Each year the membership of the parish gathers to elect members to vestry and delegates to Diocesan Convention as well as hear about the state of the parish. This meeting speaks to a central, founding ethos of what it is to be an Episcopalian: sharing power and authority; respecting the ability of her members to make decisions about matters of faith and operations; and transparency in matters of finance and actions. The Annual Meeting clearly says, “This is our church (the laity and clergy together), not just the clergy’s church.”
For many years, this ethos was not respected in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Consequently, the church became one of “Father knows best” (and it would have been Father as there were no women ordained as priest) resulting in secrets, manipulations, and strategic actions that led us to the current estrangement between our brothers and sisters in the faith, in contradiction with this central founding ethos. While the word Episcopal literally means “of bishops (and we are a church grounded in the role of the historic, apostolic bishop), the bishop exists and works in the context of the people she serves. Hence, the transformative power of mutuality.
The Annual Meeting is the key place where this mutuality of authority and leadership occurs. Your presence reaffirms this basic ethos of Episcopalianism. You have worked too hard and sacrificed too much to let the parish and the diocese slip back into “father knows best” mode. Your presence and participation in the Annual Meeting is needed.
This year the Annual Meeting of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, TX will be on January 22nd, 2017, immediately following the service. The canons require one to be an adult, confirmed member in good standing to be eligible to vote. Even if you cannot vote, please stay to hear about the state of the parish and the 2017 budget.
Happy Epiphany to you and yours.