News From Dr. Navita Cummings-James

By Dr. Navita Cummings-James
Lay Deputy, Chair of Deputationnavita james

Each of the four General Conventions that I have been privileged to attend has faced critical issues related to the mission of The Episcopal Church. This Convention is no exception and will include the election of our next Presiding Bishop.

We are particularly honored to have our own Bishop Dabney Smith as one of the four Bishops who has been nominated for this position. And our own Anne Vickers is running as a Trustee of the Church Pension Board.

Noteworthy issues which will certainly command attention in this and future conventions include “church structure” and how we will change in ways that will allow us to do the work of the Church in cultures whose residents are identifying less and less as Christian, and how, if at all, the Church will pastorally respond to the increasing number of U.S. and global dioceses who have local jurisdictions that now allow same-sex marriage.

As the first layperson to serve as Head of a Diocese of Southwest Florida Deputation, I am proud and honored to be working with the dedicated, faithful and gifted members of this Deputation elected by our diocese. Deputation elections are important because the Diocese entrusts its elected Deputies, unlike delegates, to listen, deliberate, pray and vote their own, individual consciences.

Over the years, our diocesan deputations have had the reputation for being well-prepared and working well together—even when members of the Deputation have disagreed among ourselves on key issues. Love and respect have been our hallmarks. One of the main reason we have excelled in these ways is we begin meeting a year and half or more in advance of General Convention. In these meetings we pray together; we study the issues coming before Convention, and we learn more about the Christian walks of one another.

The House of Deputies leadership has also recognized the many gifts on our deputation by calling upon six of our Deputies—including a first time Deputy—and one of our Alternates to serve on Legislative and the new House of Deputies Resolutions Review committees.

As one of those appointed, I personally am also looking forward to serving on the Social Justice and International Policy Legislative Committee.

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