The Executive Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth met at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Wichita Falls, on Saturday, September 13, 2014. The Episcopal Church of Wichita Falls, which includes St. Stephen’s, All Saints’, and Good Shepherd, worships at St. Stephen’s.
In his report to Council, the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, discussed his pastoral letter on Covenant Blessings, gave an update on transitions in clergy and worship locations, and listed some accomplishments of 2013-2014. There has been a significant realignment of diocesan staff office and positions. Michele King joined the staff as administrative assistant, Demi Prentiss transitioned out and Tracie Middleton was hired in a new ministry support and communication position. The bishop’s time was adjusted from half-time work to three-quarters to more accurately reflect the work done by the bishop in the diocese.
Council approved the minutes of the May 17, 2014, meeting.
Transitions in clergy and places of worship
The congregations of All Saints’, St. Stephen’s and Good Shepherd, Wichita Falls, participated in the Episcopal Church Building Fund’s (ECBF) “Recasting Our Assets,” which led them into conversations about the possibility of coming together as a single worshiping congregation at St. Stephen’s.They have now done this as The Episcopal Church of Wichita Falls. They engaged in a search process and have called the Rev. Amy Haynie to serve as their priest-in-charge.
St. Stephen’s, Hurst, also participated in ECBF’s “Recasting Our Assets,” which helped them to discern that their next step was to move to a new location which they can utilize 24/7. Their first Sunday in their new building was August 17. They also have secured a grant from the diocese and have started the process of finding a half-time priest-in-charge.
St. Alban’s, Arlington, also participated in ECBF’s “Recasting Our Assets,” which led them to engage in a few new ministry initiatives. Beginning in November, the diocese provided the Rev. Melanie Wright and the vestry with significant consultative support in administration, stewardship, and leadership development. In March, Wright went on emergency sabbatical for two months. Shortly thereafter, Wright resigned her post, and the diocese has provided continuing significant support for the lay leadership of St. Alban’s, which already has begun the search process, completing a draft of their profile. They have an interim priest, the Rev. Norma Barr, who will likely be on board by the end of September.The search process will likely be completed in early 2015.
St. Luke’s-in-the-Meadow, Fort Worth, also participated in ECBF’s “Recasting Our Assets” program, and it drew them into new partnerships in the community. The Rev. Susan Slaughter retired in December, and the vestry opted to forego hiring an interim and instead made use of a series of supply priests.They have called a part time rector, the Rev. Karen Calafat.
St. Andrew’s, Fort Worth, has engaged with the extended St. Andrew’s community through a series of letters from Bishop High. They also moved to a new worship space at University Christian Church, which allows them the opportunity to worship on Sunday mornings rather than on Sunday evenings. The congregation is growing in both numbers and strength. They received a grant from the diocese which is helping them to support their priest-in-charge more effectively.
Reports from officers and committees
Ms. Kathleen Wells, chancellor, reported that “the legal team proceeds on two fronts; we await a decision from the United States Supreme Court on our appeal from the Texas Supreme Court’s 2013 decision, while also preparing for summary judgment and trial in the 141st District Court.”
Mr. George Komechak, chair of the constitutions and canons committee reported on the work to prepare a “revamped lean and mean constitution, modeled after constitution of The Episcopal Church.” It will be offered for a first vote at the 2014 Diocesan Convention November 14-15 at Globe Life Park in Arlington. While some canonical changes will be proposed in 2014, the bulk of canonical changes will be proposed in 2015. The 2014 proposed canon changes will clarify the role of the Finance Committee in Canon 10 and in Canon 12 will provide for the bishop to name an interim trustee for the University of South until next convention should a trustee be unable to complete his or her term for any reason. Canon 15 will define standards and clarify the bishop’s role in governance of Episcopal schools, Canon 35 will provide guidelines for determining home deaneries for non-parochial and retired clergy and will allow for alternates deanery representatives to be elected, and Canon 42 formally establishes the Constitution and Canon Committee and outlines its duties.
Bylaws for Executive Council were adopted at the May 17, 2014 meeting, with a proviso that the Constitution and Canons Committee would clarify language about the Finance Work Group (changing it to Committee) to make it congruent with the language of Canon 10. The committee did so and the council voted to accept the changes. The approved bylaws are here.
Mr. Floyd McKneely, chair of the Finance Committee, discussed the progress toward launching a significant fundraising effort to raise $3.5 million over a 3-year period. McKneely is the chair of the campaign, which will be called the Funding Our Future Campaign. The details of the campaign will be announced as they are finalized.
Ms. Margaret Mieuli reported on that preparations for the 2014 Diocesan Convention are proceeding smoothly and that the Fort Worth South Deanery – host for the 2015 convention – is working with the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau to find an affordable suitable location.
Ms. Elinor Normand, president of the Standing Committee, reported that the Standing Committee anticipates beginning the search for a bishop diocesan in 2015 and seating said bishop in 2018. A part-time provisional bishop will continue to lead our diocese until 2018. The Standing Committee has submitted a resolution to diocesan convention that asks the General Convention for assistance in funding the bishop diocesan over a ten-year period beginning in 2018. If the resolution is accepted by the diocesan convention delegates, it will be sent to the General Convention in 2015 as having come from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, rather than from the Standing Committee.
The Rev. Janet Waggoner, canon to the ordinary, presented a list of insurance plan options for clergy and lay employees and council approved health plan selections.
Mr. Robert Hicks, treasurer, presented and council approved a revision to the 2014 budget and the proposed 2015 triennial budget. The 2014 revision provides funds for the second half of the aid to congregations grant for St Andrews, general assistance advance to congregations to obtain deeds and abstracts for properties in the diocese, adjustments in the communications budget, and hiring a Ministry Support and Communications Officer, as well as adjustments to many accounts to reflect end of the year activity.
The 2015 triennial budget will be presented to convention as the opportunities and priorities of the diocese at this time for the next three years. The 2015 portion of the budget is the operating budget for the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2015 in accordance with Canon 10.6. The diocese will continue to support the mission and development of existing congregations, plant new congregations, spread the mission of the church through communications, support campus ministry, youth ministry, and Christian formation, and begin the search for a bishop diocesan with election at the November 2017 Convention.
The next Executive Council meeting is scheduled for December 6. The first meeting in 2015 is scheduled for January 31.