Diocesan Convention 2016: Highlights

The 226th Convention of the Diocese of Rhode Island began with Eucharist and a reception on Friday evening, Nov. 4 at St. Luke’s Church, East Greenwich, and continued with business sessions and award presentations on Saturday.

Sermon by the Rt. Rev. Jeffery Williams at Convention Eucharist

“Do we really matter anymore? What do we really do as a church?” The central theme from guest preacher the Rt. Rev. Dr. Jeffery A. Williams was a call to ensure relevance for the church in today’s world. Bishop Williams, pastor of The King’s Cathedral in Olneyville, asked listeners at the Convention Eucharist to think about “How are we benefiting others?” He asked whether in our society today we have forgotten “those people” Jesus urged his followers to love — the homeless, the hungry and others in need.

Bishop Williams cited passages from Ezekiel, Isaiah (“Share your bread with the hungry, take in the homeless”), Jeremiah and Luke (“The spirit of the Lord is upon you.” as examples of God calling us “to be critically engaged in and with the community.” He challenged the congregation to reconsider the church’s relevance and what it means today to respond to God’s call. And he outlined a four-step approach to becoming relevant:

  1. Pray and study.
  2. Listen to others and ask them to help.
  3. Find a need in OUR community — the area immediately around us.
  4. Love those Jesus died for.

Finally he cautioned listeners: “The uniqueness of the church is in Jesus. See the Gospel with a demonstration of the power of God. Our churches need to consider what those in the world would see for the presence of the church to again be relevant.”

Bishop Knisely’s address

“Our mission as a church is to effect reconciliation between God and God’s church,” said Bishop Knisely during his address to the 2016 Diocesan Convention. That address, titled “Reconciliation — An Act in Three Modes,” focused on a challenge to the people of the diocese to actively support three imperatives of reconciliation adopted by the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Those imperatives are:

  1. Reconciliation with God — in the form of evangelism. He encouraged Convention attendees to share the good news with others. “ God wants to have a relationship with people who have been estranged,” he said.
  2. Reconciliation with our neighbors — especially in the area of racial reconciliation. He cited examples of this that included the efforts of the Center for Reconciliation; Episcopalians’ involvement with the Community Police Board; and two prison ministries that are under way in the diocese.
  3. Reconciliation with God’s creation — in the form of environmental stewardship. As a part of this, he and other bishops from New England are undertaking a “River Pilgrimage” next summer, kayaking down the Connecticut River, with periodic stops to proclaim God’s word and “convene the community’s attention” to important issues.He also urged Rhode Island Episcopalians to “be intentional in reconciling the world and spreading the Good News” in living out our Baptismal Covenant.

Bishop Knisely went on to say that he is urging these efforts because he “is worried about tensions in our society — people losing friends, not sleeping and experiencing more anxiety. We have something to share. We can tell our stories and our vision of the kingdom of God.” To be successful, he said, start by listening, to hear the anxiety and concerns, then respond — sometimes just pray — and share, beginning a conversation that can build a relationship. Finally, invite others in: “Something made church important to you at some point in your life — talk about it,” he said.


Award recipients

The Bishop Higgins Award

The 2016 Bishop Higgins Award was presented to William R. McClintick, former director of the Episcopal Charities Fund and a parishioner for more than 50 years at St. Luke’s, East Greenwich. The Higgins Award is presented annually to a special person for “distinguished and meritorious service on behalf of the Episcopal Charities Fund of Rhode Island.”

McClintick was appointed Director of Episcopal Charities in 1970 and led the organization to significant growth, making improvements in its work. Charities became more of a grass roots organization, the Board was strengthened as a decision-making group, and parishes became actively involved in a general, broad-based campaign. In 1972 when Bishop Belden brought a new style of leadership to the diocese, his pastoral outlook further encouraged parish participation. At the 1974 Diocesan Convention, with McClintick’s leadership, a statement of Charities Mission, Goals and Objectives was adopted.

The Bishop’s Anchor of Hope Award

Bishop Knisely presented the 2016 Anchor of Hope award posthumously to Peggy Amatore, who served as director of the Episcopal Charities Fund for many years. Peggy’s brother, Joe, accepted the award on her behalf, which is presented to mark a special ministry to the common life of the churches that make up the diocese. “Thousands of people in Rhode Island are better off today because of Peggy’s work,” Bishop Knisely said.

Amatore joined the diocese in 1981 as assistant in the Episcopal Charities office and subsequently became its executive director. In more than 35 years of representing the Fund, she became the “face” of Charities in the diocese and community. Under Peggy ‘s leadership Episcopal Charities became a powerful force to raise funds and awareness for countless non-profits in the state and to support the outreach ministries of the diocese.

The Center for Reconciliation

Delegates approved a resolution from the Center for Reconciliation (CFR) encouraging parishes and missions of the diocese to engage in racial reconciliation work. The resolution calls on each parish and mission to implement a plan for how the congregation will undertake this work and to designate a contact person to receive and share CFR communication. It further suggests that congregations adopt the Third Sunday of Epiphany or another appropriate time to serve as a liturgical and educational focus for this work. As part of the action on the resolution, the convention affirmed resolutions adopted by the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church and the call of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for the church to “embrace the serious work of racial reconciliation.”

Click here for the complete resolution.

The Task Force on College Chaplaincy

Dr. David Ames presented the work of the College Chaplaincy Task Force, which was appointed by the bishop in March 2016 to collect the wisdom of those within the diocese with experience in campus ministry and suggest possible future directions. They gathered information about the ministries currently occuring in our diocese and also spoke with those doing campus ministry in neighboring dioceses.

The task force also spoke with 15 counselors at the Episcopal Conference Center. They shared their views on what makes religious experiences meaningful to them. Their responses emphasized the presence of joy, the support of community, and the assurance of a faith which proclaims alternatives to futility and despair. They also stressed that congregations need to be flexible in their times and styles of worship, diverse, small enough to promote spiritual intimacy, and committed to outreach. And all agreed that the most important trait they look for in any faith community or activity is authenticity.

2017 Budget

Delegates approved the 2017 budget, including a reduction in the apportionment rate from 17 percent to 16.5 percent. That reduction is the beginning of a multiyear goal to reduce the diocesan apportionment rate to 15 percent by 2020, matching similar reductions by the national church. The national church reduction began occurring this year, which allowed the diocese to return a rebate of $540.56 to each church.

Overall, the 2017 budget anticipates revenues of $4.03 million. Key changes from 2016 include a 3 percent reduction in Congregational Development expenses and a similar increase in Youth & Family expenses. The suspension of the Jonathan Daniels House program created a favorable budget impact of $80,000. The increase in Youth & Family expenses will allow for increased staffing and facility improvements at the Episcopal Conference Center.

Notable achievements for the year include completion of a strategic plan for the camp, which earned accreditation this year from the American Camp Association. Progress continues with our Hispanic Ministry as our model continues to evolve.

Click here for the complete budget.


Delegates elected clergy and lay representatives to a range of diocesan leadership positions, as well as clergy and lay deputies to the 2018 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Additionally, the convention confirmed several appointments of leaders nominated by Bishop Knisely. All elections and appointments are in the list that follows.

Standing Committee
Clergy: The Rev. David Ames, All Saints Memorial, Providence, 4-year term
Lay: Mr. David P. Whitman, St. Martin’s, Providence, 4-year term, and Ms. Anela Brewster, Grace, Providence, 2-year term

Diocesan Council (all 3-year terms)
Clergy: The Rev. Bettine Bessier, St. Thomas, Alton, and The Rev. Edward Dean, St. David’s on-the-Hill
Lay: Mr. Scott Hovanec, Holy Cross, Middletown

Commission on Finance (3-year term)
The Rev. Erik Larsen, St. Columba’s, Middletown

Commission on Congregational Development (3-year terms)
Clergy: The Rev. Linda Griggs, St. Martin’s, Providence
Lay: Ms. Ann Hamm, St. Augustine’s, Kingstown

Commission on Investments (3-year terms)
Clergy; The Rev. John Higginbotham, Holy Trinity, Tiverton
Lay: Ms. Ellen Abell, St. Luke’s, East Greenwich; Mr. Austin Smith

Diocesan Treasurer (1-year term)
Mr. Robert L.G. Batchelor, St. Luke’s, East Greenwich

Secretary of Convention (1-year term)
The Rev. Kevin Lloyd, St. Matthews, Jamestown

General Convention Delegates
The Rev. Tim Rich, St. Luke’s, East Greenwich; the Ven. Jan Grinnell, St. Augustine’s, Kingston; the Rev. Kevin Lloyd, St. Matthew’s, Jamestown; and the Rev. Patrick Greene, Sts. Matthew and Mark, Barrington
Alternates: The Rev. Sunil Chandy, Christ Church, Westerly; the Rev. Nathan Humphrey, St. John the Evangelist, Newport; the Rev. Joan Testin, Emmanuel, Cumberland; and the Rev. Erik Larsen, St. Columba’s, Middletown

The Hon. Scott Avedisian, Trinity, Cranston; Ms. Lora MacFall, St. Andrew’s, Little Compton; Mr. David Seifert, Grace, Providence; and Ms. Jane Jellison, Redeemer, Providence
Alternates: Mr. Delbert C. Glover, Redeemer, Providence; and Mr. Joel Gardner, St. Luke’s, East Greenwich

Disciplinary Board (3-year terms)
Clergy: The Rev. William Locke, Trinity, North Scituate
Lay: Mr. Sidney Clifford, Grace, Providence; and Mr. Grant Hutchins

Congregational Development (3-year terms)
Clergy: The Rev. Craig Swan, St. Peter’s by the Sea, Narragansett
Lay: Mr. Joel Gardner, St. Luke’s, Trinity

Finance (3-year term, consent of Diocesan Council
Clergy: The Rev. Peter Tierney , St. James, Woonsocker

Diocesan Council (3-Year terms)
Clergy: The Rev. Nathan Humphrey – Aquidneck Deanery
Lay: Ms. Aimee Robinson, St. Luke’s, Pawtucket – Blackstone Deanery

Commission on Ministry (2 clergy, 2 lay; 3 yrs)
Clergy: The Ven. Jan Grinnell, St. Augustine’s, Kingston; and The Rev. Timothy Rich, St. Luke’s, East Greenwich