MISSOURI: Bishop reiterates commitment to the Anglican Communion

November 15, 2006

The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, meeting at the University of Missouri-St. Louis November 10-11 for its 167th Convention, heard its bishop, George Wayne Smith, reiterate his commitment to remaining a part of the Anglican Communion.

The convention also approved a shift of the corporate responsibilities of the diocese from the Standing Committee to Diocesan Council, and gave final approval to several canonical changes.

A move by the Diocesan Council and Standing Committee to alter the role and make-up of the council met with only partial success.

However, a resolve to balance the number of clergy and laity on council met with opposition. Currently, the council has a ratio of 15 lay members to six clergy. The resolution would have balanced the representation with 10 lay and 10 clergy members. Arguing that the council should more closely reflect the diocese's ratio of laity to clergy, opponents had the resolve stricken from the resolution, which then passed as amended.

The delegates approved a 2007 operating budget of $2,584,631 that includes a projected deficit of $266,581.

In his annual address to convention, Smith warned that the diocese could not long sustain deficit spending and that it might be necessary in the future to cut staff and ministries and shift some tasks to the congregations to balance the budget.

Smith also used his address to reiterate his commitment to remaining a part of the Anglican Communion and to what he sees as the diocese's mission to strengthen congregations and make disciples.

The Convention gave final approval to several canonical changes. One would increase the number of delegates at future conventions by giving smaller congregations an additional delegate while removing the cap on the number of delegates larger congregations could have. It also changed the formula for determining representation, which will now be based on average Sunday attendance instead of number of baptized persons. Another change would tie the number of a congregation's delegates who could vote at convention to the proportion of their annual assessment that was paid.

Other resolutions dealt with funding for youth ministry, opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools in Missouri, and designation of the first Sunday in Lent as a day to draw attention to recovery ministries for those with addictions and their families and caregivers.

Complete information about the resolutions is available here.

The Diocese of Missouri comprises about 14,100 Episcopalians worshipping in 48 congregations.