Episcopal Diocese of Washington

To draw people to Jesus and embody his love
for the world by equipping faith communities,
promoting spiritual growth, and striving for justice

Diocesan Stewardship & Parish Vitality Advisory Committee

February 06, 2020

Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from which the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.  
Ephesians 4:15-16

Among the many highlights of Diocesan Convention 2020 was the thoughtful presentation, careful debate, and approval (with several amendments) of the following resolution: “To provide for the establishment of an Advisory Committee on Diocesan Stewardship and Parish Vitality.” The resolution was proposed by a broad and representative group of clergy and laity from across the Diocese.

For good reason, the resolution is specific.  

By no later than March 1, 2020, the Bishop, with the advice of the Standing Committee, shall appoint 11 members to the Committee. 

At least 5 shall be residential clergy of the diocese and 5 shall be lay communicants in good standing (as defined in our canons as “faithful in corporate worship and in working, praying, and giving for the Kingdom of God.”) At least one member of the committee shall be a member of a Latino congregation and at least one a member of a majority African American congregation. Each of the 8 regions of the diocese shall be represented by at least one member. If a member of the committee is unable to serve, the Bishop shall appoint a replacement.

The Convention worked hard to ensure broad representation because the group is tasked with studying challenging and important issues: 

  • the standards that constitute a viable entity in the Diocese as a parish, separate congregation, or organized mission; 

  • the standards and processes that should be applied to a parish or separate congregation that would alter the organizational identity and status of that parish or separate congregation, due to financial and secular factors inhibiting it from performing its mission and meeting its obligations under the Canons of the General Convention and of this Diocese; 

  • the role of the Diocese in providing support and exercising authority in connection with the circumstances described above affecting a parish, separate congregation, or organized mission;

  • the standards and processes that are applied in other dioceses; 

  • the effect of any material and continued failure to comply with canonical requirements by a parish, separate congregation, or organized mission; and

  • any other matter that the Committee determines is relevant to its study

  • Not later than September 30, 2020, the Committee shall submit a report on its study and any recommendations to the Bishop, the Diocesan Council, and the Standing Committee.

To be clear, the resolution calls for an advisory committee to study and make recommendations to the leadership bodies of the diocese. Any recommendations that could result in canonical changes must come before future Diocesan Conventions. Yet even discussing such matters is a tender proposition for communities that are struggling. We will go forward with great care. 

I am now accepting nominations to serve on this important committee. This will be a working group, with considerable tasks to accomplish in 7 months’ time. After prayerful consideration, if you would like to nominate yourself please complete this application by February 27th, 2020. If you would like to nominate someone else, please contact them directly and encourage them to apply. 

At the Standing Committee’s meeting on February 29, I will present all nominations for its review with the goal of meeting the March 1, 2020 deadline for the advisory committee’s establishment. 

 

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