Dioceses of Chicago, Quincy vote unanimously to reunite

From the Diocese of Chicago:

June 8, 2013—Episcopalians meeting today in Chicago and Peoria have voted to reunify their dioceses after 136 years of operating separately. Both conventions voted unanimously to approve an identical reunification resolution.

Since 2008, the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy has been forging a new identity and mission after its former bishop and about 60% of its members broke away to become founders of the conservative Anglican Church of North America.

“This is a day that both dioceses have yearned for,” said the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, bishop of Chicago, who will be bishop of the reunified diocese. “Now the people of Chicago and the people of Quincy will join together in witnessing to the power of the Risen Christ who overcomes all divisions.”

“The faithful people of Quincy have shown us all what it means to live as witnesses to God’s mission in the Episcopal Church,” said the Rt. Rev. John Buchanan, provisional bishop of Quincy. “Their unflagging commitment to our common life will make them invaluable leaders in the Diocese of Chicago.”

The reunified diocese, to be known as the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, will include the 125 congregations and chaplaincies and more than 36,000 members of the existing Diocese of Chicago in northern Illinois, and the nine congregations and 755 members of the Diocese of Quincy in west central Illinois. If a majority of bishops and standing committees of other Episcopal dioceses consent to the reunion, the two dioceses will hold their first unified convention in November in Lombard, Ill.

The Diocese of Quincy took the first steps toward ensuring its future the Episcopal Church in 2009 when it elected Buchanan, retired bishop of West Missouri, as provisional bishop.

In 2012, the Quincy Future Committee approached Bishop Lee and the Diocese of Chicago about the possibility of reunion. Last November, member of the Diocese of Quincy attended the Diocese of Chicago’s convention to witness the unanimous passage of a resolution that affirmed the Diocese of Chicago’s intent to pursue reunification.

As reunification discussions progressed, members of the Diocese of Quincy began participating in the life of the Diocese of Chicago. Two Quincy congregations are participating in the Diocese of Chicago’s two-year congregational development program called Thrive, and clergy and lay leaders have attended retreats and training events with their Chicago colleagues.

In March, Tom Hunt, a member of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Peoria, was elected to the board of trustees of Episcopal Charities and Community Services in Chicago.

“I love the process of becoming part of the Diocese of Chicago and its ethos of adding to our Episcopal tradition without taking away from it,” said the Rev. Paula Engelhorn, rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Macomb in the Diocese of Quincy and a participant in Thrive. “Quincy has been isolated for thirty years, and now the Spirit is blowing in. Now we get to grow, now we get to be part of the wider church and its movement toward including all people and embracing the Millennium Development Goals. It’s a wonderful move for us.”

“From our conversations with Episcopalians from the Diocese of Quincy, the trustees of the Diocese of Chicago see a group of dedicated, faithful Episcopalians,” said Hal Stewart, second vice-president of the Bishop and Trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and a convention delegate from Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth. “They desire nothing more than to return to the fold and, once again, to be part of a strong Episcopal diocese and the wider Episcopal Church. This reunion is the compassionate thing to do and it is the right thing to do.”

The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago includes more than 36,000 Episcopalians in 125 congregations and chaplaincies across northern Illinois. The Episcopal Bishop of Chicago is the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee. To learn more, visit www.episcopalchicago.org.

The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, established in 1877, is a continuous diocese in union with The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ in 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations of the world. The Provisional Bishop of Quincy is the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan. To learn more, please visit www.thedioceseofquincyonline.com.

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