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Feb 10, 2014 | Carol E. Barnwell

Council Wrap-up: Bishop Highlights a Growing, "Tenacious" Church

Bishop Doyle Addresses Council in Galveston

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Text of Council Address

“We are a tenacious diocese that claims a tenacious God,” Bishop Andy Doyle told the nearly 700 clergy and lay representatives gathered in Galveston for the 165th Diocesan Council, February 7-8, 2014. Bishop Doyle announced an ambitious plan to plant 15 new congregations in the next five years and challenged parishes to consider taking a similar step of faith, establishing second campuses. Delegates approved partnerships with Costa Rica and the Diocese of North Dakota and passed an $8 million budget, approved changes to the Constitution and Canons to reflect the sale of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System and the establishment of Episcopal Health Foundation.


Bishop’s Address

Bishop Doyle challenged his audience “not to be afraid” in the attempt to bring about the Kingdom of God, noting four-year pattern of growth and giving.


He also said there would be refocused efforts to increase ministry to a more diverse population so that churches would better reflect the communities in which they serve, as well as a strengthened ministry to college students.


Two-thirds of the 27 churches that have received Strategic Mission Grants have experienced more than 10 percent growth, Bishop Doyle said, citing the focused efforts of many congregations to invite and welcome newcomers. Some Spanish-speaking congregations have gained as much as 27 percent growth.


“We are making a difference in the world around us,” he continued, explaining that the newly established Episcopal Health Foundation would help “move us into the world and lead our churches to greater collaborative work” for the transformation of communities throughout the Diocese with $30 million annually for a diversity of health initiatives.


“Health is state of complete physical, mental and social well being,” Bishop Doyle said. “Tomorrow we will be able to offer hope to those who may have lost theirs.”


Announcing that the Episcopal Church had named Austin to host the 2018 General Convention, Bishop Doyle said the Diocese was stronger for its unity, supporting ministries across The Episcopal Church and in the global Anglican Communion. He called for increased giving to TEC, “because we don’t vote with our money ... We are to ante up and take our place in leadership.”



Delegates approved two new companionship relationships: North Dakota and Costa Rica. Alinafe Kalemba, Bishop of Southern Malawi, with whom the Diocese has a continuing relationship, joined Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota and Hector Monterroso, Bishop of Costa Rica, as Smith and Monterroso signed partnership agreements. All three received "Texas mitres” in the form of custom cowboy hats, much to the pleasure of the delegates and clergy.



John Bennet Waters, chair of the Finance Committee of the Executive Board, presented a unified and balanced budget of $8,147,0787, and announced additional funding for college missions to nearly double previous levels. Delegates approved the budget that reflects a nearly 22 percent decrease in assessments because of the unification of budgets. “The elimination of the Missionary Asking makes the total reduction in parish giving 35.5 percent,” Bennet Waters said. He remarked that the re-establishment of the diocesan Financial Services would spread overhead for the entities served and that a fixed subsidy from Episcopal Health Foundation would help cover health insurance premiums.


“Changes in our budget categories were made to align our resources with our stated mission,” he said, adding that the Diocese had increased substantially its support of The Episcopal Church, representing a tithe of the diocesan income. He concluded by reporting the Diocese had received a clean audit on all entities and foundations for 2013.


Constitution & Canonical Amendments and Changes

Approved changes to Article 10 and 11 allow electronic publication of amendments and eliminates the necessity of printing paper copies of the journal to reflect current publication practices and allows Council to take action in the same year as a proposal is made.


Changes to Article 9 and 10 regarding real property were approved, replacing references to St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital with Episcopal Health Foundation and the Great Commission Foundation. These must be approved by next years Council after a second reading to take permanent effect.


Amendments for Canon 2 streamlining Council, passed with an amendment to maintain worship at the beginning of the annual meeting. Changes were approved to Canon 4 to replace St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System with EHF and GCF; Canon 5 making the new foundations subject to oversight by the Diocese’s Executive Board and to add their respective chief executives to the list of diocesan officers who may be required to attend Executive Board meetings. Changes to Canon 27 were approved to recognize EHF as an instrumentality of the Diocese.


Changes to Canon 43 on moral discipline were withdrawn by their presenters and not, therefore, considered or debated by delegates. In his address, Bishop Doyle noted that the Canon had become a diversion from doing the “hard work of talking to one another” regarding different perspectives. “Canon 43, on the one hand, reveals the highest virtue of fidelity in holy matrimony but, it has some baggage,” he said, noting that he would return from his sabbatical in the fall ideas on how to expand the conversation.


A new Canon 49 established the Great Commission Foundation as an instrumentality of the Diocese. Canon 50 established the EDOT Financial Services Corporation as an instrumentality of the Diocese. Both were approved by delegates.


Further Business

Changes in status for several congregations were announced at Council. Moving from parish to mission status were: Resurrection, Austin; St. John’s, Columbus and St. Paul’s, Kilgore--making them eligible for diocesan support. St. Luke’s, Belton was dissolved while nearby fellowship, St. Joseph’s in Salado, was admitted as a mission. St. Mary Magdalene, a new church plant in Manor was also admitted as a mission and Council delegates celebrated with the congregation of St. Aidan’s, Houston as they attained parish status, marching into the Galveston Convention Center en masse, waving banners and singing.


Drew Dugger, St. Stephens, Liberty, and Anna Thomas, Holy Spirit, Houston, youth representatives presented results of last Council’s Trading Talents Project, where a number of youth groups received $2000 grants for local outreach initiatives. “It changed my idea of what it means to be a missional church,” Thomas said. Projects took the shape of a Pet Fest, health seminars, a concert and assistance for a food pantry along with events like Burgers and Bluegrass.


Introductions of new leadership in the Diocese in 2013 included Wesley Bard, new executive director of St. James House in Baytown; the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge as dean of the Seminary of the Southwest and Elena Marks, new president and CEO of Episcopal Health Foundation.


The offering from Friday’s opening Eucharist, $10,021.57 or nearly three times the normal Council offering, was given to St. Vincent’s House to be used to combat homelessness.


The 166th Council in 2015 will be held in The Woodlands, just north of Houston.


More on Council:

Election Results | Rough-cut Audio of Address | More Photos on Facebook | Council Page | Text of Council Address