Diocese of Pennsylvania hosts 2023 Episcopal Urban Caucus assembly

By Shireen Korkzan
Posted Nov 2, 2023

The Rev. Melanie Mullen, The Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, discussed the importance of Episcopalians advocating for racial and environmental justice during a Nov. 2, 2023 presentation at the Episcopal Urban Caucus’ assembly at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Shireen Korkzan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service — Norristown, Pennsylvania] Two dozen Episcopalians are gathered here in suburban Philadelphia to learn about managing ministries and church finances through an urban lens during the Episcopal Urban Caucus’ 2023 assembly.

The caucus is an organization of Episcopalians dedicated to advocacy and influencing The Episcopal Church in prioritizing different aspects of racial justice, including anti-racism and hunger reduction initiatives, focusing on cities with high concentrations of poverty and other systemic injustices. The Nov. 1-4 assembly is taking place at the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s diocesan center in Norristown and at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.

This year’s theme is “A Year of Jubilee: God is With Us,” which reflects on “all that is good and wonderful about this diocese” and working with urban ministries, the Rev. Jordan Casson, the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s canon for peace and reconciliation, told Episcopal News Service.

Casson told ENS that the Pennsylvania diocese is an ideal location to host such a conference because it has one of the largest numbers of historically Black parishes throughout the diocese. He said a goal of the conference is to inform participants how the diocese is approaching ministries from an “urban mission” context, including from a financial perspective.

“I think that we will see Jesus in every form and every way throughout our time together; through our time of presentations, our time of prayer, our time of ministry,” Casson said.

The conference started on Nov. 1 with a tour of the diocese’s media center, where participants were shown a demonstration of various equipment and artificial intelligence tools that they can use to help their parishes operate in an increasingly digital world. On Nov 2., participants will gather at St. Paul’s to listen to guest speakers address a variety of topics.

Alan Yarborough, church relations officer for the Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations, and Lindsey Delks, one of the office’s policy advisers, kickstarted the day’s sessions with a presentation on how to build “effective capacity for political advocacy.” Yarborough and Delks also explained what OGR and the Episcopal Public Policy Network staff do on a daily basis.

The Rev. Miguel Bustos, The Episcopal Church’s manager for racial reconciliation and justice, will present how to continue to push for justice and reconciliation and “keep the light going in dark times.”

The Rev. Fulton Porter, rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Chicago, Illinois, will discuss his work in bi-vocational ministry. In addition to being a priest, Porter is also the medical director of the hospitalist medicine program at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana.

Kyle Evans, chaplain of the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Episcopal Community Services, will present ECS’ work in helping to reduce intergenerational poverty in local communities “through faith and action.”

Other presenters on Nov. 2 include the Rev. Melanie Mullen, The Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care; the Rev. Kirk Berlenbach, canon for growth and support in the Diocese of Pennsylvania; and the Rev. Jane Gober, canon for the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s transition ministry.

“I’m excited that we are going to unleash all that is good and wonderful to [everyone at the Episcopal Urban Caucus assembly],” Casson said. 

On Nov. 3, additional guest speakers will offer presentations. Participants will also tour St. Paul’s, as well as Church of the Crucifixion, Church of the Advocate and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, all located in Philadelphia.

-Shireen Korkzan is a reporter and assistant editor for Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at skorkzan@episcopalchurch.org.