The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson, Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, makes her annual address to Diocesan Council 2019. In her address, Bishop Brooke-Davidson discusses ongoing Congregational Development partnerships and resources by telling “a tale of two cities:” Grace, Llano and St. Matthew’s, Edinburg; inviting clergy to attend preaching retreats; and giving a preview of the College for Congregational Development, launching in the Diocese of West Texas in 2020.
Bishop Brooke-Davidson shares, “Rapid discontinuous change in a culture means that systems have to deal with adaptive challenges instead of technical problems. When life is more predictable, you can make things better by fixing technical problems. In that atmosphere, known problems have known solutions. But when life and culture and the world are changing rapidly and unpredictably, there are new problems without known solutions. Nobody knows what they are doing or what to do next. That’s the presenting problem in an adaptive challenge, and the solution probably starts with re-thinking what the real issue is. Then there’s a lot of trial and error. The line in the maze is not straight because a straight line won’t work anymore. We still need to be good at the technical fixes, but we need a lot of new ideas, too.”
She concludes her address with, “You don’t need a young priest. You don’t need a staff priest. You need a congregation on fire for the Lord. Determined to walk in love. In the place where they live.”
To connect with the Congregational Development team, visit dwtx.org/congregational-development
For information about upcoming clergy retreats at Camp Capers, Mustang Island Conference Center, and Duncan Park, visit dwtx.org/events.
During Council 2019, participants are invited into seven conversations about each of the seven practices for a Jesus-centered life laid out by the Most Rev. Michael Curry. Contributors to the Fall/Winter 2018 Reflections Magazine that explored the Way of Love will introduce each Bible study conversation, either in person or via video.
Claire Campbell addresses Council and invites conversation about the practice of going, “crossing boundaries, listening deeply, and living like Jesus.” Listen to Claire’s full conversation above, read her article “Into the River” in Reflections, and ask yourself, “To what new places or communities is the Spirit sending you to witness to the love, justice, and truth of God?”
Greg Richards, Director of College Missions, presents about what’s happening on college campuses in our diocese and around the country. He shares about the growing presence of Vital University Missions in the Rio Grande Valley and explores the joy of sharing Jesus Christ and the Episcopal Church with college students. He says that,
In College Missions, we believe friendship is how Jesus came into the world (evangelism), and there are three core beliefs about friendship that inform our ministry:
The status quo is wrong and must be overthrown if the world is going to be livable.
There is another world aborning that is livable. (The Kingdom of God, here with us!)
The usual means by which one kingdom is thrown out and another put in its place (military force or democratic elections) are not available to us.
Ministry on college campuses can be changeable and sometimes feel overwhelming, but it is a blessing to join the ministry that Jesus Christ has already started in the hearts of our college students and to walk in love with our students.
Emily Kittrell, incoming Board Chair for the Bishop’s Happening Movement, joined by student leader Maddie Callier, report on the vitality for the student-led spiritual renewal weekend geared for tenth through twelfth grade high school students.
The diocese sponsors three Happening weekends each year – March, August, and November – in different host churches throughout the diocese.
Emily shares, “We live in a world of competing narratives about where value and worth exist. The pressures our youth are growing up under can give a false sense of reality, one that pulls them further and further from the truth of their belovedness as creations of God. As adults, it is incredibly difficult to figure out how to speak to, relate to, and especially to convey the message of God’s truth…The beauty of Happening is that youth share the message of hope, belonging, and love with each other. And I’m here to tell you, it works like magic.”
The Rev. Stephen Carson shares with Council about the work of The Douglass Foundation Scholarship Program. Established to support the fields of education, entrepreneurship, science and the arts in the Diocese of West Texas, the foundation has awarded $650,800 to 39 recipients since 2000.
This scholarship is for those seeking advanced degrees in the fields of theology, business, and psychology. The application deadline for the 2019 – 2020 school year is June 14th.
Stephen shares, “The reason I am speaking to you today is to encourage you, our diocesan family, to identify and inform potential applicants about the scholarship program.”
Mary Katherine Duffy, incoming Deputy for Episcopal Schools, reports on her vision for the new consulting role for Episcopal Schools she will assume beginning in the fall.
Duffy shares, “As the Chairman of the Episcopal Schools Commission for the last ten years, I can tell you firsthand that our schools have not had the diocesan support that they have needed. Bishop Reed and I began to dream about how the diocese could be more supportive and offer more resources to these schools that are ministering to thousands of students, parents, and faculty members each year. The position of Bishop’s Deputy for Episcopal Schools was born.”
She later continues, “I will spend my time visiting our schools, supporting the clergy and school heads, and facilitating conversations around each school’s strengths and challenges. I will build relationships, provide resources and support, and ultimately work to help the leaders of our school develop the skills they need to be the best they can be.
We will focus on areas of governance, finance, human resource management, and personal development. I will be the liaison between the bishops, the diocesan staff, and the schools, as we work through the challenges that our schools are facing each day.”
The Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutierrez, Bishop of Pennsylvania, addresses Council after his keynote at the Bishop’s Luncheon. Bishop Gutiérrez was consecrated on July 16, 2016 as the 16th Bishop of Pennsylvania. Before his ordination as bishop, Gutiérrez served as Canon to the Ordinary, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief of Staff in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. Bishop Gutiérrez has focused his ministry on emphasizing the sacred presence of Jesus Christ, empowering laity, inspiring creative solutions for church growth, emphasizing the missions of the church, social justice, poverty, and ensuring that transparency is part of everything.
Bishop Gutierrez shares, “Part of the challenge is that we have to retell the story about the Body of Christ. We have to say we’re not congregationalists; we are this Body of Christ. … And we’re doing it together. It’s about building trust. It’s about building relationships.
We do have the same challenges. When the world says there’s no hope, you’re the hope. We have to live with a theology of abundance and not scarcity, courage and not fear.”
Sarah Robinson delivers the results of this past year’s Valley Golf Classic tournament in March of 2018.
The Valley Golf Classic benefits Vital University Missions’ program in the Rio Grande Valley on Friday, March 22 at Rancho Viejo Resort and Country Club. Team and sponsor sign up is available at dwtx.org/events.