Office of the Presiding Bishop
June 22, 2016
Ecumenical Catholic Communion
Grace and peace to all of you!
According to our constitution, it is my responsibility and privilege to call a Holy Synod every two years on behalf of our entire Communion. And so I call all the official delegates of the House of Laity, the House of Pastors, and the Episcopal Council, indeed every interested member of the Communion to come together in Ft. Worth, TX, October 10th through the 13th, 2016, for our 6th Holy Synod.
This is especially a time of being together in the presence of our Head, Jesus Christ and of experiencing the action of the Holy Spirit as we are re-formed into the Body of Christ. Here we will worship together, enjoy and celebrate the connection we have with one another, and discern how the Spirit is leading us on the next leg of our precious journey.
The Leadership Council, whose responsibility it is to prepare the synod, has chosen the theme: "Strengthening Our Roots, Living into Our Dreams." This Holy Synod will be a time for us to continue building a strong foundation for our growing Communion, rooted in deep faith and supported by sharing with one another what we have learned over the years. We also hope it will be an exciting time of dreaming big together, and living boldly into our unknown future.
There are a number of concrete issues about which we will be discerning during our time together:
1. Hispanic Participation. Most of our communion's membership is Hispanic. How do we create and maintain communion across cultural and linguistic borders? One place to start is to get to know each other better. I predict the more we reach out and share with one another, the more contact we will desire and find ways to make happen. Bishop Armando will address exciting models of church that he is employing, from which those of us who are Anglo can learn a great deal.
2. International Communities. There is much interest in the ECC globally. We want to encourage those who are inspired by our story. We also want to maintain realistic mutual expectations for relationship and for church building. A commission on our international communities intends to propose legislation to help us do just that as we continue to grow and build church together across borders and oceans.
3. Women in the ECC. From the beginning the ECC has been inclusive of the gifts of women. Let's assess how we are living out this original commitment in practice and where we may be called to grow. Are we building a church for our daughters that our daughters would want to live in and live out of? The synod will host a "women's caucus" to reflect on these matters and share their findings with the whole Communion.
4. Youth.Young priests and youth ministers tend to attract younger members to congregations. What can we do to develop a younger group of pastoral ministers? What plans do we have for passing the torch from one generation to the next? I will be proposing a plan about this.
5. Constitutional Revision. The committee charged with providing a draft revision of our constitution has been hard at work to make our Constitution clear, concise, and consistent. The goal is to have the Houses consider the revised constitution for approval at this Synod.
I am also pleased to announce that Dr. Julie Byrne, the author of The Other Catholics, Remaking America's Largest Religion, has agreed to address us at synod. Publisher's Weekly said of her book, "Byrne's enlightening research and analysis will undoubtedly raise awareness of these little-known Catholic denominations." I will ask Dr. Byrne to speak to what she has learned about our synod theme from the other Catholics she has studied. She has a very broad understanding phenomena like ours. She can give us insight into wisely strengthening our foundations and boldly dreaming into our future.
So our Synod is a time to worship, a time make and renew friendships, a time to learn, a time to play, a time to work, and a time to be surprised by God's gifts to us. Please, let's gather together in October and take it all in.