Diocese of Northern Michigan moves forward

From the Diocese of Northern Michigan:

Escanaba, Mi., October 31, 2009—The Diocese of Northern Michigan, comprised of 27 congregations in the Upper Peninsula, began its 114th annual convention last night at St. Stephen’s Church in Escanaba. At the convention, the diocese welcomed guests from across the Episcopal Church and today will determine its search process for a new bishop.

The Diocese’s previous bishop search ended in July when its election of the Rev. Dr. Kevin Thew Forrester did not receive the required consents from diocesan bishops and standing committees in the Episcopal Church.

“Last July, we invited the wider church to reflect with us on what our experience can teach us about the episcopal search and consent process,” said Linda Piper, chair of the diocese’s Standing Committee. “In keeping with our desire to reflect and pray together, we invited leaders from across the church to join us this weekend. We are grateful to our guests for traveling to be with us and are excited to share with them our experience of ministry in the Upper Peninsula.”

Visitors at the convention in Escanaba include the Rt. Rev. William D. Persell, retired Bishop of Chicago; the Rev. Terry Martin, who blogs at Father Jake Stops the World; the Very Rev. Ernesto Medina, Dean for Urban Mission at Trinity Cathedral in Omaha and clergy deputy from the Diocese of Nebraska; Susannah Perkinson, lay deputy from the Diocese of Ohio and member of the House of Deputies Study Committee on Church Governance and Polity; and the Rev. Canon Cindy Voorhees, a member of the Standing Committee in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Last evening, Medina helped facilitate the convention’s use of “Authority of Generations,” a process he developed that has assisted many congregations and dioceses throughout the church with decision-making and program development. Medina worked with the Rev. Rayford Ray, ministry developer in the south central region of the diocese.

“Through Authority of Generations, the people of Northern Michigan will share with each other, through story and song, where they have experienced God in their lives during this time in our diocese,” Ray said before the convention.

Today, the convention will discuss and vote on a resolution about the diocese’s next episcopal search. According to Piper, the resolution will reflect both Northern Michigan’s commitment to mutual ministry as well as an earnest desire to be understood by the wider church. “Our ministry takes place in the context of our rural, remote landscape,” she said, “but we are committed Christians who are faithful to the Episcopal Church.

“As we seek to discern God’s will through our search process, we invite the prayers and questions of our sisters and brothers throughout the wider church.”

News from the convention, including the final resolution defining the diocese’s episcopal search process, will be available next week at www.upepiscopal.org.

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