Executive Council 2022 Report

The Executive Council (EC) has primary responsibility for planning and directing the temporal affairs of the diocese, as provided by the constitution and canons of the diocese and of The Episcopal Church. Council acts for the diocesan convention between its annual meetings to implement the programs, policies and budgets convention approved. It serves as the board of directors of the diocesan corporation, exercising all the fiduciary responsibilities and powers of such a board under California law governing religious corporations.

We began 2022 shaping a new culture for our council. Our annual retreat began by asking ourselves whether the EC and the Diocese of California are learning organizations. We realized we have some growth opportunities in this arena and began prioritizing our ability to learn and grow through a variety of leadership topics and discussions.

With Covid still very much underway, a number of financial challenges presented themselves for discussion and action.

We reviewed applications for assessment appeals and allocated available funds to those congregations with significant financial needs. 

We were also challenged by the urgent need to create financial sustainability with St. Dorothy’s Rest.  This retreat center in west Sonoma County, provides unique programming for children with special needs, as well as camps for children, youth and adults throughout the diocese.  We appointed three EC members to the St. Dorothy’s board to provide support and technical assistance.  A small and little used piece of real estate was sold to address immediate cash flow issues,  the budget was restructured, and there are plans underway to fund a reserve study that will help guide future building and property maintenance.  Additionally, a new executive director begins employment this month and St. Dorothy’s just received a substantial grant for fire mitigation and forest management. 

This year we were saddened by the closing of St. Cuthbert’s in Oakland and our need to approve the sale and distribution of physical assets. An additional challenging task that is currently before the EC is how to allocate money from the sale of property when a church closes.

On a more proactive note, a major goal this year was to find funding to help our congregations with human resource issues. We are very pleased that the council was able to create a half-time position. The diocese selected the Rev. Gary England, an experienced employment attorney, for this role.  In the other half of his time, Rev. England serves as vice-chancellor and association for congregational development.

An ongoing project for the last few years has been to continue to make progress on building affordable housing on diocesan-owned land in Brentwood and the accompanying community/church farm project.

Two additional items relating specifically to previous diocesan convention approvals required our action.

First, we were charged by the 172nd diocesan convention to form a non-binary task force.  The team includes: The Rev. Iain Stanford, Chair, the Rev. Peter Levenstrong, the Rev. Cameron Partridge, the Rev. Hannah Elyse Cornthwaite, the Rev. Gary England, Kirby Parsons Doherty (Youth delegate), Mees Tielens, the Rev. Izabella Sempari.  Due to time constraints, the EC has asked this committee to report at the 174th convention.

Finally, this year’s resolution #4 (providing active shooter training) was referred to Council rather than referred to the Convention floor for voting and action.  We broadened the subject to  address “targeted violence,” and have charged the disaster preparedness committee to work in conjunction with the diocese to help make our churches safer.


In Christ,

The Rev. Jon Owens, Chair