General Convention is kicking into high gear as the Bishops and Deputies race the calendar to the finish line, with hundreds of resolutions and the budget still to be decided. Both Houses will work a third legislative session this evening. In the meantime, here’s a taste of the many things happening earlier today:
The big news of the morning – not unexpected, but historic – was the vote in the House of Deputies, matching the Bishops in unanimity, to restore Cuba as a Diocese of the Episcopal Church.
PHOD Gay Jennings called for a moment of silence, saying, “This is a historic vote.” Then she invited all in favor to signify by saying, “Si.” Immediately upon the vote, the House rose to a standing ovation as the Bishop of Cuba and the delegation were escorted to the podium.
— Episcopal Diocese TX (@TexasDiocese) July 11, 2018
The Rt Revd Griselda Delgado del Carpio, speaking in Spanish with English translation, said,
Right now, I know that the Holy Spirit is blowing upon this entire Convention and that it is moving, moving here for all of us, to really work with it in this very difficult world, to make sure that we fulfill the needs of this world.
And we meet like this in Convention to put the family in order. That’s what’s behind it. And this is done so that we can welcome everyone and have space for everything that moves amongst us. We are a family, and a family that keeps growing. …
And I want to express my love and my gratitude to each one of you because you have opened the doors. You have welcomed us, you have embraced us, and you have worked with us. We have prayed, we have been singing, and we have done all of this in the spirit of this historic moment which is so special, in which two churches are becoming one. …
Jennings responded, “Welcome home,” and presented the bishop with a scarf printed with the shield of the Episcopal Church.
The Office of Public Affairs explains the process for reunification.
A Christmas miracle in July
Many saw the movement of the Spirit continue in the miracle of a unanimous vote by orders, this time adopting A111, which allows two or more dioceses to merge. The measure now goes to the Bishops.
— Susan Russell (@revsusanrussell) July 11, 2018
President’s Medal of Honor
In other HOD business, the Revd Jon Floberg, who has worked faithfully with the people of Standing Rock, was awarded the President’s Medal of Honor.
— Jamie McMahon (@luminousdrkness) July 11, 2018
Sexism, harassment, and exploitation
Resolution C060, Breaking the Episcopal Stained Glass Ceiling, passed both Houses, setting up a task force “to research sexism in The Episcopal Church, and the role it plays in pay equity, status, and gender-based harassment.”
Also passing its second House today was D016, Seeking Truth, Reconciliation and Restoration, which begins
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention as members of the Body of Christ, confess our sins of gender-based discrimination, harassment, and violence against women and girls in all their forms as we understand these sins, which include, but are not limited to, sexual and gender harassment, sexual assault, physically, spiritually, and emotionally abusive behavior, and oppression based on gender, particularly as these sins have denigrated and devalued women and their ministries; acknowledge that within our patriarchal culture, the misuse of power and authority is primarily exercised by men with the vast majority of victims being women; acknowledge that we have created a culture of excuses, justifications, enabling, and dishonesty around gender-based discrimination and violence; have not heard the experiences of women with the goal of justice through acts of contrition, restoration, and reconciliation; declare that we as the Church seek to turn from the systems of oppression, patriarchy, ableism, heteronormativity, white supremacy, and our colonial legacy, among others, and seek to engage in restoration of the dignity of women and reconciliation from past acts, beginning with confessing to God and to one another the truth that we have not loved God with our whole heart, and mind, and strength, and that we have not loved, respected, and honored the presence, gifts, equality, and ministry of women, seeing in them the presence of Christ; confess that we have embraced patriarchal power, and in doing so, have exploited women and been blind to injustice and prejudice; and declare that we seek to repent and be restored to God and to each other, with the Church and each diocese declaring a period of fasting and repentance for this sin.
Israel and Palestine
The House of Bishops reversed the Deputies’ decision on D019, Ending Church Complicity in the Occupation, which would have set up “a human rights social criteria investment screen based on the social teachings of this Church and 70 years of Church policy on Israel/Palestine by General Convention and Executive Council.” Further resolutions on human rights issues in the occupied territories have yet to be decided.
HOD set the seal on resolution D002, already passed by the Bishops. Funding the Work of the Beloved Community, the resolution asked for $5 million in the budget for the triennium, “for the implementation of additional work of organizing our efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow a Beloved Community of healers, justice makers and reconcilers.”
The Houses came together for their first look at the proposed budget, which did not allocate the $5 million requested, but did increase the budget for racial reconciliation work to more than $2.5 million. More details on the budget to follow as the Houses debate the fine print. In the meantime, a thought from Twitter:
Budgets are very important. They are missional documents in the sense that they reveal our priorities. The presentation of them is also dreadfully boring. Deadly. There’s nothing to be done. It’s just dry. Especially when you’re tired. #GC79
— Jody Howard (@FrJody) July 11, 2018
Prayer Book Reform
After extensive debate and amendment in the House of Deputies over the weekend, a replacement A068 was sent back by the Bishops. The resolution sets up a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision, and provides
That the TFLPBR in consultation with the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons is directed to propose to the 80th General Convention revisions to the Constitution and Canons to enable The Episcopal Church to be adaptive in its engagement of future generations of Episcopalians, multiplying, connecting, and disseminating new liturgies for mission, attending to prayer book revision in other provinces of the Anglican Communion.
It also “memorializes” the 1979 Book of Common Prayer “as a Prayer Book of the church.”
No one seems to be entirely certain what is meant by the resolution as a whole, but it was embraced as the last best chance to initiate some kind of Prayer Book reform process this Convention.
Really, this is like Peak Episcopal right here. It’s the perfect solution. So many words, that we aren’t entirely sure what they mean, but gosh darn it, we are 90% sure we like what we think they mean. Which is all different. #GC79
— Megan Castellan (@revlucymeg) July 11, 2018
Marriage for All
The Bishops adopted B012, Marriage Rites for the Whole Church, as amended by the Deputies, with one amendment of their own, to ensure “that nothing in this Resolve [That under the canonical direction of the Rector or Member of the Clergy in charge and where permitted to do so by civil law, provision will be made for all couples desiring to use these marriage liturgies in their local congregation or worshipping community] narrows the authority of the Rector or Priest-in-Charge.” The amended resolution now heads back to the Deputies for final adoption.
Inclusion of Transgender People
Finally (for now), the Bishops concurred with the Deputies on C054, Inclusion of Transgender People, affirming that
We believe that all people are created in the image of God and that all people are beloved children of God. Because this is true,
- We will protect the rights and respect the dignity of transgender and non-binary persons, refusing to reject, judge, abuse, belittle or in any way dehumanize them.
- We will engage the complex realities for transgender and non-binary persons in our churches, schools, and camps, and not yield to the temptation to ignore those realities.
- We will recognize and accept our responsibility to protect the privacy of transgender and non-binary persons.
- We will make decisions about how to support transgender and non-binary minors in our schools and camps in sensitive and appropriate communication with their parents.
- We will provide a safe environment for transgender and non-binary persons, for those who support them, and for those who do not understand our commitment to these principles.
- We will stay flexible in response to the complex and changing ramifications of this work by being open to relevant stories, to emerging information, and to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Featured image: captured from The Episcopal Church on Facebook livestream earlier today