NC Live! from Anaheim Logo of the 46th ECW TriennialLogo of the 46th ECW Triennial Logo of the 76th General ConventionLogo of the 76th General Convention

NOTE: to view a larger version of any photo in this blog, please click directly on the photo.

Friday
Jul172009

A Relentless Focus on Mission

The Very Rev. David du Plantier, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans, visited the ECW plenary along with Bishop Duncan Gray of the Diocese of Mississippi and Bishop Charles Jenkins of the Diocese of Louisiana. Their central message was this: "Thank you for your constant and relentless focus on mission and ministry, not just since Hurricane Katrina but since your founding."

Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, echoed that when she spoke to the ECW delegates earlier this week: "The ECW are unfailingly a group that keeps your eye on the prize - the world as it should be, the way God made it. Thank you for reminding us that we are a part of something that passes all understanding."

We all have a place in this beloved Church of ours, and I do believe that, yes, in ways seen and unseen we, the Episcopal Church Women, are most directly about mission.

Here's just one example. Every Triennial the National ECW Board works to make sure ECW connect with and address the needs of the underserved residents of the area where Triennial/General Convention is being held. This year the "Community Connection" gift recipient is Project Dignity, based in Garden Grove, California. Project Dignity works with perhaps the most misunderstood of all the homeless: people, un- and under employed,  living in low-income residential motels. Currently they're working with 500 families spread among 23 motels best described as fleabags. And given the state of the economy, the numbers are rising.

A table set-up in a corner of our meeting hall in the convention center was the collection point for donations to Project Dignity, which has 1 1/2 staff people and operates on a shoestring budget. In less than a week the large table was overflowing with towels, washcloths, socks, personal hygiene and grooming items, and school supplies. Cash donations for things like bus passes came to $1,201, and there hundreds of dollars more in giftcards for meals and such. On Thursday it was all boxed up and ready for pick-up and distribution.

Many, many thanks to those members of North Carolina's diocesan ECW board who made contributions to this effort. I was proud to add those donations on your behalf.

The theme of this Triennial was grace. One definition we received was, "grace is love at work." Episcopal Church Women wanted to make sure we didn't just take from our hosts but that we gave back, leaving Orange County, California a little better than we found it.

There was grace.

 

Thursday
Jul162009

Seen

Some North Carolinians taking care of business in Anaheim:

The Rev. Kevin Matthews of Greensboro

The Rev. Lawrence Womack and the Rt. Rev. William Gregg of Charlotte

The Rev. Timothy Kimbrough of Chapel Hill

The Rev. Lisa Fishbeck of Chapel Hill/Carrboro and the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry

The Rev. Lorraine Ljunggren of Raleigh with her son Jake Melynk, who's part of the Youth Presence at GC

... and then when it all gets to be a bit too much there's Barnabas with his human, Mike. Every morning Mike offers people heading into the convention center an opportunity to give the big pooch a pat and scratch behind the ears. As the sign says, "it's therapeutic." No word from Barnabas how he feels about the situation.

Thursday
Jul162009

Marching for Justice

[The following article appeared in the July 15 edition of "The Daily", which is published during General Convention/ECW Triennial]

By Jim DeLa

Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia leads Disney hotel workers and supporters on a protest march from the Anaheim Convention Center to Disneyland.Episcopalians attending General Convention linked arms with hotel workers July 14 to march to the gates of Disneyland to demand economic justice for 2,300 Disney employees protesting a planned hike in the cost of their health insurance.

“It seems to me, as our church has moved toward a position of justice for all its members, particularly in the area of health care, this is the perfect opportunity for the church to witness to the world about its convictions regarding economic justice,” said the Rev. Lisa Hackney from the Diocese of Ohio.

Ada Briceno, an official from Local 11 of UNITE HERE, a Los Angeles-based union that includes hotel and restaurant workers, said they had been working without a contract since February 2008. Disney wants to replace the union-funded health plan with a corporate plan, she said, which, in time, will cost a minimum-wage worker about $500 a month for insurance for a family. “These are low-paid workers, making on average about $11 an hour,” she said.

Marchers approach the convention center from the Disney-owned Paradise Pier hotel where they had been picketing earlier in the day.Several hundred people gathered at the Anaheim Convention Center to hear a prayer by Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles before joining more than 1,000 others already on the march to Disneyland.

“I cannot think of any reason more than the gospel proclamation of ‘do justice’ and ‘do God’s work.’ This is where I need to be,” said the Rev. Yamily Bass-Choate, a deputy from the diocese of New York.

Lynn Tyler, a deputy from the Diocese of New Hampshire, was marching to support Disney workers, 75 percent of whom, she said, are women. “And of those women, many are single parents. They’re pretty much living on the edge as it is.”

A letter in support of Disney workers signed by 13 Episcopal bishops said they were taking seriously “our call to stand with the poor and those who are suffering from injustice.” The protest included Episcopal bishops Greg Rickel (Olympia), Gene Robinson (New Hampshire) and Barbara Harris (retired of Massachusetts).

Henry Atkins Jr. of the Episcopal Church Peace and Justice Commission of the Diocese of Los Angeles is asking Episcopalians to boycott Disney hotels if the workers ask.

“We’re now marching with these people who are working for Disney for their rights, their privileges that they deserve as human beings,” said Bruno. “We ask you to let us turn the eyes of Disney toward justice and mercy; toward benefits, and the things necessary for people to live a just and abundant life.”

Wednesday
Jul152009

Church Comments on $23 Million Budget Cut

Here is a statement from the Church, issued today, July 15, about proposed budget cuts:

The Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) Committee of The Episcopal Church today presented a budget to the General Convention that proposes a $23 million reduction in the 2010-2012 triennial.

“This is a very difficult day,” said Pan Adams-McCaslin, chair of PB&F. “For the committee and for me personally, the decisions are heart-wrenching and emotional. We are being called to be accountable and transparent in our mission and ministry to the Church, knowing that the decisions that have been made will be difficult and painful. As a Church of mission and ministry this is even more difficult because we work for a higher calling.”

Earlier this week, PB&F sent a special letter to both houses of General Convention explaining that there would be reductions. The weak economy caused PB&F to take a very close look at all the Church does, and where and how it does it, as well as how some programs may be consolidated. In finalizing the budget, PB&F followed a well-traveled path consistent with the spirit and practice of the Church – seeking to give to others first and ourselves second, and to help dioceses and parishes continue their focus on ministry.

The reductions, which affect both programs and staff, will occur over the next several months. The Diocesan commitment also is being reduced from 21 percent in 2010, to 20 percent in 2011, and 19 percent in 2012.

The proposed budget addresses every part of the Church: Corporate, Canonical and Program (Mission). While specific program details, in most cases, are still being worked out, approximately 30 positions will be affected, with staff being notified beginning today. The Church will be providing outplacement services and severance packages, as well as pastoral care.

“Our hearts go out to those affected by the changes,” Adams-McCaslin said. “With God’s help, hope and faith, we will seek to renew our efforts to share God’s mission in this difficult time.”

Wednesday
Jul152009

Heard 

Budget results are starting to trickle in. A big win for the Millennium Development Goals. The .7% has been returned as a line item. The recommendation of the bishops that the MDGs be returned as a line item and upped to 1%, while a wonderful gesture, was never going to happen. I'm just grateful the Church has recommitted for the triennium.

Ecumenical and interfaith relations has taken a big hit, as has racial justice and the women's ministries desk at '815'. The Committee on the Status of Women is down but not out. It's to receive $20,000.