From the Episcopal Public Policy Network reflecting on General Convention and the next triennium:
As we arrive upon a quieter time of summer, when lawmakers head home for their summer recesses and the schedules in most of our church communities provide for some time of rest and re-creation, we in the Office of Government Relations take this opportunity to provide our members an update on the public-policy actions of the 77th General Convention that met in Indianapolis in July. As ever, the Convention provided the staff in Washington — and, even more importantly, Episcopalians throughout the Church — with new clarity about how our identity as Christians might shape our voice in the public square.
I was struck by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s description of the General Convention’s work in her recent message to the Church, finding it to be particularly apt for the Convention’s public-policy work. “The way we worked together also represented a new reality, working to adapt more creatively to our diverse nature as a Church, the Presiding Bishop wrote. “On issue after issue, the resolutions addressed by General Convention emerged in creative responses that considered, but did not end in, the polarized positions expected as we went into Convention. People listened to the movement of the Spirit and discerned a way forward that was mutually upbuilding, rather than creating greater divisiveness or win-lose outcomes.”
The Presiding Bishop’s message noted, as did my own recent commentary for the Episcopal News Service, that this spirit was particularly manifest in the faithful approach of bishops and deputies to public policy surrounding the Arab-Israeli Palestinian conflict. Having closely witnessed the wider scope of the Convention’s work on social justice, however, I believe it was true in many other areas as well. From an extraordinarily diverse legislative committee on National and International Concerns (diverse in age, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, geographic background, and political ideology) to the floors of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, we saw a holy process in which participants recognized that the work of advocacy belongs to the whole Church, and that for the Episcopal Church to be most effective and most credible in its witness, we must draw all voices to the table.
I was impressed throughout the Convention at the degree to which deputies and bishops listened to one another, to the impressive cast of witnesses who came to testify on specific pieces of legislation (some coming to Indianapolis for that sole purpose!), and to the voices of Anglicans and others who live in places around the world affected by our advocacy.
Along with my colleagues in the Office of Government Relations, I look forward to working with each of you in the coming triennium in our shared work to implement the public-policy resolutions of this Convention.
In Christ’s enduring peace,
Director of Government Relations
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