For those who were not able to attend, but were with us in spirit and would like to share in our joy from the three wonderful days of convention activities in Fairhope, February 14 - 16, as we celebrated our "Life Together" at St. James Episcopal Church, here is the summary:
Thursday, February 14
The first day of convention activities was kicked off by the opening of the exhibit hall where attendees were exposed to the variety of ministry work taking place within the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast and beyond. Exhibitors such as Beckwith Camp and Retreat Center, Godly Play, Commission on Prison Ministry to Advent's Liturgical Church Mice, among many others were able to share stories, offer resources and materials, and discuss their ministries while displaying photographs and information.
Registration check-in opened at noon. Delegates and visitors received convention materials, name badges, and goodie bags. Later, new delegates and those representing small churches attended orientation in the Chapel where they learned about the workings of convention and what to expect of the next two days. After orientation, everyone was invited to the open hearing of the proposed 2019 budget which allowed for discussion and better understanding of the diocese's finances.
The Opening Eucharist wrapped up the first day. Bishop Russell used his sermon and address to share what happened over the course of the past year and laid the foundation for the year to come. The text from his sermon and address are available HERE. The video of the Opening Eucharist can be watched HERE (Bishop Russell's sermon and address begin at the 36 minute mark).
Friday, February 15
The second day of convention was a busy one. Registration check-in reopened first thing, then was promptly followed by Morning Prayer. The homilist was Liam Ayres, a young adult who was a member of St. James, but is attending college at the University of Alabama is Huntsville and started a Canterbury Club campus ministry. The text of his homily is available HERE.
Bishop Russell called the convention to order and the first business session began with the secretary, Deacon Ed Richards announcing quorum. In good humor, the Rev. Thack Dyson paid tribute to our parliamentarians, Kathy Miller and Scott Remington, with a video honoring Miller and roasting Remington. Remington is known for his playfulness in making fun examples of diocesan clergy in his past visual presentations of the dos and don'ts of the Roberts Rules of Order and the parliamentary procedure.
Business continued with an offering of thanks to our convention host, St. James Episcopal Church. Convention co-chairs, Bruce Stone and Ann Fargason gave a report on credentials and privileges, recommending a list of persons to be given seat and voice during official business sessions. Following that report Bishop Russell presented his nominations for general officers, committees, and commissions. Next, Secretary Richards called attention to the printed pages of the canonical changes recommended to dioceses from the 79th General Convention.
After brief reports from Dean Beverly Gibson of Christ Church Cathedral and Dean Joy Blaylock of the Diocesan School for Ministry, attention was turned to the slate of Standing Committee nominees. There were no motions from the floor for additional nominations for neither the lay order nor the clergy order.
Next, Standing Committee president, the Rev. Margaret Shepard gave a report of the committee from the past year.
Following Shepard, there was a call for the proposal of additional resolutions (general or to amend diocesan canons) from the floor, of which there were none.
After announcing Deacon Susan McKee as necrology officer, Bishop Russell highlighted multiple programs offered over the past year, then called for reports from the Rev. Kammy Young, canon missioner for development, who presented her work of evangelism along with the Rev. Mary Alice Mathison (Panama City Beach enterprise), Sally Crenshaw (Freedom Schools), Brad Moore (DataStory), and Merrilee Ndstande (Epiphany StorySharing). Then reports were given by the executive directors of our three agencies: Pratt Paterson for Wilmer Hall Children's Home, Connie Anderson for Murray House Assisted Living, and Eleanor Reeves for Beckwith.
Bishop Russell shared a list of clergy who served as deans of the summer camp program at Beckwith and then recognized the various schools in our diocese who are associated with the National Association of Episcopal Schools.
University of the South representative Walker Adams gave a brief report.
Future convention dates were announced:
February 6 - 8, 2020 hosted by Christ Church Cathedral in Mobile, Alabama (49th Annual Diocesan Convention).
December 3 - 5, 2020 hosted by Christ Church Parish in Pensacola, Florida (50th Celebration of the Primary Convention).
Since the year 2020 will be a big celebration year of our 50th anniversary, Bishop Russell offered a little trivia on the discussion/debate of the naming of our diocese at the primary convention held in December of 1970.
Next, the Rev. Cindy Howard, chair of the convention Committee on Finance, presented the 2019 budget, and convention offering designation to be Episcopal Relief and Development: Hurricane Michael relief and recovery. Both were approved by majority show of hands. The Thursday night service offering was $3100.
Next, Bishop Russell presented his official acts, list of voting clergy and diocesan commission and committee reports. There was a motion to file, and was approved by majority show of hands. Secretary Richards then called for any outstanding reports to be submitted for inclusion in the Journal of Convention.
Moving on, all convocation deans were called to the podium to introduce all new clergy and clergy in new positions within their respective convocations. Then Bishop Russell announced retirements from the past year and upcoming retirements.
Before adjourning for lunch, Bishop Russell reflected on the work being done to aide in Hurricane Michael recovery efforts and highlighted the outpouring of support, locally and from across the nation. For Noonday Prayers, the homilist was Marnie Yon, a parishioner from St. Andrew's by the Sea in Panama City. The text from Yon's homily is available HERE.
After lunch, the business of the convention was set aside for our program and keynote speaker, Dr. Greg Garrett, who is a noted author and professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Garrett spoke to our convention theme of "Life Togher" in the context of "Knowing and Telling Our Stories." Offering insights and sharing stories as examples of living into who we are called to be and the work we are called to do, Garrett often referenced the band U2, racial justice pioneer Dr. Catherine Meeks, and author John Greene, among others to emphasize his point of we must do the hard and essential work of following Jesus, to get involved in what God is doing. Garrett invited attendees to break out into small groups to discuss a series of questions centered around the following: Knowing and Telling Our Stories, Life Together: Conversation and Our Covenant, and Looking Outward: Our Story in the World. Video of Garrett's program is available HERE.
Garrett's program was followed by Evening Prayer with a sermon given by Ken Thomas of Church of the Nativity in Dothan, Alabama, and a beautiful choral Compline by candlelight. The text of Thomas' homily in available HERE.
Then convention goers traveled to the Nix Center to celebrate at the Gala. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and fun. We enjoyed delicious food and the entertainment of the Hot Wire Band.
Saturday, February 16
Our third and final day began with Morning Prayer. The homilist was Josh Wimberly of Church of the Redeemer in Mobile, Alabama. The text of Wimberly's homily is available HERE.
After the service, clergy spouses were transported to the home of Teresa Smith, where Robin Kendrick hosted the Clergy Spouse luncheon.
Convention business was reconvened, quorum was announced and Bishop Russell thanked the Duvall Center staff and volunteer for their work.
Youth representatives started the day off with an energizing and interactive sing-a-long followed by their report, given by youth, Jordan Chow.
Next, instructions were given and ballots were distributed for the Standing Committee member vote. Vote was taken and ballots were submitted to be counted for a later result announcement.
Then the Rev. Bailey Norman gave the report for the Convention Committee on Canons and Rules of Order. Vote was taken and passed for two resolutions to amend our diocesan canons:
one giving vocational deacons voting privileges at our annual diocesan convention, and the
second for the selection of a youth delegate and alternate from each convocation and for the aforementioned youth delegate to have voting privileges at our annual diocesan convention.
Also passed was a general resolution supporting the establishment of a study group on Disability Advocacy and Inclusion; the purpose of this study group will be to study the spiritual needs of persons with disabilities and their families living within communities served by the Diocese and to recommend actions to the Diocese for the full inclusion of persons with disabilities and their families within the life of the Diocese.
All of the complete documented resolutions are available HERE.
Bishop Russell thanked the outgoing Standing Committee members. The announcement was made that the Rev. Mary Alice Mathison was elected as the clergy order member. No vote was needed for the lay order because there were only two nominations to fill two open positions. The lay order members are June Linke and Stuart Richeson.
Reports were then given by Deacon Clelia Garrity for the ministry of deacons, and by Joe McDaniel for the Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation. After the reports, Bishop Russell also highlighted the work of several other commissions and programs within the diocese.
The host and dates for the 50th Annual Diocesan Convention in 2021 were announced:
February 25 - 27, 2021 hosted by St. Simon's on the Sound in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
A summary of the break-out session group work from Friday was shared by Bishop Russell, followed by a presentation of upcoming diocesan events. After the closing hymn and benediction, our convention was adjourned!