Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers, EDEIO, is the national network of those designated by their diocesan bishops with special responsibility for encouraging the search for the wider visible unity of Christ’s Church and collegial relationships with members of other religions.
EDEIO provides support and training for diocesan ecumenical and interreligious officers, encourages ecumenical activity within parishes and dioceses, enhances communication throughout the Episcopal Church about ecumenism, and encourages collaboration among all those whose ministries have an ecumenical and interreligious dimension.
Communication is at the heart of EDEIO’s mission. EDEIO’s network is uniquely situated to bring the fruits of national and international dialogues to dioceses and congregations; to communicate diocesan and congregational experience to the Ecumenical Officer of The Episcopal Church; and to share within the network ecumenical successes, challenges, strategies and needs. Executive Council, the Presiding Officers, the Ecumenical and Interreligious Deputy at the Church Center, and EDEIO are charged with upholding the ecumenical and interreligious imperatives and implementing actions adopted by the General Convention.
EDEIO supports ecumenical and interreligious activity through educational events at parish, diocesan, provincial, and churchwide forums. It regularly hosts ecumenical guests and dignitaries at General Convention, where its presence serves to focus attention on ecumenical issues. It works to urge this Church to provide the necessary resources to further the ultimate goal of visible unity.
The studies initiated and carried out by EDEIO in cooperation with our ecumenical partners help to ground the expectations and goals of this Church in present realities, identify opportunities, and lift up the hope for progress towards unity.
Late in the 1950s, the then Joint Commission on Ecumenical Relations suggested that each diocese appoint an ecumenical officer. In 1964 an ecumenical officer, Peter Day, was appointed for the national church. Many bishops appointed diocesan officers, and in 1966 the first meeting of these officers was held in Chicago.
In 1969 diocesan officers were invited by the Roman Catholic National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical Officers (NADEO) through the national Ecumenical Office to join a National Workshop on Christian Unity, held in Philadelphia.
In 1970 diocesan officers met after the National Workshop on Christian Unity in Kansas City to receive a proposal from the Consultation on Church Union of a Plan of a Union. Dioceses then had a specific task: to study and report on the proposal. At this meeting the establishment of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission was also announced.
In 1971 the practice of denominational sessions prior to the National Workshop was initiated. With leadership from John Cosby as Assistant Ecumenical Officer, this meeting in Houston gave many the idea of a more permanent organization.
At Toledo in 1973 the Episcopal meeting resolved to ask Peter Day formally to appoint an ad hoc committee to study the situation and to present a proposal for a national organization of diocesan ecumenical officers.
After careful preparation by the committee, EDEO was officially organized in Charleston on March 13-14, 1974. More than fifty diocesan officers were present. By-laws were adopted, and John Bonner (Tennessee) was elected first chairman.
Bonner was succeeded in 1978 by William B. Lawson (Massachusetts), followed in 1982 by Warren Crews (Arkansas), in 1984 by Henry A. Male, Jr. (Bethlehem), in 1988 by Charles S. Womelsdorf (Western Louisiana), in 1992 by Richard W. Townley (New Jersey), in 1994 by Midge Roof (Indianapolis), in 1998 by Robert Miner (Connecticut), in 2002 by Arthur Geissler (Massachusetts), in 2006 by David Veal (NW Texas), and in 2010 by Daniell Hamby. David Simmons has been president of EDEIO since 2016.
In conjunction with SCER and the Executive Council, a major triennial ecumenical study was carried out by EDEO in 1977-1979, with detailed surveys of existing practices and attitudes and diocesan and provincial consultations throughout the country, culminating in a National Consultation on Ecumenism in Detroit in 1979. This led to the book A Communion of Communions: One Eucharistic Fellowship. A follow-up National Consultation on Ecumenism in the Local Church took place in 1994. Meanwhile in 1979 William A. Norgren succeeded Peter Day as National Ecumenical Officer.
The EDEO-NADEO Standing Committee, begun in 1978, published studies on Anglican-Roman Catholic covenants, ecumenical marriages between Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, baptism, eucharist, ordained ministry and authority, the last three being responses to The Final Report.
A joint committee with the network of Lutheran Ecumenical Representatives (LERN) began in 1984 with surveys on interim eucharistic sharing and joint activities.
As part of a three-year ecumenical emphasis in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral mandated by the 1988 General Convention, EDEO published a compilation of ecumenical activities in the USA entitled Models of Ecumenism. In addition, EDEO contributed to the cost of a special edition of the Anglican Theological Review entitled Quadrilateral at One Hundred.
EDEO contributed a survey and participated in the 1993 Riverdale Consultation on Ecclesiology. Its report and papers are in Ecumenism of the Possible: Witness, Theology and the Future Church, available from Forward Movement Publications.
Membership includes the ecumenical officer and the associate ecumenical officer (if any) from each diocese.
The chief officer is the national president, elected for a three-year term and a vice-president is also elected for a three-year term at the EDEIO meeting next after each General Convention. The secretary and a finance officer are appointed by the president.
Nine provincial coordinators are elected by the officers of their dioceses for two-year terms, with possible re-election to a second term. Their duties are to communicate ecumenical activity to the diocesan ecumenical officers of the province, to call meetings for regional consultations, to advise when necessary, and to report news of ecumenical interest for inclusion in EDEIO publications.
The Executive Committee consists of the president, vice-president, secretary, provincial coordinators, and the Ecumenical Officer of the Episcopal Church. The president may appoint two members-at-large to provide necessary balances.
The EDEIO Executive Committee acts for the organization between Annual Meetings, plans the Annual Meeting, and sends a representative to the National Workshop Planning Committee. There have been numerous Episcopalians who have chaired the National Workshop, most recently the Rev. Christopher Agnew.