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W2W4: General Convention Edition

W2W4: General Convention Edition

Deputies and Bishops will begin traveling toward Austin and the 79th General Convention over the next several days. During the Convention, they will be considering a number of resolutions on the life and work of the Church, many of which address how it does business both within its own “walls” and out in the world. Some of the items which seem primed to cause a great deal of conversation include proposals to begin the process of revising the Prayer Book and Hymnal; addressing the epidemic of sexual harassment within the Church; and access to marriage rites for all.

From the report of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, which is available for download on the General Convention’s Blue Book page, regarding Hymnal revision:

“In response to Resolution 2015-D060, directing the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to devise a process for the revision of the hymnal, the SCLM declined to act. Our research determined no historical precedent in the Episcopal Church for a hymnal to be revised prior to the Book of Common Prayer. The SCLM would like General Convention to make decisions regarding whether or not to revise the 1979 Book of Common Prayer before any further decisions are made regarding revision of the Hymnal 1982.

“In addition, after reviewing The Hymnal Revision Feasibility Study produced by the Church Pension Group we discerned no widespread interest in revision.”

From the same report, regarding Prayer Book revision:

“… We combined four options into two options — a combination of (1) and (2), and a combination of (3) and (4). Essentially, Option One (1+2) envisions a decision by the upcoming General Convention to move into the revision process immediately, the first stage being to gather data, resources, and ideas, and then set up the structure to begin drafting immediately after 2021 General Convention. Option Two (3+4) envisions a slower pace, while remaining open to Prayer Book revision in the future. Option Two invites the whole church to broaden its familiarity with the 1979 Prayer Book and the history that underlies it, and provides for time to reflect as a body on the significance of common prayer in our tradition. These are the two options the SCLM is presenting to the 79th General Convention, culminating in two resolutions. The SCLM asks General Convention to choose an option and appropriate full funding for that option. The extensive background materials section is intended to support and equip General Convention to discern our collective path forward, to consider every possible angle in order to discern what is best for our church and to what God is calling us in this moment. Our report is intended to move our church toward unity through a process of collective discernment rather than to cause divisiveness by attempting to assert personal piety and individual liturgical preferences over that of others.”


As outlined in a press release from the Diocese of Long Island, the bishops of Long Island, Rhode Island, and Pittsburgh are proposing a way forward on marriage rites:

“The resolution seeks to ensure that all of God’s people have access to all the marriage liturgies of the church, regardless of diocese, while respecting the pastoral direction and conscience of the local bishop. Resolution B012 continues to authorize the two Trial Use Marriage Rites first authorized in 2015 without time limit and without seeking a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

“Given our particular time in history, this resolution provides a way forward for the whole church without the possible disruption of ministry that might be caused by the proposed revision of the Book of Common Prayer.”

The full text of B012 can be found here.

And last, but certainly not least, the full report of the House of Deputies Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation was also released earlier this week. As ENS reported on June 27, the resolutions offered by the committee,

“… focus on inclusive theology and language; disparities in pay, hiring, leave and pensions; changes to the Title IV disciplinary process and training; truth and reconciliation; and systemic social justice beyond the church. [The Rev. Gay] Jennings, who chaired the committee, told Episcopal News Service via email that the committee has, ‘worked efficiently, collaboratively and creatively to draft an impressive array of legislation.’ The Rev. Ruth Meyers, an alternate deputy in the Diocese of California, was vice-chair of the committee, and Jennings said she, ‘led an enormous amount of work on a tight timeline.” Jennings said she is grateful to Meyers and to, ‘all of the women whose efforts are leading the Episcopal Church to confess our sins of gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence against women and girls and to end the systemic sexism, misogyny and misuse of power that plague the church and the culture.’”

(A note on resolution numbering: The letter at the beginning of each resolution’s title designates the originating source of a resolution. “A” resolutions are proposed by standing committees and commissions, such as the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music; “B” resolutions are proposed by bishops; “C” resolutions are proposed by dioceses; and “D” resolutions are proposed by members of the House of Deputies.)

One can follow the progress of all current legislation on the Virtual Binder page.


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Tobias Stanislas Haller

Be B012, which I agree has a chance of passing and represents a reasonable interim step:

It is important to recall that marriage is sui generis among the church’s ministries. The ministers of marriage are the couple, not the priest, and certainly not the bishop — who has no role in marriage unless officiating, or, as I noted, permitting a priest to officiate at a marriage where one or both of the couple are divorced; and even in the latter case the bishop is not “permitting” the couple to marry, but “permitting” the cleric to officiate.

Prof Christopher Seitz

“reasonable interim step” — you give your game away, which is very useful.

B012 doesn’t exercise its logic, such as CP Bishops would take its offer seriously, on the grounds of its “interim” reasonableness.

B012 wants the CP Bishops to be assured that the BCP is not going to change. That is their modus vivendi.

The EDOD, for example, does not leave it to the Bishop to invent a teaching or a polity. They meet annually in convention. They have a teaching. Parishes agree these.

On your account couples exist as duos independent of all this. That is not the case.

Or more correctly, has not heretofore been the case.

Philip B. Spivey

One can see B012 as a reasonable step only if we believe that the sacrament of matrimony is different for different people. I do hope it passes because it will be as good as it gets in 2018. But let us at least acknowledge the fundamental fact that this is blatant tokenism. It says to non-heterosexual couples— that you are welcome to marry in our church, but instead of taking the front door, you’ll have to come in through the side, until we can get our act together enough to faithfully live the Gospel.

There’s no moral or theological basis for two-tiered matrimonial rites; its smacks solely of expediency; and in this era of the Jesus Movement, sadly we find ourselves extending a qualified-love to some of our neighbors. We find ourselves extending half-a-loaf.

A woke church is a healthy church.

Prof Christopher Seitz

“the fundamental fact that this is blatant tokenism”

Then why would you agree this immorality? By all means get the job done. You have no excuse to let this continue. And who of your ‘oppenents’ is benefitted by your hypocrisy?

Philip B. Spivey

I’ve stated it before and I’ll state it again: The notion of separate marriage rites for heterosexual couples and “LGBT” couples has become an anachronism in 2018. This “separate but equal” mentality will not stand the test of time. [[Shall we also revise the rites of ordination? One for men and one for women?]

I see no rush to revise the Prayer Book; I pray that when it is ultimately revised, that it will wisely embrace a universal marriage rite. I say: Equal rites for all!

Prof Christopher Seitz

So is B012 not for you?

Your urgent/insistent voice is very likely TEC representative.

Philip B. Spivey

Is half a communion wafer better than none? You tell me, professor.

Prof Christopher Seitz

half a wafer better than none?

btw, I don’t think the sacrament is measurable like an oreo cookie.

On the topic, I don’t anticipate GC will approve compromises like B012. So you can enjoy your full cookie!

Prof Christopher Seitz

B012 is certainly a valiant effort. I wonder what happens in the 8 dioceses which B012 grants a DEPO possibility for LGBT couples, when such couples are in parishes that are not in favor? B012 covers a lot of variables, but not this one.

I do wonder if it is too compromising for the rank and file in the HOD. It does not call for BCP rites and it wants to honor Bishops in the 8 diocese not allowing access by setting up a DEPO scheme. It probably reflects the mind of the HOB.

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