Things are beginning to get rolling at General Convention.
Probably the biggest thing that rolled through GC today though was the work of the US Supreme Court which ruled that Marriage Equality is now the law of the land. The news came in the midst of the committee hearing on resolutions related to marriage and as The Very Rev Brian Baker reported that it “changed the tone of the room” so they “prayed for people feeling joy and people feeling grief or anxiety,” held a moment of silence and then adjourned to process this significant shift in American cultural life. Obviously there is a great deal of work yet to be done on this, but looking at Facebook and Twitter feeds using #GC78 shows a great deal of celebrating around the court’s decision. Bp Benhase (Georgia), speaking at the Press Conference, recalled the scriptural imperative to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. He said he was overjoyed at the decision, but also knows many are anxious and confounded.
Also related to marriage, the House of Bishops approved resolution A037 to Continue Work of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage which now goes to the House of Deputies.
There were also some important changes approved by the HoD (A090) to the canonical areas of knowledge that all candidates for ordination must show competence in, removing a whole category. Surprisingly, the area removed related to understanding of minority experiences, to wit;
(5) Studies in contemporary society, including the historical and contemporary experience of racial and minority groups, and cross-cultural ministry skills. Cross-cultural ministry skills may include the ability to communicate in a contemporary language other than one’s first language.
The resolution passed without discussion or debate but given the Church’s struggles to reach out to racial and ethnic minority populations this seems a surprising knowledge area to drop.
In areas of worship, the House of Bishops, approved A056 Authorize New Liturgical Resources: A Great Cloud of Witnesses; Weekday Eucharistic Propers which would replace Holy Women, Holy Men (which was a trial replacement for Lesser Feasts and Fasts) but with a series of seven criteria for inclusion. Criteria 2 (Christian Discipleship) allows for non-Christians to be included in our remembrances; “There may be occasional exceptions where not all of these promises are successfully kept, or when the person in question is not a Christian, yet the person’s life and work exemplify Christ, significantly impacting the ongoing life of the Church contributing to our fuller understanding of the Gospel.”
But honestly, Criteria 3 would seem to make it difficult to actually do so; “Those remembered should have been in their lifetime extraordinary, even heroic servants of God and God’s people for the sake, and after the example, of Jesus Christ.” We shall see, I imagine. Mind you, none of these celebrations are mandatory so…
And action taken on resolution A088 regarding the budget in the next three years is good news for all; “Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 78th General Convention direct the Executive Council to prepare, and the Program, Budget and Finance Committee of General Convention to present, a budget to the 79th General Convention in which diocesan commitments for funding the budget are set at a rate no higher than 15% for each year of the triennium (2016-2018)”
And in a couple of matters pertaining to the organization of the House of Deputies, the Rev Gay Clark Jennings was re-elected as President of the House (she was unopposed) and the HoD voted on a completely new Rule of Order for the House (A152)
Tomorrow brings the election of the next Presiding Bishop and in the House of Deputies, they will be celebrating the 230th Anniversary of the first meeting of the House of Deputies – so reasons to celebrate all around!