Courage and Collaboration in Christian Community: Diocesan Convention 2017

We have a lot of exciting things going on in our diocese right now and, to reflect that, this year’s convention will not be business as usual!

As part of our ongoing conversation about collaboration and innovation in the church, we will be welcoming the Rt. Rev. William Franklin and a large contingent from the Diocese of Western New York.  Just two weeks prior to our convention, we will have sent a contingent to their convention (and there’s still time to sign up to join us!  Visit our website to do so).  They will join us for our entire convention and we will have ample time to get to know one another.

Those that have attended convention in the past may notice that we will have a different emphasis for the content of our convention.  This convention will be very mission-focused and the schedule will reflect that. We will have a more condensed time for business than we usually do so that we have the time we need for learning and conversation.

To help us continue our work on innovation and collaboration, we have invited the Rev. Canon Scott Slater to be with us.  Scott has been an Episcopal priest since 1993 and has served in the Diocese of Maryland since 2001. Following nine years as rector of Church of the Good Shepherd in Baltimore, he began serving on the bishops’ staff as the Canon to the Ordinary in July of 2010. In 2015, he became a Certified Daring WayTM Facilitator based on the work of Brene Brown, Ph.D.  He will be leading us through a program relating to issues regarding shared ministry, both on the diocesan and congregational levels, using the work of Brené Brown.  Please see below for links to videos from Brené, as well as to some of her books.  If you are able, we would encourage you to take the time to look at some of her work prior to convention.

We urge our clergy and delegates to come ready to engage in these conversations. Please do not use the condensed business time as an excuse to not attend the entire convention.  The work that we will be doing at the convention, though not the conventional business, will be setting the table for the future of our diocese. We would also encourage those laypeople who are not delegates but who are interested in being a part of this conversation, to please join us as well.  We will have plenty of space for those who would like to join us and we would love to have you there.

Videos from Brené:
The Power of Vulnerability
Brené on Blame
Brené on Empathy

Building Relationships

Collaboration and interdependence are keys to the deepening of our Christian life together. We’ve given considerable attention over the course of the last decade to the idea that, as a diocese, we really are One Church.  Yes, we all find ourselves in different contexts, are various sizes, and have different charisms of the Spirit, and still we are united in mission and witness that make us one—all in it together as the Body of Christ.  Our challenge to bring the Good News to the world is more apparent than ever and our ability to rise to that challenge is directly related to our willingness to collaborate with strategic partners and rely more heavily on each other.

This fall we take our collaboration with the Diocese of Western New York to a new depth by sharing our Conventions with each other—we’ll take a large group to their Convention, and they’ll bring a large group to ours.  We’ll have a chance to meet new people, see how another diocese works, and experience new mission horizons.  We’ll also have an opportunity to share our particular gifts and richness of our diocesan community.  If you are interested in attending the Diocese of Western New York’s convention, you can visit our website for more information and to sign up.

Our convention will follow a bit of a different format this year.  Though we’ll conduct the necessary business of Convention, the primary focus of our time will be building relationships and having significant and high impact conversations about the future of our life together.  The Convention this fall will be more important than ever, and I appeal to you as your bishop to make every effort to be present.  Your voice and your perspective are a critical piece of the next phase of mission.

You’ve heard me say many times that no one is going to innovate in mission and ministry for us.  There is no group ‘out there’ in the Church that is going to overcome our challenges and unlock our potential for us.  This is our call—right here and right now.  I have every confidence that God is about to provide for us ‘infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.’

Chancellor Jim Steadman Honored as Diocese’s Newest Canon

During Convention 2015’s Eucharist Bishop Sean made Jim Steadman Canon Chancellor for his years of unparalleled service to the Diocese.  Below are the words Bishop Sean read aloud.


DSCN1815You graduated from the fine and elite institution of higher learning called Grove City College in 1972, a distinction you share with the Cathedral Dean and the Bishop. You also met your wife and dedicated partner in life, Alison. You went on to Dickinson Law School and graduated in 1975 earning your Juris Doctor. After a brief time serving the United States Small Business Administration, you returned to your hometown of Girard, PA where you have practiced law ever since.

Your service to the community is distinguished and too lengthy to recall in full. Among your many and varied ways of giving back to the community, you have served as President of the Erie County Bar Association, on the Boards of the Erie Philharmonic and the Erie County Historical Society, and as a Girard Borough Councilman. You are an advocate for the poor, a compassionate presence, and a voice for those who have none. In the courts and in the community you are highly regarded as a person of tremendous gifts and deep integrity. Bishops, clergy, judges, and attorneys alike look to you for wisdom and guidance.

Our Cathedral and Diocese are beneficiaries of your considerable gifts. For more than a decade you have served as Chancellor of the Cathedral and for nearly that long as the Chancellor of the Diocese. During a time of trial, when our diocese was facing a significant scandal of child sexual abuse, you were a steady counselor and always led me to make the moral decisions that were in the best interest of the victims and justice and never the institution.

DSCN1818A widely circulated book about communication and crisis communication in faith communities, which uses our handling of sexual abuse as a case study and process worth emulating, includes a section entitled Don’t let the lawyers run the show. The authors cite you as the exception and say, ‘ We have been privileged to work with several Church lawyers who are the exception that prove this rule.   When a crisis communication team is fortunate enough to include one of these lawyers, it’s possible to turn a crisis into a profound opportunity to show that the church can live according to it’s precepts even when things are very difficult.’ The authors used your name more than once in their discussion about how best to address these matters with integrity and the values of faith.

As a bishop, I dare not even pray for a better counselor, chancellor, mentor, and friend.

In gratitude for your remarkable service to the community and our beloved diocese, it is my privilege this day to name you Canon Chancellor of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Given under my hand and seal in the City of Erie on the sixth day of November 2015 and in the ninth year of my episcopate.

Sean W. Rowe, Bishop


Website updates

We have added some new pages and updated others on our website.  Click on the titles to get useful information, specific resources and upcoming event information:

Convention 2014 results and updates. Find out about adopted resolutions, courtesy resolutions, election results, Bishop Sean’s nominations and appointments, and workshop and presentation materials and links.

Strategic Plan. Take a look at the strategic plan outline and strategic plan reports from 2013 and 2014.

Devotional Resources.  Daily devotions, liturgical calendars, lesson plans, sermons, bible studies and commentaries from both Anglican/Episcopal and Lutheran (ELCA) sources.

Advent Resources. Print, digital and social media resources from our own diocese and from national sites.

Mission Trip 2015. A Diocesan mission trip is being organized to Christo Salvador in the Dominican Republic for July 2015.

Convention 2015. Dates and location.

Diocesan Church Center Library. All titles (with the exception of the Bishop Israel collection) may be borrowed from the Diocese.

The Youth Experience at Convention

By Missy Greene, Formation Advisory Board Member and Christian Formation Associate, St. Stephen’s, Fairview & By Mari Holben, age 14, St. Mark’s, Erie

By Missy Greene:

For the second year in a row, our diocese, through the Formation Advisory Board, has hosted an Official Youth Delegation at Diocesan Convention. In 2013, we had five youth delegates from around the diocese and this year we had six. The delegates were Mari Holben from St. Mark’s, Josie Noyes and Henry Palattella from the Cathedral, and Kara Perrotta, Abby and Sarah Wheeler from St. Jude’s.

The Official Youth Delegation met on Thursday evening before Convention began to get to know one another, as well as learn the ins and outs of what will happen over the couple of days of Convention. In order to get a better understanding of the business side of Convention, the youth participated in a mock Convention. Each youth was assigned to a character, read up on their background, and then had a chance to speak for or against mock resolutions. It was a lot of fun and did, in fact, spark some good debate.

During Convention, the Official Youth Delegation is granted seat and voice. They are then required to participate in all aspects of Convention: listening to the speakers, participating in workshops, attending the dinner, and speaking to resolutions if there is an opportunity. To keep them engaged and to get them interacting with the adult delegates, the youth had two activities to complete: bingo and a scavenger hunt. Bingo was filled with words that may be heard at Convention from the microphone, so the youth had to pay close attention to catch the words on their sheet. The scavenger hunt required obtaining signatures and pictures of, and with, people at Convention.

The Formation Advisory Board is very excited to continue this ministry. It is important for the young people in our congregations to understand how the diocese and churches are governed, as well as be a part of this large gathering of leaders. Youth are not only the future of the church, but they are part of the church now and should be represented. Please be sure to ask this year’s members of the youth delegation about their Convention experience. Mari Holben has been kind enough to write some of her thoughts down for you below.

By Mari Holben:

I wanted to be a youth delegate at the Diocesan Convention because of how interesting it is.  Not only does Convention interest me, but it makes me feel part of the church.  Even though we don’t have a vote, much of the things voted on don’t pertain to the youth.  By getting the chance to participate in Convention the youth feel part of the church.  As a youth delegate at Convention, you sit and observe the main Convention, you get to go to the dinner and talk with members of the church, and you participate in workshops.  As a youth delegate of Convention you do as much as any other person except we don’t have the right to vote.  During Convention I learned what major problems and accomplishments the church has gone through in the past year.  From Convention, you learn more about behind the scenes of the church and the decisions that affect the church every Sunday.  If you have the opportunity to become a youth delegate for Convention it is a decision you won’t regret.  If you are a participating member of your church and interested in learning more about our Diocese, Convention is great.  It is a wonderful experience and, even if you don’t enjoy it, you will learn a great deal from it.