Saturday, November 04, 2006

Diocese of Pittsburgh Convention: November 4, 2006

Convention resumed this morning with reports on elections to diocesan bodies.

Father David Wilson (who introduced yesterday’s amended Resolution One) requested that convention approve the Bishop’s express intention, in conjunction with the diocesan council, to address the “legitimate concerns” of the dissenting minority. This was approved without opposition. Bishop Duncan thanked delegates for their “continuing charity.”

Reports were received from Episcopal Church Women – who have embarked on a new commitment to the family life movement – from Episcopal Relief and Development and from Anglican Relief and Development (ARD). The spokesman for ARD stressed his organization’s commitment to an “investing” rather than a “gifting” approach. The projects undertaken are those with clear sustainable goals, adequate staffing and proper accountability. There have been expenditures of $2.1 million over the last two years, with no more than $200,000 committed to any one country. Of particular note was ARD’s support for the work of Global Teams after the 2005 Pakistan earthquake. Not only had Global Teams taught villagers how to build in remote areas how to build new homes but they had shared the Gospel and several hundred local people had accepted Christ and been baptized.

Father Laurie Thompson of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge requested suspension of the rules of order to allow a delegation from ACN parishes in Massachusetts and Connecticut to address the convention. Permission was granted by voice vote (with some dissenting voices). The rector of St. John’s Church in Franklin, Connecticut, read aloud a letter from Bill Murdock, dean of the New England Convocation (which now boasts twenty-seven parishes and missions). He expressed gratitude for the willingness of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to sacrifice their bishop for the good of the whole “at this time of heresy in the church.” They brought a gift of $2,900 to the Diocese of Pittsburgh as a thank offering.

There followed reports on the “Moms Group” ministry, launched at Fox Chapel Church in 1991 as a place of support and love for new mothers, whose former members are now bearing that message to other parts of the diocese. Lives have been changed, the speaker attested, and husbands have become involved in the work of parish ministry. The chairwoman of the Commission on Racism spoke of one of her success stories. Recently, the director of diocesan deacons attended one of the commission’s anti-racism workshop and came away troubled by the fact that there are no minority deacons in this diocese and only one being prepared for Holy Orders. Following discussions with diocesan leaders, it has been agreed that a letter will be sent to the rector and senior warden of every parish in the diocese that has minority members, encouraging them to seek out potential minority candidates for ministry. She further urged that scholarships be established for those who might require assistance. Other representatives reported on the work of the Commission on Aging and on the spectacular growth of a Sunday School program in one of the smaller parishes of the Diocese.

A report was presented by the 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee, which is overseeing arrangements for the observance of 250 years of Prayer Book worship in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Diocese has committed 1.5% of its budget for the next two years and parishes were urged to commit 1% of their budgets for the same period.

Father Jim Simons of St. Michael’s, Ligonier, presented a resolution praising the work of George Werner for his service to the Diocese and to the national Church and his consistent fairness in attempting to reconcile greatly divided factions. This was approved unanimously and with a standing ovation.

It was perhaps appropriate that the convention Eucharist concluded with Lawrence Tuttiett’s “Go Forward, Christian Soldier,” whose first and last stanzas may dimly hint at the road ahead.

“Go forward, Christian soldier,
Beneath His banner true:
The Lord Himself, thy Leader,
Shall all thy foes subdue.
His love foretells thy trials;
He knows thine hourly need;
He can with bread of Heaven
Thy fainting spirit feed.

Go forward, Christian soldier,
Fear not the gath’ring night:
The Lord has been thy Shelter;
The Lord will be thy Light.
When morn His face revealeth,
Thy dangers are all past:
O pray that faith and virtue
May keep thee to the last!”

No comments: