“A New Thing is Coming”: Executive Council Mission Within Report

Thank you Presiding Bishop,

Presiding Bishop Curry, President Jennings, Canon Barlowe, Fellow Council Members, Episcopal Church Staff and guests.

As always, I will begin my report by thanking my fellow members of Mission Within. I appreciate their passion, expertise, and commitment as we went about our committee work during this extended triennium. Mission Within members please stand when your name is called: Steve Nishibayashi, Noreen Duncan, Sarah Stonesifer Boylan, Steve Pankey, Devon Anderson, Lloyd Allen, Rose Sconiers, and George Wing and Angela Goodhouse via zoom today. Thank you all.

I am also grateful to the staff and guests who provided their passion and expertise to our committee including: Brad Hauff, Mary Crist, Stephanie Spellers, Shannon Kelly, Rebecca Linder Blachly, Demetrio Olverio, Chuck Robertson, Canon Barlowe, President Jennings, and Presiding Bishop Curry. As always, I am deeply in the debt of Molly James, and the rest of the General Convention Office for their steadfast support in these meetings.

You will note that four resolutions have been placed on the consent calendar.

  • MW061 Disperses $228,500 in Constable Funds to 5 grantees that will support education initiatives throughout our church.
  • MW060 pertains to the Roanridge Trust Grants. This round includes 11 grants totaling over $232,000 which will help to build the capacity of rural church leaders, develop sustainable ministry models, as well as build bridges with diverse stakeholders.
  • MW059 are the New Community Grants which have a four-tiered system that supports 19 grantees for a total of $520,000.
  • Finally, MW 058 are the United Thank Offering Grants, which total over $1,043,000 in creation care projects that span all over the globe.

Please look at these resolutions and be inspired by the important work that they will be doing in our church.

This final meeting of Mission Within for this extended triennium was productive, meaningful, spirit-filled and at times emotional. When I reflect on our time together, both in committee and in plenary, I am reminded of the reading from the prophet Isaiah a few Sundays ago during Lent. Isaiah Chapter 43 verse 19 “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

We find ourselves on the verge of a moment of great transition and with great opportunity for transformation. How will we respond to this moment?

For Mission Within we could see that God is about to do a new thing in how we uplift Indigenous voices and stories, in the ways that we go about our granting programs, in how will nurture teenage leaders, and in how we will go about welcoming our neighbors who are New Americans.

We began our committee time reviewing the work done by the Ad Hoc Committee on Residential Boarding Schools. This committee includes Angela Goodhouse, Cornelia Eaton, Charles Graves, Thomas Alexander, and Scott Hayashi and was led by Sarah Stonefier-Boylan. Today we will present with three resolutions pertaining to their mandate. Each of these resolutions have been developed with significant input from Indigenous leaders across our church.

The first resolution seeks to create an Executive Council Committee on Native American Boarding Schools and Advocacy. This Committee will have a three-fold mandate. First, the gathering of historical information about Indigenous Boarding Schools that had any relationship to The Episcopal Church, Second, the curation of this information gathered into a collection that will be housed in the Archives of The Episcopal Church, in order to tell the story of the Schools’ relationship to the Church and their impacts on Indigenous Episcopalians, Third, the development and implementation of a plan for gathering information and hearing stories.

Presiding Bishop I move MW062 and I invite Sarah to speak to it.

[Vote]

Thank you, Presiding Bishop.

The next two resolutions from the Committee on Residential Boarding Schools are A resolutions, so these will be going from Executive Council to General Convention.

The first of these two calls upon General Convention to create a Task Force on Indigenous Liturgy that will document and develop culturally appropriate liturgical materials that reflect the Native and Indigenous spirituality, which can then be used by Native and Indigenous faith communities.

Presiding Bishop I move MW055 and I invite Sarah to speak to it.

[Vote]

Thank you, Presiding Bishop.

The second of our A resolutions for General Convention urges Episcopal entities to observe of Indigenous People’s day.

Presiding Bishop I move MW056 and I invite Sarah to speak to it.

[Vote]

Thank you, Presiding Bishop and thank you to the members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Indigenous Boarding Schools for your tremendous work.

Now we have another resolution to consider. This time on the topic of theological training for Indigenous Leaders.

Presiding Bishop, pursuant to Article 6, Section 5.c.3; I move that the 15 day filing deadline be waved for resolution MW057 the MOU between DFMS and BSSF so that the executive council may properly consider the MOU at this meeting.

[Vote]

Over the past several years the Office of Indigenous Ministries has been working on ways to respond to the critical needs regarding the growth and development of Indigenous clergy and lay leadership in order to develop a new generation of Indigenous leaders. The Memorandum of Understanding found in MW057 creates a Joint Theological Education Program Partnership between the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, working through its Office of Indigenous Ministries, and Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Seminary which will develop the necessary creative and culturally responsive leadership development education that our Indigenous communities have been calling for.

Presiding Bishop I move MW057.

[Vote]

Thank you Presiding Bishop.

Over the past few triennia we have seen that more and more of the General Convention budget has been going toward granting activities. Mission Within created a dedicated team to systematically look at what is going on with these grants, grant-making bodies, and the granting processes. In March of 2021 an ad hoc committee was appointed:

  • Devon Anderson represented Mission Within and lead the team
    • Charles Graves came from Mission Beyond
    • Aaron Perkins from GO
    • And Anne Hodges-Copple from FIN

I invite Devon Anderson to speak on the Grants Evaluation Team’s work and their report.

….

Finally, there are so many people to thank. And what better way to thank someone than through a resolution! Who doesn’t love the gift of legislation?

Presiding Bishop I move MW063 and I would like to speak to it.

Thank you Presiding Bishop.

Resolved, the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 20-23, 2022, express its gratitude for the hard work of the individuals who served on grant committees during the extended 2018-2022 triennium: and be it further,

Resolved, that the Executive Council requests that the Secretary express thanks to the members of the grant committees serving Constable, Roanridge, Conant, United Thank Offering, Becoming Beloved Community, Evangelism, Young Adult and Campus Ministry, Becoming Beloved Community Rapid Response, Care of Creation and Environmental Racism, Church Planting and Congregational Redevelopment, and New Episcopal Communities; and be it further,

Resolved, the Executive Council expresses its gratitude to the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society who report to the Joint Standing Committee on Mission Within The Episcopal Church and work tirelessly to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world, especially those who are often made to feel outcast from authentic Christian community, including the areas of Evangelism, Racial Healing, Creation Care, Formation, Church Planting and Congregational Development, Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Office of Government Relations, and Ethnic Ministries, among others; and be it further,

Resolved, the Executive Council expresses it gratitude to The Reverend Molly James, Ph.D. and her colleagues in the General Convention Office for the extraordinary work done to facilitate the ministry of the Joint Standing Committee on Mission Within The Episcopal Church and the entire Executive Council, for her grace, her joyful spirit, her wisdom, and, above all, her commitment to the work of Executive Council and governance as ministry for the upbuilding of the Reign of God.

[Vote]

Thank you, Presiding Bishop.

It has been a delight to work with my colleagues on Mission Within. I thank the presiding officers for opportunity to Chair the committee.

It has also been my profound honor to work in collaboration with Jane, Mally, and my brother Dabney. Their commitment, passion, and work-ethic during this hard pandemic, as well as their deep love for our church… inspires me. I will always treasure all that time we spent together over zoom.

I am about to do a new thing. Do you not perceive it?

Presiding Bishop, this ends my report. Thank you.