The last time that members of the 2019-2021 Diocesan Council were in the same room was last March, but on Saturday, September 12, a good cohort of Council members gathered at Christ Church Cathedral for the annual Diocesan Council Retreat Day. During Archbishop Skelton's episcopacy this has been an opportunity for Council to get to know one another and to look at opportunities to assist the mission and ministry of the parishes and groups of the diocese in the coming year; to identify the important work of Council and to affirm priorities.
The 2020 version of the Council retreat began with Opening Worship, and contained within that Eucharist was the Collation and Institution of the new Dean of the Diocese, the rector of Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Chris Pappas.
After worship, members of Council gathered in the Cathedral's parish hall where chairs and tables had been arranged to ensure physical distancing.
The day began with Council breaking into physically distanced groups of four and playing a brief game of Charades. There was lots of laughter and movement and at all times a safe distance was maintained.
The annual retreat day is an informal meeting, there is no business done and no Minutes taken. However, the items on the agenda are serious ones and are connected to the work of governance that Council will undertake during the scheduled business meetings to come. The next meeting is October 28.
There was a briefing to Council on governance and committee structures, a reminder and a refresher of how things work and fit together. In the afternoon there were in-depth discussions about what Council would like to see the two standing committees of the diocese; Mission and Ministry Development and Finance and Property focus on in next few months, particularly in the wake of the pandemic and its effects on the mission and ministry, financial health and future of diocesan parishes and of the diocese as a whole. These discussions were informed by summaries of the feedback received from extensive parish lay leadership and clergy interviews conducted in late July.
Archbishop Skelton who chairs Diocesan Council reported that this exploration of what has been learned so far from the parish interviews led Council members to consider what actions Council might take as we close out 2020 and enter the new year of 2021. More information will be available as this current Council meets during the next few months.