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Preview of the 142nd Annual Diocesan Convention

"Who is my neighbor?" 142nd Annual Convention
Nina Nicholson, Director of Communications & Technology

Nearly 500 clergy and lay leaders from congregations throughout the diocese will address the question Who is my neighbor? at the 142nd Annual Diocesan Convention. Held once again at the Hilton Hotel in Parsippany, the two-day Convention will begin at 9 AM Friday, January 29 with registration, and is scheduled to adjourn at 3:30 PM Saturday, January 30 (see the full proposed agenda).

Even if you’re not attending Convention in person, you can still follow it online. Videos, photos, and updates will be posted throughout the convention on the diocesan website, Facebook page ( and Twitter feed ( Our official hashtag for social media is #dionewark142.

Speakers & Workshops

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, ninth Bishop of Maine, will be guest preacher at the opening Eucharist, which begins at 12:30 PM on Friday.

Bishop Stephen T. Lane of Maine
Bishop Lane

Bishop Mark Beckwith describes Bishop Lane as a good friend and notes that the Diocese of Maine, like the Diocese of Newark, is working with Alan Roxbourgh and The Missional Network. Roxbourgh was last year's Convention speaker. The dioceses of Maine and Newark are two of half a dozen dioceses formally pursuing a missional strategy, and Bishop Beckwith said Maine is "engaged with this missional activity in the same degree that we are." The missional movement is rooted in the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus appointed 70 people to go ahead of him in pairs, carrying no purse or sandals, to cure the sick and share peace. At General Convention 2015, the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church challenged the church to "follow Jesus together, into the neighborhood, and travel lightly."

Bishop Lane will also give a workshop, Changing Church Culture: Experiments in Getting Out, at 5:30 PM Friday and 12:30 PM Saturday.

Bishop Beckwith will give his "State of the Diocese" address at the Morning Prayer service which begins at 8:30 AM Saturday.

Later on Saturday morning, Bishop Beckwith will join with the Rev. Ginny Dinsmore and Suzanne Willian to give an update on our diocese's missional strategy, reporting on the innovative initiatives our diocese is engaged in currently and will be rolling out over the course of the year. These initiatives help us to cultivate a different imagination and reshape the lens through which we view ministry, anchored by our Episcopal roots. Dinsmore will provide insights on the learnings from Going Local, and Willian will talk about our diocese’s Action Learning Team pilot initiative.

Bishop Beckwith speaking at Convention in 2015. NINA NICHOLSON PHOTO

Other speakers and workshop leaders include:

  • Abagail Nelson, Senior VP of Episcopal Relief & Development, will be the speaker at the Women's Commission Breakfast at 7 AM on Saturday.
  • Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God's Call, will give a workshop, Heeding God's Call Against Gun Violence, at 4:10 PM Friday and 12:30 PM Saturday.
  • Allison Duvall,  Program Manager for Church Relations at Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), will give a workshop, Refugees Welcome: The Episcopal Church and Refugee Resettlement, at 4:10 PM Friday.
  • The Rev. Sara Lilja, Director of Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey, will give a workshop, Strive for Justice and Peace in all the Earth, at 4:10 PM Friday.
  • The Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, will give a workshop, Introducing GreenFaith Circles – Local Hubs for a Global Movement, at 5:30 PM Friday.
  • The Rev. Liz Edman, author of Queer Virtue (expected publishing date of May 2016), will give a workshop, Queer Light & the Light it Sheds on the Christian Path, at 12:30 PM Saturday.

And there are many more. For more information, see the list of workshops and hearings, which includes a map of all the meeting rooms.

Mission Minutes

This year there will be five Mission Minute videos shown during the business sessions on both days, which begin at 2 PM Friday and 10 AM Saturday. Focused on the Convention theme of Who is my neighbor?, this year's Mission Minutes will:

  • take a look at some of the Hispanic/Latino Ministries around our diocese;
  • show highlights from several "Memorials to the Lost" held for the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath in December;
  • hear from  participants in last fall's Anti-Racism Dialogues reflecting on the meaning of being neighbors;
  • describe how relationships developed among three sets of neighbors in both rural and urban neighborhoods.
  • take a look at a new venture between suburban and urban congregations centered in Newark;

More information on the Mission Minutes can be found on the final page of the list of workshops and hearings.

2016 Budget

Diocesan CFO Paul Shackford will present a 15-minute Executive Summary of a balanced proposed 2016 diocesan budget during the Friday afternoon business session at 3 PM. Following the close of the business session, Shackford will give a more detailed 45-minute presentation starting at 4:10 PM. The Budget Forum and Hearing following at 5 PM will give deputies an opportunity to ask questions of the Finance Committee before the budget is put to a vote during the Saturday afternoon business session. Deputies also can watch Shackford's presentation from the pre-Convention meeting, divided into four segments, and refer to the 2016 Budget Additional Information Booklet which contains information updated since the January 9 Pre-Convention Meeting.

Highlights of Shackford’s report include:

  • 2015 ended with a slight excess of income over expenses, and the diocese has adequate cash on hand.
  • Domestic and international outreach is budgeted to increase 3.5%, to $177,000. Approximately 68% of that will be provided by contributions to the Alleluia Fund for Outreach, with the balance coming from congregational pledges to the diocese and other sources.
  • Our pledge payment to The Episcopal Church (TEC) will be $435,823, which once again equals 100% of the TEC assessment. In a 2015 agreement with TEC, the diocese made a one-time payment of $100,000 to TEC to retire our $433,000 obligation from a 2008 pledge shortfall.

Eucharist at Convention 2015

Worship at Convention

Bulletins for the 12:30 PM Friday opening Eucharist and the 8:30 AM Saturday Morning Prayer are available online.

As in past years, anyone is welcome to join the "pick-up" choir that will sing at the opening Eucharist under the direction of Mark Trautman, Director of Music at St. Paul's, Englewood. A rehearsal will be held at 11 AM in the ballroom.

‚ÄčThe offering from the opening Eucharist has been designated by Diocesan Council to be divided equally between Newark ACTS and the 75th Anniversary of Episcopal Relief and Development.

Pre-Convention offerings

It's not too late to get a preview of the Convention! Instead of holding three pre-Convention meetings as in years past, this year there was a single "in-person" pre-Convention meeting held on Saturday, January 9 at Grace Church in Madison. The presentations given there were video recorded and posted online, with downloadable copies of any related materials, for the convenience of anyone who could not attend the meeting:

Chuck Hatfield on keyboards with Walkin' the Boulevard
Chuck Hatfield


Deputies will vote in elections to fill a variety of diocesan positions, as well as vote on four proposed resolutions.

Exhibitors will include 19 ministries and nine commercial vendors. At the exhibit table for North Porch Women’s and Infants' Centers you can drop off donations of their most needed items: size 6 diapers, pull-ups and baby wipes.

Starting at 9 PM Friday, dance and enjoy classic rock songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s with Walkin' the Boulevard, the Mountain Lakes, NJ cover band that was a huge hit at October's Clergy Conference. Band members include the Rev. Chuck Hatfield of St. Peter's, Mountain Lakes on keyboard and vocals.

On Saturday afternoon, the neighboring Warren County congregations of St. Luke's, Hope and St. Mary's, Belvidere will share and celebrate with Convention their journey of becoming one community in two locations.

As always at Convention, we'll come together as a diocesan family to worship and pray, witness and participate, debate, vote and celebrate. We can’t wait for you to join us!