by Rob Hartmann
On Saturday, April 17, Episcopal clergy and lay leaders met in Special Convention to debate, vote, and approve a new canon designed to strengthen the viability and vitality of all communities of faith within the Diocese, ensuring that they have the necessary capacity to achieve spiritual and financial health. Bishop Marianne Budde called for the Special Convention at the 126th General Convention held on January 30. She noted at that time that the motive for this canon was love, allowing the EDOW to collaboratively and positively work with “at risk” parishes to assess vitality and together discern steps to strengthen their viability.
Immediately prior to the Special Convention, Rector Sari Ateek hosted a Zoom meeting with lay delegates and alternates from St. John’s to review the proposed Canon and answer questions. He noted that while the canon would be an important tool for the Diocese in helping to maintain parish financial and spiritual health, he did not see it applying to St. John’s at this time.
Sari was joined by Deacon Anne Derse, and Lay Delegates Carol Bartholomew, Rob Hartmann, Margaret Hilton, and Peter Plocki in attending the convention held via Webinar. The meeting convened at 9:00 am and adjourned at 2:33 pm. St. John’s delegates were surprised and delighted that following opening prayers, the convention kicked-off with a recording of St. John’s Easter Service featuring Karl Robson at the organ and our choir performing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.”
During the 5½ hour meeting, the proposed canon was reviewed section by section and line by line with both amendments and amendments to amendments, each of which were subject to discussion and vote by the over 200 delegates in attendance. With a final vote of 201 in favor, 13 against and 4 abstentions, Canon 54 on Diocesan Stewardship and Parish Viability was approved into Church law. Canon 54 includes standards that define parish vitality and viability of mission, financial health, and operational capacity. These standards include but are not limited to: adherence to the Constitutions and Canons; financial resources adequate to fund ongoing operations; effective governance and stewardship, including sound financial practices that preserve long term assets for future ministry.