2023 Convention Round-Up

The diocesan convention passed a $4.8 million operating budget that reflects a strong commitment to camp ministry and includes a 15 percent assessment of congregational operating income at its annual meeting on October 28, over Zoom.

In presenting the budget, Jim Segovis, chair of the finance committee, said that diocesan funds and congregational contributions made it possible for the diocese to support “life-saving, life-changing diocesan ministries, including a vibrant camp and conference center; college and young adult ministry; Hispanic ministry; responses to climate change; and ministry to unhoused people.”

The budget also includes funds to compensate the diocesan staff, furnish grants and loans to congregations, maintain diocesan property, and support “the churchwide and global ministries of the wider Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion,” he said. (Read a budget narrative.)

In his annual address, Bishop Nicholas Knisely urged the convention to consider the word “parish” in the context of the Episcopal Church’s Anglican heritage.

Churches founded by the Church of England “understand their congregation as the people who worship in the building and the parish as the people who live near the building,” he said. “The people who worship are gathered and sent to care for their neighbors, who are part of their parish whether they worship with them or not.

“We serve the community in which we are planted,” he said. “We serve the people who worship in the building, but not because they’re our loyal customers, though we fall into the trap often enough. We serve the people who worship in the building so that they are equipped and consecrated by virtue of their baptism to serve the parish in which we live.”

The budget is informed by an Anglican understanding of what it means to be a parish, Bishop Knisely said, using the $141,000 contribution from the operating budget to Episcopal Camp and Conference Center as an example.

“[T]he ECC subsidy is the largest part of our common work funded by parish assessments,” Bishop Knisely said. “That speaks to our commitment to this work and reflects its impact on the people who attend.”

Sixty percent of those who attend ECC camps are not Episcopalians, he said. “They are the people in our neighborhoods, not the people in our buildings.”

ECC’s camping programs survived difficult years at the depths of the pandemic, Bishop Knisely said, but they rebounded this summer. “This … tells me that ECC is a sustainable, life-changing program and ministry which we have made significant investments in over the past decade, and which I believe will continue to have an impact across the state and around the wider church.”

The diocesan budget also devotes $56,700 to campus ministry.

“I’m grateful that together we’re able to continue to engage young adults on a number of our college and university campuses in Rhode Island—not just in having identified chaplains on campus, but by having entire congregations recognize that it’s an important part of their local ministry,” Bishop Knisely said. “I’m hoping that in coming years we’ll be able to do more and coordinate the various programs more effectively.”

The bishop said he is also eager to find ways to relieve parishes and parish clergy of administrative burdens, perhaps through assistance with bookkeeping, payroll services and assistance in fulfilling legal and canonical responsibilities.

“I want to try to find ways to put you back in the mission field that we ordained you to serve, that we trained you to serve, and that you want to serve,” he told clergy.

“I want you to cultivate that community so that community can cooperate to solve the larger problems we are facing. And if you convert a few people, that would not be such a terrible thing.”

In other business, the diocese elected members to a variety of offices and confirmed appointments made by the bishop.

Delegates also approved the first reading of a constitutional amendment that would give the opportunity to speak, but not vote, at convention to officers of the diocese, members of diocesan commissions and other individuals selected by the bishop and approved by the convention.

A resolution that would have modified the nominating process for diocesan elections—in part by eliminating the requirement that nominees receive the endorsement of three members of the convention—was narrowly defeated.

The Rev. Dr. Andrew McGowan, dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, preached at the convention Eucharist on the evening October 27 at St. Luke’s Church, East Greenwich. Earlier in the day he gave a presentation on “True Bread: The meals of Jesus and the life of the Church” at St. Luke’s.

Anchor of Hope 2022

The Anchor of Hope award is presented to a person who exemplifies walking with Jesus. This person brings the word and the light of Jesus, to family, friends, church communities and the people he serves.  

At the Eucharist of Diocesan Convention, Bishop Knisely presented this award tonight to Mr. Orville Forbes. 

His priest, the Reverend Eddy Lopez has this to say about Orville’s ministry at Church of the Transfiguration: 

“Humble, faithful, thoughtful, ready to serve describe Orville Forbes.  At the center of Orville’s life is the love of his faith.  When asked to be junior warden of Transfiguration, his response was, “I’ll pray about it.” And pray he did. About two months later he finally agreed to accept the position.    

Orville is a valued member of his faith community.  He was a vestryperson, junior warden, senior warden and currently serves as an usher, crucifer, altar server and is the Director of Buildings and Grounds.  Fortunately for Transfiguration he lives two streets away, and on his way to work drives by the church early in the morning and on his way home in the evening just to be sure nothing is amiss.  Countless times he has been called upon to deal with a problem, some minor and some major and he always manages to be at the church when needed.    

There is no one who would not extend a helping hand if Orville asked for assistance.  The way Orville lives his life, with God centering every decision, makes him a true follower of our Lord.”     

Orville’s partner in Ministry for Church Beyond the Walls, The Rev. Linda Forsberg has this to add:  

“At the recent meeting of the Bishop’s Committee for the Church Beyond the Walls, we talked about Orville’s faithful commitment  and strong, steadfast leadership in our CBW community.  As CBW celebrates our tenth anniversary this year, we realize that Orville has been part of our ministry from the beginning. Orville is a man of deep faith, and that faith in Jesus Christ is the bedrock of his life. From that strong and solid foundation, Orville is a solid rock for others, a source of strength for those of us who are blessed to know him. 

When Governor Raimondo shut down all gatherings at the beginning of Covid, a small crew of us still went out to Burnside Park, to let our community members know they were not forgotten.  This was pre-vaccine,  when the fear of the unknown was gripping.  Afraid as we were of this illness, we still went out, week after week, with our Red Flyer Wagon stuffed full of care packages, and our hearts filled with prayers and assurances for our community members.  Orville was one of these faithful few who went out with us during these frightening days, week after week.     

Orville is a man of deep prayer, who is steeped in scripture.  Many times, in our CBW group texts Orville will share a word of encouragement from a Bible passage, or the fruit of his own daily prayers.  Whenever we need to have what we at CBW call “crucial conversations,” meaning difficult but necessary conversations, Orville sacrifices his precious time to share his deep spiritual wisdom.  At these critical times, and at all times, Orville truly follows the Way of Jesus and his sacrificial Love.”

Thank you, Orville for being a witness to the world of what the love of God can do. Thank you for being Jesus’s hands and heart to the communities you serve. 

Convention Address 2022

At our Diocesan Convention on November 5, the Bishop spoke about the need to identify and uplift younger leadership. Watch his address here.


Holy Eucharist of Convention

The Holy Eucharist of Convention was held on Friday, November 4 at 7 pm, at St Luke’s Church in East Greenwich. The recording is available on St Luke’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtDnb96T3fA.

TENS -The Episcopal Network for Stewardship

When Jesus tells the parable of the unproductive fig tree, it is told as a conversation between a man, perhaps the landowner, and the gardener, the one who tends the land. The man observes that the fig tree has not born fruit for the last three years, and, worrying about the nutrients, land, and time the tree is consuming, he orders it to be cut down and destroyed.

The gardener, however, has a different relationship with the tree, even though it is slow to fruit, he sees potential, or at least hopes that next year it will bear fruit. He makes his best case, asking for one more year to nurture it, he buys some time for the tree to make sweet figs.

Sometimes we are like this tree, we need a little time, a little intention, a little intervention to produce at our highest level. Other times, we are like the tree planted by a stream in Jeremiah’s prophecy, that will not wither even in years of drought. We show our tenacity, resilience by staying where we are rooted year after year, no matter the conditions.

Being rooted in abundance is about being certain, steadfast in our knowledge that we have enough to share with a world in need. It is about doing the hard work of knowing ourselves so that we can know how to help others. It is about putting all of our resources together to support the mission of the church – our wealth, works, and our wisdom. However, you encounter the needs of the world this year, know that you are supported by your community, resilient in your creative problem-solving, and rooted in abundance.

All Good Gifts,

Cn. J. Davey Gerhard III

Executive Director

The theme for our 2023 Stewardship Campaign Resources is Rooted in Abundance. Your new password to access the resources for 2023 is Jeremiah17:8

Click here to access the Episcopal Stewardship Campaign Resources

Please note, the password is case sensitive and there are no spaces.

TENS relies on you, our diocesan contacts, to distribute the password and links to our resources to all of your congregations so that they may take the best advantage of all we have.

You may download all the seasonal reflections and the campaign timeline in English and in Spanish on our website.




Mustard Seed and Vinyard Grants

The following projects have all been aided by grants from the Congregational Development Commission.

Food Pantry Outreach Project at St. Peter’s & St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Contact: The Rev. Maryalice Sullivan, Vicar (revmas90@gmail.com)
CDC Grant award: $8,300

Goal: To make more use of church basement as the church expands its outreach offerings

As St. Peter’s & St. Andrew’s seeks to use their parish house as a Center of Hope, they continue to look forward to future community needs. Currently, they have the Food Pantry which serves about 60 families/week. They also served as a COVID testing and vaccination site and have a pop-up thrift store. Other outreach needs being addressed include:

  • a job fair for the community
  • working with Brown University through the Free program to provide much needed feminine products for women and school aged girls
  • ESL and citizenship classes – the two largest requests from the community

The mold has been remediated from our basement and it does smell oh so much better. The grant we received from the Diocese covered all but four hundred dollars of the total cost. The next step is to get the gutters fixed to redirect the water away from the building.  We will also have to have the parts of the basement wall repair where the water has been leaking in, probably for years, and we need a sump pump to make sure this does not happen in the future.  When this work is done we can begin to think about what we want our basement to look like and how do we accomplish that. They were able to save the sub floor which should save some money as we move forward. 

Festival of the Resurrection: Hope, Healing & Hallelujah. St. Paul’s Pawtucket.

Contact: Rev. Jo-ann Drake or Ted Platt, office@stpaulspawtucket.org, 401-728-4300

Goals: “The season of Easter, which lasts 50 days, is the time the Church gives continuous thanks for God’s unfailing love and mercy,” said The Rev. Greta Getlein, Vicar of St. Paul’s. “As part of our celebrations:

  • we must consider how we share the gifts given us;
  • how we engage with our communities;
  • and how we participate in the important conversations of our day.

This festival is an opportunity for St. Paul’s to do all of the above in partnership with this city.”

The 2018 Festival of the Resurrection took place from Sunday, April 22, through Sunday, April 29, as an opportunity for Rhode Islanders to continue joyously celebrating Easter long after the traditional festive worship services on Easter Day. Each day of the festival featured a special event, starting with “Bach, Buxtehude and Beyond,” an organ recital at 3 p.m. on April 22. Events include and evening of dance and music with “Dynamite Rhythm”, a presentation by Creative Outreach About Addiction Support Together, a conversation “Art of Befriending Seniors”, a Tai Chi workshop on spiritual fitness followed by a Mass for Healing, and a solo dramatic performance of the Gospel of Mark. The festival concluded with “For God Has Done Marvelous Things,” an artistic tapestry of poetry, dance, readings, prayer, choir and organ around the great hymns of Easter.

Impact: From Rev Greta Getlein (July 2021): “I would say it was a short-term success in that it got lots of members of the parish involved welcoming strangers in.”

Icons and Song – Windows into Russian Culture and Prayer. All Saints’ Memorial Church, Providence

Contact: Rev. Julie Hanavan revjulhan@gmail.com

Amount funded by CDC: $1,300
Amount funded by All Saints’: $1,775

Goals: Expand upon an annual concert hosted by All Saints (sacred Russian Orthodox music) to include an exhibition of Russian Icons from the Museum of Russian Icons traveling collections.
Invite the public to spend an afternoon at All Saints’ to experience beautiful sacred music from Russia, meet a Russian a capella group, view Russian Orthodox and Ethiopian Christian icons dating to 1580, and learn about the creation, meaning, and roles of icons in personal/family prayer and liturgy.
Further the vision statement of All Saints’ as “a visible and known beacon that engages people in their spiritual journeys and nurtures their mind and souls.”

Description: More than 100 persons attended the event on September 14, 2019, many of whom had never been inside All Saints’. Ms. Garrity-Arquitt, from the Museum, was present throughout the exhibition period to answer individual questions; she also answered many thoughtful questions from the audience at the conclusion of her presentation. Her presentation was complemented by sacred Russian Orthodox music presented by LYRA, with accompanying commentary by its leader, Mr. Sergey Tupitsyn. The group, composed of four professional musicians from St. Petersburg, also sang entertaining Russian folk songs. Attendees enjoyed a delicious reception of savories and desserts prepared by the All Saints’ Arts Ministry.

The Icons and Song program was a unique combination of sacred art and music, and culture that appealed to a wide range of visitors. Many attendees had never been to All Saints’ before and commented on the beauty of the sacred space as well as the music and icons. The program did indeed engage spiritual journeys, and nurtured mind and soul.

Open Hands, Open Hearts. Trinity Church, Scituate

Contact: Jill Shurtleff, jshurtl@gmail.com
(currently not occurring due to COVID, but will resume when it is safe to do so.)

Goal(s): To develop an inviting, inclusive worship service for families with special abilities children, to share this ministry with other churches interested in starting a similar service, and assist those congregations in setting up similar services.

Open Hands, Open Hearts is a worship service for families with special needs in a judgment-free gathering place. The service includes music and movement, prayers, a lesson, and an opportunity for Eucharist and/or a blessing. Our Open Hands, Open Hearts worship space contains a quiet area for those who need a safe zone or a break.  It also features comfortable alternative seating, including “wiggle seats,” bean bag chairs, and floor mats.

Pilgrim Course Bible Study Project. Church of the Epiphany, Rumford, RI

Contact: The Rev. Jennifer Zogg, Rector (revjen@epiphanyep.org)

CDC Grant award: $2,000

Goal of Project: To deepen our spiritual formation as a congregation by engaging in an all-parish study on basic Christianity and discipleship called the Pilgrim course from Church Publishing, and to strengthen our spiritual foundation in order to engage better in outreach, stewardship, etc., and build new leaders in the parish for future ministries.

The congregation was gathered in one united study (Sunday mornings at 9:15am in small and large group formats) for inter-generational learning (youth ages 9-13+ were included) Next, we would like to provide a course for new members, those desiring adult baptism/confirmation/reception, and those who have been long-time members to deepen and renew their faith

The Blackstone Valley Deanery- Quiet Day. Christ Church, Lincoln R.I.

Contact: The Reverend Beth Sherman, vicarbethstaugustines@gmail.com

Amount funded by CDC: $1000

The Quiet day in Advent provided 15 or so people (both lay and clergy) with a reflective and meditative experience during one of the most chaotic and busiest seasons of the church year, Advent. Participants found the quiet day healing and energizing, allowing them to slow down and “be present.” The day began at 8:30 am and end at about 2 pm. During the “Quiet day,” there was a good deal of scheduled and unscheduled time. The scheduled time began with three (3) periods of reflection led by the Reverend Beth Sherman. After the planned “reflection time, participants were allowed to journal during an unscheduled time. A good indication of success is the desire and hope held by participants that future “quiet days” would be supported by the diocese as a whole.

Lay Worship Leaders

Diocesan Guidelines for Licensed Worship Leaders

According to Title III, Canon 4 of The Constitution and Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, 2018 Of Licensed Ministries:

Sec. 1
A confirmed communicant in good standing or, in extraordinary circumstances, subject to guidelines established by the Bishop, a communicant in good standing, may be licensed by the Ecclesiastical Authority to serve as Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor, Evangelist, or Catechist.

Sec. 2
The Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith may request the Ecclesiastical Authority with jurisdiction to license persons within that congregation or other community of faith to exercise such ministries. The license shall be issued for a period of time to be determined under Canon III.4.1(a) and may be renewed.

Sec. 4
A Worship Leader is a lay person who regularly leads public worship under the direction of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other faith community.

Steps for Licensing:

  1. Letter of recommendation by Rector/PIC/Vicar
  2. Application – Licensed Lay Ministries
  3. Bexley Seabury Seminary Worship Leader Training Registration
  4. Safe Church Training Modules for Worship Leader
  5. Background Check – Active Screening Faith

Once these steps are completed, please submit application with supporting materials to maryann@episcopalri.org

The diocese will reimburse $150.00 half of the cost of the $300.00 Bexley Seabury Worship Leader class-please submit receipt to maryann@episcopalri.org 

Licensed Worship Leaders are not paid, and the Bishop prefers that they serve as Worship Leaders only in their own congregation.

The Bishop will license a lay person at the request of the priest in charge. In order to be considered for licensing, a lay person must be a confirmed communicant in good standing. The license is issued for three years and may require additional training before renewal. Lay worship leader applicants are asked to complete the training offered by Bexley-Seabury Seminary, the details of which will be found here. The Diocese will contribute to the required tuition, with the remainder to be split between the parish and applicant.

A licensed Worship Leader may read a sermon from Sermons that Work, the approved resource for The Episcopal Church, https://www.episcopalchurch.org/sermons-that-work/,  a sermon from a resource that has been approved by their priest, or occasionally offer a personal reflection approved by their priest.  Only a licensed Preacher may compose their own sermon and preach regularly in public worship, and the process to prepare for that ministry may be found here https://www.episcopalri.org/lay-preacher/