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[The Episcopal News] Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor, at the Dec. 9 regular meeting of diocesan council, commended the prayer, service and evangelism rule of life of the Order of the Daughters of the King as “an old-line traditional ministry with special currency in the 21st century” pandemic-related reality.

“Here we have a group that seems designed to help address the threats of isolation and loneliness and just being cut off from peer groups that provide nurturing and love,” Taylor said. “If we didn’t have the DOK it would be time to invent it.”

Diocesan DOK President Kimberly Cortner reported to council that the order of Christian lay and ordained women and girls was founded in The Episcopal Church in New York and in Los Angeles in the late 1880s. Members of all ages make lifetime vows to live a life of daily prayer and service, according to the group’s website.

Chapters are typically organized on a congregational level; about 20 Southland chapters are active, she said. A couple dozen new members were admitted in the past five years.

Cortner reported goals to revitalize inactive chapters; appoint deanery representatives; attract new members; and possibly create a bishop’s chapter, a suggestion Taylor enthusiastically welcomed. The bishop’s chapter would gather members whose original chapter disbanded or who are attending a different church than the one hosting the chapter they were admitted to, she said.

“I am at your service.” Taylor said. “Technology is giving us a chance to call communities together across geographic and other kinds of separation. I’d love to be part of it and to be your servant in this regard. Let me know how I can help.”

Finances

In other council business, diocesan treasurer Canon Andy Tomat reported that, at $304,520, mission share fund income for October was a little less than the typical $350,000 received in prior months, but the diocese remains on track to exceed its $4 million MSF budget for 2021 and he expects it to end up between $4.1 and $4.3 million “as people catch up on year-end pledges by the end of December. We appreciate everyone’s increased support to the diocese”

Offsetting the above budget performance of mission share income, Tomat attributed a $250,143 year-to-date shortfall from other income sources to the pandemic-related cancellation of income-generating events such as the annual clergy conference, the forced closure of the retreat center at St. Paul’s Commons, and some hoped-for fundraisers and grants that failed to materialize, he said. Based on this experience, the balanced budget for 2022 only included other income and grant income from identified sources

But, he said, “through October we’re still running a very strong net surplus” of about $108,000, largely driven by pandemic-related program deferrals and because of delays in filling vacant diocesan staff positions.

Tomat also reported that 68 of 92 parishes completed and returned mission share fund pledges, with many giving at the required 12% canonical level. Both the total amount and the percentage of giving increased in 2021, up from an average 9.2% to 9.4% of parishes’ overall budget from two years prior. “As people put together their budgets for next year, hopefully we will see the continued increase to diocesan support we’ve seen every year since 2018,” he added.

Taylor praised the finance department and Joint Budget Committee’s efforts to produce and present a mission share fund budget “balanced across all funds and institutions and departments for 2022” for convention approval. “It was an extraordinary moment at convention.”

Delegates attending the 126th annual – and first-ever hybrid – “Truth and Love” themed Nov. 13 gathering of diocesan convention, overwhelmingly approved the historic $4.25 million balanced mission share fund budget.

Other council business; committee reports

Standing Committee
In other business, the Very Rev. Canon Gary Hall, Bloy House interim dean and liaison to council, submitted a written report indicating that the Standing Committee had:

  • approved a license agreement between St. Anselm of Canterbury, Garden Grove, and the Korean Community Services;
  • consented to the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Dan Richards as bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina; and
  • approved for Jan. 8, 2022, ordination to the priesthood transitional deacons Julie Anne Lovelock Beals, José Luis García-Juárez, Katherine Y. Feng, Guy Anthony Leemhuis and Joshua Nathanael Francoeur Paget.

Episcopal Church Women
Christine Budzowski, president of the diocesan Episcopal Church Women, described the efforts of members of the Province VIII ECW to adapt a leadership training series for online use. The group is submitting one of the workshops for consideration for possible use at the March 2022 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, she added.

Los Angeles General Convention deputation
Thomas Diaz, liaison to council for the Los Angeles deputation to the upcoming 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, planned for July 5-14, 2022, in Baltimore, Maryland, reported that a new caucus has been formed and met Nov. 20 to support and advance the participation of LGBTQ delegates and alternates.

Diocesan Convention
Secretary of Convention Canon Steve Nishibayashi, said there are 338 days until the 127th annual meeting of the diocese, planned for Nov. 11-12, 2022, at the Riverside Convention Center. “It is yet to be determined whether that will be a one-day, two-day, all in-person or hybrid” gathering, Nishibayashi said. “All those things depend upon our collective input and wisdom as we evaluate the feedback from people’s experience” of the 2021 gathering.

Post-convention surveys may be filled out by visiting the diocesan convention website here.

Generally, convention attendees seemed happy to gather both in-person and online, Nishibayashi reported. The computerized electronic voting continues to streamline the elections process and allow increased efficiency in conducting business, he added. “Stay tuned and please submit your input so that we can make an informed decision” about the 127th gathering, he added.

Taylor thanked Nishibayashi, Judge of Elections Patti Jo McKay and convention coordinator Samantha Wylie for the “seamless” yet complicated logistical preparation undertaken to make the first-ever hybrid gathering successful. “The room felt full, even though it was really only about half-full, which was miraculous in and of itself,” he said.

Bishop’s report to council

Taylor highlighted ecumenical aspects of his ministry, noting that he represented the diocese at a Dec. 7 solemn ecumenical evening prayer service at St. Leon’s Cathedral, joining Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.

“I had the privilege of offering a prayer for world peace, which was a tender thing to do as (Russian) troops mass on the Ukrainian border. So many Armenian Americans who were present … are still tender from the 44-day war last year between Azerbaijani forces and Armenians,” which killed 6,500 people and which Azerbaijan won. “The ceasefire is very fragile, but still holds,” he said.

Taylor also represented Southland Episcopalians at the rededication of The Wall/Las Memorias monument in East L.A.’s Lincoln Park, offering the opening invocation in both English and Spanish. The Wall/Las Memorias was the nation’s first publicly funded HIV-AIDS memorial and was recently refurbished after receiving $850,000 in county and city funding.

“Everybody was there (at the anniversary celebration) … but everybody wasn’t there in 1994,” when Richard Zaldivar, the founding executive of the monument as well as health and wellness services for Latino, LGBT and other underserved populations, first proposed the tribute, Taylor said.

“There was still such misunderstanding and prejudice and in the early 80s, when the epidemic began, there was also an epidemic of prejudice and misunderstanding, and in some cases, sheer hatred.”

He added: “It is good to remember how faith institutions and politicians underperformed as lives were at risk and forfeited 40 years ago. I hope we learned something from that, about how we replied to, responded to the current pandemic. Yet, we still see the way prejudice and privilege affect people’s access to health care in the United States and around the world. We have so much to learn.”

Taylor also noted that the diocese is marking its 40th year of ministry to those with HIV/AIDS and commended a Dec. 8 Episcopal News article in which Canon for Common Life Bob Williams outlines those efforts, .

On a whimsical note, Taylor also noted a proclamation he issued granting St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, permission “to function throughout the Diocese of Los Angeles in this month and particularly on the day of his feast (May 6, 2021). “So, if you see St. Nick around the diocese in the next few months, it is absolutely totally legal.”

He noted the absences of former Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane M. Jardine Bruce and Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy. Bruce, who assumed responsibilities Dec. 1, 2021, as the provisional bishop of the Diocese of Western Missouri, typically popularized an iconic “joke of the day” at each council meeting.

“There will be no joke of the day,” Taylor said. “How can you fill Bishop Bruce’s shoes?” McCarthy’s many responsibilities kept her from attending the meeting, he added.

Taylor asked council member Ken Higginbotham, a parishioner at St. Stephen’s, Santa Clarita, and a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster responder, if this year’s “quieter than expected” fire season might mean be a positive sign for the Southland’s future.

But Higginbotham said no. The continuing drought and lack of rain, particularly in western states like California, Washington, Nevada, and Arizona “is going to raise havoc after the first of the year, and we’re preparing for that,” he said.

“We are asking that everybody faithfully continue your prayers and be very vigilant in water conservation,” even to the point of reporting those who violate water restrictions, he said.

Council will meets again at 4 p.m. Thursday, January 13, probably via Zoom “owing to the uncertainty about Omicron but perhaps in a hybrid or in-person form. So you might try to keep the afternoon free if you can on your busy schedules,” Taylor said.