SOUTHWEST FLORIDA: New bishop calls for emphasis on mission, outreach

October 23, 2007

Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida Bishop Dabney Smith used his first address to diocesan convention October 20 to steer a course for Southwest Florida with an emphasis on mission, outreach and young adults.

Smith, who was invested as the fifth bishop of the diocese only a month ago, also told clergy and delegates at the diocese's 39th convention in Venice, Florida, that God is "working His purpose out" within the Anglican Communion. "I like being an Episcopalian. I like being an Anglican. I fully expect to be both for the rest of my life," he said.

Smith announced a reorganization of the Congregational Development Committee, the appointment of the first full-time Episcopal chaplain to the University of South Florida's main campus in Tampa in a decade, and the appointment of a new commission on young adult and higher education ministry.

"I pray that we will matter and make a difference in the lives of people for whom Jesus died," Smith said.

He also announced that Deacon Dennis McMannis, operations director of the Office of Disaster Response in the Diocese of Louisiana, will be returning to Southwest Florida to fill a new position of Canon for Ministry and Outreach.

Part of McMannis' job will be to explore the creation of an Episcopal charities organization in the diocese that would seek grants and financial gifts to provide revenue for outreach programs in diocesan, deanery and parish initiatives.

Also, for the first time since 2003, convention rejected a resolution, in a vote of 146-121, which would allow congregations to redirect apportionment payments away from the Episcopal Church. Similar resolutions had been passed at the 2003-2005 conventions. Last year, a procedural error kept the resolution from being considered but Diocesan Council approved a mechanism to implement the procedure anyway.

"Let the good intentions which I believe lie behind this proposed resolution instead be carried out with common sense and compassion according to our canons," said the Rev. Ted Copland, speaking against the resolution.

Convention approved a resolution to form a task force to begin the process for the Episcopal Church to include the Rev. John Edwin Culmer, an African American priest who championed social justice reform in south Florida in the 1920s to 1940s, in the calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts on the date of June 19.

Information on all resolutions is available here.

Information on elections, including General Convention deputies, is available here.

Convention also approved a 2008 budget of $3.1 million.