Author Archive

5k turns loss into tribute

The loss of a friend or loved one can create a void in the heart that is difficult to fill. So it was for Catherine Lillibridge, when she lost her friend Mary Ellen Smith, 56, wife of the Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith, bishop of Southwest Florida, to cancer in March of this year.

Catherine Lillibridge shows off her armband.

Saddened by the loss of her friend, Lillibridge, wife of Bishop Gary Lillibridge, wanted to do something to honor Smith’s memory, but wasn’t certain about how she should go about it. Then, Lillibridge learned about the Triennial 5K Walk/Run sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women Triennial meeting and scheduled for July 8 at 6:30 a.m.

Since both she and Smith were runners and fitness enthusiasts, she decided that she would run in the event to honor her friend. However, after going online to register, Lillibridge was impressed by the beauty of the Indianapolis Canal Walk, where the walk/run was scheduled to take place. It was suddenly clear that she wanted to do something even more special and life affirming to remember Smith.

“Mary Ellen and I would walk together each time we went to a House of Bishops or Sewanee gathering. When I saw a picture of the canal and path in Indianapolis for the 5K walk/run, I knew I would be doing this with Mary Ellen in my heart,” said Lillibridge. “It looked like the kind of place where Mary Ellen and I would have liked to walk together.”

It was then that she decided to pick up the phone and call the event organizers to discuss just how to pay tribute to her friend at the event, she said.

There was an emotional discussion of sponsorship and tribute possibilities. Afterward, it was decided that 5K participants could walk (or run) the event in Mary Ellen Smith’s memory, and that purple armbands bearing Smith’s name (purple being the official representative color of the bishops) would be made available to friends, colleagues, and others walking in her honor.

“I contacted Bishop Smith, to make sure he was comfortable with a tribute to Mary Ellen,” Lillibridge remembers. “He was thrilled! In fact, he asked if he should sign up for the race.”

Of course, Lillibridge’s response was a resounding “Yes!”

With Bishop Smith’s blessing, plans for the tribute fell into place. Lillibridge composed an e-mail to all the bishops, and their spouses, encouraging them to walk in Smith’s memory.

For those who signed up for the event through that link, and notified Lillibridge, an armband was ready for them to wear during the race.  Each armband bears the words “In Loving Memory of Mary Ellen Smith.”

The DWTX team.

This morning, more than 270 people gathered for the event, including a team from the Diocese of West Texas.“It was a wonderful tribute to Mary Ellen,” said Lillibridge. “There was a lot of energy, and people seemed to enjoy their time together walking along the path by the canal in downtown Indianapolis.”

Report from Triennial Today

Categories: General info

Vasquez sees GC through art

General Convention is, for the most part, a world of words; but Enedina Vasquez is giving it a visual interpretation with colorful drawings reflecting her experiences at this year’s meeting in Indianapolis.

Vasquez, a resident of San Antonio, in the Diocese of West Texas, is at the convention as artist-in-residence for the Hispanic Ministries team headed by Rev. Canon Anthony Guillen, missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries for the Episcopal Church.


She served in a similar capacity at the New Communities Conference held in San Diego, California, earlier this year.

It was at that meeting that Vasquez began to draw on her iPad colorful reactions to the issues being discussed at that meeting, which focused on ethnic and emerging ministries in the Episcopal Church. For instance, when she participated in a Native American sage and water prayer blessing, she painted a sprig of sage with droplets of water streaming from it, set against the blue sky. When one of the speakers mentioned that the Episcopal Church should “change our context or at least consider it …” Vasquez drew the Episcopal shield in just a few strokes of red, white, and blue as if it were in motion, streaming in the wind.

A retired schoolteacher, Vasquez owns a business that produces fused glass art pieces. Her artworks have been exhibited in major museums in the United States, Mexico, Japan and Germany. She is also a published author, poet and playwright; her play, Te Traigo Estas Flores Y Marshmallow Peeps, was produced in the Shakespeare Theater Festival in New York by Joseph Papp.

She is a graduate of the University of the South’s Education for Ministry program, and a member of Daughters of the King. She attend church at St. David’s in San Antonio.

“In today’s world of speedy technology, with young people who text rapidly on cell phones their news of the day, their cares, their fears, the Episcopal Church must go in that direction to catch their eyes so that they can receive the good news of Christ,” says Vasquez. “We must produce and send out news that is instantaneous, to the minute, colorful, whimsical, short and to the point. In 2012, creative ways are available to us through Facebook and Twitter (to mention a few) — and it is the artists that throughout history have reflected the true news of the day for all ages and times.”

Report by Episcopal News Service

Bishop’s Audio Report

Bishop Lillibridge’s report for Sunday, July 8, is now up. Click on the tab Bishops’ audio reports to listen.

Categories: General info

Deputies say presiding bishop may retain diocesan seat

The House of Deputies on Saturday took another step toward changing the church’s status quo when it adopted a resolution that permits the next presiding bishop, who will be elected in 2015, to remain a diocesan bishop. Canons currently require the presiding bishop to resign her or his seat upon assuming office.

Debate on resolution B013 centered on whether this action should take place now or wait for a larger discussion about restructuring that is being dealt with by the Committee on Structure.

In his blog, Deputy Drew Cauthorn from the Diocese of West Texas noted that “In and of itself, the resolution is not significant, but the debate was indeed significant.  Arguments that General Convention (GC) is too large a group to make significant decisions without further study, that the subject is too complicated for action at this GC, that GC should wait for three years to consider changes and that to take action before we knew what the future structure would look like is putting the cart before the horse were all loudly voted down. This House of Deputies wants change and it wants change now. I think that the only thing to temper the deputies desire for change, almost any change, will be the House of Bishops.”

What the resolution did, says Cauthorn, is merely remove the canonical requirement (Title I, Canon 2, Section 3(a) & (b))  that a presiding bishop must relinquish his or her diocesan jurisdiction upon assuming the office of presiding bishop.

The resolution’s explanation says this model of the presiding bishop relinquishing his or her diocesan office dates from the General Convention of 1947. “Deleting the canon that requires the presiding bishop to resign his or her diocese allows for the Joint Nominating Committee to imagine other models for the presiding bishop as part of the ongoing discussions of restructuring of the church.” Deleting the canon, notes the resolution explanation, does not mean that the next presiding bishop must remain in his or her diocese, but allows for that option.

The resolution now goes to the House of Bishops for their consideration.

The House of Deputies on Saturday also adopted other resolutions on a variety of topics:

D037 — asking the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider restoring nearly $3 million in funding for Christian formation and youth ministry, which had been cut in draft versions of the budget;

D042 — recommitting the church to protecting victims of human trafficking;

A114 — calling for increased funding for world missions;

A107 — designating the secretary of General Convention as the Convention’s official registrar;

A026 — directing the church’s chief operating officer to develop an information technology strategic plan for the staff of the Episcopal Church Center;

A035 — reaffirming the church’s commitment to interreligious engagement at all levels;

B017 — calling on the church to support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza with fundraising and advocacy after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency cut its financial aid, slashing the hospital’s budget nearly in half.

Based on a report by Melodie Woerman for Episcopal News Service


Ellen Martin is Distinguished Woman

Ellen Martin, who for many years served as the head of the diocesan altar guild, was honored at the 2012 Triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church Woman, meeting in Indianapolis at the same time as the General Convention. Martin was selected as the Distinguished Woman from the Diocese of West Texas for her life that reflects her Christian values.

Ellen Martin,center, flanked by Bishop Gary Lillibridge and Deborah Gardiner, president of the Diocese of West Texas Commission for Women’s Ministries.

Martin grew up at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin, moving to San Antonio in 1961 where she and husband, Rex, now are members of St. Mark’s Church. She was appointed Diocesan Altar Guild Directress by Bishop James Folts in 2000, serving until January of 2011.

For the past five years, Martin has taught Altar Linen Construction and Embroidery at the Altar Guild Workshop held each year at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas.

In her retirement, she continues to do stitching for a group formed as the Dorcas Stitchers that mends, makes baptismal towels, and embroiders Christmas stoles. She is called frequently for advice for altar guild functions.

Martin says that when she was a dorm resident at Texas Christian University, the dean of women frequently reminded the girls about their responsibilities as “fine young Christian women.” “She told us over and over how we should always remember our duty to give back to the community and to honor God with our lives,” said Martin. “This was a creed spoken and expected from my parents, also. It is with these lessons taken to heart that I have tried to live my life.”

Martin was also the Sunday School teacher of one Gary Lillibridge when he was five years old.



Categories: General info

Audio reports from first-time deputies

Saturday, July 7. Tonight we hear from four first-time deputies from the Diocese of West Texas about their impressions of General Convention. Click on the Bishops’ Audio Reports tab to listen to Carrie Guerra, the Rev. Lisa Mason, the Rev. Matt Wise, and the Rev. Stockton Williams.

Categories: audio reports

Marriage study recommended

by Sharon Sheridan for Episcopal News Service.

The Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music Committee has recommended the formation of a task force to study marriage. The committee affirmed Resolution A050 to create a task force to study the “biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage” after substituting and amending the language of B014.

Visitors’ gallery, House of Deputies

The revised resolution also directs the task force to consult with the standing commissions on Constitution and Canons and on Liturgy and Music “to address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same-sex couples in states that authorize such”; to consult with single adults, married couples and those living in other lifelong committed relationships; and to consult with other members of the Anglican Communion and the church’s ecumenical partners.

During July 4 hearings, two members of the Diocese of El Camino Real, which proposed a similar resolution (C076), spoke in favor of the task force following a similar study in their diocese. It was a “profitable and deepening experience for the diocese,” said Deputy Jeff Diehl. “We included all voices across the spectrum.”

During discussions July 5, committee member the Rev. David Thurlow of the Diocese of South Carolina objected to allocating $30,000 for a study during tough fiscal times and to taking an action contrary to the understanding of marriage in the wider church, including the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

“My deepest regret is that, when it comes to moral theology, we’re really willing to part company with the wider one holy catholic church,” he said.

But member Katrina Hamilton, deputy from the Diocese of Olympia, speaking as a single heterosexual woman, said she’d like to see the church “have a serious conversation” about marriage.

“I would like to get married one day myself, and when I do I would like to know what it is,” she said, choking up as she spoke. “I think we need this for all of us, not just for our gay and lesbian friends and brothers and sisters, but for me as well.”

Categories: General info