Closing the Gap Between Religion and Life
Highlights of the 229th Annual Convention
November 4, 2023
More than 430 lay and clerical delegates from across the Diocese gathered at the Fredericksburg Convention Center, November 2-4, for the 229th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Virginia. Delegates to Convention have several responsibilities, including the election of leaders to governing bodies, passing a budget for the upcoming year, and voting on resolutions that come before the Convention.
Bishop Stevenson’s First Pastoral Address
In his first Convention address as Bishop of Virginia, the Rt. Rev’d E. Mark Stevenson said that the church today must focus on “closing the gap between religion and life,” a concept first coined by the former Roman Catholic Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool.
“A life lived in the power of the things of religion – that life is a powerful life,” said Bishop Stevenson. “These words remind us that we love Jesus and Jesus loves us. These words remind us that we can be and are being transformed by that love. These words remind us that we are called to action by the God that loves us – action that leads to justice for those who so rarely – if ever – are given it – action that leads to the reconciliation of broken relationships of peoples, and cultures, and life expressions, as well as to the establishment of relationships that never existed in the first place but should...These words of closing the gap call us to the recognition of God’s offer of joy in both religion and life.”
Standing Committee Elections
The following people were elected to the 2026 class of the Diocesan Standing Committee, which serves as the council of advice to the Bishop. They will serve alongside the Standing Committee members of the classes of 2024 and 2025:
The Rev. Kristen Farrington, Cople Parish, Kinsale
The Rev. Weston Mathews, Grace Church, The Plains
Ms. Christine (Chrissie) Crosby, Grace Church, Alexandria
Ms. Susan Magill, Christ Church, Alexandria
The Convention adopted four resolutions. The full text of these resolutions are available here.
R-1a Printed Book of Common Prayer
R1a calls on The Episcopal Church to continue to provide the Book of Common Prayer in printed book form, and to bring electronic texts under the supervision of the Custodian of the Book of Common Prayer.
R-2a Transfer of Bishops and Deacons
R2a calls on The Episcopal Church to amend its Canons to provide a process for bishops and deacons, similar to the existing provisions for priests, to transfer to The Episcopal Church from churches in communion with The Episcopal Church.
R3s Affordable Housing Development on Church Property
R3s calls on the Diocese to endorse state legislation to establish “by right” development of affordable housing on land owned by any church, faith community, or religious institution within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Establishing “by right” use of church property would expedite the process and reduce the costs for building affordable housing on church property.
R4s War Between Israel and Hamas
In response to the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, R4s urges churches of the Diocese to: pray fervently for peace; donate to the American Friends of the Diocese of Jerusalem and other reputable charities to address the acute medical needs in Gaza; denounce acts and expressions of religious bigotry toward Muslims and Jews in our communities; advocate for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine; and bring to justice the perpetrators of the October, 2023 massacre in Israel.
The Annual Convention passed a budget balanced at $6,070,600 on the strength of increased parish contributions. Featured in the 2024 diocesan budget is increased funding for campus ministry, a four-fold increase to the Bishop’s Minority Scholarship program, and the calling of a Minister for Congregational Vitality.
On Thursday evening, Bishop John Perumbalath of the Diocese of Liverpool, England preached at a Service of Evensong. The following day, the Rt. Rev'd Gayle Harris, Assistant Bishop of Virginia, delivered a powerful sermon at the Convention’s celebration of Holy Eucharist.
The renowned Dr. Catherine Meeks, founding Executive Director of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing, addressed the Convention virtually via Zoom. She spoke on racial justice and took questions from the audience.
The Rev. Rock Higgins, rector of St. James-the-Less in Ashland, was this year’s recipient of the Meet Me in Galilee Award, which recognizes outstanding ministry in the field of racial justice and healing. The Rev. Higgins is a leader of the Triangle of Hope, a covenantal relationship between the Dioceses of Virginia, Liverpool, England and Kumasi, Ghana, dedicated to transforming the long history and ongoing effects of slavery in our world through repentance, reconciliation, and mission.
For continuing post-Convention coverage, check out the diocesan Facebook page and visit www.episcopalvirginia.org. The full Convention proceedings are available in both Spanish and English on the Diocese's YouTube channel.