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The 232nd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland took place May 13th and 14th, 2016 at Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City, MD. It was my pleasure and honor to as our parish’s delegate to convention as I have for the past six years.
Each year, our diocese holds its convention to conduct business and set policy and priorities for the diocese in the coming year. You can find a detailed report of the work of convention on the diocesan website here: http://episcopalmaryland.org/diocesan-governance/diocesan-convention/. A sampling of the resolutions passed includes resolution 2016-01 setting minimum compensation standards for priests and parish staff in the diocese, resolution 2016-02 adopting of updated alcohol use guidelines for diocesan and parish events, and resolution 2016-03 which establishes a companion relationship with the Diocese of Puerto Rico.
What was probably the most contentious resolution was 2016-08, titled Reparations Investment, which was referred to Diocesan Council for further study and conversation. This resolution called for the contribution of a portion of the assets of the unrestricted diocesan investment funds to be contributed to the diocesan chapter of United Black Episcopalians, an organization of African-American members of the Episcopal Church. According to those who proposed the resolution, the intention was to start a conversation on how the Diocese and its parishes could atone for the sins of slavery and institutional racism and repair relations with our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ. While there were some tense moments of debate on the resolution and it did not pass, it certainly lived into its intention to start a conversation as the Diocese, under the leadership of Diocesan Council, will be talking about this issue throughout the year.
This year’s keynote speaker, the Very Reverend Michael Kinman Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, MO, said in his address, “Discomfort is a sacrament.” Dean Kinman is active in the Black Lives Matter movement and was present at many of the protests in Ferguson, MO after police shot and killed an unarmed young black man. He challenged us to learn to live with discomfort if we hope to reconcile with our brothers and sisters who have been wronged through a system of institutional racism which has deeply affected not only our nation but also our beloved city of Baltimore. Conversations about race and racism make us deeply uncomfortable, but it is only through experiencing this discomfort that we can begin to understand the discomfort that our African-American brothers and sisters experience on a daily basis living their lives in a system that is set up to position them as “other” rather than as a part of the whole. I encourage you to join me in taking part in this conversation. The first opportunity is to attend the upcoming meeting of the Baltimore South Regional Council where we will begin talking about this issue. It will be held at St. John’s in the Village at 3009 Greenmount Ave from 7:00 to 8:30 on Tuesday, May 24th.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have about Diocesan Convention.
Yours in Christ,