May 13th to 15th 2014 – General Convention
The 11th General Convention of the United Episcopal Church of North America met at the Hotel St Michael, W. Gurley St., Prescott, AZ. The business meetings were organised to all occur on the 14th, and the following is a summary of what occurred. Please note that an official Convention Journal will be available later in the year, so this account must be regarded as Provisional.
The General Convention was called to order at 11.00am, and Morning Prayer, led by the Presiding Bishop and the Very Rev. Richard Desroches followed.
A roll call then followed which showed that there were lay and clerical delegates from a majority of the UECNA’s were present.
The election of General Convention Officers then followed with the Very Rev. Richard Desroches being elected president, and the Rev. Patrick Maclean being elected Recorder.
The Presiding Bishop then gave his “State of the Church” address which pointed to modest growth over the past three years, especially in the Eastern and Western Missionary Dioceses. He also noted with approval that he had been called upon to dedicate new or relocated church buildings in Branson, MO, and Boaz, AL both in the South and Ozarks Missionary Diocese. He also gave an overview of both inter-jurisdiction and ecumenical relations, noting that whilst moves towards closer relations with the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Province of Christ the King were stalled, old friendships with the Diocese of the Great Lakes, and the Anglican Episcopal Church had been renewed.
Bishop Stephen Murrell then reported on the situation in the Eastern Missionary Diocese, noting that several new works had been established in the last few years, and that there were a healthy number of ordinations within the diocese.
Bishop Robinson then delivered the report for the South and Ozarks Missionary Diocese on behalf of Bishop Glen Hartley, who had been prevented from attending by being involved in a collision with a deer on the way. Bishop Hartley’s report noted the changes within the Missionary Diocese, including the closure of one church – St Matthew’s, Rogers, AR – and the accession of two missions to the diocese in western KY.
Bishop David Hustwick of the Diocese of the Great Lakes then addressed the Convention about his jurisdiction’s work in Michigan and Ohio, and was warmly received.
In the remaining half hour before lunch, the General Convention looked at the proposed changes to the Constitution and Canons.
The first item was a proposed constitutional amendment to require that those consecrated Bishop have been in priest’s orders at least six years by the time of their proposed consecration. This is intended to be both a fulfilment of the New Testament injunction to lay hands suddenly on no man, and also incorporates a traditional requirement enshrined in the 1604 Canons of the Church of England. This proposed amendment was carried by the required 75% majority, and will return for a final vote at the 12th General Convention which, God willing, will occur in May 2017.
Next came two Canon changes relating to Episcopal Visitors. The first, and additional to Canon 13, allows the Standing Committee of a vacant diocese to request the appointment of an Episcopal Visitor by the House of Bishops. The second, an amendment to Canon 46, defined the terms under which an Episcopal Visitor may be appointed.
A further amendment to the Canons, to allow Bishops to serve as Ordinaries on a year-by-year basis at the request of their diocesan Convocations was amended, and returned to the House of Bishops for further consideration.
A new Canon – 69 – essentially creates a “grammar committee” to correct the text of the Constitution and Canons without the whole process having to be submitted to the General Convention.
The House then rose for lunch, reconvening at 1.15pm
Mrs. Eileen Grant, the treasurer of the UECNA then gave a financial report, which showed that the financial position of the UECNA had improved considerably since the last General Convention in 2011. Particularly gratifying is the 10.3% return on the Church’s investments, which has been used to compensate for some budget shortfalls in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Mrs. Grant’s report was accepted by the General Convention, and a vote of thanks was spontaneously proposed by several members of the House.
The election of the treasurer to the 11th General Convention to cover 2014-2017 was then made, and Mrs Grant was re-elected for another 3 year term.
The budgets for 2015, 2016, and 2017 were then presented to the House and accepted un-amended.
The House then recessed for the nomination of three clergy and six lay members for the National Council. A slate was produced and proposed to the House and accepted.
This was followed by a brief discussion of the Church’s publicity efforts. The Rev. Mike McDonald was tasked with investigating ways of overhauling the Provincial website and giving it more eye-appeal. The General Convention was also warmly supportive of a proposal to drop the ‘Trinitarian’ as the UECNA’s joint journal with the ACC, and revive “Glad Tidings” as a quarterly publication from August 2014. The Presiding Bishop also suggested that in future the UECNA would be printing its own liturgical calendar, and the clergy delegates approved this notion.
The Presiding Bishop then gave his charge in which he highlighted three urgent priorities. A greater commitment to Home Mission and Evangelism by the whole Church; the establishment of a Missionary Society, and the re-establishment of Latimer Seminary (initially founded in 1985 by Bishop Knight) as the theological institute for the UECNA as an adequate supply of clergy is essential for the growth of the Church.
The House then adjourned.
Meetings for the United Episcopal Churchwomen, and the clergy then followed at St Paul’s Anglican Church. The focus of the clergy’s discussion was the effects of the marriage redefinition campaign on the Church, and how to protect the Christian Character of Matrimony.
Evening Prayer followed at 5.10pm, and the Lord’s Supper at 5.30pm.
The Convention Dinner followed at 7pm at the Hotel St Michael. The after dinner speaker was Bishop Hustwick, and there was a short music programme given by Mr. Tom Flowers, the organist of St Paul’s Anglican Church, who is also a talented harpsichordist, and it was the harpsichord that took centre stage on this occasion.
The Presiding Bishop then formally prorogued the House of Delegates, and gave the gathering his blessing.