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Aug 26, 2014 | Carol E. Barnwell

164th Council Wrap Up

164th Council Wrap Up


Nearly 1000 elected delegates from 153 congregations in the Diocese of Texas, college chaplaincies and their clergy gathered for the 164th annual diocesan council at the Westin Galleria Hotel Saturday in Houston.  The event was hosted by the diocese’s Hispanic congregations.


Guest Preacher

The Most Rev. Carlos Touche-Porter, primate of Province IX and Bishop of Mexico, was the guest preacher at Friday evening’s Eucharist, at which a dance group from San Pablo, Houston, and musicians from San Mateo and Santa Maria Virgen helped to blend diversity, traditional English and contemporary Spanish hymns for a rich worship experience.


Bishop’s Address

Bishop C. Andres Doyle called on Paul Harvey and Bishop George Kinsolving to drive home the message that this is a time of change and the people of the Diocese of Texas are called to till the fertile fields in mission.  Using migration maps over the last century and through 2040, he noted that within 27 years, the diocese will grow by three cities the size of Austin. 


“There is no better time to be in Texas,” he said, introducing an initiative to plant 14 new churches throughout the diocese and four new Spanish speaking congregations. Some of which will utilize a movable church design “complete with bell tower.”  Episcopalians are “people who lead corporate America, who farm, teach, who work in restaurants and yards, who sell furniture and run banks,” he said, calling the church membership a “giant web of life, jobs, ministries and missionary outposts—delivery points for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”


He challenged delegates to reconsider how they do mission in our world and in our time. “We have to go out,” he said, “We have a foreign mission field in our back yard.”


Bishop Doyle identified major 2013 initiatives including The Conference, May 3-5, 2013, an offering on evangelism, formation and stewardship; the appointment of a real estate group to identify 14 new sites to consider for new church plants; the continued search for a Canon for Common Mission and a new budget structure that is “missionary” and in line with our strategic plan.


Bishop Doyle spoke at length about the health ministry of the diocese and the changes coming to health care, noting Bishop Dena Harrison’s “excellent job” as chair of the St. Luke’s Health System Board, he acknowledged that “we are at a critical crossroads in time as a health system and as a diocese with a health system.”

Read his entire presentation at:


New Parish

Saturday morning, the diocese welcomed St. Catherine’s of Sienna as a parish with much fanfare. The church’s new “rector,” the Rev. Mike Besson, assured delegates that “this is a big deal!!” Besson has been vicar for two years and brought more than 100 members, dressed in red, to celebrate the congregation’s change in status from a subsidized mission to a parish.


Delegates approved resolutions affirming the Charter for Compassion and the need for increased awareness of other faiths. A resolution calling for a task force to study Canon 43 (which disqualifies any person from membership in the clergy who engages in sexual relations outside of Holy Matrimony) was postponed indefinitely. 


St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System Resolution

A resolution from the bishop’s address to affirm the work of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System Board was approved after some discussion. The resolution acknowledged the System Board’s conclusion that the “health mission of the Diocese of Texas may be best served by either a merger, sale, or other realignment and restructuring of the Health System” and gave approval for a “Change of Control Transaction” should that be the board’s determination at the conclusion of their strategic study. While there is no determination at present, any final action would require written consent from the bishop, Standing Committee, Executive Board and the Church Corporation (all bodies elected by Council).    


Constitution and Canonical Amendments

Other Constitution and Canonical changes included allowing deacons to be eligible to stand for election to the Standing Committee (failed) and made provisions to publish future amendments on the website instead of in hard copy (approved on first reading).  A similar amendment for publishing nomination information was also approved on first reading.


A canonical change to Canon 19 that ensures equity of compensation for clergy across institutions was approved as was changes to Canon 25 allowing the bishop to name a coadjutor, suffragan or assistant bishop as chair of various diocesan entities, including the Seminary of the Southwest. Changes to canon 29 giving more flexibility to the board of St. James’ House was also approved.



Secretary of the Diocese: The Rev. Canon John A. Logan, Jr.


Treasurer of the Diocese: Robert Biehl


Standing Committee:

Junior A. Higgins, St. John the Divine, Houston

The Rev. Mark Crawford, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital


Executive Board:

Randall Redd, Trinity, The Woodlands

James Rush, St. Mark’s, Beaumont

David Todd, St. Richard’s, Round Rock

The Rev. Patrick Miller, St. Mark’s, Houston

The Rev. Stacy Stringer, Holy Trinity, Dickinson


Trustee of the Church Corporation

David T. Harvin, St. Martin’s, Houston


Trustee of the University of the South

Sandra Wilkens, St. Martin’s, Houston


A full list of the bishop’s appointments to committees and commissions is available on the council pages on the website at



Delegates later approved a $10.2 million diocesan budget that includes health insurance premiums of $4.6 million for clergy and lay employees and more than $1.9 million for the mission and outreach work of the diocese. Bob Biehl, diocesan treasurer reported that the diocese “again ended its year in very good financial condition” and that while net assets declined, the budgets of the diocese performed well.  “We have been able to do more work with Mission Funding than ever before,” he said, encouraging the 24 congregations that have not participated in the asking to do so.


Trading Tallents Project

The Rev. Canon John Newton announced a new grant project for youth groups in the diocese that will provide $2000 to approved applicants to increase their “gift” as in Matthew 25.