EAST CAROLINA: Convention marks diocese's 'History in the New World'

February 26, 2008

The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina held its 125th Annual Convention in the New Bern Convention Center January 31-February 2.


The convention's highlight was a blessing of a new icon commemorating the baptisms of Manteo and Virginia Dare on Roanoke Island (now a part of the Diocese of East Carolina) in August 1587. Written by Cheryl Hendrick, the icon was undertaken "with the careful companionship of [East Carolina] friends in prayer, art, carpentry," according to the Rev. Matthew Stockard, canon to the ordinary. Chief Thomas Lewis of the Meherrin Indian Tribe participated in the rite of blessing of the icon.

Bishop Clifton Daniel 3rd used his opening Eucharist sermon to reflect upon the icon. "At first, it appears to be a simple figure: a man holding an infant. But the image is more complex, and there is a vision embedded in it: Here is Manteo, an adult male holding an infant female, Virginia Dare; that is the simplest level. From this point the image becomes more complex -- Manteo and Virginia Dare are of different ages, different races, and from vastly different cultures," he said.

"And the icon goes further -- it points to a poignant and fragile moment in the early days of colonization; a moment of peace between the indigenous peoples and European settlers; a moment soon to be shattered by greed and exploitation, war and displacement, slavery, and racial hatred -- all the ills indigenous people of this continent suffered as a result of European immigration.

"And yet on another level, the icon points to a glorious Gospel vision embedded in it
-- it is the Gospel vision St. Paul points to in his letter to the Galatians (3:26-28), that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female -- for all are one through our baptism in Christ Jesus."

In his convention address, Daniel recounted diocesan history and asked for support for: capital funding for Trinity Center retreat and conference center; Hispanic ministries; funding a part-time communications officer; the Millennium Development Goals; loyalty to the Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion; consideration of an Assistant Bishop; consideration of a Canon Missioner.

Delegates passed resolutions to:

  • Express support for the numerous military personnel located in the Diocese of East Carolina;
  • Initiate the process to request commemoration of the baptisms of Manteo and Virginia Dare in Lesser Feasts and Fasts;
  • Affirm the unity of the Episcopal Church;
  • Implement a Communications Task Force for two years.

A 2008 budget of $1,205,149.00 was passed.

Retired Bishop Ernest Shalita of the Diocese of Muhubura in the Anglican Church of Uganda concelebrated the opening Eucharist with Daniel and addressed the convention on the morning of February 2.

Two convention workshops were built around the theme of "Making History in a New World." They were "History, Architecture, and Preservation" and "Conversations: Tales of the Diocese of East Carolina," the beginning of a diocesan oral history project. Other workshops focused on Christian Education, the Millennium Development Goals and diocesan ministry at Trinity Center.

The Diocese of East Carolina consists of some 20,000 Episcopalians worshipping in 79 parishes in eastern North Carolina.

--The Rev. Lisa B. Hamilton is Episcopal Life Media features editor as well as correspondent for Provinces I and IV. She is based in Venice, Florida and Sandisfield, Massachusetts.

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