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Feb 23, 2010 | Carol E. Barnwell

Council Calls for Unity, Signs Partnership with Southern Malawi

More than 1000 elected delegates, clergy, visitors and exhibitors gathered in Killeen, February 12 and 13, 2010, for the 161st Council, the annual meeting of the Diocese of Texas. Hosted by St. Christopher’s, Killeen, and staffed with volunteers from the surrounding Episcopal churches, delegates to the two-day gathering approved a $10 million plus budget, a partnership with the Diocese of Southern Malawi (see article, page 10) and passed a resolution calling for unity amidst diversity. Don Christian, chair of the planning committee, and his legion of volunteers, received high praise for a job well done.

Bishop’s Address
Bishop Andy Doyle challenged those present to "build upon the sacramental unity of God’s reign." The Church, he said in his presentation to Council, is "a principle that runs throughout Scripture … our prayers and liturgy. Oneness and unity are those qualities of sacramental life from which all acts of peace, justice, service and dignity course out into the world … Communion is a dominant theological building block that describes the very essence of what it means to be Church."

Bishop Doyle called for a strategic plan to plant a new church annually; pointing out that only eight had been planted successfully since the 1980s. He called for a year of prayer for the Covenant and will set up a task force to design a model of study and conversation for local congregations to discuss the Covenant. (The Covenant is the result of a five-year long process resulting from the Windsor Report, which addresses divisive issues facing the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion following the election and consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a partnered gay man, and the blessing of same sex unions taking place in the Anglican Church of Canada and in some dioceses of the Episcopal Church). There will be a time for discussion at the 162nd Council in 2011 and a mind of the council will provide guidance for the bishop and deputies to the Church’s next General Convention in 2012.

Further, Bishop Doyle said he will assign an additional task force to review issues that may arise from General Convention 2012. "How do we move forward together for the sake of Jesus Christ?" he asked, adding, "We have got to learn to live together, and how we discern the outward and visible signs of that life together, the daily living out of Church is our common work, not just the work of your bishop."

Punctuating Bishop Doyle’s call for unity was the work of a diverse group of clergy and lay people from across the diocese. The group wrote a substitute resolution (text at right), which was approved. 

The Rev. Miles Brandon, chair of the Resolution Committee, indicated the committee’s support for the substitute resolution authored by the Revs. Chris Bowhay, St. Thomas’, Houston; David Boyd, St. David’s, Austin; Russ Levenson, St. Martin’s, Houston; Joe Reynolds, Christ Church Cathedral, Houston; Larry Hall, St. John the Divine, Houston; Lisa Hunt, St. Stephen’s, Houston; Stuart Bates, St. Francis’, Houston; Dick Elwood, St. Martin’s, Houston; and Laurie Eiserloh, St. David’s, Austin and Jim Cowan, Trinity, Houston.

Bowhay said the group had gathered "to find a higher way regarding God’s will." He called the conversation "respectful and compassionate." "We succeeded in working together and want to do so in the days and years ahead, he said." 

Eiserloh, an Austin attorney who shares two children with her partner of 20 years, spoke of her welcome to the Episcopal Church 10 years ago. She had gone to St. David’s "to baptize our baby like grandmother wanted," she said. What she experienced was "profound hospitality" and "that is what this resolution speaks to," she added. She called the resolution "Common ground for Valentine’s Day" and asked delegates to view it "as a love letter to the future of our Church."

Reynolds, dean of the Cathedral, spoke to the substitute resolution as well, saying it wasn’t "terribly radical" but said, it was important to state and it was supported by people with a diversity of deeply held convictions. "It is a step in the conversation to find things that bind us together in the Diocese of Texas."

An additional resolution approved an Executive Board study to extend Council.

Youth and Young Adults
Susanna Jones, a high school senior from St. Andrews, Bryan, and lay rector of the Christian Leadership Conference, told delegates that youth ministry in the diocese helped her find her voice as a leader. "I felt God give me a push … He changed the way I look at myself [and] later I was able to cheer others on," she said in her address to Council.

New Church Plant
Reports on churches included a new church plant and several closings. St. Julian’s of Norwich, a new church plant in Austin, was recognized as an organized mission and the Rev. Miles Brandon, vicar, and Mason Terry were seated as delegates. Following extensive study with the congregation and an exploration of alternatives, St. Philip’s, Austin, was dissolved, having celebrated their final service in June, 2009. St. Mark’s, Cleveland, was officially closed because efforts to revive the congregation had been unsuccessful. St. Peter’s, Lago Vista’s petition to remit to mission status was received.

Constitution and Canons
A constitutional change to Article 2, Sec 2.1E recognizing pastoral leaders (lay vicars) as members of Council passed its second reading. Canon 24, aligning bylaws with actual school operations at St. Stephen’s School, Austin; and Canon 46, Sec. 46.3, eliminating a Cathedral Chapter (which had originally been established to facilitate a relationship with the Diocese of Texas) were approved.


Secretary: The Rev. John A. Logan, Jr.
Treasurer: Bob Biehl

Standing Committee:

The Rev. Mike Besson, St. John’s, LaPorte
Linnet Deily, Trinity, Houston

Executive Board:

The Rev. Nick Novak, Trinity, Baytown
The Rev. Chuck Treadwell, St. Paul’s, Waco
Dave Bollinger, Good Shepherd, Tomball
Kerry Hancock, Christ Church, Temple
Elizabeth Dowell, Hope, Houston

Trustee of the Church Corporation:

JoLynn Free, All Saints’, Austin

Trustee of the University of the South:

William Gage, Jr., St. John the Divine, Houston


Delegates adopted both the Diocesan and Missionary Budgets. For the first time, the Diocesan Budget was separated into Parts A & B, to provide a clearer picture of insurance costs. Assets of nearly $1.3 million and liabilities of slightly more than $1.69 million (a decrease in net assets from year end 2008 of about $350,000) was due primarily to the unpaid Assessments and Askings. The diocesan budget had revenues of just over $10 million. Of the $318,000 provision for uncollectible assessments, expenses exceeded revenues by about $68,000. The Missionary Budget had revenues of $2.8 million after provision of $344,000 for uncollectible Askings. Expenses were $3.02 million and about $210,000 more than revenues. Detailed copies of budgets and statements are available online at 

Read or listen to Bishop Andy Doyle’s address to Council at Read a full summary of Council actions on the Council blog at: along with photos from Council. Read an indepth interview with Bishop George Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries and chaplain for the Armed Forces at