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Bishop’s Communication on Diocesan Convention

The Diocese of Easton is in the early stages of preparation for its 156th Annual Diocesan Convention scheduled for March 7-9, 2024. Thanks to the proactive work of the Diocesan Convention Committee, which has been meeting since late Spring, considerable logistical details have been worked out ahead of the official release of information to the diocese scheduled for October. This information will outline in more detail the format and design of the upcoming convention, incorporating suggestions from a survey conducted after the 2023 convention. The theme will be -“Imaginative Leadership & Congregational Vitality in Re-emergence and Resurrection: A Mission and Ministry Imperative for the 21st Century Church: ‘Our Resurrection Story’: St. Mark 16:6-7.

The 156th Annual Diocesan Convention 2024 is hosted by the Northern Convocation and the proposed design will be a hybrid model – utilizing learnings from the various in-person and digital convention models the diocese has employed over the last five years. This Diocesan Convention, scheduled over a three-day period, will commence the evening of Thursday, March 7th in Zoom format. Registration opens at 5:00 p.m. followed by the First Business Session. At the first session, Diocesan Convention will be formally organized. The First Session will witness the opening formalities, conduct of appointments – consent and approval; and elections for Standing Committee, Diocesan Council and Board of Managers. Also, addressed in the first session are presentation of reports from ministries of the diocese; and resolutions with debate. This session is compulsory for all parish delegates, alternates and officers of convention.

Friday, March 8th will be the Opening Eucharist of Diocesan Convention at Emmanuel Church, Chestertown, beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by a reception hosted by the parish in the Parish Hall. This worship service is open to every member of the diocese – delegates, alternates and non-delegates alike. Clergy and lay of the Northern Convocation will be responsible for the service. This event is optional for delegates to the convention.

The final day, Saturday, March 9th, the Diocesan Convention will resume in-person at 9:00 a.m. at Washington College for the Second and Third Business Sessions. Registration will open at 8:00 a.m. The Second Business will include the Bishop’s Address, presentation of the proposed Diocesan Budget for 2024, the Treasurer’s Report and other areas of diocesan ministry.

The Third Business Session will primarily surround four focus group opportunities each centered on a different topic of diocesan ministry. Attendees will participate in facilitated conversations during break-out sessions, whose findings will be presented and discussed on the floor of the convention in the closing plenary. This decision was formulated at the Leadership Retreat convened on March 25th, at Holy Trinity Church, Oxford, and Clergy Conference, May 1-3, Ocean City.

The topics addressed will become crucial to further interpret the extensive work done to date in the reimagination and renewal of diocesan life and focus. It is anticipated that the findings from group discussions will also form the catalyst for conversations that will be taken up post- convention by a Working Group – tasked to use the findings of convention to strengthen the dominant narrative of the diocese, as it continues to intensify its place as a viable and sustainable 21st Century Church. It is our hope that the final draft will be received further discussed and voted on by the 157th Annual Diocesan Convention.

The Draft Agenda will be finalized by the Diocesan Convention Committee.

Constitution and Canons Amendments

I wish to remind the diocesan family that the diocese devoted the past four years to conducting the comprehensive review of its Constitution and Canons, with the final document approved at the 155th Diocesan Convention, March 4th, 2023. It repeals and replaces its predecessor becoming the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Easton. It is a project the diocese is extremely proud to share with the wider community. We acknowledge and commend the volunteer hours given by members of the Task Force and Constitution and Canons Committee.

As the diocesan family gradually becomes acclimated to the details and implementation of the new Constitution and Canons, it is imperative that the diocese seeks to live into this document for the next two-years (2024 and 2025) before attempting any amendments. I am recommending to the Diocesan Convention a moratorium on amendments to allow space and time to get a fuller appreciation and understanding of this improved document. Should any amendment be submitted for consideration at the 156th Diocesan Convention, pursuant to Canon 505.5.a. (1), the Committee on Constitution and Canons is required to bring it before convention but will advise convention to table it until 2026 for the aforementioned reasons. The Diocesan Convention Committee in the Rules of Order will ask delegates to adopt the bishop’s recommendation.

The 155th Diocesan Convention also committed to publishing the new Constitution and Canons in a souvenir booklet to be distributed to each delegate, alternate and parish, with archived copies for the benefit of future generations. Printed copies of this booklet should be in possession of the diocese by Advent Sunday 2023. The new Constitutions and Canons can be found on our website.