The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, meeting January 26-27 in its 191st annual Convention, heard Bishop Michael B. Curry challenge them "to be a disciple of Jesus is to follow in his footsteps, to be his hands and feet, his presence in the world."
Curry referred to Matthew 14:22-33, the story of the disciple Peter, who, on one stormy night, got out of his boat and walked on water to meet Jesus.
"Peter was focused on Jesus, talking to him, interacting with him, relating to him, moving in his direction, but when Peter's focus shifted from Jesus to the wind and the waves, he began to sink," said Curry.
Curry told the convention that discipleship is about focusing on Jesus and urged attendees to answer the high calling to transform the world through gospel-based discipleship, mission initiatives such as regional ministry, youth and adult ministry, the School of Ministry, and gospel-based social ministry. He also encouraged the crowd to boldly embrace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at eradicating hunger and poverty in the world by the year 2015.
"This is an urgent necessity to go forth and make a difference in the world," Curry said. "The actions we take now will have a profound effect on our future as a people."
The Convention also featured the Rev. Mike Kinman, executive director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation, a network of Episcopalians committed to fighting global, spiritual, and economic poverty by advancing the MDGs.
In observance of its "companion diocese" relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Costa Rica, the diocese welcomed Costa Rica Bishop Hector Monterroso as a special guest.
Delegates overwhelmingly passed resolutions to:
* "affirm and confess full support of Resolution A167 of the 75th General Convention, 2006 which states that "gay and lesbian persons are by baptism full members of the Body of Christ and of the Episcopal Church as children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, pastoral concern, and care of the church" and apologizes to gay and lesbian people within and outside of the church for “years of rejection and maltreatment by the church."
* call on parishes and members to help establish September 21 as a global day of peace, encouraging members to study, worship and pray on the United Nations International Day of Peace and call on the diocesan liturgical committee to compose models for interfaith services for this observance.
* encourage a transition to the use of renewable energy sources, urge members and congregations to incorporate respect and care for creation into programs of worship and education, reduce energy use through conservation and increased efficiency, and strive to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
* acknowledge that the diocese has benefited directly and indirectly from slavery and continued institutional racism, seek forgiveness and a truthful understanding of our history regarding slavery and consequential racism, and call for implementation of a "process for substantive Gospel-based reconciliation by and among the people and congregations of the diocese."
Delegates also approved a $4.4 million dollar budget proposal for 2007, an increase of more than 13 percent over 2006, made possible by increased parish support and improved investment earnings.
The Diocese of North Carolina comprises about 48,900 Episcopalians worshipping in 125 congregations.