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#GC79 Update for July 9th

#GC79 Update for July 9th

There was movement on the big issues of marriage equality and BCP revision, but other business continued apace as well.


Marriage Equality

The House of Deputies (HoD) approved B012 Marriage rites for the Whole Church, with amendment.  The resolution now goes back to committee to try to craft a compromise between the slightly different versions passed by each house.


Prayer Book Revision

The House of Bishops (HoB) took up A068 Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer

In their discussion, there were concerns expressed about retaining the traditional Trinitarian formula (Father, Son & Holy Spirit), the extensive cost of the project (2 million dollars in the first 3 years of an [at least] 12-year process), and whether or not this is the best project to undertake at this point in the life of the church.

Bishop Anne E Hodges-Copple addresses the HoB (from livestream)

Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple, Suffragan Bishop in North Carolina, rose to speak in support of the revision, saying she wasn’t concerned about the cost and timing because the history of BCP revision has shown increasing engagement with the world in mission at each step.  Calling on the bishops to trust she said; “I hear fear, and th;s surprising to me for a group that talks a lot about courage.”

Ultimately, the bishops decided to put off their vote until tomorrow.

Also best line in the debate from bishop Johnston of Virginia: “Prayer C, the lesiure-suit of liturgics”




Seminaries and Seminarians

HoB adopted with amendment A027 New Funding for Clergy Formation

The task force committee shall be made up of two (2) bishops, three (3) priests or deacons, and five (5) members of the laity. It shall develop and implement a plan to provide need-based central scholarship funding to individuals pursuing theological education who are preparing to serve as priests or deacons in non-stipendiary, or part-time positions or in bi-vocational ministries in small congregations. This plan shall work to expand the funding available to aspiring priests and deacons who are engaged in theological education other than full-time seminary education. In addition to considering other funding sources, the task force committee shall examine the possible use of donor-directed endowment funds held in trust by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society [DFMS] as a partial means to fulfill this mandate; and be it further


The HoB also chose to not pass A007 Establish Committee to Study Relationship of Episcopal Seminaries with General Convention, One Another and the Wider Church



HoB approved with amendment A005 Continue a Church-wide Network for Planting Churches that deleted language requiring matching funds from dioceses, reduced funding level by 1 million (to 5.8 million)


Transgender Identities in Church Records

HoD approve (a substitute) A088 Proposed Guidelines for Amending Church Records that directs the office of the Archives to determine a process for changing genders in church records for Trans folks.  They are to have a plan in place and approved by Executive Council by the end of 2019


Parochial Reports

Two Resolution moved through the HoB regarding Parochial reports. A051 Modify Parochial Report would add information on Safe Church Audits as required by the Model Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth and the Model Policies for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults approved in 2017 and A053 Design a New Parochial Report would direct a redesign with input from key stakeholders and also directs a redesign of the online interface that would allow data to be integrated into other networked tools for broader sharing and analysis.  These are scheduled for the HoD tomorrow.


Evening Worship

The theme of today’s worship was Reconciliation, with the Right Reverend Dr. Prince G. Singh, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, New York, preaching; he came to the United States 25 years ago with his wife, Dr. Roja Singh.

“You, the Episcopal Church, have received us with abundant grace. People like me belong in this church. I think we can help ‘curry up’ the Jesus Movement.”

After laughter:

“Sorry, that was tacky. But seriously, I stand here in solidarity with my many siblings from Asia and other parts of the world who do not get represented in leadership very often…

I take comfort that I am among practitioners of love.”

He drew from the Old Testament reading, the story of Noah (Genesis 8:12-17, 20-22) as well as from the Gospel of Luke (23:32-43).

“Listen to God in the Noah story. ‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind…’

Noah’s generation received a wake-up call from God.”

“If God can repent, people in power can repent, and say sorry, not necessarily because they were wrong, but because they did not show mercy, or they went too far.”

Other Commemorations

General Convention celebrated camps and conference centers today.

Many expressed the need for more women in the House of Bishops by wearing purple scarves:

Today was also declared Lent Madness Day, and the vote was held and results announced for the 2019 first bracket:

Social Media Commentary

…and Flat Jesus and General Convention Pigeon continued to make the rounds:

–social media and worship additions from contributing editor Cara Modisett



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Prof Christopher Seitz

It bears repeating something said often but not widely heard. The canon I.18.7 was written to provide pastoral discretion for clergy in respect of couples for whom reservations arose, give the sacramental nature of ordination (whatever that may now mean) in the context of marriage preparation. Clergy will know how this can happen; I do.

In 2015 the canon was artificially bootstrapped into a debate, of a different character, and offered as a kind of consolation prize for those with misgivings about same-sex marriage, not individual couples, something for which it was never designed and that is inappropriate to its purpose.

We now find the same canon put to even further contrived application: now that all couples will have access to these new rites, it is a kind of last “opt-out clause” for rectors who nevertheless must see to provision being made for same-sex marriage whether they or their parish like that or not.

Philip B. Spivey

Goooool: Relieved that B012 passed and gratified that it passed with such an overwhelming majority. Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what it finally adds up to after the amendments.

2030 is some time away; God willing, I’ll be a real old man by then. Given the pace of change these days, they’ll be plenty of time to level the matrimonial-rites playing field by then. In a recent post, someone remarked that getting young Episcopalians (very) involved in the revision of the Prayer Book would be crucial; especially because they will have to live with this revision for a v-e-r-y long time!

Prof Christopher Seitz

I cannot tell from the wording of HOD B012 if rectors must allow ssm in congregations over which they have charge, even if existing canons protect their own individual conscience otherwise from involvement. This looks like a place where lots of conflict could arise.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Canon I.18.7 is consistent with your last statement.

At issue is whether the first resolve seeks loosely to respect that, but comprehends the role of the Rector differently. He/she do not have to preside (to use your language). He/she “shall make provision for all couples.” (BTW, that is the same language used for the Bishops in 2015). Not even said here is that the parish must agree, but that is a different point.

One can read this B012 language as saying Canon I.18.7 applies to a particular conscience matter, and B012 speaks of couples always and everywhere having provision.

I doubt this is accidental. B012 wants all couples to have ss marriage when requested. Canon I.18.7 exists and would take some work to change, so its meaning is restricted to capacity to decline to officiate, and alongside it is placed rectors making provision.

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