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Feb 11, 2012 | Carol E. Barnwell

163rd Council Approves Bishop Suffragan Election

Diocese Approves Bishop Suffragan Election


Calling the Church to the work of mission and evangelism, Bishop C. Andrew Doyle told delegates and clergy gathered for the diocese’s 163rd Council that they were “to carry the missionary banner of God through the witness of the Episcopal Church in our day and in our context.” More than 400 elected representatives and nearly 200 clergy gathered in Bryan Texas, February 11 annual business meeting, passing a $10 M budget and approving the election of a bishop suffragan later this spring.


“Today, you and I are called by God, to God’s mission of proclaiming the Good News of Salvation and to make our unique witness to God in Christ Jesus through the Episcopal Church,” Bishop Doyle said. “The organization [of the church] exists for nothing else.”


Bishop Doyle spoke of his intention to lead the diocese’s 153 congregations through actions that will be taken by the Church’s General Convention this summer.  He said he would vote against a liturgy for same sex unions, noting that General Convention (a triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church) will approve that liturgy. Further, he said, the Texas deputation will likely be divided on the question, reflecting the diversity of the diocese. “We have a task force focused on unity and mission. We are working on a strategy to lead through this decision,” Bishop Doyle said, explaining that his preference is to “lead rather than react” stating that the diocese would continue its breadth of  mission and ministry in more than 22 national and international locations that includes a leading role in Faith Village, a rebuilding effort in Bastrop for victims of last year’s wild fires. Read the bishop’s full presentation here.  


Resolutions/Constitution and Canons

While there were no resolutions before Council, a number were generated from the bishop’s address including the approval of the election for a bishop suffragan for the eastern region of the diocese. That election will take place June 2, 2012 at Christ Church Cathedral. One “walk-about” will be held at Camp Allen May 12 for church members to meet and ask questions of nominees. Nomination forms, FAQ and a copy of the resolution will be on the website at


A change to the constitution that would allow deacons to be elected to the Standing Committee was approved for study. The measure requires approval of a second reading next Council to make the change. Some delegates felt the change potentially would place deacons in opposition to the bishop who is in control of their placement. Pam Nolting spoke in opposition of the move, “The role of a deacon is as servant. The role of the Standing Committee is one of authority,” she said, stating the two positions were incompatible. Others felt the growing number of deacons in the diocese should be seen as “a full and equal order,” and therefore eligible for election to the Standing Committee.


Two canonical amendments that would have limited the ability of the Committee For Constitution and Canons and the Committee on Resolutions to evaluate and recommend (or not) proposed changes, were defeated. An additional amendment to the canon on moral discipline to delete Sec. 43.2 (the definition of marriage) was defeated.



Council members approved a combined budget (assessment and voluntary) of more than $10M which includes more than $4.5M in insurance benefits. The diocese ended 2011 in excellent financial condition Treasurer Bob Biehl told delegates in part due to the “overall financial health of the parishes improved.” Because the insurance budget realized a $277,000 surplus in 2011, Biehl said there would be reduced insurance assessments in 2012 while maintaining coverage at the current levels.


“Further evidence of the improved financial condition of our churches,” Biehl said, was evidenced in a $125,000 surplus. All ministries in the Missionary Budget were fully funded and the surplus allowed additional funding for the campus mission at the University of Texas, new church plant St. Julian’s of Norwich in Austin and San Francisco de Asis, Austin. Ubi Caritas, Beaumont also received additional funding.


Delegates approved the $6,406 offering from the opening Eucharist on Friday evening to be give to the discretionary fund of the Bishop of Cuba, Griselda Delgado, who was the guest preacher at Council.



The Rev. John A. Logan, Jr. was elected secretary of the diocese, Bob Biehl was elected treasurer. Both stood for election uncontested. In other elections, Kay Pendarvis, St. James’, Houston, and the Rev. James Derkits, St. Mark’s, Houston, were elected to a three year term on the Standing Committee.  DeAnna Bosch, Trinity, Houston; Robert Massad, Grace, Georgetown; Mary Wentworth, St. Paul’s, Waco; the Rev. Patrick Hall, Holy Spirit, Houston, and the Rev. Rhoda Montgomery, St. Thomas, College Station, were elected to the Executive Board. Helen Toombs was elected as a trustee of the Church Corporation. She attends Palmer Memorial, Houston. Seth Hinkley of Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, was elected as a trustee of the University of the South . A full lisitng of the bishop’s appointments will be available online early next week.


Economic Impact

The Council received excellent coverage in the Bryan/College Station media. Bishop Doyle appeared on the local television news, several page one articles covered the gathering and Council planners were interviewed by local radio programs. According to one of the host committee, the Council had a great impact on the local economy. Council members rented more than 700 hotel rooms in addition to a number of local vendors provided services at the Brazos Expo Center for the event.


Because of the location of exhibits area between the Council floor and the reception/dining area for the meeting, exhibitors reported improved traffic and sales this year over last. Visitors also enjoyed an art exhibit of pieces donated to St. James’ House by artists from the diocese.


Next year’s Council will be held in Houston, February 8-9, 2013, hosted by the Hispanic congregations of the diocese.