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Book of Occasional Services, 2018, approved for use by General Convention

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 3:44pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] On July 11, the evening of the so-called “after-dark legislative sessions,” the House of Bishops voted on Resolution A218, which called for the 79th General Convention to approve a working version of the Book of Occasional Services 2018, containing specific services that have been updated by the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music during this past triennium, and tweaked by the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music at this convention.

This was a substitute resolution for A064 on revision of the Book of Occasional Services, originally submitted by SCLM. A064 was substituted with three more specific resolutions, all of which have been passed by convention:

  • A218 offers the revised sections of the BOS for use and review in the next triennium.
  • A219 refers specific liturgies in the BOS back to SCLM for revision.
  • A283 adds three “Multicultural Liturgies for Occasional Services,” specifically Las Posadas, the Feast of the Virgen de Guadalupe (Dec. 12) and El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to the 2018 version of BOS.

Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, told the bishops on July 11 that there were no major substantive changes in the amended Resolution A218 to the liturgies, but editorial corrections and clarifications to liturgical directions in the rubrics had been made. The committee softened the language “so that someone reading it would not throw the book across the sacristy,” said Alexander, referring to directions that could have been interpreted as “snarky, bordering on offensive.”

The recommendation to the House of Bishops was to adopt the resolution as amended.

The Rev. Susan Anslow Williams, deputy from Michigan and chair of the deputies’ committee, said in her introduction of Resolution A218 to the House of Deputies on July 13 that the resolution contains texts ready for use from SCLM or the committee. “A crack team reviewed these texts, and any typos will be tagged and corrected.” She asked that these corrections not stand in the way of concurring with the HOB.

“SCLM had not had enough time or funding in the last triennium to complete the revision of the entire Book of Occasional Services,” Williams said. In the meantime, a separate resolution had passed, referring the sections not completed back to SCLM for work over the next triennium. The services offered in Resolution A218 will be available for use in a digital format, and the previous printed edition [2003] is still available for use.

An example of one of the revisions made by the committee can be found in paragraph 80 of the resolution. In the Service for the Anniversary of a Marriage, the revision changes the language to be inclusive: “Immediately after the Sermon (and the Creed if appointed), the Husband and Wife Couple present themselves before the presider, who stands facing the people.”

Most of the comments from the floor of the HOB were editorial corrections and bishops pointing out typos. For example, paragraph 118 of the resolution states, “We who are many in one body, share one break, one cup…” The bishops got a good laugh about that one in particular.

Flags also were raised about potential issues with the translation into Spanish. Bishop Lloyd Allen of Honduras said, “I’m sorry if I am going to be a little picky about this: In the copy I have, there is one copy translated into Spanish, but we have to be very careful because a word can mean one thing in one country and another (thing) in another.” He cited paragraph 33 in which “We welcome new people into a new parish” can be translated into Spanish as “We receive…,” which has a very different liturgical meaning.

Alexander responded that the Task Force on Translation provided input to the committee throughout the process of revising the text received from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. The task force advised that the committee would work to “perfect the English text the best we could” and the task force would translate it into Spanish with consideration for dialect and culture differences.

Another point was raised that some titles are not used universally. Not every cathedral has a “dean,” one bishop said – some are provosts and others might be interim deans – but the text refers to “dean” throughout the Seating of a Bishop in a Cathedral service. “These are optional texts in italics that can be freely used, so the committee expected that a cathedral with a provost or interim would make that change as needed,” Alexander responded.

Satisfied with the brief discussion, the bishops voted unanimously to adopt A218. The House of Deputies concurred on July 13 with no debate or comments, and the final version of the resolution is here.

In addition, Resolution A283, adding three multicultural liturgies to the Book of Occasional Services 2018, passed both houses during the July 13 morning legislative sessions. Deputy Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas of Arizona stood in favor of the resolution, saying, “As one of the reviewers of this resolution, I am excited.” Gonzalez-Bonillas said she realizes that this is not the last time the church will review multicultural liturgies, but that she loves new beginnings.

The Rev. Carlos de la Torre, deputy from Connecticut, was also excited about what he said were the new beginnings that these liturgies bring. However, he cautioned that as the church “thinks about multicultural liturgies, there is such a big raft of different celebrations; this is the reality of Latinx culture and identity. As we move forward, we have to look at the Pan-Latino culture.”

When the resolution reached the House of Bishops for concurrence, about an hour after passing the House of Deputies, it was passed with no debate.

– Sharon Tillman is a freelance writer for Episcopal News Service.

Dioceses can now explore establishing ties with different provinces

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 3:40pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Over the next three years, dioceses will have an opportunity to review the province they are currently in and explore whether they wish to become affiliated with a different province.

As approved by the 79th General Convention, Resolution A072 is an outgrowth of a review by the Task Force to Study Provinces. The task force was charged with studying the potential effects of eliminating the provinces and considering what structures might replace them that would support the ministry and mission of the church.

Rather than recommend that provinces be eliminated, the task force instead proposed allowing dioceses to align with the province that “best suits their identity and needs.”

The resolution specifically enables each diocese to “review its involvement in and relationship to its current province, and faithfully discern whether, based on its identify, gifts and needs, it may wish to explore established constitutional and canonical paths toward becoming a constituent diocese of a different province.”

In making its recommendations, the task force said that “the pattern of having some type of structure connecting the diocesan level with the church is important. Rather than invent something new, the recommendation is to look at what already exists and maximize what is working, as well as shifting what may not be working in each of the provinces.”

– Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. He is a member of ENS General Convention reporting team and can be reached at rmp231@gmail.com.

General Convention speaks against humanitarian crisis in Israel-Palestine despite shelving ‘divestment’

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 1:29pm

The House of Bishops votes on one of the four Israel-Palestine resolutions it took up July 13, the last day of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas.

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The 79th General Convention wrapped up its consideration of resolutions relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on July 13, with mixed results due largely to the House of Bishops unwillingness to take many of the bolder steps urged by the House of Deputies.

Of the 15 resolutions submitted on Israel-Palestine going into General Convention, only six passed both houses, though the successful resolutions still touch on a range of issues, including the plight of Palestinian children, the status of Jerusalem, the disproportionate use of lethal force on both sides and ways the Episcopal Church can press for peace through its investments.

Bishops and deputies, even those arguing for a tougher stance against the conditions of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, took pains to affirm Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself, citing longstanding church policy toward the region. And while the bishops rejected the most controversial resolution, D019, saying it amounted to a dangerous “divestment” from Israel, General Convention’s deliberations over the past week have highlighted what many see as an escalating humanitarian crisis in the region.

“We need to really stand with Palestinians at this point,” Virginia Bishop Associate Robert Ihloff said in the morning session on the final day of General Convention. “It is not an even playing field.”

Ihloff was speaking in favor of Resolution C038, which calls on Israel to safeguard the rights of Palestinian children in Israel’s military detention system. Joining the House of Deputies, the bishops passed C038 in a rather one-sided voice vote. Related resolutions were approved earlier in the week by both houses with relatively little objection: B021, supporting the resumption of humanitarian aid to Palestinians; B003, regarding the status of Jerusalem as shared Holy City, and D018, reflecting on the deterioration of negotiations toward a two-state solution.

Even allowing debate on D019 in the House of Deputies was seen as progress over three years ago, when a similar measure at General Convention was defeated by the bishops before it got to the deputies’ calendar.

The Rev. Brian Grieves, deputy from the Diocese of Hawaii, speaks in favor of the resolution he proposed about ending the church’s complicity in the Israeli occupation. “Palestinian lives matter.” The Rev. Hillary Raining, deputy from Pennsylvania, speaks against Resolution D019 during the special order of business on Israel-Palestine in the House of Deputies on July 9. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

D019 sought to end what proponents say is the church’s financial complicity in the Israeli occupation through its investments in companies that profit from human rights abuses there. That resolution was taken up as a special order of business July 9 through an expedited process recommended by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies. That process also established the House of Deputies as the house of initial action for all Israel-Palestine resolutions.

Resolution D019 would have asked Executive Council, based on 70 years of church policy toward the Middle East conflict, to research and develop a plan by 2019 for a “human rights investment screen” for church investments in the region. The deputies voted 74 percent in favor, but the bishops defeated the resolution July 11, with 62 percent voting no.

After that vote, Sarah Lawton, deputy from the Diocese of California and chair of the Social Justice and International Policy Committee, said she was disappointed by the bishops’ decision to reject D019 but still saw opportunities for General Convention to raise its voice on the conflict through the other resolutions.

“Given how things are getting so much worse and dire, both the [Israeli] settlements and the human rights issues, I think it would be useful to understand how things are shifting and also the role of the U.S. government,” Lawton told Episcopal News Service on July 11. “I wish the bishops would have more time to reflect on how that situation is changing there.”

The bishops on July 13 joined the deputies in speaking out on some of those issues, even passing Resolution B016, which echoes D019 in its use of the phrase “human rights investment screen.” Bishop Dan Edwards of Nevada spoke in favor of B016 before the vote, saying it balances use of targeted divestment when appropriate with the use of shareholder activism when that might produce greater results.

“There is a time to disinvest, and there is a time to do shareholder activism,” Edwards said. “This resolution provides for both of those. To do one without the other is to limp badly.”

The voice vote on that resolution was close enough that Curry requested a show of hands to confirm it had passed.

The bishops were far less divided on the other Israel-Palestine resolutions. While support was nearly unanimous for the resolution regarding Palestinian children, the bishops’ response to D038, raising civil rights concerns,  and D039, describing Israel as an “apartheid” state, was nearly united in opposition.

“Israel is not an apartheid state,” said retired Bishop Ed Little of Diocese of Northern Indiana, a consistent voice against the Israeli-Palestinian resolutions.

Use of that word alone may have been enough to defeat D039, though some of the bishops agreed that an unjust system of segregation and discrimination exists in Israel. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Anglican leader who was a pivotal figure in the fight to end apartheid in South Africa, also spoke in favor of taking a tougher stance toward Israel in a statement he released before General Convention with former House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Patti Browning, widow of former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning.

“I speak from a place of deep and profound respect for Archbishop Tutu,” Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor began his remarks on D039, but he disagreed that the “powerful word” chosen by the resolution was appropriate – at least not yet.

“Episcopalians are famous for taking words seriously. I would support this resolution without the word “apartheid,’” he said. “I fear that we may need the word back in another more appropriate context.”

Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton rose not only to speak against D039 but also to question why General Convention had spent so much time on Israel-Palestine. He said he supported and voted for some of the measures but asked, “Why the fixation on Israel?”

“I’m disturbed by the number of resolutions brought forward about this conflict, as if we here can suggest that we actually know what the problems are,” he said. “There’s a sense of piling on here in these resolutions.”

The apartheid resolution was defeated easily, as was D038, on civil rights in Israel, after a concern was raised about some of the later resolution’s supporting material.

General Convention has voted in support of Middle East peace for decades, though Israel-Palestine has become one of the thorniest topics at recent General Conventions, particularly the question of divestment.

Tarek Abuata of the pro-Palestinian Friends of Sabeel North America testifies July 6 at a hearing on General Convention resolutions related to Israel and Palestine. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The expedited process at this year’s General Convention was intended to ensure full, open and productive discussion of the issues, and that openness was on display July 6 at the hearing on the resolutions. Nearly 50 people testified, most of them in favor of passage.

After D019’s defeat, Lawton suggested there remained a disparity between the deputies and bishops in time spent deliberating on that and other resolutions. Some bishops expressed their own reservations about the process, saying they would have welcomed more substantive discussions before voting on what all agreed were complex issues.

Bishop Suffragan Jeff Fisher of Texas, who is on the board of Episcopal Peace Fellowship, offered that organization’s participation if the bishops wished to pursue such conversations formally. The topic is expected to be on the agenda when the House of Bishops meets next, in March.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Exclusive: General Convention Pigeon reveals its human avatars/agents to ENS

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 1:02pm

General Convention Pigeon has been on the move in the House of Deputies — on foot and on the wing — throughout the 79th General Convention. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The bird has been the word for 10 days here and, as the 79th General Convention prepares to fly the coop, its human avatars can now be revealed, ending countless days of speculation.

The Rev. David Sibley, Long Island deputy and rector of Christ Church in Manhasset, New York, right, hatched the General Convention Pigeon with the Rev. David Simmons, alternate deputy of Milwaukee and rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Waukesha, Wisconsin. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. David Sibley, deputy from Long Island, revealed the bird’s creation story to Episcopal News Service during an exclusive, secret and embargoed late-night interview outside the Austin Convention Center following the rare night legislative sessions July 11. Sibley, the rector of Christ Church in Manhasset, New York, announced that he and the Rev. David Simmons, alternate deputy of Milwaukee and rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Waukesha, Wisconsin, hatched the General Convention Pigeon.

@gc79pigeon gained more than 800 followers in the first few days after the account’s creation on July 4.

The bird’s birthnest was in what Sibley referred to as the “alternates’ pen,” the area to the side of the actual floor of the House of Deputies where alternate deputies roost, waiting for the chair of their deputations to get to them in the pecking order and have them fly into the legislative action. This account would confirm the pigeon’s earlier claim to ENS that it was a “nested Episcopalian,” apparently similar to the human designation of “Cradle Episcopalian.”

On July 4, as house leaders were explaining how to use the deputies’ loaner iPads to access the Virtual Binder, a pigeon swooped low over the alternate’s coop. Great bird brains instantly thought alike as Sibley and Simmons texted each, concluding that “this thing needs a Twitter account.” Thus, @gc79pigeon was hatched.

“The idea that coalesced very quickly after that was, OK, let’s be funny. Let’s not pick on anyone. Let’s not advocate for any particular issue,” Sibley said. “Let’s just try to make jokes about the things that pigeons do and, at times, the absurdity of the process and the current happenings in the house.”

Hey Deputies, here’s hoping you get your queues working tomorrow! #gc79 pic.twitter.com/tzA7S5we8G

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 7, 2018

Rumor has it that @gc79pigeon has introduced a resolution to use the Syriac translation of Leviticus, which mistakenly called not for the sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" as a sin offering, but rather of "a pair of turtledoves or two young PRIESTS". #gc79

— Liza Anderson (@ecclesiangst) July 5, 2018

There would be no comments on the tough issues the convention faced, such as prayer book revision, full access the marriage rites by same-sex couples and the church’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The pigeon was not in the business of crying fowl or rustling anyone’s feathers.

@gc79pigeon I feel a sense of comfort to see you flying about today for the conversation about Prayer Book Revision. Yesterday you reminded us about the importance of listening-may we remember that today. #GC79

— Liz Wendt (@Rainstormgal) July 6, 2018

The occasional flaring of differences of opinions between bishops and deputies was also off limits, Sibley said.

The over-perching goal was “just to keep it light for everyone at convention because it can be really stressful,” he added.

“This is something that pretty much everyone has found amusing at convention,” Sibley said. “This was a good way to continue trying to keep people laughing when you’re in the middle of a floor debate.”

No allocations for pigeon operations from PB&F. #youcantalwaysgetwhatyouwant

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 11, 2018

In an earlier interview with ENS during July 7 and 8 (the bird is busy) via Twitter direct message, @gc79pigeon said it hoped it could be “part of the movement of the spirit that brings something to keep people relaxed, laughing, and in good spirits when things get tense.”

Thus, @gc79pigeon opined at opportune times about donuts (or lack thereof), crumbs on the floors or whether it could get a pension.

I’m out of order – as usual. Just tried to get myself a pension, y’all.

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 10, 2018

I have been informed that a pension would have involved green pieces of paper once a month, not food. HOW DO YOU FLIGHTLESS BIPEDS LIVE? #GC79

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 10, 2018

It occasionally made its presence known in other ways.

In other news, @gc79pigeon dropped a bomb on the table right next to my computer. That was a close one! OK, you win, feathered foe. I’m heading back to the (bird-free) newsroom. #gc79 pic.twitter.com/jpgvI2s5hj

— David Paulsen (@thisispaulsen) July 12, 2018

The most surprising thing about @gc79pigeon’s flight path through General Convention, Sibley said, was that its Twitter account earned more than 800 followers in about three or four days. In addition, he and Simmons are pleased that “for the most part everyone has received it really well.”

“We haven’t seen a lot of folks who are upset or who take convention so deathly seriously that this is a betrayal of the decorum of convention.”

Sibley said it has been fun to see that some of the bird’s followers aren’t even in Austin.

I posted this earlier on my Instagram and really, it's a "I wish I could be at #GC79 for real" moment. But as I've been following the into as best as I can… the highlight of Gen-Con 18 is @gc79pigeon!
After all, this Episco'bird IS the word! pic.twitter.com/k8mGTQIFSg

— Jennifer Villalobos (Sunny to most, Riley to some) (@StarKnight1Sun) July 9, 2018

I’m asking all my friends for caffeine via osmosis. Convention is tiring! https://t.co/SILHvy9pVX

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 10, 2018

Over the course of convention, @gc79pigeon began to influence more and more of the deputies’ work, winging its way into floor proceedings, prompting various “communications from the chair” and even being scape-birded for certain errors.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

On July 12, Deputy Barbara Miles of Washington, chair of Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, presented Resolution A295 on the 2019-2021 budget and announced the correction of a revenue number in the text. “I have neither explanation or excuse,” she said the error. “But there is a rumor about pigeons.”

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president, reported at the start of the July 12 morning legislative session that the Rev. Mary Janda, deputy from Utah, informed her that Deputy Pidge and Deputy CooCoo Mydove “have enjoyed convention and plan to join their cousins in Baltimore about 2021.” The Charm City is the site of the next and 80th meeting of General Convention.

“The chair regrets to inform the deputy from Utah that, because the secretary did not receive a certification from the diocesan bishop or the secretary of the diocesan convention, that these two deputies are in fact pigeons, not deputies,” Jennings explained.

A kit of pigeons surrounds the Rev. Matthew Cowden, a Northern Indiana deputy, July 12 as he reads their statement to the House of Deputies. Photo: screenshot of House of Deputies livestream

Near the start of the July 12 afternoon session, Jennings invited the Rev. Matthew Cowden, a Northern Indiana deputy, and “his cohorts” to microphone 4 to “please entertain the house.”

Cowden, who claimed a “specialty in ornithological languages,” said he had been blessed to be able to translate a statement from Deputies Peck, Peep and Poop of Birdlandia (three clergy persons wearing bird masks who surrounded Cowden and periodically pecked at his head). “We are not influential birds; not one of us comes from a cardinal parish,” they said in their “point of pigeonal privilege.”

They said they were disappointed that all of their motions have been ruled out of order, acknowledging that they were conducting themselves on a wing and a prayer, suggesting they might even be called “birds of pray.” Cowden wrapped up the statement by quoting the birds as saying they did “not wish to be robbin’ this house of any more time.”

At the beginning of the House of Deputies’ morning legislative session on convention’s last day, July 13, the house’s Committee 24 on Privilege and Courtesy presented Resolution A301 “Gratitude for Special Guest” to, in part, give “thanks and shows its appreciation for the General Convention Pigeons. We give thanks for their representation of the Holy Spirit when necessary, for providing vital entertainment when needed, and for being gentle guides when ‘crumbs are left under thy table’ or on the floor.”

The resolution, which was approved, was the second item on the deputies’ legislative calendar. It followed Resolution A289 which expressed appreciation for Jennings, who received a standing ovation after that resolution passed. She warned deputies that they should not clap more for the pigeon than her. The resulting clamor was strong but somewhat muted. She also received a stuffed pigeon toy from the Diocese of Vermont.

Soon, it was onto Baltimore.

A little bird told me today is #gc79 last day. Please leave your donuts, crumbs, and assorted food items with an appropriate volunteer so that I may feast sumptuously in the days ahead.

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 13, 2018

I’m gonna go with three years. The better question is whether they’ll let me into the convention center. https://t.co/EZLFYZXjPS

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 10, 2018

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Convention lets its ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ agreeing to give church full access to trial-use marriage rites

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 1:01pm

The Rev. Sam Candler, deputy from Atlanta and chair of the legislative committee which considered all of the convention’s marriage resolutions, urged the House of Deputies July 13 to accept the bishops’ technical amendment to Resolution B012 and not make any changes. They agreed. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Deputies dotted the last i and crossed the last t on July 13 with a historic resolution giving all Episcopalians the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches.

Resolution B012 had gone from the House of Deputies to the bishops and back to deputies on its road to being approved. Deputies overwhelmingly approved a heavily amended version of the resolution on July 9 and the House of Bishops added a technical amendment two days later that does not change B012’s goal of giving full access to two trial-use marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention (via Resolution A054).

The vote was:

* Clergy: 99 yes, 3 no, 4 divided
* Lay: 101 yes, 5 no, 1 divided

A Lexington deputy holds up the deputation’s paper ballot documenting its vote. During votes by orders, deputies vote on paper ballots and then deputations calculate the results and cast their vote electronically. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Fifty-six votes in each order were required for passage. Divided votes are recorded when the clergy or lay members of a deputation split their votes between yes and no. General Convention resolutions must be adopted by both houses with the same text, and that is what deputies did early in the morning session of the last day of the 79th meeting of General Convention.

Scattered applause started to be heard among the deputies, but the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the house, cautioned that the body’s rules forbid such celebrations.

The resolution provides for:

  • Giving rectors or clergy in charge of a congregation the ability to provide access to the trial-use of the marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Resolution A054-2015 and the original version of B012 said that clergy could only use the rites under the direction of their bishop.
  • Requiring that, if a bishop “holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples,” he or she may invite another bishop, if necessary, to provide “pastoral support” to any couple desiring to use the rites, as well as to the clergy member and congregation involved. In any case, an outside bishop must be asked to take requests for remarriage if either member of the couple is divorced to fulfill a canonical requirement that applies to opposite-sex couples.
  • Continuing trial use of the rites until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer.

The resolution also eliminated the original B012’s call for a Task Force on Communion across Difference. Such a group was created via a separate resolution, A227.

“We have already engaged in a grace-filled debate – an honorable and healthy debate, discussion and struggle,” the Rev. Sam Candler, deputy from Atlanta and chair of the legislative committee which considered all of the convention’s marriage resolutions, told the House of Deputies in urging passage without further tinkering. “We were reminded of the significant compromise that was made by various committed constituencies and holy saints of this church.”

No one spoke against the resolution during the House of Deputies’ short debate.

A House of Deputies page collects the written version of the Diocese of Southern Virginia’s vote by orders on Resolution B012. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Scot McComas, Fort Worth deputy, told his colleagues that if they passed B012 they would be acting as pastors to all the people of the Episcopal Church. Yet, he noted, “for 40 years our LGBT brothers and sisters have been at the back of the bus and, every so often, they are invited to move forward one row at a time.”

The Rev. Susan Russell, Los Angeles deputy and longtime leader in the effort for full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church, described the “long and winding road” that the Episcopal Church had traveled to get to this point. She said she supported B012 “recognizing that this is a hard-won compromise but one which I believe will lead us forward into that work as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.”

She reminded the house that its debate was being livestreamed and that Episcopalians in the diocese of Tennessee, Dallas and Florida (three of the places in which the bishops have not allowed the rites to be used) “where the faithful in the pews are waiting for us to let our ‘yes’ be yes – to say, ‘we do’ to marriage for all.”

East Carolina Deputy Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, who chaired General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, implored deputies to complete convention’s actions on marriage.  “We are fond of saying around the Episcopal Church that all are welcome, and all means all, y’all.”

Long Island Bishop Larry Provenzano offered B012 in response to proposed Resolution A085 from the task force, which was proposed in part to give a way for Episcopalians to use the rites in eight of the church’s 101 domestic dioceses in which the diocesan bishop refuses to authorize use of the trial-use marriage rites.

“I think this is a really important moment for the church,” Provenzano said in an interview with Episcopal News Service just after the deputies’ decision. “We do this without there having to be one side wins and one side loses. Very much like the theme of the whole convention, there’s a great movement for the church to really be the church in this time.”

Vermont Bishop Tom Ely, who has long been involved in crafting resolutions to move the church closer to full sacramental inclusion of LGBTW, said Episcopalians also need to know that the rites described in B012 are available to everyone in the church, not just same-sex ones. The resolution calls for studying how the rites are used across the church.

“So, let’s see if we like the actual liturgies,” he said. “Do these liturgies convey the spirt of what we want? Do they pray well? Do they work for all couples? Are these worthy of inclusion, at some point, in the Book of Common Prayer?”

Chicago Bishop Jeff Lee called B012 “an elegant solution for moving forward in a way that respects the role of bishops as the chief liturgical officers in their diocese” similar to that achieved earlier in the contentious issue of prayer book revision. Lee chaired the bishops’ part of the cognate legislative committee that reviewed the marriage resolutions.

The compromise was “built on the generosity of people who would rather have seen it go further in one direction or another,” he said. “And, that’s a remarkable thing about this convention, I think: that willingness on the part of people who cherish and really invested themselves in having ‘all this’ or ‘all that’ being willing to let go of the things they cherish for the sake of moving forward together.”

Resolution A054-2015 said that clergy could only use the rites under the direction of their bishop. This convention’s A085 would have required bishops to make provision for all couples asking to be married to have “reasonable and convenient access” to the two trial-use marriage rites. However, it also would have added the two trial-use marriage rites to the Book of Common Prayer and amend the prayer book’s other marriage rites, prefaces and sections of the Catechism to make language gender neutral. That change was a sticking point for many.

The original version of B012 would have required bishops who would not authorize the rites to allow congregations to receive Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) from another bishop who would provide access to the liturgies. It removed the prayer book element.

Deputies agreed to a version of B012 that took away the DEPO option and placed the decision-making power for using the rites with rectors or other clergy in charge of congregations. The bishops’ amendment comes in the seventh resolve of the resolution and adds the words “provided that nothing in this resolve narrows the authority of the rector or priest-in-charge (Canon III.9.6(a)).”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Bishops’ ecumenical appeal for calm as riots hit Northern Ireland city of Londonderry

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 10:04am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said that bombs were thrown at officers as they policed a sixth successive night of violence in the Bogside area of Londonderry the night of July 12. Despite the Irish peace process, a number of annual events continue to cause tension. This week’s rioting was sparked by a July 12 march in the city, which commemorated the 1688 victory by Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II. Earlier this week, bishops from the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches made a joint visit to the area to meet people affected by the petrol bombs and to appeal to calm.

Full article here.

Rare 1616 King James Bible found in cupboard of 57-year-old New Zealand church

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 10:02am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Only 30 copies of the 1616 edition of the King James Bible are thought to exist – and one of them has recently surfaced in the cupboard of a 1960s church in Manawatū, in the lower North Island of New Zealand. It was discovered during a search for Palmerston North’s oldest Bibles for a display by neighboring church St Johns, for New Zealand’s Bible Sunday this weekend. The assistant priest at St. Peter’s, Amy Houben, believes the Bible may have been passed to the Church in 1912, but there are no records of the gift other than an inscription on its cover.

Full article here.

Young Pakistani Christians hold discussion on the role of youth in nation-building

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 10:00am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A group of 40 young Christians from the united Church of Pakistan, the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, and the Roman Catholic Church have met to discuss the country’s forthcoming general elections. The event, on the role of young people in nation building in Pakistan, was organized by the National Council of Churches in Pakistan and the Christian Conference of Asia with the Centre for Social Justice. Organizers say it was designed to build awareness among young Christians and encourage them “to exercise their democratic rights to choose the future leaders of the country.”

Full article here.

La Convención acepta un plan trienal de gastos de $134 millones

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 2:49am

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Después de rechazar tres enmiendas que les presentaron, los diputados aceptaron, el 12 de julio, el presupuesto 2019-2021 y lo remitieron a la Cámara de Obispos para su consideración.

Los obispos actuaron minutos después, aproando el presupuesto en una votación a mano alzada sin debate.

El Comité Permanente Conjunto de Programa, Presupuesto y Finanzas [PB&F, por su sigla en inglés] había presentado su propuesta de un presupuesto de $133,8 millones para [el trienio] 2019-2021 durante una sesión conjunta de la Cámara de Obispos y la Cámara de Diputados.

Toda la cobertura de ENS de la 79ª. reunión de la Convención General se encuentra aquí.

El presupuesto refleja las prioridades del Obispo Primado en evangelización, reconciliación y justicia raciales y cuidado de la creación. Esas prioridades ya se conocen como los “tres pilares” de la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús.

También sigue desarrollándose en lo que Steve Lane, obispo de Maine y vicepresidente del PB&F, dijo en la sesión conjunta que es “el fundamento de nuestro continuo ministerio como Iglesia y de nuestros compromisos con otros tanto dentro como fuera de nuestra Iglesia”. Además, incluye la base del “continuo compromiso de la Iglesia con el gobierno conciliar, y los servicios legales, financieros y de otra índole del Centro de la Iglesia [las oficinas denominacionales en Nueva York]”.

De las tres enmiendas propuestas desde el pleno, una pedía traspasar los disputados $650.000 de pagos de director y funcionario asignados al presidente de la Cámara de Diputados para justicia y reconciliación raciales. Las otras dos proponían añadir dinero al presupuesto para apoyar la labor de La Red Episcopal para la Mayordomía, o TENS.

Curtis Hamilton, diputado de Misurí Occidental, le dijo a sus colegas que deberían aceptar su enmienda de no ofrecerle compensación monetaria al presidente de la Cámara de Diputados porque la Iglesia no debía pagarle a más personas cuando el PB&F se enfrentaba con $15 millones más en solicitudes de programa de lo que había recaudado o cubierto.

“Se tomó una decisión de priorizar un asunto de gobierno interno por encima de otras prioridades tales como la justicia y la reconciliación raciales a fin de balancear el presupuesto”, dijo Hamilton.

El diputado Scott Haight, de Tennessee Occidental, objetó la sugerencia de Hamilton diciendo que la Cámara había intentado durante 40 años obtener alguna especie de compensación para su presidente. Parte de ese objetivo era responder al sentir de que “las personas de color han sido, a través del tiempo, desproporcionadamente excluidas de desempeñar ese cargo”. Él instó a lo diputados que no trataran de enfrentar prioridades.

La Rda. Winnie Varghese, diputada de Nueva York se mostró de acuerdo. “Esta enmienda enfrenta dos síes de esta Cámara, uno contra otro”, dijo Varghese, quien dejó el estrado donde fungía de secretaria de votación, para participar del debate.

La Rda. Nina Ranadive Pooley, diputada de Maine, dijo que el esfuerzo para obtener una compensación para la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados era “un asunto de reconciliación racial para esta cámara” porque ofrecer compensación significa que cualquier miembro de la Cámara puede aspirar al puesto. “De cualquier raza, de cualquier etnia, de cualquier género, de cualquier situación socioeconómica”, aseveró.

La jueza Tess Judge, diputada de Carolina Oriental y ex presidente del Comité de Finanzas para la Misión del Consejo Ejecutivo que redactó el anteproyecto del presupuesto para el PB&F, instó a la derrota de la demanda.

“Estamos también muy complacidos de que nuestros obispos se hayan unido y quiera colaborar con nosotros en esto y hacer avanzar esto”, dijo ella. “Pido que la enmienda sea derrotada y que laboremos por la equidad de manera que otros que quieran servir en el papel de presidente de la Cámara de Diputados sean capaces de hacerlo también desde un punto de vista económico”.

La enmienda de Hamilton fue rechazada en un voto de viva voz con un respaldo diseminado.

Ninguna de las enmiendas de los TENS (0116 o 126) de devolver $150.000 al presupuesto tuvo éxito.

El presupuesto 2013-2015 le había dado $385.264 a la organización, que es independiente de la estructura denominacional, definiéndola (en el renglón 138 aquí) como una asociación “en apoyo de una red local para empoderamiento del ministerio de mayordomía en toda la Iglesia” El [presupuesto] 2016-2018 redujo esa cantidad d $150.000, advirtiendo (en el renglón 138 aquí) que la financiación originalmente se había contemplado como un copatrocinio de una sola vez.

La Rda. Candice Frazer, diputada de Alabama que propuso la primera enmienda, dijo que 65 diócesis de la Iglesia Episcopal así como diócesis de otras partes de la Comunión Anglicana pertenecen a TENS y usan sus materiales y adiestramientos en mayordomía. “Mi enmienda simplemente pide que sigamos sosteniendo y valorando la mayordomía como una práctica que nos compete tanto bíblica como tradicionalmente”, afirmó ella.

Ambas enmiendas fueron rechazadas en votaciones de viva voz.

El presupuesto se convierte ahora en el ámbito compartido del PB&F y el Consejo Ejecutivo. Entre una y otra reunión de la Convención, los cánones le asignan la supervisión del presupuesto al Consejo, si bien las Reglas Parlamentarias Conjuntas de la Convención le asignan responsabilidades semejantes al PB&F.

El Consejo elabora presupuestos anuales a partir del plan de gastos que aprueba la Convención General. Normalmente, el Consejo ajusta cada uno de los tres presupuestos anuales basándose en los cambiantes ingresos y gastos. Al menos un miembro del PB&F suele asistir a cada una de las nueve reuniones del Consejo durante el trienio.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora principal y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Sandra Montes emociona a la Convención General con su testimonio y su voz

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 2:48am

Sandra Montes canta durante el culto de avivamiento en Austin el 7 de julio. Foto cortesía de Thompson/Diócesis de Alta Carolina del Sur.

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Durante la 79ª. Convención General, Sandra Montes ha sido una de las voces más destacadas a favor de los inmigrantes. Ella habla a partir de una experiencia de primera mano.

Además de su convincente testimonio en las sesiones legislativas, ella también impresionó a la Convención con su bella voz de cantante.

Nacida en el Perú, Montes pasó su niñez en Guatemala antes de que sus padres se mudaran con ella a Estados Unidos, donde su padre fue pastor evangélico. Luego de una escala en Río Grande Valley, en Texas, terminaron por asentarse en Houston en los años 80.

“Fue una suerte que no tuvimos que pasar por lo que otros han pasado para llegar aquí”, dijo Montes en una entrevista con Episcopal News Service. Esos que huyen a Estados Unidos ahora, afirmó, “huyen para mantenerse con vida. Gente que viene aquí producto de la desesperación”.

La Convención General está estudiando varias resoluciones que ofrecen declaraciones amplias y convincentes de los problemas de la separación de familias en la detención de inmigrantes, el movimiento de iglesia santuario y la dignidad del inmigrante frente a políticas federales que los diputados y los obispos dicen que van contra los valores cristianos de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Toda la cobertura de ENS de la 79ª. reunión de la Convención General se encuentra aquí.

Respecto a las resoluciones, Montes instó a los obispos y a los diputados a mostrar compasión hacia los inmigrantes que están tratando de entrar al país. “Como cristianos nos han dicho que amemos a todo el mundo”, dijo ella. “Eso significa ser compasivo”.

El 8 de julio, Montes estuvo entre los 1.000 episcopales que se reunieron en el centro de detención T. Don Hutto, en Taylor, Texas, para pronunciarse contra las acciones del gobierno de EE.UU. y su aplicación de políticas migratorias que han separado a familias durante los últimos meses.

“Hoy es el cumpleaños de mi hijo, si alguna vez me hubieran separado de él, no sé lo que yo habría hecho… sólo por estar tratando de traerlo a un lugar donde pudiera tener libertad, donde pudiera tener vida”, dijo ella en la manifestación.

“Para mí, es muy importante que estas mujeres”, que están detenidas en el centro, sepan que estamos aquí, dijo ella. “Yo incluso no puedo poner en palabras la desesperación que sentiría si estuviera allí y mi hijo estuviera en alguna otra parte. O incluso si estuviera conmigo, sólo porque queremos algo mejor, porque buscamos libertad”.

Después que llegaron a Houston, el padre de Montes terminó siendo ordenado sacerdote episcopal y atendió como rector la iglesia episcopal de San Mateo, una de las congregaciones latinas más grandes de la Iglesia Episcopal. Aunque ahora esta jubilado, él ayuda en una iglesia luterana en Houston.

Su hermano, el Rdo. Alex Montes-Vela, es presidente de la diputación de Texas y atiende como sacerdote la iglesia episcopal de Santa María Magdalena [St. Mary Magdalene] en Manor, Texas, que inició con una reunión de cinco personas en su casa en 2010. Su sobrina, Luz Montes, es también diputada de Texas, asiste al Seminario del Sudoeste en Austin y espera ser ordenada sacerdote episcopal.

Su padre creía que “Dios había llamado a toda la familia al ministerio” cuenta ella.

Montes hizo una carrera como maestra de escuela pública antes de jubilarse. Actualmente, sirve a la Fundación de la Iglesia Episcopal como asesora en español, un puesto en el cual ayuda a la fundación en la elaboración de materiales prácticos sobre asuntos que tienen que ver con el liderazgo y los retos económicos a que se enfrentan las congregaciones episcopales de habla hispana; prepara y dirige presentaciones para la Internet y otros eventos educacionales y colabora con el personal de la fundación para desarrollar una mayor capacidad en esta área.

A ella se le han acercado en la Convención los que buscan su ayuda para la creación de materiales bilingües para sus propias diócesis e iglesias.

Además de ser defensora de inmigrantes, Montes enardeció al público con una impactante actuación antes del sermón del obispo primado Micahel Curry en el avivamiento del 7 de julio. Ella también cantó durante la manifestación frente al centro de detención Hutto en Taylor.

Aunque nunca tuvo adiestramiento profesional en música o canto, a ella le gusta cantar y escribe sus propias canciones. “Mi mamá dice que yo nací cantando”, afirma.

En la ciudad donde reside, Montes dijo que no asistía a una iglesia específica, Como latina que lleva el cabello lila, reconoce que se destaca —pero está en la misión de aprender cuán acogedora es una congregación cuando ella entra por la puerta.

“Lo que hago ahora es que visito diferentes iglesias y escribo en mi blog acerca de ellas”, apuntó. En algunas de las iglesias a las que asiste en que todos son blancos, “nadie me dice ‘hola’. [aunque] hay algunas que soy muy acogedoras, amistosas y serviciales”.

Basada en su experiencia, ella ofrece unas cuantas sugerencias respecto a hacer que los visitantes se sientan bienvenidos, tales como tener espacio de estacionamiento reservado para visitantes, sonrisas y pulcritud. “Una de las cosas que más aprecio es si me piden que me quede para el café y bien me llevan y están conmigo o me relacionan con otras personas” explica.

Ella dijo que tuvo emociones contradictorias mientras asistía a la Convención General, empezando por la Eucaristía de apertura. “ En el estrado había mujeres blancas vestidas con trajes africanos y tocando tambores”, esta fue una desafortunada apropiación cultural.

Los blancos, siguió diciendo, no se dan cuenta de la impresión que esto puede causar en los afroamericanos, los latinos o los asiáticos. “Yo no sé cuál era el mensaje que querían transmitir, pero sé lo que yo sentí”.

También echó de menos en la Convención una diversidad de música y actuaciones. “La música ha sido estupenda, pero no ha sido diversa. Seguimos siendo muy blancos”, afirmó.

Sin embargo, dijo, “amo a esta Iglesia. Amo a Jesús sobre todas las cosas. Me siento muy agradecida de ser parte de ella. Porque conozco esta Iglesia, sé que podemos ser mejores. Todo proviene del amor.

Ella reconoce que a veces puede enojarse, pero dijo. “Intento ser la voz de las personas que no tienen voz”.

— Mike Patterson es un escritor independiente radicado en San Antonio y corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Es parte del equipo de información de ENS en la Convención General y pueden dirigirse a él en rmp231@gmail.com. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Leadership impairment resolutions pass, take effect Jan. 1, 2019

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 8:24pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The 79thGeneral Convention passed three resolutions brought to convention the Commission on Impairment and Leadership,  which refers to intervention, evaluation and possible re-entry or action needed related to various forms of leadership impairment.

The three resolutions,  D057D058 and D059, speak to issues surrounding leadership impairment due to alcohol and substance misuse and behavioral addictions.

The resolutions will take effect Jan. 1, 2019, in the new budget year.

D057 calls for the Training on Alcohol and Substance Misuse, and “directs the Executive Council to take the necessary steps to develop a mandatory training program with respect to alcohol and substance misuse and other forms of addiction (to be renewed at designated intervals) for all persons in the process of formation for ordination and for all priests and deacons currently licensed.”

A Rapid Response Team for Crisis Intervention is called for in D058, “recommends that the Presiding Bishop, drawing on the research of the Commission on Leadership and Impairment, establish a team of advisers or consultants to serve as a resource on alcoholism and substance misuse and other forms of addiction to provide a rapid response to issues of questionable impairment, to provide clergy or other concerned individuals with confidential advice, and to assist with monitoring and recovery.”

And in D059, Executive Council and the Pastoral Development Committee of the House of Bishops evaluate their policies and practices surrounding alcohol and substance use so that changes can be made that “may contribute to a healthy environment with regard to alcohol and substance misuse and other forms of addiction” in the context of meetings and gatherings. This resolution also “recommends that CREDO https://www.cpg.org/active-clergy/learning/credo/develop a program component to help participants explore their relationship to alcohol and substance misuse and other forms of addiction.”

All three resolutions were passed by the House of Deputies as part of the July 8 consent calendar. There was no debate in that house. Resolution D059 passed the House of Bishops on July 9, and Resolutions D057 and D058 were approved on the House of Bishop’s July 10 consent calendar.

– Sharon Tillman is a freelance writer for Episcopal News Service.

General Convention unites behind immigrants, in prayer, action, legislation

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 8:14pm

“We do not come in hatred, we do not come in bigotry, we do not come to put anybody down, we come to lift everybody up. We come in love,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told a crowd of more than 1,000 gathered in prayer at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. Photo: Frank Logue

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] If there was one issue that defied any expectation of controversy at the 79th General Convention, it was immigration.

Bishops and delegates arrived in Austin last week on the heels of a national uproar over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward immigration, particularly the decision to separate children from parents in detention. And despite the administration’s reversal on family separations, immigration policies continued to be a hot-button issue, including in the border state hosting the Episcopal Church’s triennial gathering.

But if the country remains divided over what to do about immigration, the thousands of Episcopalians gathered here presented a unified front in support of families who have been separated, of those facing deportation and of immigrants in general – through prayer, testimony, action and the unobstructed passage of legislation.

One of the defining moments of this General Convention was the prayer vigil held July 8 outside the Hutto Detention Center, an immigrant detention facility a little more than a half hour outside of Austin. A massive gathering of more than a thousand Episcopalians prayed and sang in support of immigrant parents and children who had been separated.

“We do not come in hatred, we do not come in bigotry, we do not come to put anybody down, we come to lift everybody up,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in his sermon at the prayer vigil. “We come in love. We come in love because we follow Jesus, and Jesus taught us love.”

That spirit carried through to the church’s legislative process. About 25 people testified July 7 at a hearing on all resolutions related to immigration, and the Trump administration’s policies loomed large.

The Rev. Nancy Frausto, who was a featured speaker at the TEConversations joint session on racial reconciliation, testified at the hearing to her fear of deportation after President Donald Trump ended a policy of protection for “dreamers” like her who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children.

“The 800,000 Dreamers need to have the Episcopal Church stand behind them, and not just them but all immigrants,” Frausto said, speaking in favor of Resolution C033, which puts the church on record as respecting the dignity of immigrants and outlines how public policy should reflect that belief.

The Social Justice and Unites States Policy Committee, with the input received at the open hearing, combined some of the resolutions into three that encompassed many of the issues discussed. In addition to C033, the committee recommended A178, which takes a forceful stand against family separations and treatment of immigrant parents and children, and C009, entitled “Becoming a Sanctuary Church.”

The latter resolution encourages Episcopalians and congregations to reach out to and support immigrants facing deportation, including by providing physical sanctuary if they choose, but “this resolution does not call on them to do so,” committee member Daniel Valdez of the Diocese of Los Angeles said on the House of Deputies floor during debate on the resolution July 12.

“Sanctuary has a powerful theological grounding,” Valdez said while emphasizing the resolution’s intent, to encourage Episcopalians to make connections with undocumented immigrants, such as through legal assistance, advocacy or pastoral care.

The House of Bishops had passed the three resolutions without objection and without discussion in voice votes July 11, and the three were taken up together in the afternoon session July 12 in the House of Deputies.

Diana Marcela Abuchar Sierra, a member of the Official Youth Presence from the Diocese of Colombia, speaks in favor of immigration resolutions July 12 in the House of Deputies. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Diana Marcela Abuchar Sierra, a member of the Official Youth Presence from the Diocese of Colombia, spoke out against the Trump administration’s immigrant detention policies during floor discussion of A178.

“I refuse to see how people who just want to better themselves are treated so inhumanely and cruelly,” Abuchar said in Spanish through an interpreter. “Please, as the Episcopal Church we must defend their rights and their dignity. As the Episcopal Church, we must raise their voices and be heard.”

Wendy Cañas, a deputy from the Diocese of New York, offered a similar sentiment in supporting C033.

“We are speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves,” she said. “We are also telling the the government … that the Episcopal Church will keep them morally accountable for sustaining and supporting the families in our country.”

As in the House of Bishops, no one spoke against any of the three resolutions in the House of Deputies, and the deputies were essentially unanimous in favor. All three voice votes passed without any audible “no” in the hall.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Deputies pass more resolutions on Israel-Palestine, but fate is uncertain in House of Bishops

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 7:41pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] House of Deputies passed five more resolutions July 12 related to the Episcopal Church’s response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but those resolutions faced a mixed reaction in the House of Bishops a day after the bishops soundly rejected an earlier resolution regarding the church’s investments in Israel.

The deputies took up six such resolutions in the morning legislative session, passing all but one. The bishops followed in the afternoon by joining the deputies in approving Resolution D027, which condemns use of lethal force by Israel against unarmed Palestinians – and by Palestinian forces against Israeli civilians.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

Another resolution approved by the deputies, B016, would model Episcopal Church’s policy toward investments in the region after a “human rights investment screen” previously adopted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

The vote by the bishops on B016 was delayed as they sought a copy of the ELCA measure, for reference. The bishops ended their July 12 session without returning to the resolution but could take it up again July 13 on the final day of the 79th General Convention.

B016, though it doesn’t contain specific language directing the church to pursue divestment from Israel, echoes Resolution D019, which would have set a 2019 deadline for Executive Council to research and develop a plan for ending any financial complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The House of Deputies approved D019 on July 10, with 74 percent voting in favor, but bishops defeated it a day later by a 62 percent margin.

The rest of the resolutions, though somewhat less controversial, still inspired passionate comment on both sides of the issue. C038 highlights abuses in Israeli treatment of Palestinian children in detention. D038 objects to Israeli laws that deprive Palestinians of civil rights. And D039 calls for an end to what the resolution calls a system of apartheid between Israelis and Palestinians.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, left, and Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani walk March 26 through the barren area between an Israel checkpoint and Gaza City. They were going to visit the Anglican Al Ahli Arab Hospital. Their journey took place five days before violence broke out along the fence that separates Israel and the Gaza Strip. Photo: Sharon Jones

D039 “was one that took me quite a bit of prayer and deliberation … because apartheid is not a small word,” said Deputy Adam Lees of the Diocese of Alaska. He said he decided to support the resolution after thinking about the access he and his family now have to pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land that are forbidden to Palestinian Christians.

He also spoke of a region in desperate need of groups that can act with moral authority.

“The moral authority is going to come from the people of Israel, from the people of Palestine and, God willing, from the people of the Episcopal Church,” Lees said.

William Murchison, a deputy from the Diocese of Dallas has spoken several times on resolutions related to Israel Palestine, including twice on July 11, providing arguably the most forceful arguments against measures that he described as anti-Israel.

“The mood of the house is to beat up on Israel, to beat it to a pulp, and to make excuses for its adversaries and its sworn enemies,” Murchison said in speaking against D027.

Earlier he opposed D039 using similar language. “The Israelis are under threat from Hamas and Hezbollah, but do we hear anything from the Episcopal Church calling attention to or alarm to (those threats)?” he said.

The Rev. Winnie Varghese responded to Murchison by name while speaking in support of C038.

“It is always delightful to hear Deputy Murchison remind us that the Episcopal Church stands strongly on the side of the state of Israel and has since the founding of the state of Israel in the 1940s. That is a fact. We do. Our nation does as well, to the tune $38 billion in foreign aid awarded in 2016,” she said.

But Varghese went on to raise the issue of proportion, citing statistics from 2018 so far – 158 Palestinians killed in the conflict, including 26 children, while six Israelis were killed in the same period.

“Israel is the state, and like the United States of America when we talk about our war on terror … there are restrictions to what can be done humanely in that effort,” she said.

The only related resolution that the deputies rejected was D028, which would have spoken out against U.S. laws prohibiting corporations from boycotting Israel in protest of its occupation of the Palestinian territories. The deputies’ vote against the resolution came after Russell Randle, deputy from Diocese of Virginia, raised concerns about the precedent that would be set by the church going on record in support of corporations’ free speech rights.

A Palestinian woman makes her way June 1 through an Israeli checkpoint to attend Friday prayer of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Photo: Reuters

As the debate on the resolutions moved to the House of Bishops, the sentiment was just as strong, though this time the voices of bishops in favor of action outnumbered those opposed. The bishops openly debated only one of the resolutions, D027, entitled “Pursuing Justice in Gaza,” though direct references to Gaza were dropped by the International Policy Committee.

“Having been to Gaza, I would call it a prison where 2 million people reside,” Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia said. “I think it’s time for this church to stand up for those people.”

Support for the resolution was far from unanimous in the House of Bishops, but it passed in a voice vote.

In addition to D027, the bishops previously approved B021, supporting the resumption of humanitarian aid to Palestinians; B003, regarding the status of Jerusalem as shared Holy City; and D018, reflecting on the deterioration of negations toward a two-state solution.

That leaves four resolutions for the bishops to consider July 13. As for the rest of the more than a dozen Israel-Palestinian resolutions initially submitted to General Convention, legislative committees either recommended no action or incorporated elements of the resolutions into the resolutions that made it to floor votes.

General Convention has voted in support of Middle East peace for decades. This year, nearly 50 people testified at a committee hearing on Middle East resolutions held July 6 in the JW Marriott, part of an expedited process recommended by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president.

Curry’s and Jennings’ recommendations, including the designation of the House of Deputies as the house of initial action, were intended to ensure full, open and productive discussions after complaints about the process for considering Israel-Palestine resolutions at General Convention three years ago.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Convention approves use of expansive-language version of Rite II Eucharistic prayers

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 7:32pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Both houses of General Convention on July 12 adopted a resolution that allows all congregations in the Episcopal Church to use optional, expansive-language versions of three Rite II Eucharistic prayers in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

Resolution D078 provides alternative language for Prayer A, Prayer B and Prayer D. The changes are available for trial use until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

Prayer book revision has been the subject of great debate during this convention, which eventually agreed to the creation of new liturgical texts to respond to the needs of Episcopalians across the church while continuing to use the 1979 book. No specific date was set to begin such a comprehensive revision.

Deputies overwhelmingly adopted the resolution on a vote by orders, which is required to authorize liturgies for trial use. The results were:

Clergy: 78 yes, 19 no, 12 divided
Lay: 89 yes, 14 no, 6 divided

Fifty-five votes in each order were required for passage. Divided votes are recorded when the clergy or lay members of a deputation split their votes between yes and no.

After passage the resolution quickly was sent to the House of Bishops, which passed it on a voice vote after little debate.

The Rev. Laurie Brock, deputy from Lexington, proposed D078. Official endorsers were the Rev. Beth Scriven of Missouri and the Rev. Scott Gunn of Southern Ohio.

Brock told the deputies that the larger plan for liturgical and prayer book revision doesn’t change the fact that every Sunday worshippers hear the words in the current prayer book that are “mostly masculine.” She said that offering the revised versions of existing Eucharistic prayers is “an immediate way to take the longing we have heard in this convention back to our pews, so God can be celebrated in all genders.”

In a more practical vein, she said the resolution “recognizes the reality that many of us are doing this on Sundays and would like to not get hauled up on Title IV for doing it,” referring to the canons for clergy discipline.

Here are some examples of the optional language included in the trial-use rites:

  • Priests may begin any of the three rites by saying “Blessed be God: most holy, glorious and undivided Trinity.” The current Opening Acclamation of “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit” is also an option. In either case, the people’s response is “And blessed be God’s reign, now and for ever. Amen.”
  • At the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving in all three rites, the priest may say “God be with you” instead of “The Lord be with you.”
  • The Sanctus can now be said using “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” in addition to “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”
  • In Eucharistic Prayer A, celebrants now have the option of saying “ … you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and maker of all.” In the original version, that sentence ends with “…the God and Father of all.”
  • Eucharistic Prayer B contains an optional wording for the sentence “Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The option reads “Unite us in the sacrifice of Christ, through whom we are made acceptable to you, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
  • Eucharistic Prayer D offers the option of adding the word “matriarchs” after “patriarchs” in this sentence: “And grant that we may find our inheritance with [the Blessed Virgin Mary, with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, (with ____) and all the saints who have found favor with you in ages past.”

The options offered in D078 are to be provided to the church at no cost via electronic distribution, the resolution says.

The resolution asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, or SCLM, to consider revising Eucharistic Prayer C, sometimes called the Star Wars prayer for its reference to “the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.”

The SCLM is told to both monitor the use of the expansive-language rites and begin a dynamic-equivalence translation of the rites into Spanish, French and Haitian Creole languages.

D078 asks for $12,500 for the work involved. The 2019-2021 budget has already been passed so that the portion of the resolution becomes what is known as an unfunded mandate and is left to the Executive Council to determine a funding source.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter. Melodie Woerman is director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas and is a member of the ENS General Convention reporting team.

Bishops approve resolutions on ethical investing

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 5:14pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The House of Bishops on July 12 approved a resolution to develop and implement a “shareholder engagement plan” to guide dioceses, churches and individual Episcopalians investing in gun manufacturers and retailers to change company policies through shareholder advocacy.

Resolution B007 also commends to the church the Mosbacher-Bennett Principles for Investors in the Gun Industry developed by Do Not Stand Idly By. The bishops approved the resolution, entitled Ethical Investing in Gun Manufacturers, without debate on its consent agenda.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

Under the resolution, the 79th General Convention would direct the Executive Council Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (CCSR) to “develop and implement a shareholder engagement plan” for dioceses, church organizations and individual Episcopalians investing in publicly traded stock of gun manufacturers and retailers. The plan would provide guidance for how to effect change in these companies through shareholder advocacy to reduce lethal and criminal uses of their products.

The Episcopal Church has long been an advocate for socially responsible investing in gun manufacturers. For example, the church’s Executive Council in late January authorized its Committee on Corporate and Social Responsibility to join an attempt to convince Dick’s Sporting Goods to abide by the Sandy Hook Principles developed to stem the tide of gun violence. A little more than a month later, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based retailer announced Feb. 28 that it would stop selling assault weapons at its 35 Field & Stream stores.

The company had removed them from all Dick’s stores after the Sandy Hook massacre. The company also said it would no longer sell firearms to anyone younger than 21, and it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines. And, Dick’s said, it has never and will never sell bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

The shareholder activism of the Episcopal Church and other religious institutional investors was not the sole cause of Dick’s decision, but those involved say it had some influence on a company that was considering a change.

In a second resolution related to ethical investing, the House of Bishops also approved Resolution D068 that asks the CCSR to consult with related groups engaged with human rights and the care of creation to develop and propose criteria to the Executive Council to use in assessing investments in companies found inconsistent with the church’s faith and mission or questionable under the church’s ethical teachings.

CCSR is also directed to evaluate the effectiveness of divestment through the creation of a No Buy List from these companies and procedures for the church to follow in making a decision to engage companies or to establish a No Buy list.

– Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. He is a member of ENS General Convention reporting team and can be reached at rmp231@gmail.com.

Convention accepts $134 million three-year spending plan

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 4:26pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] After rejecting all three amendments put to them, deputies on July 12 accepted the proposed 2019-2021 budget and sent it to the House of Bishops for their consideration.

The bishops acted minutes later, approving the budget in a voice vote without any debate.

The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance had presented its proposed $133.8 million 2019-2021 budget during a July 11 joint session of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

The budget reflects the presiding bishop’s priorities of evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice, and creation care. The priorities have been referred to as the “three pillars” of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

It also continues to be built on what Maine Bishop Steve Lane, vice chair of PB&F, told the joint session is “the foundation of our continuing ministries as a church and our commitments to others both within and beyond our church.” In addition, it includes the foundation of the church’s “ongoing commitment to conciliar governance, and the legal, financial and other services of the Church Center [the denominational offices in New York].”

Of the three proposed amendments from the floor, one called for shifting a hard-fought $650,000 for director’s and officer’s fees for the president of the House of Deputies into program for racial justice and reconciliation. The other two proposed adding money into the budget to support the work of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship, or TENS.

West Missouri Deputy Curtis Hamilton told his colleagues they ought to accept his amendment not to provide compensation for the president of the House of Deputies because the church should not be paying more people when PB&F had been faced with $15 million more in program requests than it had revenue to cover.

“A decision was made to prioritize an internal governance issue over other priorities such as racial justice and reconciliation in order to balance the budget,” Hamilton said.

Deputy Scott Haight of West Tennessee objected to Hamilton’s suggestion, saying that the house had tried for 40 years to gain some sort of compensation for its president. Part of that goal was to respond to the sense that “persons of color who have been historically, disproportionately been excluded from serving in this position.” He urged the deputies not to pit priorities against each other.

The Rev. Winnie Varghese, deputy from New York, agreed. “This amendment pits two yeses of this house against each other,” said Varghese, who left the dais where she serves as the house’s voting secretary to enter the debate.

The Rev. Nina Ranadive Pooley, deputy from Maine, said the push to earn compensation for the president of the House of Deputies was “a matter of racial reconciliation for this house” because offering compensation means that any member of the house can run for the post. “Any race, ethnicity, any gender, any socio-economic status,” she said.

East Carolina Deputy Tess Judge, former chair of Executive Council’s Finances for Mission committee that crafted a proposed draft budget for PB&F, urged defeat of the amendment.

“We also are very pleased that our bishops have come together and want to work with us on this and move this forward,” she said. I ask that this amendment be defeated and that we work for fairness so that others who want to serve in the role of president of the House of Deputies may be able to do so from an economic standpoint as well.”

Hamilton’s amendment failed on a loud voice vote with only scattered approval.

Neither of the TENS amendments (0116 or 126) to return $150,000 to the budget succeeded.

The 2013-2015 budget had given $385,264 to the organization, which is independent of the churchwide structure, calling it (on line 138 here) a partnership “to support a local network empowering churchwide stewardship ministry.” The 2016-2018 cut that amount to $150,000, noting (on line 138 here) that the funding originally had been entered into as a one-time-only grant partnership.

The Rev. Candice Frazer, an Alabama deputy who proposed the first amendment, said 65 dioceses in the Episcopal Church as well as dioceses elsewhere in the Anglican Communion belong to TENS and use its stewardship resources and training. “My amendment simply requests that we continue to uphold and value stewardship as a practice committed to us both biblically and traditionally,” she said.

Both of the amendments failed on voice votes.

The budget now becomes the shared purview of PB&F and the Executive Council. Between meetings of convention, the canons assign oversight of the budget to council while convention’s Joint Rules of Order assign very similar responsibilities to PB&F.

Executive Council crafts annual budgets out of the spending plan that General Convention passes. Typically, council adjusts each of the three annual budgets based on changing income and expenses. At least one PB&F member typically attends each of council’s nine meetings during the triennium.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Los diputados concuerdan con los obispos en un nuevo plan para una revisión litúrgica y del Libro de Oración

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 3:50pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] En una abrumadora votación de viva voz,  los diputados concordaron el 11 de julio con un nuevo plan para una revisión litúrgica y del libro de oración que había sido adoptado por la Cámara de Obispos el día anterior.

Esto allana el camino para la creación de nuevos textos litúrgicos que respondan a las necesidades de los episcopales a través de la Iglesia mientras se sigue usando el Libro de Oración Común que se adoptó en 1979.

La Resolución A068 pedía originalmente el comienzo de un proceso que conduciría a un libro de oración completamente revisado para 2030.  Los obispos en cambio adoptaron un plan para “una revisión litúrgica y del libro de oración para el futuro de la misión de Dios a través de la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús”.

La resolución enmendada de los obispos pide que éstos desarrollen comunidades de culto en sus diócesis para la experimentación y creación de textos litúrgicos alternativos que presentarán a un nuevo Equipo de Trabajo para la Revisión Litúrgica y del Libro de Oración que será nombrado por el Obispo Primado y la presidente de la Cámara de Diputados.

Dice también que la revisión litúrgica utilizara un lenguaje e imaginería inclusivos y expansivos para [referirse] a la humanidad y la divinidad, e incorporará comprensión, apreció y cuidado por la creación de Dios.

El Muy Rdo. Sam Candler, diputado de Atlanta y uno de los que preside el comité que estudió la versión original de la A068, le pidió a la Cámara de Diputados que concordara con la decisión de la Cámara de Obispos. Él reconoció que de hacer eso los diputados no obtendrían nada de lo que querían cuando votaron el 7 de julio por una amplia revisión del libro de oración en la versión original de la A068.

Candler dijo que los diputados se sentían orgullosos de haber enviado “una resolución firme y vigorosa sobre la revisión del Libro de Oración Común” a la Cámara de Obispos y que ellos “nos oyeron y respondieron con un proceso para la revisión litúrgica y del libro de oración”. Concordar con los obispos  “adelantaría el proceso”, afirmó. “La Iglesia siempre está reformándose”. Añadió. “Nuestra oración está siempre reformándose. Nos entusiasma participar en eso”.

Un renglón en la propuesta de los obispos suscitó preguntas en la Cámara de Diputados. La resolución “conmemora” [memorialize] el Libro de Oración Común de 1979 “como un libro de la Iglesia preservando el Salterio, algunas liturgias, el Cuadrilátero de Lambeth, los documentos históricos y las fórmulas trinitarias”.

Los diputados preguntaron qué significaba la palabra memorialize. Candler dijo que la palabra no aparecía en las reglas de la Convención General ni de la Cámara de Diputados, en consecuencia, dependiendo de la definición del diccionario, eso significa “conmemorar”. Y añadió “Confío que es una palabra que conmemora lo que es el Libro de Oración Común”.

– Melodie Woerman es directora de Comunicaciones de la Diócesis de Kansas y miembro del equipo informativo de ENS en la Convención General. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

 

July 12 dispatches from 79th General Convention in Austin

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 3:21pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Much happens each day during General Convention. To complement Episcopal News Service’s primary coverage, we have collected some additional news items from July 12.

Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland receives the “Olympic torch” passed to him by the bishops of Texas on July 12. The Texas bishops presented the torch to the Maryland bishops in recognition that the 80th General Convention will be held in Baltimore in 2021. Photo: Mike Patterson/Episcopal News Service

Deputy Jeanine Baunsgard (left) and Bishop Gretchen Rehberg are the first sisters to serve both houses at the same time at a General Convention. The 79th General Convention has many family connections, with fathers and sons, mothers and daughters and other familial combinations represented.

Sisters in both houses

For the first time at general convention two sisters – not in-laws, not nuns or religious – are serving in both houses and from the same diocese. Deputy Jeanine Baunsgard represents the Diocese of Spokane in the House of Deputies, and her sister, Bishop Gretchen Rehberg, also from Spokane, serves in the House of Bishops. There is a long family tradition at General Convention for the Rehbergs. The sisters’ father, Wallace, was a deputy from 1976 through 1991, then their mother, Margaret, served in the HOD from 1994 through 2003.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

Gretchen served in the HOD as a clergy deputy in 2009 and 2012. She was ordained a bishop in March 2017, moving to the House of Bishops for the 2018 General Convention. Jeanine carries on the nearly 15-convention family tradition with her second turn as a deputy, 2015 and 2018.

“I am honored and blessed to be a deputy for Spokane. As I look around the house [of Deputies] and listen to the songs and debate, I feel dad and mom’s presence, and I feel that I am honoring them. Although the process has changed dramatically with new technology, the same Holy Spirit is with us,” said Jeanine.

Wallace died in 2005, and the family did not serve in the 2006 General Convention. Gretchen said that her mother has attended Episcopal Church Women Triennial Meetings and other events related to General Convention since being a deputy, but this year is home taking care of the bishop’s dog.

“Jeanine and I know we are the first sisters [to serve both houses at the same time] because there just are not that many women bishops,” Gretchen said.

– Sharon Tillman

‘Everything is going OK’ despite record number of resolutions

The 79th General Convention is moving through a record 502 resolutions, but House of Deputies Parliamentarian Bryan Krislock told his colleagues at the opening of the morning legislative session July 12 that “everything is going OK.”

“We have every expectation that we will complete our business before the close of convention tomorrow and have enough time to discuss the very serious issues and resolutions that are before this house,” Krislock said.

Convention is scheduled to adjourn at 6:30 p.m. CT on July 13.

Krislock said that “most of the time” in the sessions has been spent dealing with procedural issues, points of order and parliamentary inquiries rather than actual debate on resolutions. He projected a graph on the large screens in the house to illustrate his point.

House of Deputies Parliamentarian Bryan Krislock offers a visual explanation July 12 of how to consider the efficiency of debate. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“Once the debate starts, it really moves rather smoothly,” he said.

Meanwhile, the House of Bishops spent the first 90 minutes of the two-and-a-half-hour morning legislative session completing its legislative calendar and then was waiting on resolutions from the deputies.

If the pace in the House of Deputies slows down too much, Krislock said, the parliamentarians and the house’s committee on dispatch, which manages the flow of resolutions to the floor, will present a plan to the deputies for picking up the pace.

In a related move, House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings told the house just after Krislock finished his remarks that she was limiting committee reports on legislation to three minutes.

– Mary Frances Schjonberg

GoFundMe site created to raise money for Cuban clergy pensions

In her testimony delivered during the House of Bishops’ July 10 legislative session, when bishops voted unanimously to admit the Episcopal Church of Cuba as a diocese, former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori pointed out that if each Episcopalian gave 50 cents, the church could fund the gap in Cuba’s pension plan. Utah Bishop Scott B. Hayashi responded saying he would up it to $1 for every person in his diocese.

Since then, the Rev. Nic Mather, an associate at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington, created a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $5,000 to fund pensions for the Cuban clergy, who’ve forgone both institutional and governmental pensions to serve the church.

You can donate to the fund here.

– Lynette Wilson

After-dark legislative sessions not instant hits at convention

Both houses of the 79th General Convention met in rare evening-into-night sessions on July 11. With 501 resolutions pending at one point, the presiding officers decided that bishops and deputies had some work to do.

The Episcopal Church knows how to light up the night: parliamentary and legislative work in both Houses until 9:30 p.m. #gcafterdark

— kelligrace (@kelligrace) July 12, 2018

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, announced at the start of that house’s session that there was a hashtag for the two hours ahead: #GCAfterDark.

Deputies then spent the first 30 minutes not passing any resolutions.

https://twitter.com/FrJody/status/1017211164764393472

They eventually got down to business and passed six resolutions.

Most of the resolutions were accompanied by impassioned, if short, pleas for passage.

https://twitter.com/ATXScott/status/1017224843425611777

The after-dark sessions apparently disturbed the resident and visiting pigeons in the deputies’ hall.

https://twitter.com/diocesecpa/status/1017211405999771649

I think #gcafterdark is cramping the style of @gc79pigeon #gc79pigeonafterdark. #gc79 #pigeonsneedaprivatelifetoo pic.twitter.com/nQIxrujbXC

— Kelley Hudlow (@akhudlow) July 12, 2018

However, General Convention Pigeon was OK with it all.

Ain’t no party like a house of deputies night party because a house of deputies night party is… MANDATORY. #withapologiestolizlemon https://t.co/br2TRmHZGD

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 12, 2018

Loyalties to the pigeons’ status as Beloved of Deputies were challenged at one point.

The official animal of the #HoD #gc79 #GCAfterDark pic.twitter.com/ceGS5Updit

— Fr. Paul H. Castelli, AF (@PaulHCastelli) July 12, 2018

Upstairs in the House of Bishops, the word “punchy” could be heard being murmured around the floor.

As the bishops reached the end of their legislative calendar of a handful of resolutions about 9 p.m. and were getting ready for closing prayers, there was a lightness and palpable relief in the room.

Meanwhile, back downstairs in deputies, tweeting was going strong.

The Diocese of Oklahoma decided that it could at least achieve some efficiency in meal planning by visiting the famous and increasingly craved output from nearby Voodoo Donuts.

https://twitter.com/kate_huston/status/1017211892543127552

And then, at 9:30 p.m., the deputies called it a night.

https://twitter.com/AMcKellar17/status/1017233793676185602

– Mary Frances Schjonberg

L’évêque primat Michael Curry prêche au Hutto Detention Center

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 2:48pm
Voici le texte du message délivré par l’évêque primat Michael Curry lors de la Prière de vision, témoignage et justice, à proximité du centre de détention T. Don Hutto de Taylor (Texas) le 8 juillet 2018.

Vous trouverez l’enregistrement vidéo sur : https://episcopalchurch.wistia.com/medias/ivbyseq3x6

Au nom du Père, du Fils et du Saint-Esprit, seul et même Dieu aimant, libérateur et dispensateur de vie, amen !

Avant de vous faire part de quelques réflexions, je tiens à remercier… Vous êtes tous en plein soleil, alors il n’y aura pas beaucoup de remerciements, croyez-moi. Je tiens à remercier tous ceux qui ont rendu ce rassemblement possible, Megan, l’évêque DeDe, Winnie et tous ceux qui y ont contribué, tout spécialement cette communauté, ceux qui ont contribué à obtenir les autorisations nous permettant de témoigner par la prière et par la foi, dans le respect et l’ordre. Je tiens enfin à remercier M. le Maire et M. le Maire suppléant qui sont venus nous accueillir.

Permettez-moi de dire que nous ne venons pas dans un esprit de haine. Nous ne venons pas dans un esprit sectaire. Nous ne venons pas pour nous attaquer à quelqu’un. Nous venons pour élever chacun. Nous venons dans un esprit d’amour. Nous venons dans un esprit d’amour car nous suivons Jésus. Or Jésus nous a enseigné l’amour. Aime le Seigneur ton Dieu, et aime ton prochain. Aime ton prochain libéral. Aime ton prochain conservateur. Aime ton prochain démocrate. Aime ton prochain républicain. Aime ton prochain indépendant. Aime ton prochain que tu n’apprécies pas. Aime ce prochain avec lequel tu n’es pas d’accord. Aime ton prochain qui est chrétien. Aime ton prochain qui est musulman. Aime ton prochain qui est juif. Aime ton prochain qui est palestinien. Aime ton prochain qui est israélien. Aime ton prochain qui est réfugié. Aime ton prochain qui est immigrant. Aime ton prochain qui est gardien de prison. Aime ton prochain !

Nous venons dans un esprit d’amour, d’amour. Je considère que l’amour de Dieu et l’amour de notre prochain que Jésus nous a enseignés constituent le noyau et le cœur de ce que signifie suivre Jésus-Christ. Nous devons être ceux qui régénèrent le christianisme, nous écartant de ses pratiques courantes et de la façon dont il est souvent perçu et représenté, pour suivre un modèle de christianisme qui s’inspire de Jésus ! Jésus a dit d’aimer Dieu et d’aimer notre prochain. Nous venons dans un esprit d’amour. C’est le noyau de notre foi. C’en est le cœur. Nous venons parce que nous sommes chrétiens et que le chemin de l’amour nous appelle à l’action humanitaire. Il nous incite à prendre soin de ceux qui n’ont personne pour prendre soin d’eux. Nous venons parce que nous ne pouvons pas croire qu’une grande nation comme celle-ci sépare des enfants de leurs familles. Nous venons parce que nous croyons que cette nation conçue dans la liberté a été fondée sur le principe que tous les hommes naissent égaux. Nous croyons que nous devons rappeler à cette nation, l’Amérique, quelle est son âme véritable ! Nous sommes ici parce que nous aimons cette nation Parce que si vous aimez vraiment quelqu’un, vous ne le laissez pas comme il est. Vous l’aidez à accomplir le meilleur de lui-même. Nous sommes ici pour sauver le cœur de l’Amérique. Sauvons le cœur de l’Amérique !

Permettez-moi maintenant de développer brièvement ceci. Si vous voulez voir un symbole de l’Amérique, prenez un avion vers New York un de ces jours. Je ne parle pas de la ville de New York elle-même en tant que symbole de l’Amérique. C’est un endroit sympa, mais je ne suis pas expert là-dessus. Je pense que c’est un endroit formidable, des gens sympathiques, mais le port, si vous survolez le port – ça dépend de votre itinéraire d’approche, moi ça m’arrive très souvent parce qu’en général je viens de Raleigh, en Caroline du Nord. En regardant du côté gauche de l’avion, ce que je fais à l’approche de l’aéroport de La Guardia, vous verrez une grande statue verte. C’est une statue de femme portant une torche à la main, bien levée, et un livre dans l’autre main sur lequel sont inscrits les mots : « 4 juillet 1776 ». Nous devons sauver l’âme de l’Amérique en la rappelant à son essence même, à ses valeurs essentielles auxquelles elle n’a pas toujours été fidèle, mais les valeurs sont là néanmoins. Le 4 juillet 1776, si j’ai bien retenu mes cours d’histoire, c’est la date de la publication de la Déclaration d’indépendance. De nos jours, nous somment en bons termes avec la Grande-Bretagne, mais à l’époque il y avait quelques problèmes. Ce jour-là, dans la Déclaration d’indépendance, ont été inscrits les mots que vous pouvez encore lire : « Nous tenons pour évidentes pour elles-mêmes les vérités suivantes : tous les hommes… » tous les hommes, tous les hommes, « sont créés égaux. »

Pas seulement les Américains, non, mais tous les hommes, d’où qu’ils viennent. Ceux du Honduras, ceux du Mexique, ceux du Costa Rica, ceux du Venezuela, ceux d’Asie, ceux d’Afrique, ceux d’Europe, tous les hommes sont créés égaux. Tous !

Eh bien je pense que c’est ça, l’Amérique. Puis le texte de la Déclaration d’indépendance se poursuit : « tous les hommes sont créés égaux, ils sont dotés par le Créateur… » – pas par le Congrès, pas par un parlement, pas par un potentat, pas par un président : ils sont dotés par le créateur « de certains droits inaliénables », des droits inaliénables qui ne peuvent être ni réduits ni modifiés car ils proviennent de Dieu ! La vie, la liberté et la recherche du bonheur, c’est CELA le chemin de l’Amérique. Nous venons dans un esprit d’amour. Nous venons parce que nous croyons à l’amour du prochain. Nous venons parce que nous aimons l’Amérique et que nous voulons qu’elle demeure fidèle à ses principes les plus élevés.

Mais laissez-moi poursuive car j’en arrive réellement à la conclusion. Sur cette même statue de la Liberté figure un poème composé par Emma Lazarus. En voici les mots, je n’invente rien, c’est sur la statue de la Liberté. Plus américain que ça, ça n’existe pas ! Américains, écoutez bien ! Sur la statue de la Liberté sont écrits ces mots :

« Non pas comme ce géant d’airain de la renommée grecque

Dont le talon conquérant enjambait les mers,

Ici, aux portes du soleil couchant battues par les flots, se tiendra

Une femme puissante tenant à la main une torche

Dont la flamme est l’éclair emprisonné,

Son nom est… »

Écoute-moi, Amérique !

« Son nom est Mère des exilés. Son flambeau

Rougeoie la bienvenue au monde entier ; son doux regard couvre

Le port relié par des ponts suspendus qui encadre les cités jumelles. »

Et voici son message :

« Garde, Vieux Monde, tes fastes d’un autre âge ! », proclame-t-elle,

« Donne-moi tes pauvres, tes exténués,

Tes masses innombrables aspirant à vivre libres,

Le rebut de tes rivages surpeuplés,

Envoie-les moi, les déshérités, que la tempête me les rapporte

Je dresse ma lumière devant la porte d’or. »

L’Amérique ! L’Amérique ! Elle vous souhaite la bienvenue ! Bienvenue ! Venez, enfants de Dieu ! L’Amérique vous souhaite la bienvenue ! Nous venons parce que nous sommes un peuple d’amour. Nous aimons ceux qui cherchent un abri contre la guerre, la violence et la souffrance. Nous venons parce que nous voulons sincèrement que l’Amérique soit grande. Au 19e siècle, Alexandre de Tocqueville est venu aux États-Unis et y a séjourné. Il a parcouru le pays, rencontré et écouté les populations locales, les populations indigènes du pays. Tous les autres habitants qui n’étaient pas indigènes, pas nés dans le pays, ceux qui y avaient immigré – ils avaient besoin d’aide – tous ces gens, il les a rencontrés, il a rencontré des esclaves et des affranchis, des amérindiens et leurs familles, des américains venus d’Europe pour fuir la famine, les persécutions, il a rencontré tous les peuples d’Amérique et écrit, je cite : « L’Amérique est grande parce que l’Amérique est bonne. »

Restaurons la grandeur de l’Amérique, en faisant une Amérique bonne, en faisant une Amérique charitable, en faisant une Amérique juste, en faisant une Amérique aimante ! Restaurons la grandeur de l’Amérique !

Que Dieu vous aime ! Que Dieu vous bénisse ! Ne renoncez pas, ne vous laissez pas gagner par l’épuisement ! Que Dieu vous bénisse !

79ème Convention générale de l’Église épiscopale Sermon du 9 juillet de l’Évêque Prince Singh, Diocèse épiscopal de Rochester

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 2:46pm
Le texte qui suit est le sermon que l’Évêque Prince Singh, Diocèse épiscopale de Rochester, a prononcé à la Convention générale le 9 juillet 2018.

Que les paroles de ma bouche et le murmure de mon cœur soient agréés en ta présence, Seigneur, mon roc et mon défenseur. Amen.

Et bien, bonsoir les saints ! Bonsoir les pécheurs ! Je suis heureux que nous soyons tous ici. Et bonsoir mes concitoyens immigrés ! Permettez-moi de commencer en disant que je suis touché par cette opportunité qui m’est donnée de prêcher à la Convention générale de l’Église épiscopale. Mon épouse Roja et moi-même sommes arrivés dans ce pays il y a 25 ans en tant qu’étrangers venant de l’Inde, d’un partenaire de communion, la Church of South India, et vous, l’Église épiscopale, nous avez reçus avec une grâce abondante ! Des gens comme moi ont leur place dans cette église. Je pense que nous pouvons aider Curry à faire progresser le Mouvement de Jésus. Désolé, c’était de mauvais goût. Mais sérieusement, je prends la parole ici en solidarité avec mes nombreux frères et sœurs d’Asie et d’autres parties du monde qui ne sont pas souvent représentés parmi les dirigeants. Je vous transmets les salutations des saints du Diocèse de Rochester où nous grandissons de nombreuses manières spirituelle, missionnale et même numérique. Il est réconfortant de voir que je suis au milieu de praticiens de l’amour et, tandis que nous sommes imparfaits et que nous avons encore du travail à faire, je crois que nous ne partons pas de zéro. Est-ce ce que vous croyez ?

Et bien, toute réconciliation doit commencer par le repentir. L’histoire de Noé en est l’illustration. Je pense que nous avons eu une inondation subite juste pour nous le rappeler. Et à propos, un simple éclaircissement arbitraire, Jeanne d’Arc n’était pas la femme de Noé. Mais écoutez, écoutez Dieu dans l’histoire de Noé ! « Je ne maudirai plus jamais le sol à cause de l’homme. Certes, le cœur de l’homme est porté au mal dès sa jeunesse, mais plus jamais je ne frapperai tous les vivants comme je l’ai fait ». La génération de Noé a reçu un coup de semonce de Dieu. Et Dieu, qui a placé le signe d’un arc démilitarisé dans le ciel, a donné à Dieu lui-même un coup de semonce pour tolérance zéro et s’est repenti. C’était là le leadership différencié. Si Dieu peut se repentir, les personnes au pouvoir peuvent se repentir et dire pardon, pas nécessairement parce qu’elles avaient tort mais parce qu’elles n’ont pas fait preuve de miséricorde ou qu’elles sont allées trop loin.

Je peux voir au moins trois domaines de repentir et discernement intentionnels dans la réconciliation que nous retrouvons au moins dans les deux dernières Conventions. Le repentir et la réconciliation sur les questions de race, sur les questions de respect de la création et sur les questions de partage de l’Évangile. La réconciliation est une trêve à l’amiable qui rapproche ce qui est en concurrence ou en opposition. Jésus nous en donne le modèle. Écoutez le théologien écossais James Stewart décrire Jésus :

C’était le plus docile et le plus humble de tous les fils de femmes

Pourtant il disait qu’il venait des nuages du paradis avec la gloire de Dieu

Il était si austère que les mauvais esprits et les démons pleuraient de terreur en le voyant

Pourtant il était si affable, sympathique et ouvert que les enfants adoraient jouer avec lui et que les petits se réfugiaient dans ses bras

Personne n’était à moitié aussi gentil ou compatissant envers les pécheurs

Pourtant personne n’a jamais dit des mots aussi brûlants sur le péché

Un roseau froissé il ne casserait pas

Pourtant une fois il demanda aux Pharisiens comment ils pensaient jamais pouvoir échapper à la damnation de l’enfer

Il était un rêveur de rêves et un voyant de visions

Pourtant par pur réalisme austère il bat à plate couture tous nos réalistes auto-proclamés

Il était au service de tous, lavant les pieds des disciples,

Pourtant il entra habilement dans le temple

Et les bonimenteurs et les changeurs de monnaie tombaient les uns sur les autres dans leur ruée folle pour s’éloigner du feu qu’is voyaient briller dans ses yeux.

Il a sauvé autrui mais à la fin il ne s’est pas sauvé lui-même.

Il n’y a rien dans l’histoire comme l’union des contrastes auxquels nous sommes confrontés dans les Évangiles.

Le mystère de Jésus est le mystère de la personnalité divine.

Via Media personnifié. Sécurité et violence armée, particularité et universalité, identité et unité, déclin et croissance. Nouveau Livre de prières, Tout nouveau livre de prière et puis, c’est vrai, il y a des priorités et des douleurs et des passions en concurrence. Réthoriquement, dois-je avoir tort pour que toi tu aies raison ? Il nous faut peut-être nous concentrer sur quelques pratiques qui vont au delà du bien et du mal. Croyez-moi, je pense que la misogynie c’est mal. La haine c’est mal. L’égoïsme c’est mal. L’indifférence c’est mal. L’homophobie c’est mal. Je sais aussi que le Christ nous demande d’être vainqueurs du mal par le bien (Romains 12:21). Regardons donc quelques pratiques de réconciliation de style Christ pour nous aider.

Luc nous le rappelle : « Père, pardonne-leur car ils ne savent pas ce qu’ils font ». Paroles intemporelles de compassion depuis la croix. L’amour pratiqué depuis le creuset de la souffrance. « J’ai marché avec plaisir sur un mile, elle a parlé tout le long du chemin mais je ne suis pas plus sage d’avoir écouté tout ce qu’elle avait à dire. J’ai marché avec chagrin sur un mile et elle ne m’a pas dit un mot mais, oh, les choses que j’ai appris d’elle, lorsque le chagrin marchait avec moi » ( Robert Browning Hamilton). D’un autre côté, juste pour équilibrer, le Dr Paul Kalanithi, dans son livre From Breath to Air, où il dit : « La souffrance peut nous rendre insensible au chagrin évident des autres ». La réalité est que l’impact de l’Évangile dans la plupart des régions du monde est dû au fait que Jésus est adopté comme la plus grande expression de compassion de Dieu par ceux dont la vie semble par ailleurs ne pas avoir d’importance. Les chrétiens Dalit, par exemple, en Inde qui étaient et sont traités comme des hors-castes, voient l’Évangile comme une libération. Dans Actes chapitre 6, Luc nous dit que l’église a commencé à prêter attention aux veuves invisibles grâce à un plan de personnification compatissante : le diaconat ! Et à propos, avez-vous remarqué que ce sont les ACTES et non pas seulement les INTENTIONS des apôtres ? Dans nos cultures de grossièreté, d’incivilité, de polarisation, de cruauté, de cupidité et de narcissisme normalisés, nous, en tant qu’église, sommes appelés à pratiquer la compassion comme agents de transformation. L’église a grandi, l’église primitive a grandi, en compassion, puis elles ont grandi en nombre. Alors, pratiquons la compassion. Pratiquer quoi ? (la compassion).

L’un des voleurs sur la croix était dans la certitude, provoquant Jésus, mais l’autre voleur était curieux. « Ne crains-tu pas Dieu ? » dit-il. « Cet homme n’a rien fait de mal ». Il était sur la croix et curieux et Jésus aussi ! La saison de la curiosité de l’Église est connue sous le nom de Pentecôte. C’est également la grande démocratisation du discipulat et du leadership chrétiens. Un appel contextuel à ouvrir grandes les portes de l’amour de Dieu à tous, en insistant que tous signifie tous !!! Puisque nous sommes au Texas, peut-être cela signifie-t-il « ya’ll » !

La Pentecôte décrit la curiosité de l’église primitive qui a reconnu l’Esprit Saint chez les païens —Actes chapitre 10. Inviter d’autres mondes suppose une volonté de changer sa propre vue du monde. Lorsque nous invitons une personne qui personnifie la langue des signes américaine par exemple, aidons-les, cela changera comment la communauté bien-aimée vit, écoute, se déplace et a son être. De la même façon, avec les autres langues, lorsque nous faisons une pause suffisamment longue pour écouter et remarquer. Par exemple, dans la langue de ma mère le tamil, qui est une ancienne langue du Sud de l’Inde, l’expression pour au revoir est « Po-yitu va-rain » ce qui signifie « je pars et je reviens ». Ce qui est très différent de « je m’en vais ! »  N’est-ce pas ? Il y a une vision du monde dans chaque langue. Et quel cadeau, quel plaisir pour nous d’appartenir à une communauté bien-aimée qui a tellement de diversité. La diversité n’est pas un problème à gérer. C’est l’un de nos plus grands atouts de gestion spirituelle de la communauté bien-aimée. Lorsque deux sur trois sont réunies, la présence du Christ est garantie. Les deux ou trois dans une église qui adopte l’Esprit de la Pentecôte supposent la diversité. La Pentecôte est un appel au mélange des rigueurs de la diversité avec les joies de l’unité. Et ils sauront que nous sommes chrétiens par notre amour, par notre pratique de la curiosité. La curiosité est la meilleure expression du respect, qui est aussi la meilleure forme de l’amour. Alors, pratiquons la curiosité. Pratiquer quoi ? (la curiosité).

Et finalement, le même Jésus qui pratiquait la bienvenue en disant : « Venez à moi, vous tous qui peinez et ployez sous le fardeau » a dit au voleur curieux : « Aujourd’hui tu seras avec moi au paradis ». Dans certains milieux, la consternation est grande à propos de qui va aller au paradis et qui ne va pas y aller. Jésus nous a donné une façon de pratiquer le paradis sur terre au travers du cadeau de l’hospitalité maintenant. Je pense que l’hospitalité est le seuil qu’a franchi l’église primitive lorsqu’elle a réconcilié la dualité pureté-pollution dans les aliments en reconnaissant la présence de Dieu en toutes choses. C’est une ancienne dichotomie où toutes les choses avaient leur gradation sur la grille pureté-pollution. Les racines du racisme, du « castéisme », du sexisme, de l’hétérosexualité, ont toutes obtenu leur justification cachée à partir de cette grille pureté-pollution.  D’un seul coup, cette hypothèse ancienne est totalement détruite dans une vision : « Ce que Dieu a rendu pur, tu ne vas pas toi le déclarer immonde ».  Actes chapitre 10. Des milliers d’années d’épistémologie implosent et l’église devient sauvage et pratique l’amour inconditionnel. L’hospitalité est là où les choses convergent véritablement. Roja et moi aimons avoir des gens à la maison et chaque fois que nous avons des invités, nous nous affairons à nettoyer la maison. Et, de temps à autre, nous nous regardons l’un l’autre et disons : « N’avons-nous pas de la chance d’avoir des invités qui viennent chez nous, autrement nous ne nettoierions jamais la maison ! »  Et bien notre âme a besoin de nettoyage. Et l’hospitalité est une façon de faire l’expérience de parcelles de paradis ici même. Nos autels pourraient-ils être plus diversifiés et accueillants ? Et ce qui est le plus important, nos salles à manger et nos cuisines pourraient-elles être plus diversifiées et plus accueillantes ? Pratiquons l’hospitalité. Pratiquer quoi ? (l’hospitalité).

« Que devons-nous savoir d’autre à propos de la pratique de la compassion, de la curiosité et de l’hospitalité ? » Je pense que cela aide à traiter la manière d’aimer de Jésus comme un retour à la base. Je ne peux pas croire que j’ai utilisé une analogie de baseball alors que je pense qu’ils jouent au cricket au paradis. Vous n’êtes pas d’accord, certains d’entre vous ? Je pense que cela aide à réaliser que le changement est difficile et que nous ferons des erreurs. Cela aide à penser que ces pratiques sont un marathon de discernement dynamique. Je pense que cela aide à savoir que ces pratiques peuvent être contre-culturelles et que vous pouvez être mal compris et considéré comme faible. Pour tout cela, il nous faut une régénération spirituelle et c’est là où l’église compte. Permettez-moi de terminer par une histoire.

Lorsque j’étais nouvellement ordonné dans la Church of South India, je m’occupais de villages à peu de chose près dans ce que l’on pourrait appeler le Tombouctou du Diocèse de Madras, et j’avais environ 14 congrégations. Alors je me déplaçais avec ma petite Vespa. L’une des églises n’avait pas de bâtiment. Donc, un après-midi ensoleillé, vraiment étouffant, nous nous sommes réunis pour l’eucharistie sous un tamarin. Un tamarin, c’est un arbre très grand, qui donne beaucoup d’ombre. Et nous étions réunis pour l’eucharistie, j’étais fraichement nommé, je venais d’être fait prêtre, n’est-ce pas, donc j’avais très peu d’idée de ce que je faisais la plupart du temps. Alors, je fais le tour et je distribue le pain puis je prends le calice et je remarque qu’il y a une fourmi qui nage dans le jus de raisin. Alors je vais vers la première personne et je dis : « Le sang du Christ, la coupe du salut. Attention ! » Puis la deuxième personne : « Le sang du Christ, la coupe du salut. Attention ! » Cela m’a pris deux ou trois personnes avant de réaliser ce que je disais ! Puis j’ai réalisé, oui, le sang du Christ, la coupe du salut. Attention ! Car c’est plus qu’un aliment réconfortant. C’est un appel au discipulat et au leadership dans une époque très troublée où les chrétiens comme vous et moi devons nous réveiller et être présents en tant qu’agents d’amour dans un monde affamé d’amour véritable.

Mes amis, à présent conformez-vous à la compassion, la curiosité et l’hospitalité, les trois. Et que la force derrière chacune des trois soit l’amour !

C’est à vous !

Amen

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