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.