The 107th Annual Council of the Diocese of West Texas was called to order by the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge at 1:10 PM on Thursday afternoon, February 17, 2011. Lillibridge introduced the theme of Council and the theme for 2011, “A Sower Goes Out to Sow,” from the parable in Matthew 13. This theme will be integrated throughout the weekend. Sam Gilliam, professor of drama and arts at Trinity University, presented the opening act of “Fertile Soil,” a three-act drama that will conclude on Saturday morning and tells the story of one lady’s, Mrs. Barrington’s, struggle with the changes in her beloved church and neighborhood and how she comes to embrace these changes and sow seeds of the Good News in her community.
Council considered a resolution, 1-2011, on the invitation issued by the Church of the Holy Spirit, San Antonio, to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio to unite with them in common mission in northwest San Antonio. It was resolved, with thanks for their ministry in San Antonio since 1989, St. Michael’s joined the Church of the Holy Spirit. The representatives from the joint congregation of the Church of the Holy Spirit were recognized and applauded.
Council considered Resolution 2-2011 to admit Grace Church, San Antonio, as a mission congregation. Bishop Lillibridge noted with the resolution that as the joining of St. Michael’s and Holy Spirit brought the number of parishes in the Diocese of West Texas to 89, the admission of Grace Church raised the number once again to 90. After the resolution passed, 40+ members of Grace Church paraded on to the Council floor to rousing and upbeat music as all in attendance stood and applauded.
The congregation joined the bishops on stage and the Rev. Jay George, vicar of Grace Church, thanked the diocesan family for their support in the growth of the diocese, enabling Grace Church to become what it is today. Chris Mitchell, a member of Grace Church, expressed his thanks to Jay and Jamie George for opening their home and leading this initiative and teaching the new church family what it means to be in a relationship with God. Davis Phillips, another member, came to the podium and told of how he met George standing in line for iPhones. The two struck up a conversation on leadership and leading organizations through change, Davis in his business, and George at Grace Church. Phillips, moved by the conversation, began attending Grace Church. Phillips referred to himself as basically “unchurched” up till the last three years, and now his entire family attends Grace Church, which is making a difference in all their lives. He extended his thanks to George and the diocesan family.
In an emotional closing moment, George called up the five original members of Grace Church: Jamie, his wife, and Adilyn, Jacob, and Emily, his children, and applauded them for their hard work and dedicated efforts. George said he looks forward to coming back in three years to be “upgraded to parish status.” Welcome, Grace Church.