Reflections on Town Hall Meetings with the Bishop

-- The Rev. Brandon Peete

Bishop Andy Doyle has invited the Diocese to take part in shaping the future of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Texas over the next five years. In seven regional and online town hall meetings, the Bishop will share his vision and is seeking input. Four town hall meetings will be held in different regions of the diocese in the evenings, while an additional three gatherings may be held electronically.

We were pleased to announce a few weeks ago that the Bishop decided to use our own Kadosh Adult Formation liturgy as the vehicle for engaging congregants in this process.

The first of these seven Town Hall meetings took place last Thursday evening at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. St. Stephen’s was represented well with over 25 parishioners in attendance. This accounted for more than 1/3 of the total participation.             

 

Throughout the evening, the Bishop solicited feedback and critique of the last five years of Diocesan ministry, as well as collaborative visioning for the next 5 years. Our voices were clearly reflected in this conversational liturgy.

During the reflection movement of the liturgy on the last five years, Bishop Doyle noted that we have made some significant strides, such as transitioning the sale of St. Luke’s Hospital and establishing the Episcopal Health Foundation and Great Commission Fund, an increase in the percentage of female clergy and clergy of various ethnicities, as well as the creation and rollout of “Unity in Mission,” providing various congregations a way forward in the Diocese of Texas. 

Neighbors broke out in discussion groups to engage how the Episcopal Church is present beyond the parish grounds, as well as a critique of what is missing in our evangelism.

As the evening shifted to looking ahead, the Bishop underscored particular goals, including a rigorous presence in college campus ministry, enhanced communications at all levels, supporting and providing intentional formation at every age level, a focus on youth and young adult leadership development (both lay and ordained), becoming a multi-cultural church to reflect both who we are and who we serve, continued work through the various Foundations established in the Diocese (specifically the Episcopal Health Foundation), a United Evangelism Strategy for planting new faith communities throughout the Diocese, discerning how we gather as a Diocese to conduct business (specifically at Diocesan Council), and Reconciliation to God and one another (specifically calling for a conclusion to the debate on Canon 43).

Bishop Doyle also stated the commitment of the Diocese to honor who we are and who we serve, highlighting that we are a faithful and multi-cultural diocese of gay, lesbian, transgender, and straight individuals from many different ethnicities, languages, and traditions – and that all of us should feel welcomed and be fully included in the life of the Diocese. This statement concluded with a call from our Bishop, with his support, to go about the work of reconciliation and enact change to reflect this reality. We are thankful for his faithful and courageous leadership.

Over the next couple of months the Bishop will convene town hall meetings in Austin, Beaumont, and Tyler, as well as offering three online meetings. Please keep Bishop Doyle and the Diocese of Texas in your prayers.