our youth and we know they aren’t just the future of the church, but the church now.”

“I’m a full voting member on my parish’s vestry. I have voted at my diocesan convention the past two years, and I assure you it hasn’t hurt us a bit. In fact, I think having our youth vote adds a new perspective on what the church needs and is…”

“Please show us we belong in this church and let our voices be heard.”

Many deputies spoke in support of the resolution, but the decision was made to discharge it to the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons for further work.

On the convention floor

July 16, 2009

Yesterday after the joint session of the House of Bishops with the House of Deputies to hear the presentation of the budget, there was a brief time when photographers were allowed on the convention floor.

Here’s Bishop Frade with our deputation. Left to right, front row: Archdeacon Bryan Hobbs, Char Vinik, Saulo Salvador (alternate), Bonnie Weaver, Dean Jennie Lou Reid (alternate), Dean Carol Barron, Tom O’Brien; left to right, back row: Dean Horace Ward, Richard Miller, Fr. Chip Stokes, Bishop Frade, Dean Bernie Pecaro (alternate), Michael Sahdev (Official Youth Presence).
There’s much legislative work to be done today and tomorrow. You can follow all of General Convention at Episcopal Life Online and the Media Hub (this resource takes time to download and may be difficult for some browsers—be patient).

Be sure to visit the Media Hub photo gallery and our diocesan photo gallery (which will be updated later today).

Char Vinik is also keeping us up to date with information, insights and photos on her Diary of a Deputy blog.

July 15--Eighth day of General Convention

The celebrant for this morning’s Eucharist was our friend and former archdeacon, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real. The theme for today was Creation Care, so the Eucharist was “paperless”—there were no worship booklets, and all songs, prayers and responses were projected on screens behind the altar.

The preacher was Bishop Steven Charleston, assistant bishop of California and provost of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. He gave a passionate (as he said, “prophetic”) plea for the Episcopal Church to join with other faith communities to address what he called the two critical questions facing humanity: Can human beings live together in peace, even when they disagree, and can we make the changes in our civilization necessary for us to reverse the damage we have done and live in harmony with all creation?

Click here for the video of Bishop Charleston’s sermon.

At least 15 resolutions on environmental issues are before General Convention. Bishop Charleston said later that he feels the most crucial one is Resolution C070, which would commit the Episcopal Church to the Genesis Covenant.
This afternoon the bishops came into the House of Deputies for joint session at which the proposed budget for 2010-2012 was presented. In anticipation of greatly reduced income, due to the current economic situation, the proposed budget reflects a reduction in the amounts requested from dioceses—and a $23 million cut, which could eliminate some churchwide programs, as well as the positions of 30 of the 180 people employed by the Episcopal Church in its New York and regional offices.

The House of Bishops was due to begin discussion on the budget this afternoon, and the House of Deputies must concur with the bishops' decision in order for the budget to be adopted. Either house may amend; but if a specific line item is increased, the amendment must specify which other line item would be decreased.

More information about the proposed budget is available here.
A major topic of conversation today around the Convention Center was Resolution D025, which was passed yesterday. The resolution recommits the Episcopal Church to continued participation in and financial support of the Anglican Communion, but also affirms the openness of the ordination process to all people.

More information is available here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Young Adult Festival

Lem Moncur, Laurie Jean and Garrett Braaf ready to learn a dance at a workshop on Native American cultural expressions in worship

July 14, 2009

This is the third General Convention to include a Young Adult Festival, a gathering of young adults 18-30 years old from the Episcopal Church and around the Anglican Communion. The event began Friday, July 10, and concludes today.

In keeping with the Ubuntu theme of General Convention, the theme for YAF has been “Together”—and the young adults were together, with each other in workshops and special events, with the deputies and bishops in hearings and legislative sessions, and with all the participants in General Convention in worship at the daily Eucharists.

Three young adults from Southeast Florida participated in YAF: Lem Moncur, from Historic St. Agnes, Miami; Laurie Jean, from St. Paul et les Martyrs d’Haiti, Miami: and Garrett Braaf, from St. Benedict’s, Plantation.

Moncur, who has worked with Young Adult Ministry for several years, said he was glad to have others from our diocese participating in this YAF.

Jean said she liked “some of” the workshops and the opportunity to be with other young adults. “What I didn’t like was waking up at 6 a.m. and going to bed at 2 a.m.,” she said. “But,” she added, “It was worth it!”

Braaf, a Gospel hip-hop artist and student at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, told Episcopal Life’s Convention Daily on Saturday that he sees the issue of young adult participation in the Church as being in God's hands. “We as humans can't perceive God's plan. The people that are supposed to be at a place will be there. God knows what's best – it's not about the numbers.”

A last night’s YAF closing reception he said that what he appreciated most about YAF was “the fellowship with a lot of folks just like me, looking for a Christian home” after graduating from youth group.

Click here to hear Moncur, Jean and Braaf talk about their YAF experience.

Click here for more on YAF and Young Adult Ministry in the Episcopal Church.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday legislative session

Sunday was not a day of rest for bishops and deputies. After this morning’s joyous worship, it was time for a long afternoon of hard work.

This afternoon the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops in approving a resolution recommitting to the Millennium Development Goals as a “primary mission priority,” and increasing support for the MDGs from .7% of revenue of the Episcopal Church to 1%. The text of this resolution is at

Much of the discussion this afternoon was around resolution D025, a response to resolution B033 from 2006 General Convention, which urged restraint concerning the election of bishops whose "manner of life" would cause offense to the wider Anglican Communion. That has been generally perceived as a moratorium on electing bishops who are gays or lesbians in committed same-sex relationships.

D025 reaffirms the ongoing commitment of The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion, but also opens “any ordained ministry” to any person whose “call is tested through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.”

The full text of the resolution is at

Another important resolution passed by the deputies this afternoon is D038, which asks the Church to allocate $3.5 million for the implementation of “The Episcopal Church's Strategic Vision for Reaching Latinos/Hispanics in the United States.”

The full text of this resolution is at

Earlier in the week a young woman new to our diocese testified before the Evangelism Committee in favor of this resolution. Michelle Aguilar, 16, whose father, the Rev. Richard Aguilar, is the new priest-in-charge of St. Margaret’s and San Francisco de Asis, Miami Lakes, told the committee, “The Strategic Vision of the Episcopal Church for reaching Latinos and Hispanics responds to the current concern of the church regarding the decline in membership, and at the same time it provides the tools needed by the church.”

“The Latino population is constantly increasing,” she said, “and I believe that more Latinos should know about the Episcopal Church.”

She noted that there is currently insufficient funding for Hispanic/Latino ministry that could reach out to these persons who “are looking for a church that is open and welcoming to persons from all backgrounds.”

Implementing the Strategic Vision would mean that “finally our slogan invites everyone”--La igleisa episcopal le da la bienvenida.

D038 must now go to the House of Bishops. In this evening’s media briefing Bishop Frade expressed some concern that the resolution might not find such easy approval from the bishops, because of budgetary concerns. But, he said, he would try hard to convince his sister and brother bishops of the need to approve the plan, because, “It’s about 20 years too late, and we have to move fast.”

Sunday Eucharist and UTO ingathering

July 12, 2009

At this morning’s Eucharist the cavernous hall in the convention center was nearly full, as parishioners from all over the Diocese of Los Angeles joined for worship with deputies, bishops, exhibitors and everyone else who is participating in any way in General Convention.

At the head of the first group of bishops in the procession was our deputy Char Vinik, who served as one of four vergers for the service. Right behind her was Bishop Frade. (Char’s blog at has additional pictures of her with participants in the service.)

The Korean Drum Band that opened the Exhibit Hall on Tuesday was part of the procession, along with rippling streamers and dancers swirling scarves. Several thousand voices reverberated in familiar hymns--with some stanzas sung in Spanish--and choirs and soloists added music ranging from Mozart to Gospel.

At the heart of the service was the UTO offering; as each diocese was announced, a representative offered at the altar a piece of paper with the amount of that diocese’s United Thank Offering collected over the past triennium—a total of $6.7 million churchwide.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was celebrant and preacher for the service, and former Presiding Bishops Frank Griswold and Ed Browning concelebrated with her—probably the first time that three presiding bishops have been at the altar together at a General Convention.

In her sermon Bishop Katharine urged that we “travel light.”

“The offering that we receive today is a sacrament of traveling light,” she said. “When we hold something lightly, we’re much more able to offer it freely, like sharing peace – if you find it, great, if not, let it go and move on. The United Thank Offering is a sacramental sign of inward gratitude for what is, turned to outward and visible mission.”

“Mission is our life, and it is a life spent on the road, traveling light, anticipating hospitality, and sharing what we have.”
The complete text of her sermon is at

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Proud morning for youth in House of Bishops

Bishop Frade and Michael Sahdev in the House of Bishops

July 11, 2009

This morning Bishop Leo Frade escorted the president of our diocesan Youth Commission, Michael Sahdev, and a young woman from the Diocese of Southwest Virginia, Grace Aheron, to the front of he House of Bishops for their presentation from the Official Youth Presence.

After introducing himself, Michael got the bishops’ attention with, “Please hear my words and put them into action.”

“Too many Christians are no longer fishers of people, but keepers of the aquarium,” he said. Citing statistics on the decline of Episcopal Church membership, he noted that only 21 per cent of Episcopal churches say their members are involved “quite a bit” or “a lot” in inviting new members.

“Not only does this hurt us as a church, but it hurts the rest of the world,” he said. “People who needed the Episcopal Church will fall deeper into sin and never know Christ.”

Young people especially need the church, he said. “Youth are looking for something that will make them whole, something that will lift then up—why not let it be Christ!”

He suggested putting “The Episcopal Church welcomes you” signs “everywhere—billboards, bus stops, malls, anywhere people will see them.”

“It’s time we leave the safety of the aquarium, and not just go out into the world, but dive into it and make a big splash!”

Evangelism should be like prayer, he said—“an ordinary, routine thing that is just part of being a Christian.”

Involving and keeping new members, especially youth, he said, depends upon “love and personal connection.”

He urged the bishops to “inspire us to share the Good News, lead us on our journey into the new frontier, empower us to be fishers of people. Listen to our call, keep youth as a priority in this church and step up our commitment to evangelize. Then I can promise you the future is brighter than ever. Help us not to be just keepers of the aquarium, but fishers of all people.”

The bishops responded to his presentation with an enthusiastic standing ovation.

In her presentation Aheron offered the bishops her “unique perspective” as an 18-year-old woman, and reminded them of the optimism that young people bring to the church.
“This is a generation of empowered young men and women,” she said. “I have seen the Holy Spirit transform teenagers into instruments of God’s grace.”

She invited the bishops to “come and worship God with reckless abandon.”

Friday, July 10, 2009

Deputies practice listening: Mission Conversation—Public Narrative

Deputy Char Vinik in conversation about resolution B033

Yesterday morning the deputies had an opportunity to practice the art and technique of public narrative in the first of three sessions called Mission Conversation. This first session focused on the “Story of Self;” subsequent sessions will broaden the conversation to the “Story of Us” and finally “Linking Self and Us to Now.”

As others around the table listened, each participant told a personal story of the origins of his or her ministry, followed by feedback from the group. Then the group reflected together on what they had learned from and about each other and how these learnings might be taken back into the larger community.

In a late afternoon session the House of Deputies used a similar technique when it convened as a non-legislative Committee of the Whole to discuss possible action to repeal resolution B033 from General Convention 2006. (That resolution has been generally interpreted as a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops.) After a presentation by the Committee on World Mission on the history of the resolution and the options for dealing with it, the deputies were asked to spend the next half-hour in one-on-one conversation with someone they did not know, reflecting on three questions:
1. What is your story with respect to Resolution B033?
2. What is our story as a church with respect to B033?
3. What is God calling us to do now?

Our deputies Chip Stokes and Char Vinik have more about Mission Conversation and about the conversations in the House of Deputies on their blogs: and

July 9, 2009

July 9, 2009

This morning Bishop Frade and Bishop Thomas Shaw of Massachusetts were the bishops on the panel for the morning “media briefing.”

Our bishop spoke of having attended a hearing in support of resolution D038, which asks that the Episcopal Church allocate $3.5 million for implementation of “The Episcopal Church’s Strategic Vision for Reaching Latino/Hispanics.” He said that the resolution will plant churches and train clergy, both Latino/Hispanic and Anglo, for ministry to Latino/Hispanic communities. He said that this plan aims to insure that “Hispanics will be fully included in the life of the Church, the way we are.”

“We don’t want just the crumbs under the table—we want to be at the table.”

(The text of this resolution is at

Inevitably, some of the reporters wanted to ask Frade about the story from our diocese that has been most publicized in the past month—the reception of Fr. Alberto Cutié from the Roman Catholic Church. Frade acknowledged that this event has caused some tension in relations with the Roman Catholic archdiocese, but said, “I am glad when someone becomes an Episcopalian.”

Fr. Cutié has been here in Anaheim for a few days; he was invited by Fr. Juan Jiménez, who served for several years in our diocese, to preach at a service last night in his church, St. Michael’s, Anaheim.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in the Exhibit Hall

July 8, 2009

Imagine a worshiping congregation of about 1000 people, all joining in joyous Gospel and African call-and-response music—that was today’s opening Eucharist. Only designated photographers are permitted to take pictures during worship; look for those on the Media Hub,

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was celebrant and preacher for the service. In her sermon, based on the reading from Ezekiel that speaks of God’s gift of a “new heart,” she said, “Hearts renewed stay that way, living flesh not hardening into stone, when they continue to share that new life…”

“The heart of this body is mission,” she said, “domestic and foreign mission, in partnership with anyone who shares that passion.”

Her sermon will also be on the Media Hub.
A special guest arrived today at the convention center—Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The archbishop is meeting with various groups today and this evening will join with the Presiding Bishop for a forum on the global financial crisis.

One of our deputies, Char Vinik, had her picture taken with the archbishop—that’s on her blog,

Another of our deputies, Fr. Chip Stokes, is now blogging; look for his blog at
Photos from General Convention are posted at Watch for new photos to be added to this gallery each day.

Opening Events

July 7, 2009

At noon today the exhibit hall opened with the sound of drums as the Korean Drum Band of St. James' School, Los Angeles, paraded into the hall and wound its way between the display booths.
Exhibiters include ministries, institutions and vendors from around the church—and around the world. There are ample opportunities to learn about a variety of organizations and issues, support missions and ministries, explore educational programs—and to BUY: books (lots of books), vestments, altar vessels, jewelry, calligraphy and other original art and, of course, food.

This afternoon Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson gave their opening addresses.

Bishop Katharine spoke of crisis and opportunity, telling the deputies that the crises that the Church faces at this General Convention—the environment, the world economic crisis, our continuing struggles about issues of inclusivity, and our diminished financial resources—provide “an opportunity to refocus on what is most essential.”

She also spoke of the convention theme of “ubuntu”—“I am because you are”—as a response to “the great Western heresy –that we can be saved as individuals.”

"If we want to be faithful we need to be continually rediscovering that my needs are not the only significant ones. We are our sibling’s keepers and their knowers, and we cannot be known without them -- we have no meaning, no true existence in isolation. We shall indeed die as we forget or ignore that reality."

She concluded, "This crisis is a decision point -- one which may involve suffering," she said. "But it is our opportunity to choose which direction we’ll go and what we will build.

"We will fail if we choose business as usual. There will be cross-shaped decisions in our work but if we look faithfully, there will be resurrection as well. This is our moment of judgment, our crisis. We can make our decisions in hope, and we can speak the love of God through this church. And we can do it together."

The full text of her address is at

Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, also emphasized our interdependence and God’s call to all of us to the mission of working to eliminate poverty in the world.

“We are only effective in responding to God’s call to the extent that we fully grasp the reality that we cannot do this ministry alone, as individuals,” she said. “We must no longer be afraid to ask other people to join us in action.”

The full text of her address is at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ready for General Convention

July 6, 2009

General Convention 2009 officially begins tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. (PT) with the Presiding Bishop’s address, and the first legislative sessions will be held Wednesday morning; but deputies have been arriving and committee meetings have already begun.

Information about General Convention, including legislation to be considered, can be found on the General Convention pages . Episcopal Life Media is providing news coverage.
The interactive Media Hub, which will provide multimedia converage of General Convention, including live streaming video, is at

Bishop Frade will be blogging during General Convention; you will be able to access his updates at the “Bishop Frade’s Blog” link on the homepage of our website.

One of our lay deputies, Char Vinik, has a blog at

Blogs from other deputies will be linked here as they come online.