The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i, meeting October 20-21 at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Honolulu for its 38th annual Convention, heard its retiring bishop Richard S.O. Chang say that the diocese, in the third year of a five-year strategic plan, is being transformed.
"Many congregations and programs have taken their brave first steps and have opened themselves to the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit among them," said Chang. "Increases in average Sunday attendance, new families, larger Sunday School enrollment, and ministries of service addressing community issues of homelessness, hunger, and youth, have been transformational experiences in numerous congregations."
He warned that there was still work to be done, saying that personal transformation must accompany institutional changes.
"Personal transformation is the foundation that makes institutional transformation possible: just as the opening Affirmation of Faith in our Baptismal Covenant makes possible our affirmation and living the promises of our Baptismal Covenant," Chang said. "The challenge, individually and as a Diocese, will be our willingness to be transformed by the Risen Christ."
"In too many congregations, leaders, both lay and ordained, have abdicated their responsibility to teach and learn," Chang said. "When was the last time that clergy exercised their teaching ministry in your congregation? When was the last time that the lay leaders of your congregation modeled their commitment to personal Christian formation? When was the last time that you prayed with someone outside the context of Sunday worship?
"Through regular worship, study, and prayer, each and every baptized member of this
Diocese needs to renew and sustain his or her relationship to Jesus Christ."
On October 20, the convention elected diocesan Canon to the Ordinary Robert Fitzpatrick as the 5th bishop of the diocese to succeed Chang, who noted that transformations will accompany that change as well.
The full text of Chang's address is available here.
The Convention has a tradition of offering a response to the bishop's address. In this year's response, the committee pledged to continue the transformation of the diocese.
"The result of our labors will be a ‘new church,' one with a spirit of reconciliation, as we embrace the concepts of sustainability and interdependence," the committee's response said. "We need to all feel a humility that comes with changing ourselves from the inside out -- personal transformation. We need to depend on each other and be responsible to one another. Let us show Bishop Chang and Bishop-elect Fitzpatrick that humility -- our humble spirit."
The complete text of the response is available here.
The Convention also passed resolutions to:
- authorize the Diocesan Council to appoint a task force to identify a diocese with which to establish a companion diocese relationship, with initial consideration given to a Maori region of Aotearoa, New Zealand;
- acknowledge and affirm the Episcopal Church's Social Responsibility in Investments (SRI) Committee report "Corporate Engagement by the Episcopal Church on Issues Related to Israel and the Palestinian Territories" and direct the Diocesan Council to follow SRI guidelines in managing the diocesan investment portfolio;
- amend part of its constitution to slightly change the diocese's bishop election process;
- adopt a clergy compensation and benefit policy for 2007.
The full texts of the resolutions are available here.
The Diocese of Hawai'i comprises 8,750 Episcopalians worshipping in 39 congregations.