Notes from the 2013 Diocesan Convention: Phyllis Hiers

Notes from the 2013 Diocesan Convention
Posted February 26, 2013
by Phyllis Hiers

An album of photographs from this event is available here.

Phyllis Hiers

What’s it like to put 300+ Episcopalians in a room? If you’ve helped with the diocesan conventions Valdosta has hosted, you know it’s not just a series of boring reports or an occasional controversy. Joyful Episcopalians young and older from congregations big and small gather to worship, sing and learn what is happening in other parts of the diocese. And, oh, yes, eat and party!

Diocesan Convention 2013 was no different in that sense. But times are changing. There was a workshop on using social media to communicate with members and to reach out to invite the unchurched to join us in worship and learning. And our host church, St. Anne’s in Tifton, made this the greenest convention yet. Everything — office paper, cans, bottles, cups, lunch containers, napkins, plastic wear, and food scraps (the last 5 items were compostable)—was recycled in cooperation with Tifton-Tift County Recycling Division. Even empty chip bags were sent off to a company that recycles and pays the church for each item. Well, almost everything: a basket of food waste were the only items sent to the landfill from a lunch for 300 Episcopalians. See the photo at:

Certainly, there were reports. But more and more these reports include videos that show progress visually such as what Honey Creek (now operating in the black) is doing to renovate the facilities and bring up occupancy and use, or how other churches reach out to those in need in their communities.

And a sense of humor is alive and well in the diocese—from creative reporting by Honey Creek director Dade Brantley, comments by Bishop Benhase to fun videos by “Cecil B. DeLogue” (our canon to the ordinary) and Jay Lacy. See this acolyte video: (

And business: with the leadership of Bishop Benhase and the diocesan staff, each congregation is asked to support the work of the diocese with a tithe of their income. Ten percent of our congregational budget is half what Christ Church, Valdosta, has been asked to give in many previous years. The bishop’s desire is for local congregations to increase their own outreach programs and to have a signature outreach program by which we are known and valued in our communities while the diocese works to do more with less.

A motion passed in convention will ask the national church to tighten its spending and follow the tithe standard.

The convention ended with a Legacy Society video ( showing a way Christians can use their funds to ensure the ongoing work of the church.