Establishment of the Convocation of the West
Nov 18, 2015 Bishop’s Letter: Convocation Status
April 9, 2016 Establishment of the Convocation of the West
Bishop’s Letter: Convocation Status
Nov 18, 2015
To All the Faithful of the Diocese of the West
I hope that your Thanksgiving has been truly eucharistic. I thank God that, despite living in a disturbed and disturbing troubled world, he has won the victory over sin and death through his love, so that we can give thanks in both good times and bad. This year, we give our thanks for the year that is past and move immediately into the new year, with Advent starting this Sunday.
It is a propitious time to announce changes for the coming year.
Last Tuesday, the Diocesan Standing Committee voted unanimously to transition the Diocese into a Convocation of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints (MDAS). Most readers of this letter will already be familiar with the background leading up to this, but a brief summary may be in order for clarification:
I have announced my retirement effective August 31, 2016. In ACNA, this triggers a "sustainability review" to ascertain whether or not the Diocese should continue to function. Archbishop Foley asked the REC for its recommendation in regard to this, since we have been an REC diocese. The REC bishops' view was that the Diocese should disband. There is essentially no chance ACNA would override a decision by the REC about one of its own dioceses, and many in ACNA might agree with the decision anyway. The Diocese accepted this and moved on to consider status as a convocation of another diocese. Four were approached to consider it. One did not reply, one decided it was not a model they wanted to pursue. The remaining possibilities were the REC Diocese of MidAmerica and MDAS. For a number of compelling reasons, MDAS was, as mentioned, the unanimous choice.
The members of the Standing Committee are to be thanked for devoting significant time and effort to arrive at this choice. They have done so prayerfully and, I believe, with the best interests of the Diocese and her parishes at heart. We are fortunate in the leaders we have in our community.
The timeline and the next steps are fairly simple.
While we are joining MDAS as a group, each congregation will need to accept the MDAS constitution and canons. Unless parish bylaws direct otherwise, this can be a vote of the vestry.
All congregations in MDAS are also members of Forward in Faith North America (FiFNA). For each congregation, this is a cost of $100 a year. Congregations apply to join FiFNA individually. Non-parochial clergy who are not already members also join individually ($50 a year). Since I have been urging people to join FiFNA for a number of years, this should complete the process. FiFNA is the best hope within Anglicanism in the US to preserve the catholic, orthodox Faith in the Anglican Way, and you will be enriched by joining. If you want to check it out, their website is " fifna.org." If you have any questions or qualms about it, please discuss it with me. (You may note that I am in about half the photos on the website, one way or another: you, too, can be from now on).
The above steps should be able to be completed by the time of Clericus, which will be Feb.1-3 this year. I will try to visit most, if not all, of the parishes of the Diocese in January (not necessarily on a weekend) to receive your acceptance document. Although we will have a regular agenda, we can find some time at Clericus for the clergy to clarify any remaining issues.
There will be a concluding diocesan synod, at a date not yet set but most likely in early April, to transition to the Convocation of the West (COW) and have the first synod for the Convocation. At this synod, a vicar-general will be elected for the Convocation, to assume office on Sept. 1 (my retirement). Until then, I will function as vicar-general.
Should any deacons, priests or congregations not wish to remain with us, arrangements should be made by the time of the Synod. For clergy, letters-dismissory will be needed. For congregations, the provisions of ACNA Title I, Canon 6, Section 9 will apply.
Enjoy the new acronym. It seems quite appropriate for the rural West where most of us are, and better than a big chemical company (DOW). It should be good for some chuckles, but it also describes us.
If you have questions or points you wish to discuss, PLEASE talk to me, or email me, or talk to any member of the Standing Committee. This is an open process.
This is a necessary process also, thrust on us from outside and not of our own choosing. Nevertheless, being a Convocation has great potential and has advantages over maintaining a diocese. We are on a pilgrimage together, and I rejoice in that.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE RE: ANGLICAN CONVOCATION OF THE WEST
APRIL 9, 2016
The Diocese of the West in the Reformed Episcopal Church, a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America, ceased to function Wednesday, April 6. The last synod was held at St. John’s Church in Boerne, Texas April 5-6. The Diocese, with the majority of its congregations and clergy, has formed the Convocation of the West within the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, which is also an ACNA diocese. The organizing synod for the Convocation was held April 6-7, also in Boerne and overlapping the diocesan synod.
The decision to discontinue the Diocese followed a meeting of the Reformed Episcopal bishops recommending the Diocese terminate and transition to a convocation of another diocese, since it did not meet the criteria of the ACNA in terms of numbers. ACNA generally expects a diocese to have at least 12 congregations which each have 50 or more attendees on the weekend and a total of 1000 attendees for the diocese. While the Diocese of the West had 16 congregations, few exceeded the attendance minimum and the total was considerably less than the 1000 expected.
The Diocesan Bishop, Winfield Mott will serve as Vicar-General of the Convocation until his retirement later in the year. Mott commented, “The Convocation format will enable us to continue as a community, which is important to us, as we have been a strong support for each other and have our own style and customs. The Missionary Diocese of All Saints context allows us to be a missionary presence in the western U.S. in the Anglo-Catholic tradition in which the Diocese of the West was formed.” The Diocese was the only diocese in the so-called Continuing Church movement to enter the ACNA and has existed since the 1980’s. Mott added, “It is our hope, with the support of MDAS, to grow and again become a diocese.”