The Convention brings together representatives of all parishes, missions and affiliated communities of the Convocation. It makes decisions and policy for all Episcopalians in Europe and, with the Bishop, helps us to maintain our connection to the wider Episcopal Church.
Each parish sends two voting lay delegates, along with the clergy. Representatives from each mission congregation are also seated and accorded full voice.
The principal business of the Annual Convention is to address legislation and resolutions, hold elections, and adopt a budget for the coming year. The Bishop in Charge chairs Convention and gives an oral or written report on the state of the Convocation in his address or as a pastoral letter.
Convention elects the Convocation Treasurer, Secretary of Convention, and four clerical and four lay members of the Council of Advice, who serve on a rotating basis, as well as four clerical and four lay deputies and alternates to General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
Perhaps, above all, the four days of worship and prayer, listening, learning―as well as eating and celebrating together―are a community gathering. We welcome the time together.
Formally, the Convocation is not a diocese, but for most practical purposes it functions as one. The elected Council of Advice, consisting of four lay members and four clergy, fulfills the functions ordinarily assigned to a Standing Committee, as described in the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. It also performs the role of a Diocesan Council.
The Council of Advice meets in person four times a year, with video conferences in between.
The Council has legal responsibility to:
Most pertinent to this document, the Council works with the offices of the Presiding Bishop to ensure the proper election and transition of the Bishop in Charge, including preparation for the future Bishop-elect’s Letter of Agreement.
The Commission on the Ministry of the Baptized (COMB) is a body of lay and ordained people who are appointed by the Bishop to help people in the Convocation discern their call to ministry. Discernment involves prayer and discussion as they seek to discover and confirm the specific ministry to which God is calling them.
When the term “ministry” is used in the context of the Church, people often think of being ordained as a priest or deacon. However, the vast majority of ministries in the life of the Church, and in the world, are those of the laity. Others may feel called to a licensed lay ministry, such as a Pastoral Leader, Eucharistic Minister or Catechist.
COMB has developed two annual, open events to help and support people in these processes: to explore the question, “What is God calling me to do?” and to support those in discernment regarding lay or ordained ministry:
For those who feel called to ordained ministry, once having gone through a period of discernment, and having secured the support of their home parish, COMB, together with the Bishop, is responsible for overseeing priestly or diaconal formation.
COMB, with the European Institute of Christian Studies (EICS), has prepared guidelines, “Called to Ministry: Guidelines for Ministry of all the Baptized, Lay Licensed Ministries, and Holy Orders for the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe,” that recognize the particular situations here in Europe (available on the website).
The church is a place where young people can experience welcome, sense belonging, and find moral and peer support; all this, just as they are seeking to discover who they are and to find their place in the world.
We are acutely aware that we in the Convocation have a diverse group of young people, whose backgrounds and home lives represent a wide range of traditions, languages and cultures. Many are definitively established as long-term members of their local community and country, but many others see themselves as “3rd culture kids” and/or are temporarily resident in Europe. It is critical that we not only understand the needs and challenges of these young people, but provide a stable and safe environment for them to grow into loving and fruitful adults who reach their full potential. It is the job of the church to help equip them on this journey -- to help them to share the love of Christ creatively, sensitively, and powerfully, as they come to experience God’s presence in their own lives.
The members of the Youth Commission are passionate in their desire to reach young people across Europe. The Commission focuses on a variety of events and resources designed to inspire, engage and equip young people between the ages of 10 and 29, to know Jesus Christ and to grow as disciples.
For many years now―first through the leadership of the Commission on the Ministry of the Baptized, and now under the Youth Commission―the Convocation has been working to develop Convocation-wide formation opportunities for young people, such as the annual “Youth Across Europe” weekend, supporting their involvement as European young people at the Episcopal Youth Event in the U.S., and promoting their awareness of church governance at parish and Convocation level.
In recent years, the Convocation embraced the implementation of The Episcopal Church’s Charter for Lifelong Formation. To that end, the Youth Commission has expanded youth ministries to include a wider age group. At the same time, they are creating networks of support for teachers and leaders. Newer Commission program offerings include Juniors Across Europe and the 20s Retreat.
In an effort to expand the Convocation's programmatic reach, the ever-ambitious Commission is exploring how best to support parishes with outreach ministries. Ideas include starting and growing youth groups, Sunday schools and student groups, targeting young people age 10-29 to either explore the ideas of Christianity or attract those who are not connected to a church family.
Academy of Parish Leadership, 2016
The European Institute of Christian Studies (EICS) is the body responsible for the formation needs of Convocation leaders. EICS supports the study, prayer and formation that all Christians require for spiritual growth. These three areas help to build one’s knowledge of the faith to enable each of us to become more effective ministers in whatever work God calls us to do.
EICS has developed a number of educational and training programs. The challenge for EICS is how to effectively support the formation needs of people geographically dispersed across six countries, when many do not even share the same mother tongue, culture, or haven't any previous experience or formation in the Anglican tradition. Two of the programs are:
EICS is currently working on its first “Vestry Academy” to be offered in three different geographical locations, in order to meet the specific needs of all the countries of the Convocation.
The Committee on Mission Congregations (COMC) is composed of lay and clergy members who aid in the nurturing and formation of mission congregations.
COMC focuses on
COMC provides advice and recommendations to the Bishop and Council of Advice on potential new mission congregations. It is developing a strategy to frame the intentional establishment of new mission congregations within the Convocation. It also provides ongoing
counsel and support to the current mission congregations, encouraging them towards autonomy and, if appropriate, parish status.
COMC meets via telephone conference calls approximately every two months. It also encourages a lunchtime meeting of all mission congregations at the Convocation’s annual Convention.
The Board of Foreign Parishes was created by a special act of the legislature of the State of New York in 1883, principally to respond to difficulties encountered by Episcopal parishes in foreign countries in holding legal title to their real estate. The statute was enacted to empower the Board to hold title to real property and endowments of American Episcopal Churches in Europe (to the extent those churches choose to convey the property to the Board).
The Board consists of 12 trustees who elect their own members. The Bishop in Charge is a member and, under the statute, each parish whose buildings are owned by the Board (the American Cathedral, Paris) is entitled to name two members of the Board. The Board also holds in trust the Nice Fund, which provides significant support to the mission and ministry of Convocation. The Board meets twice a year, normally in New York, in May and November.
In addition to the Board of Foreign Parishes, there are separate Boards of Trustees for St. Paul’s Church (Rome) and St. James’ Church (Florence), which own the buildings and certain financial endowments for those parishes. However, there is no legal connection at all among these three Boards, although there is some overlap of membership and they frequently meet at the same time and place. The current U.S. membership of the boards is composed almost entirely of people who have previously been members of one of the churches in Europe, which ensures a close and continuing working relationship with the Convocation.