Diocese Convention Update
On November 8 and 9, we, along with Father Roy, represented Church of the Epiphany at the 243rd Diocesan Convention for the Diocese of New York, a diocese that includes New York City and counties up into the mid-Hudson Valley region. Let us share with you a little of what happened at convention and why we both eagerly volunteered to go again this year.
As a diocese we are entering our third year of lamentations wherein we are mourning, investigating, apologizing, and attempting to repair the damage caused by our own diocese’s involvement in the enslavement of African peoples and the African slave trade that occurred before the Civil War.
We heard moving stories from historic parishes in Manhattan whose founding Vestry members profited from the slave trade or did nothing to condemn the evil of slavery during the Civil War, whose storied churches were likely the products of slave labor itself. We heard the ways in which these parishes are confronting their histories, acknowledging them, and seeking to heal these historic wounds.An outstanding example is a plaque placed this year on an exterior wall of St. James Church for all to see, which acknowledges the church’s complicity in the slave trade.
As a symbolic step along this path, the convention unanimously passed a resolution by John Jay written in 1860 condemning the evils of slavery. The resolution had been tabled for nearly one-hundred-and sixty years by a diocesan convention too afraid to stand for moral rightness and against its own moneyed interests.
When the Convention finally passed the resolution, it was a powerful moment of commitment to the process of self-examination and thoughtful action. Another resolution was passed requiring antiracism training for anyone running for diocesan office.An organization like our diocese that is willing to examine itself, reflect on its sins, and repent of its actions—no matter how long ago they were—is an organization that stands as a model for its members, for you and for all of us to examine the evils we may have committed against our brothers and sisters, and to make amends.
We also got to see a dramatic production called the Red Altar, which told the story of one family who arrived on the coast of California in 1849 and started the fishing industry there.Two actors played multiple roles and highlighted decades of discrimination against Chinese immigrants who came to California seeking a better life and contributed so much to the development of a young America.
At convention, we also stood in solidarity with our sister Bishop Mary Glasspool, unanimously passing a resolution in support of her wife’s attendance as a Bishop’s spouse at the upcoming Lambeth Conference, the gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion. At convention we also adopted our own version of the Green New Deal that Governor Cuomo is expected to sign. In that New Deal, buildings are expected to reduce their carbon footprint by 30% by 2030—however, houses of worship are exempt. We declared that we are not exempt from caring for God’s creation and committed to doing just the same in all of our churches.
In addition to election of officers and passing a balanced budget, inspiring addresses by Bishops Dietsche, Shin and Glasspool, there were dozens of exhibits to visit highlighting the work and ministries undertaken by our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. It is heartening to see what an incredible diocese and church we belong to, and how well it serves as a mighty witness to the world of the love of Jesus Christ.
And now to tie all this into New Consecration Sunday! We oftentimes forget that when we give of our treasure, our giving goes mostly to our parish. Yes. But a portion also goes to our diocese.
When we give, we do not just fund bricks and mortar and our ministry. We help fund a larger movement. A movement powered by over 200 parishes to bear witness to the Gospel in a world that desperately needs it.A movement that works to bring justice to the incarcerated, to heal the wounds of discrimination, to help the poor and the sick, and to foster education and opportunity and so much more.
As we approach New Consecration Sunday on December 15, and you sit with your pledge card contemplating God’s call, remember the bricks and the mortar, because they aren’t going anywhere. But foremost, remember the ministry of this parish, because it enriches our brothers and sisters in Yorkville and the Upper East Side. And also remember the work we must fund within the diocese and within the greater Episcopal Church to continue setting and living by the example of Christ.Help us bring our earthly kingdom closer to God’s kingdom one act of kindness at a time.
Carron Donahue & Jason Rios