Overview of the 222nd Annual Convention
222nd Annual Convention - An Overview
More than 600 clergy, lay delegates, spouses, and other invited guests attended the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s 222nd Annual Convention held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Reston, Virginia from Jan. 26 – 28, 2017. As hundreds of seated participants looked on from the convention floor, the proceedings kicked off with a video whose name shared the convention’s theme - Walk in Love. The high-energy video, depicting a variety of exciting, rich scenes from around the Diocese and the world, set the tone and tempo for this year’s convention.
The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, XIII Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, presided over the three-day convention, presenting his pastoral address during the morning of Jan. 27. Bishop Johnston chose “Ted Talk” style – wireless microphone, no notes, and walking the expanse of the dais – to deliver a shortened version of his full, written pastoral address. Bishop Johnston’s full address is available at the Diocese website in text form, with a videotaped version to be posted as soon as it is available.
Bishop Johnston’s address covered many topics and reflections, including his call to be “more of a public activist” and to expand what he calls “faith in the public square,” with the Diocese commenting and taking action on social justice issues. Following up on a letter sent to congregations last year, Bishop Johnston also officially announced a change to the Bishop Visitation schedule beginning in September 2017. There will be one visit per Sunday for each bishop, so that the three bishops will have more time to spend with each church. This means that most congregations now will receive a bishop every other year, rather than the current schedule of church visits by a bishop every year.
The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, followed Bishop Johnston with the convention’s keynote address. His moving remarks focused on the need for The Episcopal Church to conduct more outreach to young people. Bishop Wright also delivered the homily for Holy Eucharist during the evening of Jan. 27.
Convention activities also included presentation of the “Stories of the Diocese,” exhibitor booths, a multitude of workshops and committee meetings, hearings, election of diocesan officers, discussion of proposed resolutions, and the diocesan budget.
At the convention, the Diocese passed a balanced budget with increased allocation to grants for Episcopal College Ministries.
The Convention voted to update the Compensation and Benefit Guidelines to reflect the current policy of the Church Pension Group on paid maternity leave for clergy; and to expand guidelines to address broader family leave benefits to include paid leave for adoption as well as birth, for secondary caretakers of new children, and for families in need of care for matters dealing with aging or illness.
Also approved was a resolution that a letter on behalf of the Diocese be sent to the elected representatives of the Commonwealth in support of legislation that requires paid maternity and paternity leave for all employees within Virginia.
Finally, the Convention voted to affirm The Episcopal Church’s endorsement of legislative efforts to guarantee adequate health care and insurance for all people of the United States.The resolution also urges the governor and General Assembly to extend wider health care coverage in Virginia through Medicaid and other appropriate measures, especially to people of limited means.