Convention: "We And They Are Christ in One"

11.08.23 | Homepage | by Kimberly Durnan

    The theme of Africa in Dallas and Dallas in Africa reverberated throughout the diocesan annual convention where nearly 300 clergy and lay delegates gathered to approve the annual budget, elect board members and make other business decisions.

    The theme wafted throughout the day in many ways: Two African bishops served in the convention worship service, the Rt. Rev. Felix Annancy, from the Diocese of Koforidua in Ghana, as celebrant and the Rt. Rev. Joseph Wandera from the Diocese of Mumias in Kenya as homilist. Prayers were said over a group of parishioners and clergy from Church of the Epiphany and St. Mark’s in Irving who were soon to embark on a mission trip to serve the Batwa in Uganda.  The choir from Emmanuel Church, a mostly Nigerian congregation, sang hymns in Igbo during the worship service, and during convention two youth speakers, Princess Alier and Ajok Bul who are the descendants of the Lost Boys of Sudan, spoke about their first-generation experience at Camp All Saints.  

    Bishop George Sumner’s Address to Convention talked about how Dallas and Africa relate in the Christian context. “The simplest answer is the best, those verses from the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus, which we recite at every baptism- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. We and they are in Christ one.”

    “The demographics of our Church. Post-COVID, is daunting. They take the worrisome greying of our society and accelerates it. To be sure, we are somewhat insulated from these trends, given the number of our young ordinands and the economic vitality of our part of the world,” Sumner said.  “But just the same, our Church as a whole, with it raft of small, part-time rural parishes, cannot go on as it has. We also live as a whole facing massive changes we cannot yet discern due to the on-going technological revolution.  Along with this go fundamental debates about the very nature of the human.  What lies ahead is, in short, dramatically different from the world we know, much less the world of 18th century England or 19th century Africa, much less the ancient Church. We look into a glass very darkly. But in the face of these changes, what history teaches us is reliance, by God’s grace, on the same matrix of renewal which we have seen in previous crises- divine word, personal conversion, evangelistic freedom, mission, communities, racial reconciliation. The more the world changes, the more the Methodist/Anglican matrix stays the same even as it displays its remarkable flexibility.

    Before the address, convention business moved at a fast pace this year, particularly with no proposed amendments, canons, or resolutions offered.  Elections and appointments to diocesan boards and committees were as follows:

    Standing Committee

    The Rev. Terry Reisner, Epiphany, Richardson

    Tom Graves, Church of the Incarnation

    Executive Council

    The Rev. Ian Hyde, Good Shepherd, Terrell

    The Rev. Kate Smith, St. Paul’s, Prosper

    Ebenezer Ndukwe, Emmanuel, Garland

    Hal Richards, Good Shepherd, Terrell

    Christopher Schmidt, Epiphany, Richardson

    Sarah Shafer, St. Matthew’s Cathedral

    University of the South, Sewanee

    Paul Talbot, St. Michael’s and All Angels

    Secretary of Convention

    Bob Buchanan, St. Michael and All Angels

    In the past year the Diocese of Dallas held fifteen ordinations, with eleven ordinands, four of whom were ordained first to the diaconate and then six months later to the priesthood.

    The Rev. Michael Anderson was ordained to the diaconate on December 3, and to the priesthood on June 10. He serves as a curate at Annunciation in Lewisville.  For much of the past year, he has held the parish together in the absence of a rector, and will now be leaving at the end of the year to serve at St Columba’s Church in Camarillo, California. 

    The Rev. David Gibson was ordained as a vocational deacon on December 3, and serves at the Church of the Epiphany in Richardson.

    The Rev. Daniel McCarley was ordained to the diaconate on December 3, and to the priesthood on June 3. He is a curate at St. James, Texarkana.

    The Rev. Matthew Rossi and The Rev. Cody Turner, both graduates of Duke Divinity School, were ordained to the diaconate on December 3, and ordained to the priesthood together on June 17, at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas where they both serve as curates

    The Rev. Patrick Webb was formerly an ordained in The Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), and was ordained to the diaconate on May 20. He serves as deacon vicar of St. Nicholas, Flower Mound. Bishop Sumner will ordain Deacon Webb to the priesthood two weeks from today on November 18.

    Bishop Sumner ordained The Rev. Louis Harris to the deaconate two weeks ago on October 18 in Toronto.  Beginning in January he will serve as a curate at St. John’s in East Dallas.

    The Rev. Samuel Cripps was ordained to the priesthood on November 12, and served as a curate at St. John’s, Dallas, before being called as the rector of St. John the Baptist in Wausau, Wisconsin.

    The Rev. Jacob Nichols was ordained to the priesthood on November 12, and served first as curate at St. James, Dallas and is now curate at Holy Trinity in Heath.

    The Rev. Nathan Webb was ordained to the priesthood on December 7, at St. James, Kemp where he serves as vicar.

    The Rev. Adriana Elliott was ordained to the priesthood on December 10, at St. Mary’s in Irving where she served for many years as deacon. She is now retired.

    Those who are new to the diocese, canonically resident or received in the The Episcopal Church:

    The Rev. Jonathan Melton became canonically resident and is now the Rector of St. James, Dallas.

    The Diocese received The Rev. George Joseph into the Episcopal Church from the Church of South India. Fr. Joseph is current interim at St. Luke’s, Denison.

    The Rev. Joseph Dewey became canonically resident in the diocese and serves at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas.

    This past year the following were licensed in the diocese of Dallas for the first time.

    They include The Rev. Joseph Clavijo who serves at Our Saviour, Dallas, and The Rev. James Detrich who currently lives in Oklahoma and is available for supply work here in Dallas.

    The following changes have also occurred in the diocese since Convention 2022:

    The Rev. Julian Borda has become the Vicar of St. Thomas, Ennis

    The Rev David Beadle is now the Vicar of Good Samaritan, Dallas, even as he continues to serve as a curate at the Cathedral of St. Matthew.

    The Rev. Ignacio Gama is Priest-in-Charge at St. Luke’s, Dallas

    The Rev. Canon Victoria Heard, has retired. She was made an Honorary Canon of Diocese of Dallas this past spring.

    This year, Bishop Sumner appointed The Rev. Harold Lowe as the Vicar of Holy Family, McKinney, where he had served for over thirty years as long-term supply.

    The Rev. Chase Skorburg now serves at the Rector of Good Shepherd, Cedar Hill.

    The Rev. Mark Wright has retired

    Canon to the Ordinary Christopher Brown gave the following report about the Commission on Ministry.

    In 2023, the Diocese of Dallas financially supported fourteen seminarians.

    Ten attended Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. Three were in the three-year full-time residential program, six pursued distance learning.

    Four attended Nashotah House in Nashotah, Wisconsin.

    In addition, two seminarians attend the Truett Seminary, at Baylor University, which includes a new Anglican Studies program as part of Truett’s Wesley House, where Anglicanism is treated as an extension of the Wesleyan tradition.  These students hold two of the three full scholarships granted as special arrangement between Truett and the Diocese of Dallas.

    The diocese also has a considerable number of discerners or inquirers, aspirants who have been approved by the bishop to begin the ordination process, and nominees, who been approved by their parishes and summited applications, but have yet to meet with the Commission on Ministry.

    “I would like to thank Sandy Mebus for her tireless and insightful leadership of the Commission on Ministry…” Brown said. He also thanked all members who serve on the commission and said that the work they do “stands out in the rigor and thoroughness with which they accomplish their task.”  

    In addition to appointments and elections, the diocese heard from The Very Rev. Rob Price Dean of St. Matthew’s Cathedral where he received cheers when he announced that St. Matthew’s Cathedral will receive a certificate of occupation now that the renovation project and repairs after a devastating fire is nearing completion. The building will also house newly renovated offices for the diocesan staff with plans to move into the building this year.

    Price also asked that donations be made in honor of retired Bishop James Stanton and his wife, Diane. “The Stanton Center will be both a program of theological education and a place, where the diocese can come together to learn and discern God’s will for us in all aspects of our common life,” he said. The third floor will be the Bishop James M. and Diane Stanton Diocesan Ministry Center – the Stanton Center, for short – in honor of the gifts of leadership and service poured out on our diocese.

    “The Cathedral congregation keenly feels its vocation as a steward of this diocesan asset. We are not asking parishes for assessments, nor are we seeking funding through the diocesan budget for this expense. Rather, we are inviting all who have been touched by the Stantons’ ministry to both honor them with their individual gifts in order to support and enhance the Cathedral’s ability to offer itself as a gift to the wider diocese,” Price said. “In this way, it is much like endowing a professorial chair at a university. We invite you to add your name and to this effort. A gift of any amount will be recognized in the space.”

    In other joyous announcements, St. Thomas of Ennis has gone from mission status to parish status, declaring itself financially independent from diocesan monetary support. The church has been seeing full pews and renewed energy since the arrival of their vicar, the Rev. Julian Borda.

    The Episcopal Foundation of Dallas presented its annual Trustee’s Award of $25,000 this year to San Francisco de Asis for their food programs that provide nutritious provisions to many in need.  

    The day before convention, church leaders attended the leadership seminar which was led by speakers the Rt. Rev. Dr. Graham Tomlin, president of St. Mellitus College in London, and the Rev. Dr. Paul Wheatley, who is an assistant professor at Nashotah House and a former priest in the diocese.

    Wheatley who was ordained in the diocese and served at St. Augustine’s in Oak Cliff before leaving to earn his PhD at Notre Dame, talked about preaching Mark in Year B.  

    “In ethical matters, Mark often presents Jesus’s harder sayings without some of the softening that Matthew and Luke include: I remember one of the first homilies I gave after my ordination to the diaconate—It was Year B, Proper 22, Jesus on divorce in Mark 10,” Wheatley said. “I remember looking at the gospel parallels and thinking, “Matthew has this list of exceptions, a very pastoral, Anglican-ish or Jesuitical way of approaching the topic, but Mark just pulls the gloves off and hits you with ‘remarriage is adultery’ full stop.

    “Mark is short and terse when it comes to hard teachings. He’s a “pull the band-aid off fast” guy. Then at other times his camera seems to linger on stories that feel out of step with the quick, immediate pace of the rest of the Gospel. For example, Mark devotes more space to the death of John the Baptist in Mark 6:14–29 than he does for the feeding of the 5000 in the following passage in Mark 6:30–44. Mark also gives more space to Jesus’s suffering in Gethsemane in Mark 14:32–42 than he gives to the institution of the Last Supper in the same chapter. Jesus can’t have a triumphant moment in Mark without reminding his disciples that he’s going to die. The disciples, on the other hand, can’t seem to do much in Mark before they trip over themselves saying something Jesus has to correct, or sometimes even rebuke. Mark is no propaganda brochure for the Messiah’s merry men. Mark’s narrative eye lingers long on scenes with darker themes, and a full 20 percent of the Gospel is devoted to his Passion, in comparison to closer to 15 percent in Matthew and Luke,” Wheatley said.

    Convention also included a noontime prayer through a hymn performed on video by the Buhemba Youth Choir from the Diocese of Tarime who sang, “This is the year for me to be accepted by the Lord, to be lifted up. The year to come from behind, the year to go forward.”

    Sumner echoed a similar sentiment in his address but more about how to go forward saying renewal in Christianity is global and local. “It begins with the Bible and the creed. It is at once personal, the converted heart and mind, though it is expressed, and then tended, in groups, in societies of prayer," he said. "Naturally it goes out to find its audience, even as it assumes no cultural privilege. Finally, it does so arm in arm with brothers and sisters across lines of class and race, the more ecumenical it is, the more truly Anglican/ Episcopal it proves itself to be. The matrix is the same, in circumstances that are in no way the same as we are accustomed to, since the matrix is actually derived from the apostles.”