December 13, 2015
Dear Members and Friends of St. Stephen’s,
This afternoon, the congregation of St. Stephen’s met following our regular service of Holy Eucharist to discuss Bishop Michael Smith’s offer of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) for St. Stephen’s. The meeting, much like our process of discernment, began and ended with prayer. Following the meeting and, after hearing feedback from our congregation, our Vestry met to vote on Bishop Smith’s offer. The vote was unanimous in favor of Bishop Smith’s offer of DEPO.
With our acceptance of this offer, Bishop Carol Gallagher will share her ministry and Episcopal oversight of our congregation, beginning January 1, 2016.
What does this mean for us as a congregation?
+ This was a vitally important decision on our part. It means that we, as a congregation, will continue to live out the ministry we feel we have been called to do as a congregation. We see this as an extension of a ministry based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Baptismal Covenant of respecting the worth and dignity of all people, as we see it and have discerned it for ourselves.
+ After January 1, Bishop Carol Gallagher will now have direct Episcopal oversight of our congregation. She will visit our congregation on an annual basis.
+ We will now be allowed to recognize and celebrate marriage rites for all people, without distinction.
+ All of our members will be able to pursue their ministries without hindrance.
+ With this vote, we are NOT “breaking away” from the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota. In fact, we will remain a contributing and active presence in the Diocese of North Dakota. The Diocese will continue in our collective and personal prayers, as we will in the prayer cycle of the Diocese.
+ We will continue to have a personal relationship with Bishop Smith, and we will continue to invite him to share in the life and joys of our congregation.
Your prayers are requested for our congregation of St. Stephen’s as we move forward together. I also ask your prayers for Bishop Carol Gallagher, for Bishop Smith and the Diocese of North Dakota, as well as your continued prayers for the Episcopal Church. I also ask for your continued prayers for me and for the Vestry of St. Stephen’s.
Fr. Jamie Parsley and the Wardens and Vestry of St. Stephen’s