From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Deputies vote to admit Diocese of Puerto Rico

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Fri, 1 Aug 2003 11:08:55 -0400

July 31, 2003

Deputies vote to admit Diocese of Puerto Rico

by James Thrall
[ENS] With a convoluted process that illustrated, as one deputy put it,
"the manner in which we can screw up the simplest thing," the House of
Deputies voted Thursday morning to admit Puerto Rico as a diocese of the
Episcopal Church assigned to Province IX.

While there was no disagreement over whether to admit Puerto Rico, which
was introduced as an "exciting diocese" that will "greatly enrich" the
church, confusion quickly developed over the best way to change the
canon that lists the members of Province IX. To avoid delaying the vote
to admit the diocese, which has sent a convention deputation that is
waiting to take its seats, deputies finally suspended a requirement that
the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons review any change to
canonical language.

Along the way, however, a seemingly straightforward concern about how to
add the words "Puerto Rico" to the list of Province IX dioceses in the
canons led to a flurry of other suggested, attempted and discarded
parliamentary steps.

Confusion over what specific votes were for was compounded by difficulty
acting chair Vincent Currie, Jr., of Central Gulf Coast, the vice
president of deputies, had hearing some deputies speaking at
microphones. "We don't do a lot of this in Myrtle Grove," he said to
laughter, as he apologized. The taste of arcane parliamentary procedure,
he suggested, was probably a good experience for deputies to have so
early in the convention.

Expressing what appeared to be the house's mood of good-natured
exasperation over the lengthy process, James Bradberry of Southern
Virginia urged action on the original intent of the resolution. "The
people of Puerto Rico have sent us a delegation that is ready to join
us," he said. "We can take care of the province later. There is not a
provincial meeting this afternoon."

The Rev. John Floberg of North Dakota also suggested in a moment of
levity that the member dioceses of Province VI, which includes the
states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Colorado and
Wyoming, might prefer that Puerto Rico "come into Province VI and then
host our winter meetings." 

Finally, by having divided the question into a vote on admitting the
diocese and a vote on assigning it to Province IX and by sidestepping
the need to involve the canons commission, the deputies successfully did
what they wanted to do: welcome Puerto Rico as a diocese of the church.
Because of special provisions in the diocese's constitution, the union
will take effect immediately upon concurrence by the House of Bishops. 

Puerto Rico, along with the Diocese of Venezuela, which is also seeking
admission in the Episcopal Church, has been in a special extraprovincial
relationship with Province IX for many years during unsuccessful efforts
to establish a province of the Caribbean that would have included Puerto
Rico, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Other dioceses of Province
IX are Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador Central, Ecuador Littoral
and Honduras.

Nominees for president of House of Deputies

In earlier business, the deputies heard the nominations of two
candidates for president of the house, the Very Rev. George L. W. Werner
of Pittsburgh, the current president, and Dr. Louie Crew of Newark. 

Werner, who served for many years as dean of the cathedral in
Pittsburgh, was first elected to the House of Deputies in 1970 and was
elected vice president in 1994 and 1997 before becoming president in
2000. He has served on the Church Pension Fund board, the Committee on
the State of the Church, the Standing Committee on Health, and as
national vice president of Venture in Mission. He has been a member of
the councils of advice for two presidents of the House of Deputies. As
president he serves as vice-chair of the Executive Council.

A deputy from the Diocese of Newark since 1994 and a member of Executive
Council from 2000 to 2006, Crew was a member of Newark's Standing
Committee from 1996 to 2004, and president of the committee from 2000 to
2002. He was founder of the Integrity organization and was co-chair of
the reconciliation initiative of the New Commandment Task Force. He was
a member of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace
With Justice Concerns, and of the Standing Commission on Human Affairs.
He is professor emeritus of English at Rutgers University and served as
president of the Rutgers University Senate from 1997 to 1999. The
election will be held in the House of Deputies at 11:30 a.m., Saturday.

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