Dean’s Letter: Report from Diocesan Convention

Hello St. Paul’s,

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego held its 49th annual convention November 11 and 12 at St. Bartholomew’s in Poway. All clergy who are canonically resident in the diocese are delegates, and each congregation elects one or more lay delegates annually. St. Paul’s has six lay delegates, based on our pre-pandemic average Sunday attendance: those attending were Lisa Churchill, Stacey Klaman, Jen Jow, Diane Lopez Hughes, John Will, and Justin Lewis.  Bishop Susan presided over the convention.

Friday evening was held via Zoom and consisted of reviews of the resolutions, canonical amendments, and budget that would come before Convention on Saturday. We also enjoyed a panel discussion about creative ways for congregations to put their land assets to work.

Saturday began with a rousing service of Holy Eucharist. After Bishop Susan’s stellar sermon she made several presentations of Servant Ministry awards; she appointed Chancellor David Bagley as an honorary diocesan canon; and she presented the first annual Good News Award to our own Susan Jester and Martin Nace Hall, who are co-chairing the Good News Festival next month.

As we got down to business, we were assured that we had a quorum of clergy (60) and of lay delegates (106). We had several diocesan positions to elect, and we used a smart phone app for voting. Elected as clergy deputies to the 2024 General Convention of the Episcopal Church were: Mary Lynn Coulson, Roberto Maldonado-Mercado, Janine Schenone, and Jeff Martinhauk. Our own Richard Hogue was elected as an alternate. In the lay order we elected Rachel Ambasing, Polly Getz, Hanh Tran, and our own Jen Jow.  Four alternates were also elected in each order. Parishioner Marian Gaston was elected to serve on the clergy disciplinary board. We also elected executive council and Standing Committee members, and a secretary of Convention. Jen Jow and I continue as members of the Standing Committee.

The bishop’s address, which I recommend, addressed the progress of the diocesan strategic plan. She mentioned that next year will be the 50th anniversary of the Diocese, and Convention will take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral. A diocesan capital campaign will be launched early 2023, with three priorities: church growth and congregational development; clergy support and development (this includes finding ways to make it affordable for clergy to live here); the use of congregational assets for long term sustainability. She asked us to ask ourselves three questions: “Who are we?”; “Who are our neighbors?”; and “What does God call the church to be?”. 2023 will be designated the diocesan Year of Service, with Jeremiah 29:4-5,7 as the Scriptural basis.

After lunch we heard reports from various leaders, including Diane Lopez Hughes for the peace and justice committee; Patrick Grannam on leadership; Janine Schenone on evangelism and church growth; Betsey Monsell on the 2021 diocesan audit; Jeff Martinhauk on the diocesan finances. The diocesan budget was presented and passed, including several new initiatives stemming from the strategic plan which will be funded by the proceeds of property sales.

We then moved to resolutions, passing unanimously a canonical change exempting two large and self-sufficient diocesan entities (the Bishop’s School and Episcopal Community Services) from the requirement to seek permission from Standing Committee before entering into property deals; a revision to the Action Plan Parish canon adding some criteria for designating a parish as an APP; and am increase in the threshold of requiring executive council approval of extra-budgetary expenditures from $2,000 to $10,000.

Bishop Susan reappointed Stephen Turnbull as Bishop’s Warden to Chapter; directed out attention to three canonical changes from General Convention; and appointed the Rt Rev. James Mathes as an assisting bishop in the diocese.

We approved a number of courtesy resolutions, and the diocesan Youth Collaborative sent us out with encouraging messages and a closing prayer.

It was a blessedly routine Convention. What stood out for me were the sense of collegiality, vision, and unity; the number of cathedral people in diocesan leadership; and a strong trend of electing women and people of color to diocesan positions. The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is walking the walk!

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Your sister in Christ,

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