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The 245th Diocesan Convention

Published in the issue.

Building on the experience and successes of the Diocese’s first Covid-era convention in 2020, when any in-person meeting was impossible, the 245th Diocesan Convention, with the theme “Your Faith Has Made You Whole” (Luke 17:19b), was once more spread over a series of weeks. The big difference this year was that everything done online from late September through early November culminated in a traditional-style in-person session

Dr. Nell Braxton Gibson delivering her sermon at the Eucharist. Photo: Nicholas Richardson

(with the option to attend online) on Saturday, November 13 at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

Online Roll-out Meetings: An Integral Part of Convention

As in 2020, one-hour online “roll-out meetings” held over successive Wednesday evenings from late September to early November were an integral part of the 2021 Convention. These roll-outs have, reports Convention Officer and Senior Assistant Secretary of Convention Sara Saavedra, met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from delegates. Substantive business was done at them—including presentation and voting on the proposed 2022 budget and the introduction of and voting on resolutions and candidates for diocesan offices. Other roll-outs included presentations on the diocesan Episcopal Futures program that was launched earlier in 2021, Creation Care, and Reparations. These presentations were, as a result both of their online format and particularly of the greater time that could be allocated to them, both broader-ranging and more informative than presentations to Convention have typically been in the past. Videos of all roll-outs are available on the diocesan Vimeo channel at or through the Convention Round-up page on the diocesan website (see link in box).

November 13 at the Cathedral: A Joyous Gathering

Proceedings on Saturday, November 13 took a hybrid form, with delegates encouraged to come to the Cathedral in person (provided they were vaccinated and remained masked throughout), but able to participate online if they preferred.

Rev. Kevin VanHook, II, reporting on Episcopal Charities. He took up his position as Executive Director in May 2021. Photo: Nicholas Richardson

Attendance at the Cathedral was strong, and the joy of those present at being able to gather again in person was palpable. One addition to the proceedings was that for the first time ever, delegates were met on the steps of the Cathedral by a welcoming group from the Convention Planning Committee—a seemingly small addition to the arrangements, but one that many who attended reported back on with enthusiasm.

A resolution was passed to urge General Convention to take steps to create training modules on the topic of slavery and reparation for use by the whole Church in preparation of children and adults for Confirmation.

In brief:

  • The Convention consisted of a series of weekly online “roll-out meetings” preceding a November 13 in-person gathering at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on November 13.
  • Presentations by the diocesan program Episcopal Futures, the Creation Care Committee, the Reparations Committee, and the chair of the Budget Committee were delivered during the online roll-out meetings.
  • Bishop Dietsche set in motion the process that will lead to his retirement by calling for the election of a bishop coadjutor. (See page tktktkt.)
  • Bishops Crosses were awarded to the Rev. Deacon Geri Swanson, Mr. Kenneth Page, and Mr. Donald Bookal (posthumously). (See page tktkt for citations).
  • Dr. Nell Braxton Gibson preached the sermon at the Eucharist.
  • Resolutions passed included one establishing the annual celebration of the life and witness of Absalom Jones; one calling for General Convention to include Bishop Barbara Harris in the Calendar of the Church; a series related to reparations including a call for a racial audit of the diocese in order to help “determine the focus for expenditure of the 2019 Diocesan Reparations Fund of 1.1 million dollars” and a direction that the Diocese of New York should “direct the 80th General Convention meeting in Baltimore, MD in July 2022 to establish a task force that will create training modules on the topic of slavery and reparations, for use by the whole Church in the training of children and adults as they are prepared for the sacrament of Confirmation”; resolutions related to the full inclusion of all in our common life regardless of gender identity and expression; a resolution to address antisemitic, anti-Jewish and or supersessionist interpretations of our lectionaries; and the diocesan budget for 2022 as proposed.