Racial and economic justice actions top Diocesan Convention agenda

Diocesan Convention 2022 "By This They Will Know You" Graphic

Racial and economic justice actions top the voting agenda for the upcoming Diocesan Convention--including the creation of a Reparations Fund "as a part of our effort to address our legacy of the wealth accumulated through the enslaved labor of Africans and Afro-Caribbeans."

Taking place Oct. 28-29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel North Shore in Danvers, it will be the diocese's first in-person convention since 2019.

A $9.4-million proposed budget for 2023 will come before the convention--balanced but reflecting challenging economic consequences of the COVID pandemic.  The convention also will elect deputies to the 2024 General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Saturday's business sessions will be undergirded by a discussion program the previous afternoon, open to all and exploring discipleship and justice through the lens of the convention theme, taken from John 13:  "By This They Will Know You: The Call of Love in Our Time and Place."  

There are in-person and online options to participate in Friday's afternoon discussion program.  A dinner and hymn sing follow in the evening for those present at the hotel.  

Saturday's agenda includes a morning service of Holy Eucharist, with Bishop Alan M. Gates's annual address, and all business sessions.

The convention will also be recognizing Bishop Suffragan Gayle E. Harris, who has announced her upcoming retirement after nearly 20 years of episcopal ministry.  

Delegates, clergy and all with voice and/or vote will participate in person, with a livestream available for guest viewing.  (The livestream will be presented via a virtual event management platform, so pre-registration will be necessary to access it.)

Find registration, materials and updates at www.diomass.org/diocesan-convention-2022.


A resolution from the diocesan Racial Justice Commission proposes financial steps to create a diocesan reparations fund "as a part of our effort to address our legacy of the wealth accumulated through the enslaved labor of Africans and Afro-Caribbeans."  

It asks that an initial pool of approximately $3 million be established with 15 percent of the diocese's unrestricted agency and Diocesan Council-designated funds. The resolution calls for additional commitments of 15 percent of the annual draw from unrestricted trust endowments and bishop’s directed funds, as well as 3 percent of income from parochial assessments until the reparations fund exceeds $11.1 million. The resolution also urges contributions from congregations, organizations and individuals.

A second resolution from the Racial Justice Commission would add new cross-cultural learning, practice and peer support components to the formation process for postulants and candidates for ordination, toward the goal of better "equipping ordained leaders for the work of becoming the Beloved Community."  It also encourages congregation leaders, lay and ordained, to develop multiple language proficincies appropriate to their ministry contexts.

Three additional resolutions coming before the convention call for minimal compensation and Church Pension Fund contributions for deacons, who typically serve without pay, so that they can access CPG's financial planning and investment programming; to support and engage with the Poor People's Campaign; and for education and exploration toward fostering right relationship with Indigeneous Episcopalians and neighbors, with a Sunday to be designated annually "to honor the people indigenous to the lands we now know as the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts as well as those Indigenous people currently living in our midst."

Proposed resolutions are available in full in the convention Handbook.

Assistant bishop authorization

Bishop Suffragan Gayle E. Harris has announced her upcoming retirement; instead of calling for the election of a successor bishop suffragan, Bishop Alan M. Gates, with the consent of the diocesan Standing Committee, will be asking the convention to approve the creation of an assistant bishop position and authorize him to appoint a bishop to that position.

2023 budget

Convention also will vote on the proposed $9.4-million diocesan budget for 2023.  

According to the budget booklet, projected shortfall in income--due to 2023 congregational assessments calculated according to lower income in churches in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, as well as one-time income to this year's budget that won't be available in 2023 (including COVID relief granting from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Employee Retention Credit)--is being offset by several cost-saving measures: consolidation of diocesan office space use at 138 Tremont Street in Boston; proceeds from the sale of now-closed church property in Fairhaven which will establish a property development seed fund and maintain the property stewardship missioner staff position for at least two years; a long-term lease of the former All Saints' Church property in Stoneham to the Boys and Girls Club there; and targeted reductions in mission initiatives grants that reflect staff transitions at the MIT chaplaincy and St. Stephen's Church in Boston and the current size of the Life Together Episcopal service corps program.  

The budget maintains an allocation of $40,000 for new mission initiatives in 2023.

The Diocesan Convention is the primary governing body of the diocese.  It convenes annually to conduct diocesan business, including election of officers and members of various leadership bodies; approval of a budget for the upcoming year; setting mission strategy; and establishing diocesan policy and procedure by considering and voting on resolutions and approving changes to the diocesan constitution and canons.  It is also an occasion for communication and teaching from the bishops; learning about and participating in shared mission and ministry; fellowship, community building and common prayer; and celebration of the Holy Eucharist together as a diocesan community.

All clergy who are canonically resident in the diocese and two lay persons elected as delegates from each parish and mission in union with the diocese have seat, voice and vote at Diocesan Convention.