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Feb 13, 2016 | EDOT Staff

Council Worship Features Trinity Vicar, Honors Treasurer

More than 800 clergy, delegates and visitors gathered Friday, Feb. 12 for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas’ opening Eucharist in the cavernous ballroom at the Marriott Waterway in the Woodlands. The worship service marked the beginning of the 167th Diocesan Council and featured a harmonious blend of voices from churches across the Diocese. Conga drums, guitars and horns wove through both traditional and contemporary hymns in English and Spanish. Linda Patterson,chair of the diocesan Music Commission even managed a beautiful African refrain for Prayers of the People to reflect the growing diversity of the Diocese.


The Rev. Philip Jackson, vicar of Trinity Wall Street, NY, returned to the Diocese as guest preacher. Jackson began his ordained ministry as vicar of Church of the Incarnation, an historic African American congregation in Houston that is now Hope Episcopal Church. Jackson went on to serve churches in Michigan and Arizona before his call to Trinity a year ago.


In his sermon, Jackson said that too often the Church doesn’t go far enough to respond to the life questions people have. “People are hungry for meaning and are trying to connect,” he said. “Our souls know that shopping, celebrity news and sports won’t answer their questions."


“Point to the forest,” Jackson challenged, describing a place where our deepest self is met. The forest is “deep, scary and we need a map.” It is a place where we ask 'What commands my greatest love?'" This question  frames a deeper walk and "affirms what matters beyond life,” Jackson said. (Jackson’s full sermon will be posted by Tuesday, February 16 at


During announcements, Bishop Andy Doyle acknowledged the upcoming retirement of the Diocese’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Robert J. Biehl, and said Biehl’s work and dedication “is something many of you as well as the Ninth Bishop of Texas will never forget ...  Bob cares. And not about the institution, but about God’s people. There is no way we can repay him because the gift he has given has been from the very deepest part of his soul.”


Bishop Doyle said Biehl had helped to guide the Diocese through some difficult financial times during his tenure, unified the budget and moved the Diocese’s accounting procedures “from a legal pad to the iPad … He is known for his wisdom throughout the Diocese, The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.”


At a reception honoring Bob and Marilyn Biehl following the service, Sam Dodson, a member of the Executive Board and chair of the Finance Committee said Biehl’s replacement “will have big shoes to fill …"


The Rev. Chester J. Makowski, vicar of St. Agustine of Hippo, Galveston remembers clearly how Biehl came to the rescue after the Hurricane Ike in 2008 devastated his church. He helped with Church Insurance and assisted the congregation with a gift from the Compass Rose Society as well. “I’m going to miss Bob,” Makowski said.


Relatively new as executive director of St. Vincent’s House, Galevston, the Rev. Freda Marie Brown said she will never forget Biehl’s accessibility whenever she had a question.  “Bob guided me and walked me trough the process of running a ministry for the first time. I will miss him very much,” Brown said.