Clergy Conference 2021 in Review

This year’s Clergy Conference had a unique energy among attendees after having been separated for so many months due to the pandemic. On top of that was Bishop Doyle’s return from sabbatical just days before. During his Fireside Chat with clergy, he shared how he spent his time away, which ranged from finding an interest in a new sport—cricket to be exact, to spending time with nature and his family, to working on his Ph.D., to reading lots and lots of books and a plethora of other activities. He also introduced clergy to the “Mighty Red” and the many exciting adventures they endeavored together over the past few months. He also spoke frankly about how the pandemic has challenged us in ways we may not even realize, and he encouraged clergy to take care of themselves just as he found it necessary to take care of himself. He spoke about the trauma associated with these times that seem to be changing in such rapid succession. Likewise, he offered words and of hope and he encouraged a deeper renewal of faith.

Among an array of engaging workshops, plenary sessions, presentations, and worship, some specific conference highlights included the conversation with Bishop Doyle and scholars/professors Robert George (Princeton University) and Cornel West (most recently at Harvard University and Union Theological Seminary), illustrating in real-time that even though people can hold vastly different points of view and seemingly opposite perspectives, that through listening, learning, and understanding, gaps can be filled by employing education and reflection. The other very insightful conversation Bishop Doyle had was with best-selling author and presenter, Kate Murphy. She underscored those same concepts and further discussed the importance of listening, hearing, being present, remaining connected to others, and why all of the aforementioned are so necessary in every facet of life.  She also shared many other interesting experiences she’s enjoyed on her professional journey. The engagements with these three individuals were honest and heartfelt, offering clergy (and lay persons) numerous opportunities to reflect.

Among their other valuable offerings, Bishops Ryan, Fisher and Monterroso, along with many clergy and the choir, participated in what was nothing short of a memorable Eucharist. Due to the creativity of the Reverends Patrick Miller, Samantha Smith, Bertie Pearson, David Goldberg and Jacob Breeze, along with the dedicated and fully-committed staff at Camp Allen, the Chapel was transformed into a sight for all to behold. The guest homilist, the Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop Diocesan at the Diocese of Indianapolis (and the first Black woman to lead an Episcopal Diocese), brought the evening together even more with her poignant message that filled the space with both acceptance of the present and hope for the future.

We are grateful to all who participated in making this year’s conference a success, and especially grateful to all who were able to attend. Moreover, we are thoughtful of those who were unable to participate. 


The Voice Behind the Piano – A Familiar One

Liz Gutierrez, a diocesan employee, found herself singing solos in front of her largest audience ever at this year’s Clergy Conference. Liz is also a talented musician, having learned to play the piano from her dad when she was around 12 years old. She began playing the piano and singing at San Mateo, Houston when she was 13 years old. She continued until she got an opportunity to lead the music for the youth service at San Pedro, Pasadena in 2013. Later, Liz transitioned to playing and singing for San Pedro’s Spanish service.

Because her plan is to visit other churches around the diocese on Sunday mornings as part of her role within the Mission Amplification team, she has taken a break from Sunday morning music commitments; however, she’s in her happy space currently leading the evening English worship service at San Romero, Houston.

This year’s Clergy Conference was the first she’s ever attended, and what made it all the more memorable for her was that not only was it before so many people, but before so many clergy! Liz shares that she was very nervous; however, she apparently became quite comfortable because between her spirit-filled voice and piano accompaniment, she helped make the Eucharist at the conference all the more special—especially with clergy from the Diocese of Texas having been apart for so long due to the pandemic.

Liz says that she enjoys singing and considers her talent a blessing. From the piney woods of Camp Allen, Liz sang Gloria a Dios, Busca Primero El Reino de Dios, and Bautízame Señor Con Tu Espíritu. She says that considers her talent a blessing.

In the Houston office of the Diocese of Texas, Liz is a member of the Mission Amplification team led by Canon Joann Saylors. There, Liz serves as the Administrative Assistant for New Communities, working with the missioner for congregational vitality to provide support to our mission-oriented communities—including church plants and missional communities. Liz offers administrative assistance in a variety of areas that lead towards the flourishing of these mission outposts.


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