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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h

Please sign the guestbook and view it.

Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


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RE: diocesan convention ideas

Our previous bishop retired at the last convention (January 2007).  It will
be interesting to see what changes our new bishop brings to our convention.

I've attended diocesan convention in many dioceses for decades; I have found
none to be as lively and engaging as those in Newark.  Some of it is the
legacy of +Jack Spong, who loved conventions. Out of the Bishop's
Discretionary Fund he paid for all current seminarians to come home to
attend it:  he felt it was an important part of shaping their understanding
of the church beyond the parochial level.

All of our bishops have helped to focus the diocese on one or more pressing
issues before the world and the church.  Often they have appointed task
forces to deal with an issue (Assisted Suicide, Racism, Christian Sexuality,
Homosexuality, Global Warming, Minority Vendors.....).  They appoint
talented people with differing perspectives, charge them to review the
issues rigorously, and report to the Convention.

We typically have at least one bishop visitor at the convention from
elsewhere, sometimes someone who radically disagrees with the current
bishop.  (Before I arrived, Bishop Spong invited Bishop Wantland here.  I am
not sure whether that was for a convention or for one of the two lecture
series sponsored by the diocese each year at that time.)  At the end of the
convention, the guest bishops are required to grade our convention, and
specifically to address what needs to be improved, not just what they liked.
Planning for the next convention always tries to respond to these critiques.

Our canons require that we have a Eucharist on each day of the 2-day
convention.  Planners for the conventions try to introduce us to the huge
variety in our diocese.  For example, one of our old parishes has always
been a native American parish (right here in Northern New Jersey) and they
led one of our services on year.  Several of our congregations are a rainbow
of Caribbean culture, and Caribbeans have sometimes been features in the
liturgy, sometimes in the evening entertainment after the banquet on the
first night.   We have close ties to the Church of South India, which shares
some of our buildings; on several occasions they have led in our main
Eucharist on Saturday.

We always have lively hearings by the

*  budget committee
*  the resolutions committee
*  the nominees' forum before any elections at a convention (stump speeches)

During legislative sessions, we follow good parliamentary procedure,
enforcing time limits, allowing all sides to be heard (alternating between
pro- and con- positions).

The bishop almost always addresses some of the cultural issues in our state,
not just issues of concern to the church.  The major newspapers of NJ always
send their best reporters.   We expect to be challenged.

For all balloting except where canons might prohibit, we use the Hare
Preferential Ballot system with all elections.   It tends to support a far
wider spread of people than simple majority balloting.   In it one must vote
for every candidate and rank them in order of preference.   Some people who
would rarely be the first choice of people still get elected because of the
wide support for them as second choice.......

Increasing young people are vital part of our convention -- not just as
pages as they have long been -- but as elected people with vote and voice.
Each of our ten districts elects one 'youth representative' (14-18 yrs old,
if I remember correctly).  These sit not with their congregations, as do all
other delegates, but at a table of the 10 together.

Many conventions I have attended in other dioceses are primarily clergy
parades.  In liturgy as well as in legislation, as leaders and as the led:
lay and clergy alike are ubiquitous.

One reasons our conventions go well is the series of 3 meetings around the
diocese to prepare delegates.  An elected delegate may go to any one of the
3 'duplicate' meetings.  Leaderships from the treasurer's office explain in
great detail the budget as of the date of that meeting.  Members from the
nominating committee explain in detail the election process.  The secretary
of convention walks us through the rules of submitting printed materials for
approval and in printing in advance enough copies. Members of the
resolutions committee walk us through all of the resolutions.   Members of
tasks forces give a preview of their reports......    Very little of the
convention time itself has to be given to these technical matters.  These
meetings also give the presenters a preview of what to expect in reactions
at convention itself.  Often a committee meets again to fix problems that
can be fixed, to prepare their responses to objections that are

We try to stay strictly on schedule.  Often the hotel will bill us an
exorbitant fee is we are not concluded and out of the room by the time
agreed in advance, as they have to prepare the ballroom for an event that

Exhibits are quite extensive, not only those of diocesan
organizations/ministries, but also vendors.  We're on the left bank of the
Hudson, so that makes it easy to exhibit.  Many organizations that address
poverty, hunger,.... housing, ecology.... show up, as to the vestment
makers -- firms large and small.

Not everyone likes conventions, and not everyone likes ours.  Some would
prefer that conventions be non-events, do only what absolutely has to be
done.....   Those people would likely give a different report of our

I hope some of this is helpful.

Have a Blessed Advent.


Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12d, East Orange, NJ 07018.  973-395-1068

Please sign my guestbook and view it.

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