I have added another blog link.

The Rev. Canon Simon Mein, a long time friend and associate, has a wonderful blog called Simon Surmises.

Grab a cup of coffee, sit down comfortably, and read, thereby exercising not only your brain, but your soul.




Some of my dearest friends and I will be getting together this Saturday to celebrate 40 years of being away from home. Here is what she has written. For those of you reading this in Sudan, or other parts of the globe, Cate, along with my three Wise Men, assisted me in obtaining my vision to do more for my church. Hence, God put me in Sudan, for which I am eternally grateful.

Mountain View Life Coaching Newsletter
40 Years Ago...

JULY 29, 2009

Hard to believe, but it's true. Forty years ago I (barely) graduated from Ossining High School.

The "barely" part is another story...

This weekend I will spend a few short hours with a handful of my amazing graduating class of over 300 "kids".

Not long ago, I realized that my experience "growing up" with my classmates (and the classes of '66, '67, '68 and '70) is one of the greatest gifts of my lives. I feel as though we raised ourselves and each other. I think we did a pretty good job. No one else was paying attention to my struggles and angst, at least not that I noticed. I can't speak for my classmates or anyone else of this "era".

Perhaps this is not unique to the Class of '69, but we truly "went though a lot" together, the best of times and the worst of times.

Coming from five small racially, ethnically and economically diverse elementary schools into one over-crowded junior high school, 7th and 8th grade, which adjoined the high school, we were on double session for two years while a new "middle" school was built. We went to school from 7 to Noon one year, Noon to 5 the other. It was weird. We didn't really have any activities except to find our classrooms on time (which could be under the stage or next door at the church) and the rush to get there early to claim one of the limited number of desks and chairs. Never mind the books....

We learned to sit wherever and share. Made us close.

We were the beginning of the peak of the baby boomers and our town and school did not plan ahead.

We lost our beloved President Kennedy when we were only 12 years old. Our hearts were broken, but our young spirits were not dampened. We still believed we could save the world.

We entered high school in the same complex of buildings, as the "middle schoolers" left us and headed to their new school. We had "toughed it out" and got to spread out and relax a bit in our roomier old school and annex. We finally had dances, played sports together (well, the boys, this was pre-Title 9 after all, the girls watched or were cheerleaders). We went to the town library at night to study (or at least that's what we told our parents). We skipped school and took the train down the Hudson River to NY City and learned how to get to the Greenwich Village on the subway and back, and off the train before dismissal.

We lost Dr. King and Senator Kennedy. We were in shock and pain as the racial tension in our school escalated to the breaking point. Police lined our corridors for weeks as we made our way to class.

We worked together in our senior year in our shared desire to heal.

We broke the dress code. Yes, the girls wore skirts that had to touch the floor when we got on our knees in the dean's office, and the boys had to wear jacket and tie on Fridays. Now we all wore jeans, or at least we could.

We experienced the "sexual revolution" in our own young way, having heard reports of the "Summer of Love" in 1967 Haight-Ashbury. Some of us experimented with drugs. We watched the war in Vietnam on the evening news, watched it escalate and worried about the draft. We partied when our parents were away. Our parents remained oblivious, or so we thought, until some of us "got caught".

That summer, many of us planned for college, entered the work force or Armed Service, and some of us bought our tickets and looked forward to The Woodstock Festival in August (more next time), as we marveled at men walking on the moon.

Back to today -- My boxes for our move are mostly packed and I am fleeing my home and my adoring, understanding husband, to see my homegirls and homeboys for a few short hours of laughs and shared memories.

We share experiences that have bonded us in ways that I barely understand, if not because of the "times", than at least because we were and are who we are.

Unlike previous reunions (I made the 25th and 35th), I don't care if I have a manicure or something new to wear. I won't and I don't. I don't care that I didn't lose a few pounds just for the occasion. I am who I am. Happy to be able to attend and hug my classmates!

Including my years in junior and senior high school, I have spent many years trying to morph into something I'm not.

I finally like myself for who I am.

Funny thing is, this group of old friends, brothers and sisters of my soul, always appreciated me for me. It's taken all this time for me to "get it" -- that I'm okay and totally lovable, just as I am.

I believe we are all born with an innate sense of worth and intact self-esteem. I lost mine for a very long time... and found it again through the transformational work of "integrative" life coaching.

If you would benefit from support, a guide to help you find the path back to your birthright of worthiness and self-acceptance, call me. From my training, personal experience and the experience of my clients, I know that from this place of wholeness, your gifts will unfold with ease. The world is waiting for your gifts. Why wait another moment?

Call me for a complimentary conversation.


Cate LaBarre
Mountain View Life Coaching
Certified Integrative Coach Professional
Trained by The Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching at JFK University
Workshop Facilitator and Leader
After August 6th -- (518)882-9880


My first encounter with Bishop Steven Charleston was at the Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew. Each year, the Rev. Canon Lloyd Casson would invite Bishop Charleston to participate in the three Hour Good Friday service at SsAM's. What started out being a one year treat turned into seven.

Imagine looking forward to Good Friday, an afternoon spent praying, crying, laughing and being in community.

Since then, I have encountered Bishop Charleston at CODE, EBAC and other conferences. To know that he will speak is to know that I will be challenged and refreshed.

Here is a synopsis of what he had to say this week during the noon time Eucharist. from Episcopal News Service.

Future generations will look back on the Episcopal Church aghast that it spent 30 years talking about human sexuality and largely ignoring the ecological disaster affecting the world, said Bishop Steven Charleston in his July 15 sermon during a General Convention Eucharist that celebrated creation care.

“For years now the environmental movement has told us that there is a clock ticking, a clock, ticking, a great organic ecological clock that is ticking away the time of our lives to that when we no longer will be able to reverse the damage that we have done to this planet through our own greed, negligence and ignorance,” said Charleston, assistant bishop of California and provost of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Charleston continued: "Why is it that we do not hear that? Why is it that around this world of ours, though there are good men and women all seeking to help save the earth, that there is not this huge outpouring of sudden activity as the bell rings in our ears to save the earth?"

It is because, he said, "we have been distracted."

In addition to being distracted by discussions on human sexuality, the church has been worrying about its institutional survival; its relationships in the Anglican Communion; money, budget sheets and head counts, Charleston said.

“I am here to tell you that unless we recognize that there is a higher, deeper calling that lies behind all of these needs … none of our hopes and dreams, whether they come from conservative hearts or liberal minds, will sustain the day on anything we have been discussing, for all will be for naught, all will be for naught lest we wake up and pay attention to the underlying great issue of our day.”

"The day will come when the future will look back on what we have been doing here and see in our discussions -- though they appear to us in this moment, so fraught with importance -- issues as antique as the concern as to whether or not women could have the right to vote and whether we should stop the practice of child labor," said Charleston.

"And yet they will consider our folly on a planet that is but a burnt cinder, compared to the garden that has allowed us the luxury to have these self same debates. They will live in a world in which wars over water will make ours over oil pale in comparison."

But, he said, it doesn't have to be so. As the history of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have shown, people can live in peace even when they disagree and people are capable of living in harmony with the natural world.

"In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I call upon the presence of the Holy Spirit … the spirit of the very earth itself and ask that that spirit come into this room and touch each and every one of you who is listening to me now," Charleston concluded. "Let your mind be opened to the truth of what I have spoken here today, let your heart be set on fire … be not afraid Episcopal Church, but stand proud and tall into this great commission of God.

"This is our moment, this is our time, this is our call and under an anointing of the spirit of God we will not fail in that call, but be in the vanguard of a change that will resound around the world full of hope and grace to renew humanity itself through the hope and power of Jesus in whose name I have preached and in whose name I have prayed."

And the crowd of hundreds took to its feet in applause.

Abrahamic Blessing

Attending the House of Deputies on July 14 was a blessing within a blessing.

At the end of each session the chaplain closes with prayers and incorporates prayers for the concerns of Deputies and others attending. This morning was different.

A little history first.

Most of you know that I spent time last summer in Khartoum, Sudan. Khartoum is a predominately Arabic speaking Muslim city. Each day, the many calls to prayer reminded all within earshot to turn to God and pray.

As a child growing up in Westchester County, New York, I attended many Saturday services at Temple.

This day, my past and present were woven together when three men, one Christian - The Rev. Peter Hood, one Muslim, Mu'athin Ben Yousef, and one Jewish - Cantor Mark Saltzman, sang an Abrahamic Blessing. The co-mingling of these three voices were music to my ears. Shutting my eyes, I heard the history of the praising of God in one.

The sons of Abraham blessing together.

To read more about this in the Convention Daily go on line to http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/08Daily_071509.pdf If this does not work, paste it into your browser address bar. While there read more editions that contain wonderful articles and pictures.


Lashings in Khartoum Soudan

Two days ago I read about the flogging of several non-Muslim women in Khartoum, Sudan. Eating at a popular restaurant they were arrested for dressing indecently. I will state at the outset, that all of my knowledge about this information is coming from the BBC on line. Googling this topic, the first ten results show nothing carried by the US Press. As Americans whose history includes the whole scale flogging of slaves, where is our indignation?

Having lived in Khartoum for four months last summer, I understand the tensions about being true to yourself and culture and the respect for the culture that you live in. I quickly decided to err on the side of society in Khartoum, and wore long skirts and tops going to work and church. Running next door to the little corner store, very baggy pants were worn with long sleeved tops. Inside my home, anything was the custom.

At a very popular ex-pat restaurant, women wore slacks, some young girls in jeans. It was considered an oasis for women.

I imagine this was where these women thought they were, an oasis of safety.

The punishment for this crime is 40 lashes. Ten women who pleaded guilty were given 10 lashes. The rest have chosen trial.

This morning the BBC carries this headline and story:

France condemns Sudan floggings


France has condemned the flogging of several women in Sudan, who were being punished for wearing trousers.

The foreign ministry called on Khartoum to abandon the prosecution of several others charged with the same offence.

The women were arrested in a Khartoum restaurant and accused of wearing clothes that threatened the values and virtue of Sudanese society.

One of the women facing charges is a well-known local journalist who has invited reporters to attend her trial.

Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein said several of the women who she was arrested with had pleaded guilty to the charge and been flogged immediately.

The French foreign ministry said in a statement it "strongly condemned" the punishment.

"France, which is fighting for the abolition of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment and is combating violence against women, demands that the Sudanese authorities break off its prosecution of these people," the statement said.

Khartoum, unlike South Sudan, is governed by Sharia law.

Several of those punished were from the mainly Christian and animist south, Ms Hussein said.

Non-Muslims are not supposed to be subject to Islamic law, even in Khartoum and other parts of the mainly Muslim north.



It has been a couple of days since the last time I blogged. There is way too much to see, hear and do at General Convention, even without attending Disneyland.

Days are filled with Committee meetings, sitting in on the House of Deputies or House of Bishops, visiting the Exhibit Center, networking, visiting old friends, and yes, watching Yankee games.

Nights have been as busy as the days.

There was the receptions for everything, World Mission, Credo, Seminaries, ECW, UTO, Missionaries, International guests, Camps and Conference Centers, to name a few. Most are located at the Marriott or Hilton. The deputation makes their way back and forth.

Then, at night there are also workshops about the Public Narrative. There are nay sayers, but I love stories. New stories can make me laugh and cry. My friend, The Very Rev. Oran Warder was a great story teller.

I had heard through the grapevine that Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul from the Province of Sudan had arrived in the US. My friend Keith Brown, shown here had gone to the airport to pick up His Grace and his wife. I awaited in anticipation. Old friends on this side of the Atlantic and across this great country.

So, around 5 PM Chris Brennan Lee and I headed over to the Marriott for the World Mission reception, paid our $10 as a donation to offset costs and headed inside. I saw several people that I knew and made introductions, including the Rev. David Copley, Head of Mission Personnel and the person that first uttered the words, " I need a CPA in Sudan." The Presiding Bishop was going to start off the festivities.I spoke with members of the deputations from Taiwan, Honduras, and the Philippines. Also in attendance were representatives from AFRECS, American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan.

I was delighted to know that Finley Middleton, serving in Liberia, was in attendance. His diocese had paid for his airfare back for convention. Finley and I have an email friendship and to meet him here in Anaheim was exciting. Here is his picture with David Copley.

As it turned out, it took the Archbishop and his wife three hours to clear customs. Such hospitality. They arrived exhausted and headed straight for their room. Seeing these old friends would have to wait.

The highlight of the evening for Christina was this picture.


Sudan Surprise

Wandering around the Exhibit Hall I have already become accustomed to what and who I might see. However, I was not prepared for several surprises.

I had wandered down to the AFRECS booth, American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, in order to introduce myself to individuals that I knew only through emails. I was speaking with Buck Blanchard (VA) when I looked up and spied a familiar face.

Coming down the aisle was The Rev. Joanna Udal, the priest who was on sabbatical in England and the priest for whom I house sat while in Khartoum Sudan.

Rascal's owner. Surprise #1.

Both of us uttered each others names, quickly followed by hugs and a few tears. Neither of us could believe that the other was standing in front of the other.

I knew what I was doing a General Convention, but what was she? Then I remembered. Joanna had left working for the Archbishop of Sudan and gone to work for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. It now made sense.

We quickly caught up with each other as she walked in the wake of the Archbishop greeting people at specific booths, UTO and then Navajoland. It was at this latter booth that we caught up with him.

Then Joanna did something so unexpected, surprise #2.

Joanna uttered the words, " You must meet him." "Who?" "His Grace."

Seconds latter with his hands clasping mine, Joanna is telling him our story, one that shared Sudan, Rascal, neighbors, the church of Sudan, and her house. I think I managed something about an honor to meet him, and what a wonderful person Joanna was. Pictures were taken, and a photographer took a picture of my identity badge, muttering something about The Living Church.

Sometimes I wonder whose life I am leading.


Oh, what a glorious morning

Yesterday morning marked the beginning of General Convention, starting with The House of Deputies and The House of Bishops initial meetings. Chris Brennan Lee was volunteering in the House of Bishops so she had an early start.

I had breakfast in my room, coffee and water, and then headed over to Hall D for the Opening Eucharist. I wanted a good seat and I wanted to volunteer as a Communion Assistant. I obtained both.

Hall D seems to go on forever and yesterday I attempted to try to show the depth by taking several pictures and standing in one place. So far, that does not capture what I want it to do. I think that I will send the pictures to Danny Schweers to see if he and merge and post.

That said, it is amazing to me that it will be filled at the Eucharist. Here is a picture of the entire altar, followed by one of the large screens.I saw Tom and Janet Kerr and LaVerne Cheatham. All others were present, I am sure.
At the beginning of the service, as people filed in from the their respective Houses, a drummer from South Africa lead us in responding chants. At the end, the Presiding Bishop entered.

The Presiding Bishop's sermon was wonderful, and you can read it in its entirety on line at Episcopal Life On line. Sorry to spoil the ending, but her repetition of the word Mission and then silence, spoke so loudly to me, even though she had spoken very softly.

PS. I was remiss in not posting this picture of the ECW attendees arriving at Convention. Take a bow ladies.


Public Narratives

Last night, I discovered two types of public narrative.

The second, not the first discovered, was realizing that there is no public discourse between a Yankee Fan from Delaware and Texas Ranger Fans from Dallas, TX. Try as I may, there was not going to be civilized discourse over a shared beer.

The first, was spoken about yesterday afternoon Introduction to Mission conversation through Public Narrative.

The Rev. Lauren Stanley quoted the Rev. Michael Pipkin in today's Center Aisle :

Public narrative is a discernment process. I tell you my story, I connect it to the wider community story, and I tell you what I think we're called to do about it right now. I call you to action....We talk about values, choice points and what values underlie that choice. Those values connect with the wider community values>

Dr. Marshall Ganz, from Harvard University's Kennedy School, told his story and what led him to be involved in this form of discussion and action.

What I heard was that through Conflict could come Reconciliation and therefore, Hope.

On Thursday Convention will receive training on how to formulate the Story of Us/Self, Sunday the Story of US, and then on Monday, the Story of Now. The training will assist us in learning how to link these three stories in two minutes.



Day Two Across the Street from Disney Land

I took theday off and went to the Michael Jackson Memorial Service.


No, today started with a Committee meeting at 7:30 AM. My committee is the Consecration of Bishops. The two currently before the Committee are South Dakota and Long Island. Tomorrow, they might take up another.

The orientation for new deputies, scheduled for 8 AM was canceled. This was considered odd, since 40% of those attending are newbies.

The co-chairs assisted me in walking by sending me looking for tables, flip charts, more copies. I ran into the Revs. Wade and Hinton, as I ran back and forth.

The meeting ended at 10:15 though my training continued until noon.

Then I headed to the Budget and Finance. Needed a whole floor for this meeting. Lots of voices for continuing support for the Millenium Development Goals, Youth, Native Ministries. If it were up to me, sell the furniture for mission. (I am biased.) In attendance were Walt Cheatham, Debby Layton, (they are standing along the back wall) AnnWade, Cecily Sawyer-Harmon, and Mark Harris.

I learned, listening to our Youth, that 80% of those attending this Convention are over the age of 65. Yikes. I am a youngster. Here are some of them sitting across the way from me.

Then I set off to the Convention Center.

I am collecting buttons to show support for some ministries. I currently wear Support ERD, Love Your Earth, GIVE to the Episcopal Church, Older Adult Ministries, and Vote Yes for A138. And, I stopped for some Bishop's Blend coffee at the ERD booth.

To say nothing of the Convention Hall. Think of a ministry the TEC does, or associated with the church, priests or laity. They are there.

Part of the fun about gatherings like these is meeting people that you haven't seen in a while. That is what I witness as I move around. People hugging and reconnecting in lobbies, the loooooooooooong line at Starbucks, in elevators, hallways and escalators.

Tonight, back to the Committee meeting at 6:30 and working until 9 PM.

Peace, Shalom, Salam


Day One as a Legislative Aide

It is 5:29PM here in Anaheim. I have been awake since 4 AM EST and running now on coffee. The weather is beautiful, but the landscape reminds me of Florida.

The Hilton is awash in Episcopalians. All sorts, all sizes, ages, nationalities. The Super Shuttle was filled to the brim, with Judy ( in the middle of this picture)from Western MO, Brian from MO, someone from MA and TN. Still it is amazing how small the world really is.

Entering the hotel, pulling along luggage, I literally ran into Walt and LaVerne Cheatham. They arrived yesterday and are getting their bearings regarding time changes.

I checked into my room. Since I arrived first, I got my pick of the beds. Took a shower and headed to Starbucks. No surprise there, but I was dragging. Traveling to the coast these days does not feature a movie and food.

My first meeting began at 2 PM for Committee Chairs, Committee Secretaries and Legislative Aides. The Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies were present for the installation of these positions. An overflowing meeting room with lots of chatter.

An old acquaintance of mine, Linda Curtis, is also an Aide (her husband is a Deputy) and we had a few minutes to re-connect prior to the meeting. The picture is of Cecily Sawyer-Harmon and Del Glover, also an Aide. I ran into his wife The Rev. Linda Grenz in the elevator.

Bishop Wright was also in attendance at the meeting. It was amazing that there were four Episcopalians in that room.I learned alot at this first meeting. There are two co-chairs, one from the House of Deputies and one from the House of Bishops. They meet together, discuss together and vote together, but separately. All business starts in the Committees. And, I learned that I will be moving around a lot. My pedometer is attached and in good working order.

The meeting ended at 4 PM and my first assignment was to discover where the Committee would be meeting at 8 AM tomorrow and call Lynn, the Co-Chair, with the information.

That led me to the Convention Center, first and second floors. WOW. HUGE

These are pictures of the area between the Hilton and the Center. Disney Land is the other side.

At the "Special Visitors" registration, I ran into The Rev. Tom and Janet Kerr and The Rev. Anna Waid. They informed me that Mrs. Chris Brennan Lee, my roommate, had arrived safely.

To determine the meeting room, up to the second floor of the Center to Room 204B. The Secretariate for the House of Bishops and Legislative Aides. And Copiers, and Archives. I retrived the information, we are back to the Hilton, called the Chair, and returned to the room to write.

Then dinner with the Bishop, the deputation and volunteers at McCormicks and Schmicks.

This was arranged by The Rev. Ruth Kirk, first clergy alternate, with help from Mary Ann Brillhart. Good time and a special dedication toast to Mrs. Peggy Ann Delaplane, longtime deputy and alternate for the Diocese of Delaware.

Peace, Shalom, Salam


So Noisy, So American

Oh what a difference a year makes.

We, the USA, is so noisy and beautiful.

Last year, I sat in silence trying to imagine the 4th celebrations.

Oh, how glorious they would be.

Stirring patriotic music. Full orchestras and vocalists.

Baseball, Yankees especially, where people put their right hands over the hearts, men romove baseball caps and all sing the Star Spangled Banner.

Fireworks splashing loudly and beautifully across the sky.

Neighbors barbecuing, swimming in pools. Laughter.

When I was growing up we all headed to the Tarrytown County Club, sat on the golf course and watched the display. We always went in pajamas so that we could fall asleep on the way home.

But, what I had in Sudan was quiet.

Tonight it is so different.

What a great and glorious 4th.

The Boston Pops, the NY Philharmonic and the Macy's barges in the Hudson, Philly and the lighting of the bridge. And, Wilmington.

I used to drive down Route 13 and sit on the side of the road and watch.

Tonight, I sit and type and watch and listen.

Listen, with a big grin across my face.


My Three Legged Stool

Today is the second day of my vacation and soon I will be participating in the General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC) as a volunteer to the Committee on the Consecration of Bishops.

On this July 4th and the celebration of our independence from England, I deviate to provide a brief history of TEC, a province of the Anglican Communion Much of what you read here was taken from FAQ's provided at the Episcopal Church website.

At a conference of three clergy and 24 lay delegates that met at Chestertown, Kent County, Maryland, on November 9, 1780, and resolved that "the Church formerly known in the Province as the Church of England should now be called the Protestant Episcopal Church." On August 13, 1783, the Maryland clergy met at Annapolis and adopted the name "Protestant Episcopal Church." At the second session of the 1789 General Convention, September 29-October 16, 1789, a Constitution of nine articles was adopted. The new church was called the "Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America" (PECUSA).

The word "Protest ant" noted that this was a church in the reformation tradition, and the word "Episcopal" noted a characteristic of catholicity, the historic episcopate.

The church has grown from 13 dioceses to more than 100 dioceses. It is divided into nine geographical provinces. It is governed by a bicameral General Convention, which meets every three years, and by an Executive Council during interim years.

Ok, a little time here for an important definition. What the heck is bicameral? Since I did not study Latin, my first thoughts are two camera's but what does that have to do with goverance. Therefore, the online dictionary comes in handy.

  1. Composed of or based on two legislative chambers or branches: a bicameral legislature.
  2. Medicine. Composed of or having two chambers, as an abscess divided by a septum.

I pick #1.

Is that your final answer?


The work at Convention is carried out by deputies and bishops representing each diocese and consists of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. During its triennial meeting deputies and bishops consider a wide range of important matters facing the Church.

I was once corrected when I used the word delegates instead of deputy. What is the difference?

A Delegate is a person authorized to act as representative for another or is representative to a conference or convention.

A Deputy is a person appointed or empowered to act for another.

Apparently there is a huge difference between acting as and acting for another.

The difference, according to a former deputy, is that a delegate is required to vote as the group intends, whereas the deputy can vote as his or her conscience dictates.

This aptly sets the stage for much melodrama.

(If this is not the case, please write in and let's correct this posting.)

The House of Bishops is composed of every bishop with jurisdiction, every bishop coadjutor, every suffragan bishop, every retired bishop, every bishop elected to an office created by General Convention, and every bishop who has resigned because of missionary strategy. All members of the House of Bishops have seat and voice in the House of Bishops.

The House of Deputies is composed of up to four lay and four clerical deputies from each of the dioceses.

The two top leaders of the church are the Presiding Bishop, who is also called Primate and Chief Pastor, and the president of the House of Deputies.

Ok. that is how we govern. How do we practice our faith?

Most Episcopalians, along with most Anglicans, practice a faith that is liturgically and theologically a bridge between Catholicism and Protestant traditions. We value a balance of scripture, reason, and tradition as set forth by 16th-century English theologian Richard Hooker.

Richard Hooker (March 1554 – 3 November 1600) was an Anglican priest and an influential theologian.[1] Hooker's emphases on reason, tolerance and inclusiveness considerably influenced the development of Anglicanism. He was the co-founder (with Thomas Cranmer and Matthew Parker) of Anglican theological thought.

My three legged stool. Scripture, reason. and tradition. That said, I also like the words tolerance and inclusiveness.

And that is why I am an Episcopalian, sitting on a stool and not a chair.


General Convention and Missions

As I begin to shed responsibilities as the Diocesan Business Manager in anticipation of my volunteering at General Convention, I am reading up on anything that has to do with Mission Work or Missionaries or Mission Partners.

I have copied a great article from Episcopal Life Online about this subject. This is my passion and my favorite deployer, The Rev. David Copley, is mentioned and quoted.

Convention to consider increased funding, name change for missionaries

[Episcopal Life] For centuries, sending forth missionaries has been central to the Episcopal Church's engagement throughout the world, but a fresh look at appropriate terminology and current levels of financial support is in the cards.

General Convention will be asked to increase funding and to switch to the term "mission partner" instead of "missionary" to help to reinvigorate this work and define more accurately its emphasis on relationship building and interdependence.

More than 70 Episcopal missionaries serve in congregations and dioceses throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America. They usually are placed for three years and play a variety of roles, often in education, health care and local support for orphans and immigrants.

The mission personnel budget -- which provides missionaries with a $500 monthly stipend and covers airfare, visa, pension-contribution and health-insurance costs -- has taken a hit in recent months. This led to a temporary hiatus in deploying new adult missionaries in 2009, a situation the Standing Commission on World Mission hopes General Convention will address.

"The rising cost of mission support and the decreases in the General Convention budget call for a fresh look at the mission-funding process," the standing commission says in its report to convention, which proposes increasing the budget to support missionaries by $1 million during the next triennium.

The Young Adult Service Corps program, which appoints missionaries aged 18-30 to serve one year, is continuing to recruit in 2009, "as this does not significantly increase our expenses," said the Rev. David Copley, mission personnel director for the Episcopal Church and staff liaison to the standing commission.

The current fiscal challenges are partly due to recent increases in health-insurance premiums and pension contributions, said Copley, who spent seven years as a missionary in Liberia and Bolivia. "It's a basic issue of economics. Our budget is finite, we need to live within a balanced budget, and we have found that our budget is fully committed with currently serving missionaries."

The proposed funding increase would help maintain the current level of serving approximately 75 missionaries and ensure that each could receive adequate health insurance, participation in pension plans, outgoing orientation, in-field pastoral care and reentry briefing.

A missionary church
The official legal identity of the Episcopal Church, a historically missionary church, is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, often referred to as DFMS. Thus, "focus on missionary engagement [is] central to the DFMS mandate," the standing commission's report says.

"World mission is at the core of the work of the Episcopal Church," said Martha Alexander, a lay deputy from North Carolina and chair of the commission. "The more we are able to relate to our brothers and sisters around the world, the more we will understand the richness of others in God's world."

The report cites concerns that reduced funding at the national level led to more dioceses and congregations acting as the sending agent for missionaries, often in conjunction with independent mission organizations.

While some congregations have chosen to redirect a portion of their diocesan assessments toward missionary support, the standing commission concluded that missionaries should be "sent from and funded through the Episcopal Church. This also points to a need to reconsider the level of financial support provided for missionaries."

The standing commission's proposed budget for mission personnel during the 2010-2012 triennium includes increases "that will make it possible to continue the current level of mission sending," the report says. Those suggested increases amount to $250,000 in 2010 and $100,000 each following year. "The substantial increase the first year and the additional increases in the second two years of the triennium are mandatory if we are to provide necessary health insurance, pension and other benefits."

Additional funding is being recommended to support mission education in dioceses and to raise awareness of missionaries in the church.

There is "a significant conversation in the works related to mission and the role of mission in the church and of where the Episcopal Church Center fits into that," said the Rev. Margaret Rose, director of the Episcopal Church's mission leadership center.

Building relationships
In another proposed resolution, the standing commission recommends changing all references from "missionary" to "mission partner" in recognition of "the reality that when we engage in work overseas, we are learning just as much from those we encounter as we are able to teach."

Emphasizing "the reciprocal nature of mission work in the Anglican Communion today," the report notes that the historical understanding of the term "missionaries" has caused tensions "with our brothers and sisters around the globe."

Mission partner, Copley said, is "a more accurate description of the role of mission personnel in the 21st century, with an emphasis on relationship building and the acknowledgement that we all mutually grow in our understanding of one another and of God when we nurture relationships with other parts of the body of Christ. The hope is that the change will help us all think about mission as being mutual and interdependent."

The suggested name change, Alexander said, reflects the primary focus of the church's work as being one of relationships. "As mission partners one is engaged in prayer, study, issues and projects together," she said. "This is the crux of our ministry to one another."

By being in partnership with others, Alexander added, "we are able to witness God's love as we realize that our differences are minute compared to the numerous ways in which we are similar."

Also throughout the last triennium, the standing commission continued its mandate to monitor the Episcopal Church's covenant relationships with the Anglican provinces of Brazil, Central America, Mexico and the Philippines, as well as the Episcopal Church of Liberia.

In one resolution, the standing commission calls on General Convention to endorse a "Commitment to be Companions in Christ" between the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil and the Episcopal Church, which would commit the two churches to mutual support and encouragement for ministry and mission development.

-- Matthew Davies is editor of Episcopal Life Online and international correspondent of Episcopal News Service.