(l-r) Jan Charney, Anne Davenport and Joan Flint with a banner made by Flint to illustrate the convention theme, “Salt and Light” (photo credit: Charles Cesaretti)

At the 145th convention of the Diocese of Bethlehem, held in Reading on October 7 and 8, delegates approved a new version of the diocese’s canons, approved the first reading of a new version of the diocese’s constitution, and elected leaders to the Standing Committee, Commission on Ministry and Diocesan Council.

The convention also approved the 2017 budget of the diocese, elected lay and clergy deputies to the 2018 General Convention of the Episcopal Church and passed resolutions on clergy salaries, youth representation, and other matters.

“It’s important for us to streamline our governance so that we can spend more of our time digging deep into the mission that God has called us to in this place,” said Bishop Sean Rowe, who developed the revision to the canons and constitution with a committee of diocesan leaders. “I believe that these changes will provide a foundation for us to build on and free up our energy to do new and different things.”

The canonical changes are effective now; the change to the diocesan constitution requires a vote of two conventions and will be submitted to convention in 2017 for final approval.

The diocese’s 2017 budget is $1,298,685, which represents less than a one percent reduction from the 2016 budget. It includes $70,000 for congregational renewal grants, an increase of $10,000 over 2016, and $178,870 to pay the diocese’s assessment for the Episcopal Church’s budget.

Convention also voted to recommend that congregations provide a two percent cost-of-living increase for clergy and to commend The Widows Corporation, which supports the widows of clergy in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey and is celebrating its 250th anniversary.

The youth council of the diocese was given seat and voice at this convention and a resolution requesting that future conventions also grant this role passed unanimously. Rowe also urged to elect youth and young adults as voting delegates to convention.  These new practices are designed to involve a greater number of young people in convention than in past years, when four youth members were elected from across the diocese.

The convention also passed a resolution of thanks for the pilgrimage that began at the 2015 convention and committed to “integrate into our decision making, mission strategy, and leadership discernment” the values and practices that the pilgrimage leadership team identified during the year-long process.

The 146th convention of the diocese will take place in Carbondale, September 29-30, 2017.