Story Highlights

The Executive Council of the diocese had its first meeting since the reorganization of the deaneries. The meeting on Saturday, March 1, 2014, was hosted by St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Theatre Arlington and held at Covenant Methodist Church in Arlington.

At the January 25, 2014, meeting the Executive Council concurred with the revised deanery plan offered by the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., who said he made the revision in order to have a deanery structure “that is honest about where we are as a diocese, realistic about the best use of our resources (laity, clergy, financial), and that reflected geographic integrity.”

Diocesan canons (Sec. 35.1) allow the bishop to change the deanery areas from time to time with the concurrence of the Executive Council.

The deanery reorganization meant a few changes in Executive Council membership as lay and clergy representatives to Council as well as deans and sub-deans of deaneries were sorted out at the first deanery meetings of 2014. Current membership of Executive Council is can be found here.

The meeting began as always with Bible study. High included in his announcements the news that his former bishop, the Rt. Rev. Maurice M. “Ben” Benitez, 6th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, died Thursday, February 27 in Austin, TX.

He urged people to attend Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal National Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence April 9-11 in Oklahoma City. At this gathering, “Episcopalians will come together to renew their Gospel call to make peace in a world of violence.”

He announced that the Rev. Cindy Ruiz has moved to Austin to become an assistant at San Francisco de Asis Episcopal Church, 7000 Woodbine, Austin, TX, 78745-5454. She will be ordained a priest at a date to be announced.

The bishop also announced that seminarian Mr. Carl Saxton of St. Francis Episcopal Church, Willow Park, will be a curate at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, Jacksonville, FL, beginning June 1. His ordination to the diaconate will be at 7 pm Thursday, May 22, at St. Christopher Episcopal Church, 3550 Southwest Loop 820, Fort Worth, TX 76133. St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, Willow Park, holding services at Community Christian Church, will host a reception in the St Christopher Parish Hall following the service. The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard is the bishop of the Diocese of Florida.

High said he will shortly appoint an ad hoc committee to undertake writing by-laws for the Executive Council.

Ms. Cherie Shipp, Trinity, Fort Worth, and member of the Finance Committee, reported on a new Congregational Grant Requests approval process “for new or existing congregations to support growth in their mission and ministry.” The new process was put in place at the bishop’s request, and shifts from a bishop-centered decision to a process by which the elected lay people and clergy of the Executive Council make the decision. Read more about that process here.

The first congregation to complete the new process is St. Alban’s Episcopal Church meeting in Theatre Arlington. Executive Council voted to approve the grant request for $10,000 to be payable in two installments ($5,000 by March 31 and $5000 by June 30), renewable for another six months and another $10,000, pending review by the two groups. The council then voted to amend the budget to take funds from the Congregations Support Reserves to fund the grant. The measure passed with two dissenting votes.

Finance Committee Chair Mr. Floyd McKneely, St. Stephen’s, Hurst, put forward the committee’s request to the council to “instruct the Finance Committee to begin investigating the feasibility of a fundraising campaign whose purpose is to support the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and report to the Executive Council in a timely way.” The measure passed with no dissenting votes.

The Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner announced the creation of a private Facebook group for the clergy called Common Call. Waggoner and the Rev. Curt Norman of St. Luke’s, Stephenville, will administer the group. This emerged from a request of the clergy at the Reorganize Our Church event on February 8. It is designed to facilitate ongoing communication between the bishop and the clergy of the diocese. She also reminded the council that the need remains for a deanery to volunteer to host the 2015 Diocesan Convention.

After lunch, Mr. Louis Eichenberger, St. Francis, Willow Park, and convener of the Structure Work Group, made a motion to add the Constitution and Canons Committee to the Management Work Group. It passed unanimously.

Standing Committee President Elinor Normand, Trinity, Fort Worth, reported that the Standing Committee has appointed Ms. Becky Snell and the Rev. Henry Penner, both from St. Martin, Keller, as co-chairs of the nominations committee for the 2014 Diocesan Convention in November.

The Work Groups of council met separately briefly. When the council regrouped, members of each Work Group gave reports. The Structure Work Group report was given by Eichenberger, who said that this group is charged with the accountability part of the “participation, transparency, and accountability of diocesan leaders” as the expressed will of consecutive diocesan conventions. This accountability responsibility is “shared obviously with the bishop and other supervisory bodies within the diocesan structure.” He pointed out that Structure does not see its role as “enforcer” but rather as a “non-adversarial ombudsman” working in a “spirit of collaborative encouragement” with the groups, committees, and ministries of the diocese.

Ms. Margaret Mieuli, St. Christopher, Fort Worth, gave the report for the Christian Formation Work Group which is exploring online refresher courses for the Safeguarding God’s Children and Safeguarding God’s People training. The Rev. Melanie Wright, St. Alban’s in Theatre Arlington, announced that the Safeguarding God’s People training will be offered at St. Alban’s on March 23 with Pam Dunbar of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

Mr. Spencer Mabry, St. Stephen’s, Hurst, gave the report for Congregational Development Work Group, mentioned the need for having a shared system for naming reports filed from Work Groups prior to each Executive Council meeting. He suggested that each report be filed as “committee name EC month day year,” as in “communications EC 2 1 14.” He then asked Normand, convener of the Congregational Development Work Group, to report on the Hispanic Ministry group. Normand reported that the committee wants to form a group consisting of “New Generation Latinos” (NGLs) and hold an event during Lent. New Generation Latinos are U.S-born and foreign-born Latinos with 15-plus years in the U.S. They represent 75% of the 12-34 year-old Hispanic population. The Hispanic Ministry committee sent a request to all congregations asking for the names of any NGL members. Only one congregation responded. High asked that all council members to find that information and send it to Normand.

Shipp of the Finance Work Group reminded everyone that the budget process is starting soon so diocesan groups, ministries and committees need to be working on their budget proposals for the next three years.

Mr. Don Parks of St. Alban’s in Theatre Arlington gave an update on the planning for the 2014 Diocesan Convention. That convention will be hosted by the Fort Worth East Deanery, which is comprised of St. Alban’s, St. Luke in the Meadow, Fort Worth; St. Stephen,. Hurst; and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Keller. The convention will be November 14-15, 2014, at the Globe Life Park in Arlington (formerly the Ballpark in Arlington) Jack Daniels Club (formerly the Diamond Club).

The next meeting of the Executive Council is May 17 at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Keller.