Episcopal Diocese of Albany, NY
Business Office: 68 South Swan Street - Albany, NY 12210 - (518) 465-4737
Christ the King Spiritual Life Center: 575 Burton Road - Greenwich, NY 12834 - (518) 692-9550

The 139th Annual Diocesan Convention

By Lay Canon George J. Marshall, Editor

June 8 – 10, 2007 was supposed to be another June convention of the Diocese of Albany at Camp of the Woods, Speculator. There would be the usual 900 plus clergy, laity and their families participating or attending witnessing in elections of officers, general diocesan business, traditional and “Celebration” music, 60 + workshops, inspiring worship and the Friday night address by the bishop. Yes, the agenda seemed ever so familiar. This year, however, it was different.

Bishop Love set the tone in his Friday night address. He began with an almost 25 minute period of thanking people - volunteer and paid convention staff, S. Swan Street and SLC staff, clergy and lay leaders, parish leaders, men’s and women’s organizations, Sunday School teachers, parish ushers and greeters. The list of those thanked seemed endless. As individuals and groups stood up to be recognized (some rising several times) it became evident what Bp Love was trying to do…that in spite of differences as to where people stood on theological and political issues, we were ALL in the service of the Lord. The audience was then prepared to hear what was to follow next.

The Bishop reflected on his vision of "Living Water" flowing forth from the doors of every parish in the Diocese. The Convention theme, "Transformation," was appropriately titled, centering on Jesus’ promise in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Bp Love added, "We must keep our eyes and focus on Christ. Everything we do must be Christ-centered." The Albany bishop highlighted four key areas:

1. "Acknowledge and invite Christ into the wounded and brokenness existing in our individual lives, our parishes and the Diocese, in order that we might be healed and set free of that which is not of God and that which gets in the way of our ability to serve God and carry out the ministry of His Church. The Lord has already been working in and through us to varying degrees, there is much more that can and needs to be done, if only the obstacles that tend to limit us, are removed."

Bishop Love invited parish representatives to come forward to nail a list of sins of their church on a large cross brought later to the Convention stage. Prayers for healing and empowerment of all parishes in the Diocese were then said at the Healing Service, the following day and the many lists nailed to the Cross were then set ablaze to symbolically cleanse all who conveyed repentance. He went on to say….

2. "...a spirit of poverty and fear has come over much of the Diocese, negatively impacting our ability to serve God and His people. Far too many parishes are in a survival or maintenance mode, due to limited finances and fear. That is not what God wants for us. Satan knows all too well our human vulnerability when it comes to money and material possessions, and he is using it against us, to limit our effectiveness in serving God and growing the Kingdom. What many regard as a financial issue is really a spiritual issue. With rare exception, most of the financial struggles in our individual lives and our parishes are self imposed, not because the expenses aren’t real, but because we have failed to trust God with our money, which in fact, is really His money on loan to us. For those who have come to trust God with their money and material possessions, they have been set free of the huge financial albatross that drags so many people down, wreaking havoc and misery in their lives. True financial freedom can only occur when God is in control of our finances. It is time to get out of the drivers seat and turn it over to the Lord. If you are not yet tithing, there is still work to be done. Even with the tithe, we still sometimes have trouble letting go. May the Lord give us the grace and faith to do so."

3. "... As baptized Christians, we are all called by our Lord, through the Great Commission, to be missionaries, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all who will receive it. We have a growing and dedicated group of missionaries in the Diocese, but far too many in our parishes are fearful of venturing forth and sharing their faith. While overseas mission trips are extremely important, we must never forget that we live in one of the largest mission fields in the world. Every one of us knows someone in our own backyard, who is un-churched and has not yet come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. There are more un-churched people in our communities, than there are churches enough to hold them all." ..."Countless unsaved souls are dying everyday. You may very well be the one chosen by God to introduce His Son, Jesus Christ, to someone who has not yet come to know Christ. We have no greater gift to share, than the love and Good News of Jesus."

4. "...we will be focusing on... Holy Scripture. Unfortunately, this is one area the Church has far too often dropped the ball. If we are to grow in our relationship with God and knowledge and understanding of His Word, it is imperative that we get more serious about reading and studying the Bible. ....Taking time to pray and study God’s Word is absolutely essential for our spiritual health and well being. It is important that every parish have an active ongoing Bible Study..... It is in saying our prayers and studying God’s Word, that we are best able to come to know the Lord and discern His will for us and how we are to live our lives.

Summarizing the above, Bishop Love said, "Moving forward in these four areas I believe is vital to the life and ministry of each of our parishes and the Diocese, and in so doing will help to lay the foundation for the “Living Water” of Christ to flow forth, transforming our hearts and minds and those we are called to minister to.

Bishop Love commented on the current crisis between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican communion. "It is easy to get caught up in the belief that this [crisis] is unique to our generation......the Church in every generation has had it trials and struggles. The issues might change, but the attack doesn’t....we are in the midst of a major spiritual war, one that has been raging ever since the fall. Knowing our vulnerability to SEX and MONEY, Satan is using these two areas of our lives to bring division and chaos into the Church, causing us to take our attention off the mission of the Church, and redirect it to attacking one another, dividing and weakening the Church. As Jesus himself said, a house divided against itself cannot stand. If the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion are to survive, it is essential that we recognize what Satan is up to, and stop cooperating with his battle plan. I am all too aware of the great diversity in theological views concerning the appropriateness or inappropriateness of homosexual behavior in the Church today. Emotions are raging on both sides of the issue, and as a result, Satan is succeeding in turning what once were friends into enemies of one another. As a lifelong Episcopalian and Anglican, my heart is grieving over what I see happening to the Church. Ultimately, each one of us will have to decide how we are to respond to Satan’s attack, and that is exactly what it is – Satan’s Attack. We can cooperate with his battle plan and continue to rip ourselves apart, OR we can focus our attention on Christ, joining in His prayer, that We may be ONE, as He and the Father are ONE. In so doing, I am not suggesting that we compromise our faith, but rather that we keep Christ and the mission of the Church as our central focus, as we work through our differences, seeking God’s will in all that we do. .....we must keep our focus on Christ, and not be distracted by the storm that brews around us. When Peter stepped out of the boat, in response to our Lord’s call, he did the impossible – he walked on water. It wasn’t until he took his eyes off of Christ and focused on the wind and the waves around him, that he began to sink. Focused on Christ, we can walk through the current storms threatening the Church, apart from Christ, we will sink."

"We are Episcopalians and we are Anglicans, but first and foremost we are Christians. It is my hope and prayer, that by the grace of God, every one of us will be able to continue to serve our Lord and His Church as Episcopalians and Anglicans. I pray that the Lord will cleanse and purify His Church of anything that is not of Him, and strengthen and bless that which is of Him. ....the House of Bishops will be meeting in September. High on the agenda will be the Bishops’ response to the Tanzania communiqué from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates concerning the Episcopal Church and the Windsor Report. The Archbishop has accepted the House Of Bishop’s invitation to join them in September. I will be at that meeting and will participate in all the discussions. The Diocese of Albany has been a strong conservative voice in the larger Church, upholding the traditional and orthodox teachings of the Church. We will continue to do so. At the same time, by God’s grace, I will work to ensure that every parish in our Diocese is welcoming and loving to ALL people, reaching out and ministering to everyone who seeks God’s love and a closer relationship with Christ. I ask your prayers that the Holy Spirit will be present at the HOB meeting in a mighty and powerful way, and that He will guide and direct all conversation and all actions taken by the House of Bishops. I pray the Holy Spirit will guide and direct the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates as well, in their response to the Episcopal Church. If the Episcopal Church or the Wider Anglican Communion takes any action that would threaten our continued relationship with either, then I will call for a Special Convention of the Diocese to come together as a Diocese to deal with whatever confronts us. It is my hope and prayer that there will never be a need to do so. This Diocese since its founding in 1868 has always been part of the Episcopal Church and as such has always been part of the Anglican Communion. We need one another and by the grace of God will always be part of one another. I hereby call upon the House of Bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury and all the Primates of the Anglican Communion to heed the Lord’s call as revealed in II Chronicles 7:14 – “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” God have mercy on us, if we choose any other path."

Acknowledging Christ the King Spiritual Life Center, its staff and donors who helped make the facility possible, Bishop Love said, "God has blessed our Diocese richly with and through Christ the King Spiritual Life Center. What has been accomplished there in the past couple of years is nothing short of miraculous." He then announced that The King’s Inn retreat lodge will open shortly at CTK SLC to provide more much-needed overnight accommodations. Bishop Love recognized that not everyone is thrilled with the creation of the Spiritual Life Center for reasons of cost, and the liquidations of properties like Beaver Cross and Barry House. Bishop Love assured the audience that their ministries have not stopped. Instead, they moved to a new location where it can grow to better meet future needs of the Diocese. "The Lord is doing a mighty work at the Spiritual Life Center, not in competition with the local parishes, but in cooperation with them – touching, healing, refreshing, educating, empowering, transforming thousands and thousands of lives, young and old, from all different parts of the Body of Christ, from all over the world, sending them back out into their parishes and communities, better able to live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission – Disciples making Disciples sharing the love and Good News of Jesus Christ with all who will receive it." The full text of Bishop Love’s address can be found on the diocesan website, www.albanyepiscopaldiocese.org

By all accounts, the Bishop was strong, articulate and timely. Timely, in light of the upcoming meeting this fall of world-wide Anglican Communion bishops, a meeting he will be attending. In closing, a thunderous applause was extended to Bishop Love by an appreciative audience. Thus began the regular business of Convention.

In his first full year as Diocesan Treasurer, Clark Curtis presented the 2008 Budget. The annual budget was not without at least some discussion and controversy. Clarity regarding SLC finances, financial commitment to the national church, and another year of disappointment as to why there were no pay raises for diocesan staff (now in its fourth consecutive year) were but a few of the subjects discussed. In the end, the budget was approved as submitted. Also approved was a 2% raise in the salary guidelines for parish clergy.

Several Resolutions followed the budget, among them, Resolution # 4, which stated, "Resolved, That the 2007 Convention of the Diocese of Albany disassociates our Diocese from any participation in or support of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; and Resolved, That the 2007 Convention of the Diocese of Albany affirms the sanctity of human life as a gift of God from conception to natural death.” As expected, some debate ensued. A motion to table the Resolution was defeated. Support of the Resolution came from a number of priests and the Resolution was overwhelmingly approved.

Resolution # 5 received quick, unanimous and enthusiastic passage. In effect, it continues the diocesan partnership with the Diocese of Down and Dromore (Northern Ireland) for another three years. Bishop Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore, was unable to attend this year's Convention, but sent a letter to the Diocese which was read aloud. The enthusiastic audience responded with loud applause.

A major part of the weekend’s business sessions was the election of individuals to a number of posts. Elected were:

Cathedral Chapter - The Rev. Charles B. King and Sally A. Blakelock.

Convention Representative to Diocesan Council - Shirley A. Parker

Trustees of the Diocese - The Rev. Steven Hart, Elizabeth M. Strickland

Ecclesiastical Trial Court - The Rev. N. Bradley Jones, The Rev. Michael J. Neufeld, Sally A. Blakelock, John Iseman. Ray A. Boyce is Alternate

Standing Committee - The Rev. Lynne P. Curtis, The Very Rev. Darius A. Mojallali, Andrew A. Ewart and Raymond E. Rockwell

General Convention - The Rev. Cn. Robert F. Haskell, The Rev. Dr. Shaw Mudge, Jr., The Very Rev. John L. Scott, III, The Rev. Dr. Carola von Wrangel, David A. Beaulac, Richard J. Carroll, Jr., Sue Ellen Ruetsch and Elizabeth M. Strickland

Courtesy resolutions were then read and the formal business sessions ended.

Ordinations to the Diaconate have become an annual tradition at Convention. Ordained this year as Transitional Deacons were Jacqueline S. Jones, Teri Ann Monica, Bruce E. Mason, Thomas E. Ortung and W. Beau Wagner.

If there wasn't already enough emotion in the first two days of Convention, another electrifying moment came during Saturday’s Ordination Service. Just before Communion, after representatives from each Parish were invited to come and nail their lists of the “sins and failings of the Church” on the Cross, to the amazement of all present, Bishop Love stepped forward and said, “As a bishop in Christ’s holy Catholic Church, I apologize to all who have been hurt by the Church for those things done in the name of Christ, that were not of Christ, and for those things the Church should have done, but failed to do. I apologize and ask your forgiveness.” A deafening silence permeated Tibbett’s Auditorium. His words hit a powerful chord with many, bringing unabashed tearful reactions. It was a moment to be remembered.

Space constrictions prevent me from writing about many other exciting events at this year's Convention. The Healing Service, Youth Rally (with growing numbers of young people now attending Diocesan Convention), the Children's Mass, Vacation Bible School, Exhibits, Workshops (73 in all, a record), etc. all contributed to a Convention of great importance.

No one could have left this year’s gathering unmoved by what was witnessed June 8 - 10, 2007. It will take time to discern what was seen and heard. In the end, we pray that Convention 2007 –“Transformation,” was a sign of a new and joyful beginning in the life of our diocese and the church.

Back to Index

Disciples Making Disciples

Beaver Cross | Christ the King Spiritual Life Center | Donate to the SLC
News | Find A Church | About The Church | Directories | Event Calendar
Find A Cleric | Documents | Our Ministries | Site Map

© 2000 - 2009 Episcopal Diocese of Albany New York, All Rights Reserved
Optimized for Mozilla Firefox 3