From the Association for Episcopal Deacons comes a call for the church to spark a conversation in 2013 around issues of poverty.
The Board of Directors of the Association for Episcopal Deacons has voted to sponsor and seek adoption at General Convention of the following resolution:Resolved that the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church call upon its members to begin every meeting in calendar year 2013, whether at the parish, diocesan or church-wide level and no matter what the purpose, with this agenda item: "How will what we are doing here affect or involve people living in poverty?"
The resolution is based on a decree issued several years ago by the late Roman Catholic Bishop Kenneth E. Untener of Saginaw, Michigan, which led to a heightened awareness within his diocese “not only about the poor, but also about us, and how we think about (or don't think about) the poor.” (See “How Should We Think About the Poor” from Catholic Update.) Similar resolutions have been adopted recently by the Episcopal Dioceses of Atlanta and Indianapolis.
“Care and empowerment for people living on the margins of society is certainly one of the core messages proclaimed in the gospel, but too often the needs and concerns of people of living in poverty are treated as an afterthought or ignored completely when we are doing the church’s business,” said Deacon Pamela Nesbit, President of AED. “This is not an abstract or theoretical issue; many people are extremely concerned about the proposed church budget that has just been released, a document that seems to completely ignore our mission and who we are as a church in favor of maintaining buildings and the offices of church leaders,” she added.
The AED Board voted unanimously to sponsor this resolution at a meeting that immediately followed AED’s annual Archdeacons and Formation Directors Conference, held this year at the Maritime Center near Baltimore, Maryland. Shortly after the Board’s action, the resolution was submitted to the Office of General Convention by the Rt. Rev. J. Michael Garrison, Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of Southwest Florida and an AED Board member, with the endorsements of the Rt. Rev. Cate Waynick, Bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis (which is hosting the General Convention and recently adopted a similar resolution), and the Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern California.
Consistent with the practice that it hopes to see adopted churchwide, the AED Board is including "How will what we are doing here affect or involve people living in poverty?" as an agenda item at all of its meetings, and it urges other church entities to adopt this practice whether or not the resolution is adopted at General Convention. The AED Board also voted to send a letter to all Bishops and Deputies, urging them to make the effects of their actions on people living in poverty a part of every meeting, discussion, or time of personal study and reflection on convention business. “With the issues currently facing the church and convention, particularly the proposed budget, we obviously don’t want our deputies to put off thinking about people living in poverty to a later time after the important decisions of this convention have been made and the future direction of this church has already been determined,” said Nesbit.
The Association for Episcopal Deacons is a membership organization that promotes and serves as an information source for the diaconate; that helps the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and churches elsewhere in communion with diocesan programs of selection, formation, deployment, and support of deacons; and that provides support and assistance for deacons and other persons interested in the servant ministry of the Church. Prior to 2011, it was known as the North American Association for the Diaconate.