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Feb 26, 2022

Recap of the One Hundred Seventy-Third Annual Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas

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Bishop C. Andrew Doyle called the Business Meeting of the 173rd Council to order at 8:38 a.m. The appointed chaplain, the Rev. Beth Holden (Chaplain, Episcopal High School) offered opening prayer and scripture. This was followed by Bible Study among all attendees with those at their neighboring tables.

Balloting test and survey instructions were provided by the Rev. Korey Wright, followed by organizing for business. Bishop Doyle extended a heartfelt acknowledgment of the death of the Rev. Canon Logan, and his absence from the 173rd Council. He also extended thanks to the Rev. John Soard for assisting Canon Logan near the end of his tenure at the diocese.

The Rev. Canon Marcea Paul* acknowledged lay delegates and clergy, and a quorum was declared. The bishop appointed college delegates, recognized youth delegates, and declared that the 173rd  Council was organized for business.

Bishop Doyle appointed Lee Woodward as parliamentarian, and he also commended David Harvin. The Rev. Bill Fowler presented the Report of the Committee for Dispatch of Business, also explaining the seven (7) sub-items. The Order of Business was adopted. There was no unfinished business from 172nd Council; and the minutes were certified and attested to by the bishop. There were no guests to be acknowledged. The Rev. Canon Joann Saylors reported on new parishes, missions and fellowships.

Summary of Bishop Doyle’s Address:

The bishop began his address on a light note with a self-produced video, The World of Wonder, which established the foundation of his address.

He compared images and engines of ingenuity to The Church moving into the future, moving forward into what is yet unseen. He proposed that we repurpose and redesign and go into and serve the world. As time progresses, so does the church and this includes missions, church plants and campus missions.  He said that God is preparing us. People of the diocese- old and young are awake and they’re wondering where are we going?  People are asking how can they make a difference while recovering from a pandemic, but also grieving? The answer, he suggests, is meeting the challenge as did saints of the past.

The bishop says that it is frustrating to hear that the church is dying. He says while that is true, it is being reborn!  He expressed that this has always been true, yet the church cannot perish! The church is resurrecting, constantly, and we need to go and work today. He told us to sing a song full of faith. He referenced verses from Lift Every Voice and Sing, also known as the Black National Anthem. He said that God is not done with us, and God is not done with the church. Bishop Doyle reiterated that he has not received the word that we are finished. He acknowledged that the parishes within the diocese have accomplished a lot together. This was illustrated by slides that provided visuals of our Shared Stewardship Together; Shared Common Work Together; and Our Work Together. He also shared the good news of our Stewardship to the wider Anglican Communion to the Archbishop’s office and Compass Rose Society as well as to the Presiding Bishop’s fund to help others in need.  As it relates to Stewardship, he explained how all five of our foundations pump $9M back into the parishes across The Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

By 2021, we had established 24 Campus Missions while there were only nine at the beginning of the bishop’s episcopacy. Bishop Doyle thanked our campus missioners and proclaimed that we are on track to have 30 by 2025.  He expressed appreciation for how, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, people continue to explore the discernment process, including lay ministry.

He provided an update on clergy transitions, with 62 transferring  in or out of positions within the diocese, and 46 having taken new positions. Of that 46, 30 are men, and 16 are women. Today, the diocese has clergy that includes 31% women, and 9% being people of color.

Bishop Doyle discussed how many people we’ve touched- and it’s just the beginning, possibly just a snapshot. Episcopalians make up a quarter of a percent across our 57 counties. Within those 57 counties, there is approximately $12M that has affected over 14% of people in our diocese just in 2021, alone! The bishop said that he always knew that we would impact Texas, and while he is the bishop, he underscored that it is the people of the diocese who do the work. It's important that we believe in the future, he explained. The diocese has reorganized, and ministry is out in the field. So next, how do we move into the future? There are expenditures and bringing down assessments was helpful to parishes.  

Sharing Good News!

The bishop shared that three years ago, he began to work, and imagined along with foundation leaders- David Harvin, Elena Marks, Bob Blakely and Linnet Deily- his thoughts. He expressed gratefulness to the Quin Foundation as well as the Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF). Grateful for their support, he announced new initiatives that are the result of $200M from the Quin Foundation and $5M from EHF, that will permanently endow wellness for clergy, in perpetuity (the costs towards health).

Towards Leadership Endowment for Christian Formation, the Quin Foundation will fund $60M to ensure that seminarians will not graduate with debt. As a result of this, it significantly multiplies our scholarships towards Christian Formation. The bishop says that we must pass on these gifts to the next generation. While exciting, it will be organized over the next year. Again, he offered a special thanks to the Quin Board.

The bishop explained that these are just images of what’s already present in The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and that he is invested in and is investing in this work. He exclaimed that he loves it! He gets to see the amazing work of our congregations, faithful congregations. For example, he highlighted some of the work of smaller parishes like St. Paul’s, Navasota, where he will be visiting tomorrow and blessing a new space.

Bishop Doyle announced the dates of his Town Hall Meetings that will begin on March 23, 2022, at St. Michael’s, La Marque. Additional information is forthcoming, and the remaining dates will be shared in a more formal way and through diocesan social media channels.

In closing, the bishop said that we are grabbing a hold of something; the spirit is moving. He sees an image of God’s breath in dry bones. When he feels weak, he feels God’s presence. He described how we are breathing life into the future of mission. We are facing the vision.

We’ve faced a global pandemic and a changing culture. He proposed that we move faithfully and intentionally. He wants to stir us up as the collect says and break out of isolation. We need to be intentional about our future. We should prophesy and dream. Give each other hope and heart. When others are down, help raise heads. He shared that he is eager to see us refuse the lie that God is finished, or that our church is dying. He wants us to join together and pick up our own cross.

Recounting that he has served for 13 years with an excellent house of bishops in Texas, and together, they alone have over 40 years of experience. He acknowledged that he has an amazing staff. So, he ordered us to do the work, to lean in. When tempted to be torn apart, know that God is at work here!

In his last words, the bishop proclaimed his love for us.

Post Address:

There was an update on the Thomas Cain Fund by way of a video as it relates to the Racial Justice Initiative. 

The Rev. Lisa Neilson gave the Report of the Committee for Nominations. There were no nominations from the floor. Hawley offered balloting procedures and then the First Ballot took place.

There was another update from the Racial Justice Initiative regarding the Talbot fund by way of video presentation. The bishop also shared the work of the scholarship fund committees through the Racial Justice Initiative.

Maria Boyce provided Report on Committee for Constitution and Canons and recommended a proposal on behalf of the committee. Vote took place.

There was an acknowledgement of the retired the Rev. Merrill Wade who remains visible and active in the diocese.

The Rev. Jimmy Grace provided report for courtesy resolutions and also extended courtesies to committee planners of the 173rd  Council.

Elena Marks of the Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF) discussed their work within the diocese and explained how, at any given time, EHF is working with a least half of the parishes. She also discussed their grant-making work. She illustrated significant engagement with 86 congregations focused on mental health, organizing poverty and racial justice. In 2021, EHF worked with 127 congregations, with significant engagement in 86 parishes. She provided an overview of how money is spent in congregational engagement. Work is philanthropic. At the end of her presentation, she announced that she will be retiring at the end of the year.  

Hawley provided outcomes of votes. Beth Holden, Chaplain of Episcopal High School, offered the Noonday Prayer, read the Necrology Report, and offered additional prayers.

The break for lunch took place at approximately 12:15 p.m., followed by the Ringing of the Great Commission Bell for the following:

  • El Buen Pastor, Waco, (celebrated becoming a fellowship), the Rev. Oscar Huerta, Vicar
  • St. Cecilia’s, Round Top, (celebrated becoming a fellowship) the Rev. Bill Miller, Vicar
  • Grace, Houston, (celebrated going from mission to parish) the Rev. Scott Painter, Rector

The Rev. Canon Kellaura Johnson introduced the New Clergy Video and CFO Linda Riley Mitchell, CPA,** presented the 2022 Report of the Treasurer. Bette Lehmberg presented the 2022 Budget, and it was adopted. Hawley gave the results of the Final Ballot.

The recommendation to send monies collected from the Worship Service to our sister Diocese of North Dakota was finalized. Electing bishops’ nominees to committees were finalized. Just before the closing of Council, a comprehensive Mission Amplification video was presented.

The Closing was delivered by Chaplain Beth Holden. Council adjourned.

*The Rev. Canon Marcea Paul was elected Secretary of the Diocese.
**CFO Linda Riley Mitchell, CPA, was elected Treasurer of the Diocese.