Cookie Settings


The 106th Convention of the Diocese of Olympia began Friday morning at the Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center with bustling energy. Ministries from across the diocese began to set up their tables and displays so they can share stories of their outreach with representatives from more than 100 congregations that call the Diocese of Olympia their home. The Cathedral Shop and the Episcopal Bookstore moved into two rooms in the conference center over the weekend to sell their wide assortment of books, gifts, and even Christmas decorations!

Exhibitors occupied every nook and cranny, filling every side room of the conference center and stretching out down the hallways and into the lobby. Mission to Seafarers, Seattle sold Christmas cards to help support their ministry and provided examples of the ditty bags they assemble and give out to seafarers across the world. The Diocesan Resource Center brought samples from their library and the Archives Department set up a magnificent display of material from their collection. Representatives from Camp Huston and St. Andrew’s House were on hand to discuss their camps and retreat facilities. Diocesan task forces and committees were present to discuss their work – from providing support for those suffering from mental illness to fighting the death penalty and advocating for social justice. And the Traveling Day Society of All Saints, Vancouver set up a drum circle in one of the rooms, demonstrating their use of traditional instruments to “help enhance peaceful ‘crossing[s]’” for those in hospice care.

As registrations for the nearly 500 representatives wrapped up, workshops began in eight rooms throughout the conference center and hotel. The College for Congregational Development led a session on the need to move beyond a “membership paradigm” while the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment taught about the lessons of sustainability and equity we can glean from the practices of Sabbath and Jubilee. Mission to Seafarers and the Refugee Resettlement Office shared about their incredible work within the community and the St. John’s Heritage Bible Program offered a look at the first handwritten and hand-illuminated Bible since the advent of the printing press. There were workshops on small groups, providing safe environments in our churches, the value of archives, and sessions on liturgy and prayer. The Rev. Deacon Brandon Mauai, Episcopal deacon and member of the Standing Rock Sioux, spoke about his tribe’s effort to block the Dakota Access Pipeline.


Convention officially opened with worship and a renewal of the baptismal covenant. The assembled representatives from every congregation in the diocese reaffirmed their renunciation of evil and their commitment to Jesus Christ. Youth Pages moved through the assembly, sprinkling water from the baptismal font as a reminder of the baptismal unity and ministry of all believers. In fact, worship was a central component throughout the weekend. Liturgical ministers from St. Mary, Lakewood; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Seattle; Traveling Day Society, Vancouver; St. John, Olympia; UW Campus Ministries, Seattle; Christ Church, Tacoma; Seattle Service Corps; and Emmanuel, Mercer Island presided respectively over the four weekend liturgies that brought the assembled together and saw them off at the end of their sessions.

The theme of this year’s convention was “Your Kingdom Come,” and throughout the weekend, the speakers and liturgical ministers explored what this phrase from the Lord’s Prayers means today. In celebration of 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, the Diocese of Olympia invited Bishop Kirby Unti of the Northwest Washington Synod and Bishop Richard Jaech of the Southwestern Washington Synod in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to participate in the 2016 Convention. Bishop Jaech gave Friday night’s keynote address, exploring the history of the Reformation, the common ties between the Lutheran and Episcopal Church, exhorting the assembled to remember that reformation is an ongoing process, and ended with the thought that God’s kingdom has come to “re-form” us.

Watch Bishop Jaech’s Keynote Address

Bishop Jaech left the gathering with four questions to discuss: How is God at work reforming the church today? Which of our pains are birth pains and what is God bringing to birth in the church and the world? How can we work together with God and with each other to bring God’s new kingdom of grace, compassion, and justice? Discussions at the tables across the conference center ranged from ideas about how the Kingdom of God is always present to thoughts about embracing diversity and breaking down boundaries.

A number diocesan ministries gave presentations at convention, sharing stories of their work across Western Washington. Canon Malcolm McLaurin discussed the work of the Seattle Service Corps, affiliated with the Episcopal Service Corps, allowing young adults to live in intentional Christian community and serve the church and their communities. Diocesan youth and leaders presented a short video about the Southern Social Justice Pilgrimage they took this summer, reflecting on what they learned about the Civil Rights Movement and its connection to issues of social justice today. Dean Steve Thomason, of Saint Mark’s Cathedral, spoke about the Cathedral’s many activities and laid out their plan to renovate and restore the building. Ken Hawkins spoke about the work of Mission to Seafarers, the Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton spoke on the work of Faith Action Network, and Chuck Hamilton gave an update from Episcopal Relief & Development – complete with a poetic recitation.

Every year at convention, Bishop Rickel presents awards to honor lay employees, individuals who exemplify Christian ministry, and outstanding sermons from across the diocese. The Ky Chen Employee Excellence “No Problem” Award was established in 2011 to honor the service of diocesan employee Ky Chen, who approached every request with a simple, “No problem!” This year’s recipients were Ed Skinner of Faith, Poulsbo for his tireless work in repairing and renovating their property, and Deb McGarry of St. James, Kent for her many years of service and support in all aspects of the parish’s life.


Since 1953, the Bishop’s Cross has been given to individuals as “an expression on our part of the thankfulness for the virtues and graces which God gives to His disciples as those blessings have been singly illustrated in the lives of these Church people.” This year, Josef Hinkofer of St. Dunstan, Shoreline received the Bishop’s Cross for his development of a meal program that now serves nearly 400 individuals every week across seven different locations. Phyllis Gill of Christ Church, Tacoma received the Bishop’s Cross for her six decades of service across vestries, committees, liturgical commissions, and her active work for social justice within the wider community.

Each year, the Evangelism Commission presents the Bishop’s Preaching Award for one sermon given between Advent and the middle of September. This year, there were 26 nominations for the panel of lay and clergy readers to review. The Rev. Karen Haig of St. Thomas, Medina was this year’s recipient.

In addition to the awards and presentations, the first day of convention also featuring committee nominations and voting on deputies for the 2018 General Convention. Nominees came to the front of the stage and the assembled representatives from the churches were instructed on the process of voting. Ballots were cast and the first day of convention ended with a beautiful liturgy followed by the Friday night banquet.


After morning prayers, the second day of convention began with Bishop Rickel’s Address to the Convention. He spoke about the importance of the Cathedral, that it “is the visual heart of our diocese.” He talked about the importance of building bridges with other people of faith, as evidenced by the presence of the two Lutheran bishops and the ministries we share. And then he began to lay out a new vision for the diocese, developed by the Standing Committee. It’s a vision that says “the heart of our work… is incarnated, right where you live and work and worship.” He ended his address by calling attention to the point that the oppression and injustice that are embedded in earthly kingdoms are “completely transformed and made right in the Kingdom of God.”

Watch Bishop Rickel’s Convention Address

Following Bishop Rickel’s address, the Rev. Jane Maynard gave the report of the standing committee and laid out the new vision for the diocese:

We, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, part of the Jesus Movement, bear witness to the redemptive reign of God and enact God’s inclusive love, peace, and justice.

We carry out this common vision as it is diversely expressed within our particular contexts.

In union with our Bishop, we are:

  • Congregationally centered
  • Pastorally interconnected
  • Sacramentally formed for service to the world, and
  • Committed to learning, growing, and gathering regularly to proclaim the good news of God as revealed in the life, ministry, and witness of Jesus Christ.

Diocesan leadership’s sole call is to empower the people of the Diocese to carry out this common witness.

After presentation of this new vision, the assembled representatives broke into groups at their tables and began to explore the ways this new vision would impact their congregations and brainstorm goals in each of the four areas. As the assembly came back together, there was a palpable sense of excitement at the possibility this new vision afforded the congregations.

Other diocesan departments gave their reports to the convention. Barbara Fox, diocesan treasurer, talked about the financial state of the diocese and spoke on changes the diocese is and already has made to continue the stewardship of diocesan resources. Douglass Oles, chair of the Constitution and Canons Committee, gave the most anticipated report of the convention, leavening the usually dry process of amending the diocesan constitution with a healthy dose of liturgical humor.

The Rev. Jonathan Weldon, chair of the Resolutions Committee, presented a handful of resolutions to the convention for discussion and voting. The lowering of the 2018 Diocesan Assessment Rate to 15%, Cost of Living Adjustments to the Clergy Salary Scale for 2017, and the adoption of a new Health Insurance Policy across the diocese all passed easily. After robust debate on the floor, a new Family Leave Policy which applies to clergy and lay employees was also passed.


As the convention returned from lunch and a midday liturgy, the final rounds of voting concluded with the appointment of the clergy and lay deputations to the 2018 General Convention. The Rev. Deacon Brandon Mauai from the Diocese of North Dakota and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, spoke with the convention about the struggle to block the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bishop Rickel presented him with a replica of the Bishop’s Cross.

Convention ended with a closing Eucharist, presided over by Bishop Rickel and assisted by Bishop Unti and Bishop Jaech. Bishop Unti preached, saying that this coming together of Lutherans and Episcopalians is a tangible sign that God’s Kingdom is coming. He reminded the assembly that as Christians, our calling is to be sent out and that “being sent is an essential ingredient of faith.” Too often, he said, we ask others to come in, but God sends us out so that we might rely on the stranger. We receive from the other so that we can be fully present with them, and when we share the table set by the other, we discover that Jesus is the host.

Watch Bishop Unti’s Eucharist Sermon

It was a beautiful, stirring end to a weekend of community and fellowship, preparing these congregational representatives to bring the Kingdom of God into their individual communities, meeting them where they are.


Your Kingdom Come – Stories from the 2016 Diocesan Convention

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *