Diocesan Convention 2014: ‘From tears to joy: Our Asian experience’

On Friday, October 17, the Diocese of California’s 165th Convention convened with the Convention Eucharist at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. The theme of the convention was From Tears to Joy: Our Asian Experience. Before the convention Eucharist, over 200 people gathered on the Grace Cathedral Plaza to share an Asian-themed meal. The Asian Commission of the Diocese of California presented photo boards displaying the history of Episcopalians of Asian-descent in the lives of their congregations throughout the diocese.

Dr. Jenny Te Paa-Daniel preached at the convention Eucharist, which featured a variety of music from Asian cultures, as well as a reading from the writings of the Rev. Li Tim-Oi. Dr. Te Paa-Daniel is the St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley. Until 2013 she was Ahorangi or Dean of Te Rau Kahikatea, at The College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand. She taught at the college from 1992 and was appointed Ahorangi in 1995, becoming the first lay indigenous woman to head an Anglican Theological College anywhere in the Anglican Communion. Her sermon will be available on Grace Cathedral’s website later this week.

Over 70 of the Diocese of California’s congregations were represented at Saturday’s business session, which moved very quickly and was full of reports from deaneries, commissions, and committees. The day opened with Bishop Andrus’ address, which is available on his blog. The certified election results and certified passed resolutions are available at www.diocal.org/convention. Among highlights of the resolutions, the Diocese of California instructed Executive Council to work actively towards full socially responsible investing, endorsed Proposition 47, and submitted resolutions about marriage equality and promoting justice and peace in Israel / Palestine to General Convention. The convention also elected new members of Standing Committee, Executive Council, and representatives to the Provincial Synod.

Although the day was largely a business meeting filled with resolutions, canon changes, and reports, the theme of the experience of Asian American Episcopalians was a constant thread through it all. After every break the Asian Commission led the convention in  a hymn before a scripture passage and prayer were offered in one of the many Asian languages Episcopalians in the Diocese of California use in worship or their lives. The Rev. David Ota shared both the history of the diocese as well as his own moving personal journey with a slideshow presentation.  

Courtesy resolutions were offered to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Rt. Rev. G. Richard Millard (Suffragan Bishop of California 1960-1978) earlier in October, and in honor of four pioneering women clergy (the Revs. Katherine Ward, Fran Toy, Flora Keshgegian, and Susan Bergmans) for their life-long service to the Church during this 40th anniversary of women’s ordination to the priesthood.  

The congregation of St. Mary the Virgin, San Francisco, was given the Margaret Wosser Award for exemplary efforts in promoting legacy planning and estate gifts for the church. Over the last two years St. Mary the Virgin has greatly increased its efforts to have its congregants remember the church and its institutions in their wills and trusts.

Toward the end of the convention, Bishop Andrus announced that an anonymous $5,000 matching grant had been offered for funds donated to Ebola relief through Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières. In less than one hour, over $3,000 was raised with more than $1,200 more promised — before the match. Additional donations can be made directly to MSF here

After a full day of business, including an added resolution, the convention adjourned at approximately 4:45 p.m. — earlier than planned. The smoothness of the convention was greatly aided by many volunteers coordinated by Mary Louise Gotthold and Melissa Ridlon. For more information about this year’s convention — or 2015 when it becomes available, be sure to visit www.diocal.org/convention.