117th Council of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas to Meet Virtually
The annual Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas will convene as a virtual gathering February 26 - 27, 2021 to ensure the health and safety of all involved, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Clergy, as well as lay delegates (or alternates) will participate in closed, secure sessions hosted on Zoom, while individuals wishing to view the business of Council in its entirety and engage online will be able to access a live broadcast streamed on the diocesan Facebook, Vimeo, and website.
Several online Pre-Council meetings will take place in late January, via Zoom. These meetings will be required for clergy as well as lay delegates and alternates, in order to introduce the virtual check-in procedures for establishing a quorum, to pilot the online voting system, and to present the usual business items including the proposed diocesan budgets, resolutions, and nominations for elected offices of the Diocese.
Due to the nature of the online format, when considering lay delegates and alternates for Council 2021, we recommend that congregations communicate the following:
- Delegates and alternates must have access to a reliable internet connection.
- Delegates and alternates must have access to a personal computer (PC) running Windows 7 or newer, OR a Mac running OS 10.12 Sierra or newer, with audio.
- Delegates and alternates must have a unique, personal email address which they will use for online voting and registration.
If a potential delegate is unable or unwilling to participate in an online gathering, consider inviting an alternative individual to serve.
More detailed information regarding Council 2021 is forthcoming, including registration, agenda, resolutions, voting, and Pre-Council Meeting dates.
As a reminder, the Nominating Committee has requested names of communicants willing to serve in elected offices of the Diocese, to be filled by the 2021 Diocesan Council. Nomination forms are due no later than Friday, November 6th.
Regarding the decision to hold the annual meeting of the diocesan Council online and the 2021 scripture theme, the Rt. Rev. David Reed, shares the following reflection.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This summer, two truths became clear: 1) that we will still be living in the midst of pandemic in February 2021; and 2) asking 600 people to travel from all over the Diocese to spend three days together in an indoor meeting space during a pandemic would be foolish. The diocesan staff can negotiate with vendors and convention centers, but COVID-19 does not compromise.
Aided by the good guidance and teamwork of the Standing Committee, our diocesan chancellor, the Host Committee leaders from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, San Antonio, and the diocesan staff, I reached the decision to change our traditional, three-day in-person Council gathering into a two-day, online meeting of the Council. I am grateful, as always, for the thoughtful advice and assistance of the diocesan leadership in reaching this hard decision. They continue to provide valuable perspective and wise counsel as we work together to reconfigure this event.
Our annual Council is part of the glue that holds us together and shapes our identity as the Diocese of West Texas. It reminds us that we are always part of something bigger than our own worshiping community, a Body even more expansive than the borders of our diocese. Council helps us remember that the life and mission we’ve been baptized into as followers of Christ is so much more than anything we can accomplish on our own.
While we didn't freely choose to host Council in this way, gathering online does give us opportunities to try new things, as well as consider practices we may want to continue even after we are able to be together in person once again. It certainly widens the pool of available people to serve as delegates and alternates on behalf of their congregation, and I hope churches will keep this in mind as they select their delegations.
For most of us, and certainly for our churches, 2020 has been a year of unrelenting challenge and disappointment. And yet, we are still Easter people. Even at the grave we celebrate resurrection and trust that God prevails. With this in mind, I am happy to maintain one of our cherished diocesan traditions – the theme Bible verse. For 2021, I have selected Luke 10:11, “Nevertheless, the Kingdom has come near”. This theme is a reminder to us, the Church, and a message of hope and courage for our communities and for the world. I’m especially drawn to the first word, “Nevertheless.” In spite of all the disruption and uncertainty - even in the midst of it - Jesus tells each of us, “Nevertheless, the Kingdom.”
During the 117th Diocesan Council of West Texas we will do the very best we can to lift up our shared ministry and mission, to complete necessary diocesan business, to be thankful for the blessings we have been given, and to trust God for the good that is yet to come – nevertheless.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
David M. Reed
Bishop of West Texas