[Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Charleston -- Press Release] With a focus on gratitude and service, about 250 Episcopalians from across the eastern part of the state gathered here Friday and Saturday for the Annual Diocesan Convention of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
The theme of the convention was “To Love and Serve the Lord.” The Bishop’s convention address on Saturday morning encouraged people to live out that theme by choosing a life of gratitude and giving thanks. “The choice of gratitude will enable faithfulness, as we follow the way of Jesus Christ and as we seek ‘to love and serve the Lord,’” Bishop vonRosenberg said. “And it will be a whole lot more fun as well!” (The full text of the Bishop’s address is here.)
A spirit of joy and celebration opened Saturday’s business session, as about 30 members of St. Mark’s Port Royal, a worship community near Beaufort, gathered outside the front doors of Grace Episcopal Church on Wentworth Street, where the Convention was taking place. Dressed in red and carrying crosses, banners, and flags bearing the symbolic lion of St. Mark, the group waited for the official vote that granted them “mission” status, with seat and vote at the Convention.
Approval came by acclamation as the Convention crowd stood and applauded for the group from St. Mark’s. At the announcement, they marched in behind a processional cross and an Episcopal Church flag, singing a hymn and circling the nave with handshakes, hugs and a few tears.
The theme of gratitude continued in the Bishop’s address as he gave thanks to the faithful within the diocese for their service and perseverance, and to those in The Episcopal Church beyond our borders who have given their support. Workshops, training sessions, youth events, continuing education for clergy, and other opportunities are being made available, and the diocese has much to be thankful for, Bishop vonRosenberg said.
The Convention is the annual gathering of the diocese in eastern South Carolina that is continuing as a part of The Episcopal Church. Because of a lawsuit filed by a group that has left the Church, the diocese is using a working name, “The Episcopal Church in South Carolina,” at this time.
On Saturday, delegates took steps to adopt amendments to make the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina to be consistent with the 2007 version and to conform with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.
Changes to the canons received the required approval by a two-thirds vote in both the lay and the clergy orders of delegates, and their adoption is final. The amendments to the constitution were approved on first reading, and must be given final approval at the next annual convention in order to take effect.
Delegates were presented with a balanced budget for the Diocese of $378,000 for the year ending in March 2014. Income for 2013 includes $203,000 contributed by parishes, missions, worship groups and others, and $175,000 from a grant approved last month by the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. The Treasurer of the Diocese, the Reverend Jim Taylor, said this is a one-time grant; assistance from TEC in any future budgets would come in the form of a loan. If such a loan is needed in 2014, Fr. Taylor said, the diocese hopes it would be only a small one. “We hope we can meet our goal of becoming self-sufficient,” he said.
Ten parishes and 11 missions were represented at the Convention, including the newest, St. Mark’s, Port Royal. Also represented were eight “continuing parishes and missions,” groups of people who are remaining with The Episcopal Church at places where the leaders of their parish or mission have said they are leaving TEC.
Six worshiping communities also attended. These are groups that have formed to provide opportunities for worship and fellowship for people displaced from their churches. They are St. Anne’s (formerly the Conway Worship Group), Edisto Worship Group, Episcopalians of the Florence Deanery, the Continuing Episcopal Church in Summerville, East Cooper Episcopalians, and West Ashley Episcopalians. For now, these groups could not vote at this Convention, but some are on their way toward mission status and hope to be recognized at the 2014 Convention.
Trustees of the Diocese were elected. Lay members are Jan Gilbert, Grace, Charleston; Betsey Walker, St. Stephen’s, Charleston; Robert Moffitt, St. Thomas, North Charleston; Robert Pinkerton, St. Mark’s, Port Royal; and Dr. Charles Carpenter, Episcopalians of the Florence Deanery. Clergy members are the Reverend Jim Taylor, the Reverend Jack Nietert and the Reverend Bruce Evenson.
Members of the Ecclesiastical Court also were elected. Lay members are T. David Hoyle, St. Stephen’s, Charleston; and Carrington S. Wingard, Episcopalians of the Florence Deanery. Clergy members are the Reverend George Tompkins, the Reverend Jean McGraw and the Reverend David Williams.
The Convention also:
– Heard reports from York Place Episcopal Home for Children, Voorhees College, two groups that have been associated with The Episcopal Church throughout their history.
– Heard from Episcopal Relief and Development’s diocesan coordinator, Harmon Person. ERD is the worldwide humanitarian agency of The Episcopal Church. Support for ERD is getting more focused attention in the reorganized diocese.
– Approved a resolution that the offering from Friday’s Choral Eucharist be used to establish a Discretionary Fund for the Bishop.
– Received a gift of $3,000 donated by The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina to help pay for work to convert classroom space into new offices for the Bishop and his staff at Grace Church, Charleston.
– Announced that the next Annual Diocesan Convention will be held February 21-22, 2014 at All Saints, Hilton Head Island.