Growing in Love of God and Neighbor

237th Convention Report

Report on the 237th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of NJ

The convention took place virtually on Saturday, March 6. Your three delegates (Bob Litsinger, John Muray, Kristina Van Name) and Mother Emily attended.

Part of the convention is prayer. The Bishop led us in Morning Prayer and Reverend Brian Jemmott led Noonday Prayer.

Bishop Stokes gave an Address to the Convention. We also heard pre-recorded greetings from Presiding Bishop Curry, Bishops Hughes (Episcopal Diocese of Newark), Bartholomew (ECLA New Jersey Synod), and Lozano (of our companion Diocese of Ecuador Litoral).

Recognition of people for past and present service or engagement is an important part or the convention. Some of our own were recognized. Herb Thomas was recognized by the diocese when the Lay Leaders Necrology was read. Father Stowell was celebrated for the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood and offered heartfelt congratulations and warmest thanks for his dedicated ministry to the church, this Diocese and its people. Bob Litsinger and Julie Bathke’s engagement at the New Jersey School of Ministry was mentioned. Mother Emily was mentioned for her hard work on the Diocesan Discerning Our Common Call Committee.

We conducted normal business including resolutions, elections to diocesan offices, and finances. The Diocese finances have been well managed through the pandemic, and the Diocese was helpful in supporting many applications for the PPP funding. Mr. Jonathan Gloster reported on the diocesan finances and budgets for 2020, 2021 and 2022. We passed the 2021 and the preliminary 2022 budgets.

There were three groups that did presentations. The Rev. Robert Fitzpatrick reported for Project Resource (formerly known as the Stewardship Commission). This committee assists parishes to develop faithful stewardship practices. The group focuses on three areas of giving – annual giving, major giving, and planned giving. Project Resource is a good resource to help parishes with any kind of fundraising. They are also a good resource for parishes who are struggling. In either situation they bring people together to ask questions and share solutions.

The Diocese is heavily committed to justice and relief of oppression for Blacks and Latinos and others. The next two presentations showed that concern. The first of those, the Reparations Task Force, is an outgrowth of the last convention in November of 2020, where the Diocese of New Jersey passed a resolution to “establish a Task Force to initiate and oversee a multi-year process to examine our sins, complicity, and financial benefits through the history of slavery and its legacy continuing to contemporary practices, and to recommend appropriate actions for the Diocese.” Canons Barbara Bach, Annette Buchanan, and Noreen Duncan shared the group’s plans. The question they are asking is “how can we understand and redress our past?” They have set 4 objectives for the work this year revolving around Education, Funding, Historical Research and Advocacy. It is worth noting that in a study of religious denominations the Episcopal Church nationally ranked ahead of other denominations and that gives us models in those dioceses that are ahead of New Jersey in this work.

Then the Rev. Canon Joan M. Pettit Mason and Ms. Sharisma Ubiera reported on Episcopal Community Services (ECS) which was initiated before the November convention. This group keeps in mind that “inequality hurts us all.” The committee recognizes that many individual churches are engaged in addressing this, but funding and cohesion are needed to properly address the inequities. The group is committed to helping individual churches succeed in this work. There are two aspects they focus on – charity and justice (to be advocates). There are five components to this group: Jubilee principles, fundraisings, resources distribution/program grants, networking and advocate training. They give monthly briefings and quarterly reports.

If you are interested in any of this, you can find the entire convention on YouTube.
Watch it here. It is a long video. If you would like to to view one of these reports, you can find these at approximately:

  • Project Resource at 2:48:09
  • Reparations at 3:09:45
  • ECS at 3:26:38