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Convention turns diocesan asking into a mandatory assessment in 2019

Episcopal News Service - 20 horas 55 segundos atrás

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] General Convention, meeting in the last hours of its nine-day gathering here, made mandatory the current voluntary diocesan budgetary asking system for the 2019-2021 budget cycle and imposed penalties for noncompliance.

Substitute Resolution D013 also conforms the church’s canon on the budget to the process that has actually been used in recent years to craft the budget.

Final approval of D013 came after convention took the relatively unusual step of referring to a conference committee the bishops’-amended version of Resolution D013. The conference committee process is used to create a final-form resolution for consideration by both houses in a shorter period of time than it would take for the amended resolution to be sent back to its regular legislative committee. The last time it was used was in 1997, according to House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, who served on it. It involved Resolution A053 to implement mandatory rights of women clergy under canon law.

The mandatory assessment will not apply to the upcoming 2016-2018 triennial budget, but becomes effective Jan. 1, 2019. Without getting a waiver, a diocese that does not pay the full assessment will be unable to get grants or loans from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society unless the Executive Council specifically approves disbursing the money.

(The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission.)

The resolution allows the council to begin granting waivers to dioceses that do not pay, based on financial hardship, beginning Jan. 1, 2016. Council agreed in January to create a so-called Diocesan Assessment Review Committee to work with dioceses that do not  meet the full churchwide asking.

Dominican Republic Bishop Julio César Holguín Khoury addressed bishops through an interpreter during discussion on the resolution July 3, saying, “Please make note of the fact that there are some dioceses that receive subsidies to assist their budgeting function and what I understand here, it’s being required they pay the full amount of what is specified here. That would make a very difficult ,for example, for those dioceses in the ninth province. They might not be able to comply (with) that mandate.”

To which Florida Bishop John Howard replied: “Those are precisely the circumstances this resolution contemplates and for which most likely a waiver would be granted.”

The 2016-2018 budget convention adopted July 2 is based in part on asking the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas to give 18 percent of their income to fund the 2016 budget, 16.5 percent for the 2017 budget and 15 percent in 2018.

Each year’s annual diocesan giving in the three-year budget had been based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $120,000. The dioceses were this year asked to contribute 19 percent of their income from two years earlier, minus $120,000. The 2016-2018 budget increases the exemption to $150,000.

Out of 109 dioceses and three regional areas, 49 dioceses paid the full asking or more in 2014. A list of 2013 diocesan commitments and payments made, and 2014 commitments, is here.

A copy of the budget is here.

The major reason a conference committee met July 3 to perfect a version of the resolution upon which both houses could agree was the bishops amended the resolution proposed by General Convention’s Legislative Committee on Governance and Structure and adopted by the deputies to remove wording to provide a stipend for the president of the House of Deputies.

The Task Force For Reimagining the Episcopal Church called for such compensation in its report to convention (page 12 here) and its original Resolution A004.

“When someone volunteers to do a job, it is not an injustice not to pay them,” said Diocese of Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller during debate in the House of Bishops on July 3.

Colorado Bishop Rob O’Neill, who later served the conference committee, told his colleagues during the same debate that a “conversation needs to be had with care and thoughtfulness apart from language that binds us up in canonical revision.” He said he wanted to provide time and space for that conversation to happen in an appropriate venue and way.

The conference committee added 10 resolves concerning a salary for the deputies’ president. They note that the roles of both the presiding bishop and the deputies’ president continue to evolve and the life and work of the church as a whole is “in a time of substantial transition” as “the structures of the church continue to evolve.” There are “increased demands on the time and energy” of the president of the House of Deputies, who also serves as serves as vice-president of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and vice-chair of the Executive Council.

The resolution notes that “the House of Deputies is of the view that only persons who are retired or who have substantial economic resources are financially able to serve as president of the House of Deputies,” but that it ought to be able to choose a president without regard to his or her financial circumstances. And the resolution says the deputies think the salary is a matter of fairness and that it is important for church to “explore fully and openly the issues of leadership,” including compensation for the president.

“The House of Bishops understands and appreciates the cogency of, and fairness issues inherent in, the position of the House of Deputies,” the resolution said.

The resolution calls for the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies to jointly appoint a task force to consider the issues of leadership and compensation. The task force will make recommendations to the next meeting of convention.

Minnesota Deputy Sally Johnson, who chaired the conference committee as well as the governance and structure committee, told the deputies that the conference committee, consisting of her, Deputy Vice President Byron Rushing, Southeast Florida Deputy Tom O’Brian, Florida Bishop John Howard, Colorado Bishop Rob O’Neill and Northwest Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe (who is also bishop provisional of Bethlehem) worked for more than three hours on the compromise resolution.  It was, she said, a “frank and candid and very good discussion.”

The bishops, she said, “expressed concern” that it was premature to add a stipend for the deputies’ president at this time without more study and consideration.

The language of the resolution “is probably not perfect,” she said, adding that it might have been “more perfect” had it not been crafted in the middle of convention’s last legislative day.

After the deputies passed the conference committee resolution on a vote of 684-84, Jennings praised the conference committee process, calling it one of the tools available to foster “communication, collaboration and conversation” with the House of Bishops.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. Tracy Sukraw is a member of the ENS team at General Convention. The Rev. Pat McCaughan, ENS correspondent, contributed to this story.

Plans to be created for prayer book, hymnal revision

Episcopal News Service - sex, 03/07/2015 - 21:59

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] General Convention 2015 took a step toward revising the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982, directing the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) to prepare plans for revising each and to present them to the next convention in Austin, Texas, in 2018.

Among other liturgical issues, the convention directs bishops to find ways for congregations without clergy to receive Communion, but the House of Bishops defeated proposals to allow unbaptized people to receive Holy Communion or to study the issue.

The convention approved making available a revised version of “Holy Women,
Holy Men” with additional saints’ commemorations but left “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” as the church authorized supplemental calendar of commemorations (see article here).

The revised “Holy Women, Holy Men,” is called “A Great Cloud of Witnesses.”

The convention also made provision for using what is commonly called “Rite III” during principle Sunday services, with certain restrictions; authorized materials for honoring God in Creation; updated the prayer book lectionary to conform to the Revised Common Lectionary; authorized continued work on the World Music Project and support for the Leadership Program for Musicians Serving Small Congregations; and approved continued revision of the Book of Occasional services.

In liturgical matters referred to the special legislative committee on marriage, General Convention approved two new marriage liturgies with gender-neutral language that same-sex or opposite-sex couples may use as well as continued use of the rite for blessing same-sex relationships that General Convention 2012 approved.

Prayer book and hymnal revision

Resolution A169 directs SCLM “to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision” of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and to present it to the next General Convention. It says the plan must “utilize the riches of our church’s liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, linguistic, gender and ethnic diversity in order to share common worship” and “take into consideration the use of current technologies which provide access to a broad range of liturgical resources.”

In preparing the plan, SCLM will “consult with the side breadth of cultural expression and participation throughout our church,” said the Rev. Devon Anderson, deputy chair of the prayer book, liturgy and music legislative committee.

Bishop Thomas Breidenthal of Southern Ohio, a committee member, told the House of Bishops that the resolution “commits us to a theological, liturgical and ecclesiological conversation. I hope we can move forward with boldness to say we are ready.”

“It’s become increasingly apparent that the 1979 prayer book is a product of its time, of reflecting the best … scholarship of the mid-20th century,” the Rev. Ruth Meyers, SCLM chair, told the House of Deputies. After 40 years, “it’s time for us to take stock of our church and context in this century” and prepare to revise the prayer book “to support our work of evangelism and contribute to the vitality and growth of our congregations and our church,” she said.

Predicting the resolution would pass, Deputy William Murchison of Dallas said he wanted to warn the house that it likely was making “a serious mistake.”

“Some of us are old enough, unfortunately, to remember the turmoil that beset this church during the last prayer book revision,” he said. “Many Episcopalians, sadly, left the church. … My primary concern, nevertheless, is that further revision of the prayer book along the lines that are embedded in this resolution will give us something other than common prayer … a book that provides nothing but a variety of options.”

The Rev. Canon John Floberg, deputy from North Dakota, supported the resolution, asking only that, when the prayer book is revised, it is made available to non-English speakers in a timely manner.

“Among the Lakota-Dakota people of the Plains, it takes on average 40 years to substantially translate the prayer book once it’s revised,” he said. “Don’t forget about us.”

The convention also directed SCLM “to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision of “The Hymnal 1982” with D060.

During legislative committee discussion, the Rev. Jeremiah Williamson of Ohio, said he was “a little torn” because he saw the need for hymnal revision but also noted that SCLM had what “seems like an incredible amount of work right now.” He also questioned whether developing a hymnal-revision plan was premature, given that planning was about to start on prayer-book revision.

The Very Rev. Benjamin Shambaugh of Maine, however, said he thought it made more sense for plans for a new hymnal to be part of the planning process for a new prayer book.

“It would be remiss not to include the hymnal in the mix,” he said. “It would be strange not to include music as part of that discussion.”

In other music-related resolutions, the convention approved A060, the continuation of SCLM’s Congregational Song Task Force to “further the mission of The Episcopal Church by enlivening and invigorating congregational song through the development of a variety of musical resources” and developing and expanding the work of the World Music Project.

The convention also endorsed A061, the continuation of the Leadership Program for Musicians Serving Small Congregations.

Holy Communion and Open Table

Several resolutions related to allowing unbaptized people to receive Holy Communion – a practice some refer to as open table or open communion – failed in the House of Bishops.

The bishops rejected an attempt to amend Canon I.17.7, Resolution C023, to allow unbaptized people to receive Holy Communion if it was “with the intent of beginning or strengthening a relationship with Christ and eventually being baptized” and the clergy are providing “counsel as needed” or when “congregations inviting the unbaptized to receive communion must do so as a part of an evangelistic plan to welcome all people to Christ’s table and to strengthen them in their relationship with Christ and the church.”

The bishops narrowly defeated Resolution C010, asking for a task force “to study and facilitate church-wide dialogue concerning the practice of inviting all persons, baptized and unbaptized, to receive Holy Communion.” The resolution failed 79-77 after an amendment was added calling for the task force to “include a balance and diversity of perspectives.”

Bishops spoke for and against the resolution, with supporters saying that the legislation was not about endorsing the practice, but rather about creating a task force as an appropriate way to launch discussion about it.

The bishops also rejected Resolution A065 to direct SCLM “to develop a liturgical resource on Christian initiation.”

The intent, Meyers told ENS before the convention, was to produce a liturgical resource similar to the materials SCLM previously developed for blessing same-sex relations that contained essays and pastoral as well as liturgical materials.

“It’s important to consider both the church’s understanding and practice of confirmation and its understanding of admission to Communion, all in light of the theology of baptism,” Meyers had said.

In a related matter, the convention referred Resolution C050 to the SCLM to study the theological implications of allowing adults to be baptized and confirmed at the same time.

In another Communion-related resolution, A044, General Convention directed “the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority in each diocese to discern and implement ways in which small congregations within their diocese who are without benefit of clergy may receive Communion on a regular basis.”

The original text had asked that lay ministers be licensed to distribute previously consecrated sacrament in Sunday public worship in the absence of clergy and that an accompanying liturgical rite be created for such circumstances.

The legislative committee heard impassioned testimony about the resolution, with some describing how congregations could go extended periods of time without Holy Eucharist because of a dearth of available clergy.

The convention also agreed, in Resolution D050, that bishops “exercising ecclesiastical authority” can allow congregations to use “An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist” (BCP pp. 400-405) at a principal Sunday or weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist, if the Eucharistic Prayer is written and submitted in advance of its use to the bishop.”

The resolution notes that the prayer book does not forbid such use.

During hearings and committee discussions, some argued that regular use of such creative liturgies – sometimes called Rite III – can be especially valuable for emerging church communities or when leading worship involving children.

As explained here, “This rite is in the form of an outline that allows the participants to prepare many of the liturgical texts that will be used in the Eucharistic celebration while maintaining the same basic structure of the Eucharistic liturgy that is found in other rites.”

Creation liturgies

General Convention authorized A058, “Liturgical Materials Honoring God in Creation” and specified that they be made “freely available.” It directed SCLM to consider the materials for inclusion in a revised Book of Occasional Services.

The convention referred to SCLM Resolution C015, asking for authorization to add a sixth question to the Baptismal Covenant “concerning our responsibility as baptized Christians to care for God’s creation.”

Book of Occasional services

General Convention passed Resolution A059, directing SCLM to continue working on revising the Book of Occasional Services.

The convention also directed with D036 the SCLM to include a rite for the changing of a person’s name in the revision of the Book of Occasional Services. During hearings, several people – especially members of the transgender community – passionately testified about the importance for such a rite.

And the convention referred to SCLM Resolution D046, asking for authorization for trial use “or for use in special study sessions,” with the permission of the diocesan bishop, liturgical materials and prayers in Janet Morley’s book “All Desires Known” and for SCLM’s consideration of including them in a revised Book of Occasional Services.

Additional resolutions

Among other liturgy-related actions, General Convention approved resolutions to:

  • Direct SCLM “to continue to collect, review, and disseminate materials to address Christian anti-Judaism expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts,” A063;
  • Adopt criteria for recommending Bible translations for pubic worship, A063;
  • On second reading, revise the Book of Common Prayer lectionary to conform to the lectionary of the Revised Common Lectionary, previously adopted as the church’s authorized lectionary, A067; and
  • Direct SCLM to begin work on translating the prayer book and/or other authorized liturgical resources into French, Creole and Spanish, A068.

— Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.

Video: Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry preaches at General Convention Closing Eucharist

Episcopal News Service - sex, 03/07/2015 - 16:56

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] “Now I’ve got one word for you,” the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry of North Carolina, Presiding Bishop-Elect, told the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. in his sermon on July 3. “If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s the first word in the Great Commission: GO!”

Presiding at the Eucharist was Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Following the sermon, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori read a letter of congratulations sent by President Barack Obama to Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry.

The following is the text of the sermon:

GO! We are the Jesus Movement
The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church
The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry
Friday, July 3, 2015

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Before I say anything, I must again say thank you to you, Almighty God, for the privilege and the possibility of serving as Presiding Bishop-Elect. I love this Church, I love our Lord, and God is not finished with us yet.

To our Presiding Bishop, who has been an incredible leader—

We go back 15 years. We were ordained bishops in the same year, and this is a woman of God. She has led the people of God with courage, passion—

Now her passion is a little different than mine. I told the bishops, I want to get a little bit of cool from her.

She has been an incredible God-sent and God-inspired leader.

And I so look forward to working together with President Jennings. We’ve known each other off and on over the years and—

I’m older than she is, I’ll say it that way.

I’m probably not.

I really do look forward to working together with her. Leadership is not easy, and she has exercised it here at this convention with grace and clarity. I look forward to working with you, my sister.

And then lastly—I know they didn’t move the service up to 8:30 so I had more time to preach—but I must offer a word of disclaimer before getting into the sermon. I didn’t know what the text was going to be for today; I had no idea that it would be the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” And when I saw what the text was, all I could do was say, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place.”

Matthew ends his Gospel telling the story and compiling the teachings of Jesus with Jesus sending his disciples out into the world with these words: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have taught you.” And remember, I am with you in the first century and in the 21st. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

I am more and more convinced that God came among us in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth to show us the way to be reconciled with the God who deeply and passionately loves each and every one of us, to be reconciled and right with that God and to be reconciled and right with each other as the children of that one God who created us all. He came to show us how to get right and how to get reconciled. He came to show us therefore how to become more than simply the human race – that’s not good enough – came to show us how to be more than a collection of individualized self-interests, came to show us how to become more than a human race.

He came to show us how to become the human family of God. And in that, my friends, is our hope and our salvation, now and unto the day of eternity.
Or to say it another way.

Max Lucado who’s a Christian writer says “God loves you just the way you are, but he [doesn’t intend] to leave you that way.”

Jesus came to change the world and to change us from the nightmare that life can often be to the dream that God has intended from before the earth and world was ever made.

Julia Ward Howe said it this way, during America’s Civil War, an apocalyptic moment in the history of this nation if ever there was one:

In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea.
With a glory in his bosom
That transfigured you and me.
As he died to make [folk] holy
Let us live to set them free
While God is marching on.
Glory, glory hallelujah
God’s truth is marching on.

Now I’ve got one word for you. If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s the first word in the Great Commission: GO!

Don’t do it yet, but go!

And the reason I lift up that word “go” is because we are the Jesus Movement.

Go!

Let me tell you, I began to realize something—I stumbled into it a few months ago— while I was getting ready for Advent and I was reading the Gospel Advent messages for the three-year cycle.

I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.

I noticed that all four of the Gospels preface the ministry of Jesus not only by invoking John the Baptist, but they preface the ministry of Jesus by quoting Isaiah chapter 40: “Prepare the way of the Lord, / make straight [ ] a highway for our God”

And if you look back, go back to Isaiah 40, Isaiah says:

Prepare the way of the Lord,

For every valley shall be exalted,
Every mountain and hill made low,
The crooked straight and the rough places a plain,
And in this the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together.

The Bible’s trying to tell us something about Jesus. This brother didn’t come into the world to leave it the way he found it. He came to change it until valleys are lifted up and mountains are brought down, until the world is righted the way god dreamed it. The landscape of our reality and lives is changing.

The story behind Isaiah 40—and I won’t get into all the details—is that the people of God found themselves free one day and in slavery the next. This time it was not a slavery of Pharaoh’s Egypt; this time it was the slavery of exile in Babylon.

For indeed in the year 586 BCE, the armies of Babylon began a prodigious March of conquest throughout the Middle East. Eventually they came to Palestine. They razed the countryside, moved toward and fought their way to Jerusalem, breached the walls of the Holy City, entered the city and burned much of it, and killed people. They entered the Sacred Temple that Solomon had built and desecrated it. And then they took many of the leading citizens and they carted them off to Babylon where they made virtual slaves of them.

It was a nightmare.

In Babylon they sang, as old slaves used to sing, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long, long way from home.”

In Babylon one of their poets wrote:

By the waters of Babylon,
we sat down and wept,
When we remembered thee, O Zion.

When we remembered what it was like to be home.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
In a strange land?

And then it happened, almost as swiftly as they had been enslaved by the nightmare of the world, they were set free by the treaty of God.

See the Babylonians who had conquered were conquered themselves. Have you ever played that game King of the Mountain? Somebody’s gonna knock you off.

Or as that great philosopher Frank Sinatra said, “You can be riding high in April and shot down in May.”

And so an emperor named Cyrus came to the throne in Persia. He conquered the Babylonians and as a kind of “in your face” to the Babylonians, everyone the Babylonians had enslaved, Cyrus set free. He issued an edict of religious toleration. We thought pluralism and multiculturalism was new. Cyrus did that a long time ago.

He issued an edict of religious toleration, the Jewish people were set free, they went home, and as they were on their way going home, one of their poets said: Prepare the way of the Lord, for everybody shall be exalted, every mountain made low, the crooked straight.

And we’re going home!

The nightmare has ended, and God has changed the landscape of reality, His dream has broken out!

My friends, all four Gospels preface the story of Jesus by pointing us back to that story in Isaiah. Jesus came to show us the way, to change the landscape of reality, from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends and we, my friends, are part of the Jesus movement.

So go!

Now if you still don’t believe me, go see the movie.

Now I’m not commending the movie I’m about to mention because I actually haven’t seen the movie itself, but it’s the movie Son of God. It came out about a year ago if I remember correctly, and it kind of got eclipsed because Noah with Russell Crowe came out at the same time.

Everybody knows that would certainly have told the story accurately.

Anyway, the movie Son of God—again I’m not commending it because I haven’t seen it.

But the trailer is really good.

And in the trailer there’s this one scene, where Hollywood conflated several biblical versions, of the story of Jesus calling Simon Peter.

And Peter is fishing in the Sea of Galilee and Jesus comes along. Peter’s not catching any fish—and you can see he’s frustrated—and Jesus comes along and says something like, “What’re you doing, brother?”

Sometimes when you read the Bible, you gotta read between the lines and imagine what the expressions were like.

When Jesus says, “Well, what are you doing?,” Simon Peter says, “I’m obviously fishing.” And then Jesus says, “Well why don’t you put your net on the other side of the boat?” And you know Peter’s been there all day, and you can assume he probably did know something about Jesus, and knew the brother was a carpenter, not a fisherman.

And therefore, he was probably thinking, you don’t know a thing about this, but what I’ve been doing all day isn’t working
Which is a parable for the church today, but I’ll leave that alone.

Jesus said if it’s not working for you, put the net on the other side and go where the fish are, don’t wait for them to come to you—

That’s another message for the church.

So anyway, Peter takes the net and casts it on the other side of the boat and then the next scene—now this is in the trailer, I haven’t seen the movie—the next scene is under the water and the camera is looking up.

Now this is clearly Hollywood, and you can see Jesus’ image kind of refracted through the water. You can tell it’s Jesus because he has a beard.

And then he takes his finger, and he touches the water, and the water starts to quiver and shake like the old song, “Wade in the Water.”

“God’s gonna trouble the water.”

That’s Hollywood. That wasn’t in the Bible, but neither was Cecil B. DeMille, and I actually like his version of The Ten Commandments.

So anyway, the water is quivering. And then the next scene goes up on top, and you see Peter, and probably Andrew and John, they’re hauling all of the fish. They’ve got so many, the net is breaking.

Notice they listened to Jesus, and caught more fish than they did when they were doing it on their own.

That’s another lesson, but we’ll talk about that later.

Anyway they’re trying to pull up all these fish, and then Jesus comes along and says, “Peter, now come and follow me.”

Now again, imagine what was going through Peter’s mind: I’m finally catching some fish, and you want me to follow you?

And Jesus says, “Come on and follow me,” and Peter says “Where are we going ?!”

Jesus says, “To Change the world.”

God came among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to change the world, to change it from the nightmare it often can be into the dream that God intends. He came to change the world, and we have been baptized into the Triune God and summoned to be disciples and followers of this Jesus and to participate in God’s work, God’s mission of changing and transforming this world. We are the Jesus Movement now.

And his way can change the world. The Diocese of Ohio has popularized a way of capturing Jesus’ summary of the law: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets.

It’s all about that love.

Duke Ellington said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”

It’s all about that love!

The Diocese of Ohio says it this way:  “Love God, love your neighbor and change the world.”

With this I’ll sit down.

I will.

In May of 1961, now-Congressman John Lewis, one of the Freedom Riders, was a young man. He together with other young men and women, black and white, were Freedom Riders who dared to trust the recent Supreme Court decision with regard to interstate transportation, seeking to end and eradicate Jim Crow in our land. They were on a Greyhound bus, 13 of them, headed from Washington through Virginia and North Carolina, through South Carolina and heading onto New Orleans, Louisiana. When they stopped in Rock Hill, South Carolina, just to fill up the tank, go to the bathroom, get something to eat, they were met there by hooded night riders. They were met there by those who would burn a cross for hatred instead of the reason behind the cross: love.

And they were beaten, many of them nearly beaten to death.

John Lewis was beaten not only there but also on that Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. He bears on his body the marks of Jesus, and so do so many others.

Now fast forward, 48 years later. John Lewis is a Congressman from Georgia. One of his aides tells him there’s a man named Edwin Wilson, who wants to meet him.

Mr. Wilson came in, he met John Lewis, and he said “I’m one of the men who beat you and the other Freedom Riders in Rock Hill in 1961, and I’ve come to apologize and to ask you to forgive me.” Lewis forgave him. He said in the book where he told the story, “I accepted the apology of this man, who physically and verbally assaulted, but this is the testimony of the power of love, the power that can overcome hatred.”

This is what Jesus taught us to do.

God came among us in the person of Jesus to reconcile us with each other and in so doing to change the world. We’ve got a day of crisis before us in this country.

We’ve got a day of crisis before us in this global community.

We have enormous challenges before us as Church and followers of Jesus.

But as St. Paul said in Romans, “With God before us, who can be against us?”

Or as Bishop Barbara Harris said—

How do you like that, Paul and Barbara Harris?

As Bishop Barbara Harris said, “The God who is behind us is greater than any problem that is ahead of us.”

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and that movement cannot be stopped because we follow a Lord who defeated death and follow a Lord who lives.

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and he has summoned us to make disciples and followers of all nations and transform this world by the power of the Good News, the gospel of Jesus.

And look at us: We’re incredible!

Have you seen all the babies crawling around this convention? They’re all over the place!

Some of us are babies!

Some of us are children. The children are right here. You can’t see them—

Hey, guys! Hey!—They’re waving—How are you?

Some of us are children!

Some of us are young people. They’ve been here.

Some of us are young adults, and they’ve been here, and they’re gonna change the world!

Some of us have got AARP cards.

I do!

And some of us—help me, Jesus—some of us are Republicans. And some of us are Democrats.

But if you’ve been baptized into the Triune God, you are a disciple of Jesus, and we are all in the Jesus Movement.

What God has brought together, let no one tear asunder.

Some of us are labelled traditionalists—Help me, Jesus!

Ready? And some of us are labelled progressive.

I don’t care whether your label is traditionalist or progressive, if you’ve been baptized into the Triune God, you’re in the Jesus Movement.

See, we are all different. Some of us are black and some of us are white, some of us are brown.

But I like that old song that said:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow black and white,
They are precious in his sight.
Jesus love the little children of the world.

I don’t care who you are, how the Lord has made you, what the world has to say about you, if you’ve been baptized into Jesus you’re in the Jesus Movement and your God’s.

Therein may be the Gospel message of hope for the world. There’s plenty of good room.

Plenty good room.

Plenty good room for all God’s children.

For in the beauty of the lilies—Christ was the one who taught us this.

With a glory in his bosom
That transfigured you and me.
As he died to make [folk] holy
Let us live to set them free
While God is marching on.

Glory.

Glory, hallelujah.

God’s truth is marching on.

Now go.
Letter from President Obama

The following is the text of the letter sent from President Barack Obama to Presiding Bishop –Elect Curry.

Dear Bishop Curry,

As you prepare to begin serving as Presiding Bishop, i send warm congratulations.

Since our Nation’s earliest days, faith communities across our country have shown us how a willingness to believe and a dedication to care for others can enrich our lives. Your leadership over the years has reflected your powerful vision for a more inclusive tomorrow.  Guided by your commitment to a future of greater compassion and opportunity, I trust you will continue to use your gifts to bring people of all faiths and backgrounds together to realize the America we know is possible.

Again congratulations.  I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
Barack Obama

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises theHouse of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

President Barack Obama sends congratulations to Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry

Episcopal News Service - sex, 03/07/2015 - 15:12

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] President Barack Obama sent congratulations to Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry in a letter dated July 2. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church and the first female primate to serve in the Anglican Communion, read the president’s letter to Curry, who was elected June 27 as the first African-American presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, during the closing Eucharist of the 78th General Convention.

Here is the full letter of congratulations Obama sent to Curry.

During the closing Eucharist of General Convention on July 3, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori reads a letter from President Barack Obama congratulating North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry, right, upon his election as the Episcopal Church’s first African-American presiding bishop. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

General Convention passes budget with money for evangelism, racial reconciliation

Episcopal News Service - sex, 03/07/2015 - 14:25

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The General Convention adopted the 2016-2018 triennial budget July 2 after agreeing to add $2.8 million for evangelism work.

While the addition passed with relatively little debate in the House of Deputies, it faced some opposition in the House of Bishops.

The 2016-2018 triennial budget is based on $125,083,185 in revenue, compared to the forecasted $118,243,102 for the triennium that ends Dec. 31 of this year. The expenses are projected to be $125,057,351. The budget comes in with a negligible surplus of $25,834. Its revenue projection is based in part on asking the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas to give 18 percent of their income to fund the 2016 budget, 16.5 percent for the 2017 budget and 15 percent in 2018.

The version of the budget presented July 1 by the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) also included a major new $2 million initiative on racial justice and reconciliation, even as it reduces the amount of money it asks dioceses to contribute to 15 percent by 2018. The initiative remains.

The new money for Latino-Hispanic initiatives and church planting amounts to some but not all of that called for in resolutions A086 and D005 respectively. Together, the two resolutions called for $6.5 million.

The budget proposed by PB&F already contained $3 million for starting new congregations. The budget noted that PB&F anticipated a collaborative effort to assist underserved populations, including Hispanic communities.

The approved budget will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

The Rev. Frank Logue, a Georgia deputy and PB&F member, proposed adding the extra money for evangelism, saying “this convention stands at a potentially historic moment” having elected a “chief evangelism officer” when it elected North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry as its next presiding bishop. He said while both houses had concurred on resolutions A086 and D005, the proposed budget “does not meaningfully add to our evangelism effort.”

“But the good news is we have the means to match the will of this body,” he said, proposing the half-percent additional draw on investment income.

Doing so, he said, would “allow us to move out of this convention having provided our newly elected presiding bishop with the support he needs to assist us in reaching others for the love of Jesus Christ.”

While Logue suggested that the $2.8 million be gained through an added half-percent draw on income from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s approximately $220 million in unrestricted invested assets, his amendment to the budget called for adding the money in a line named “Income from Unrestricted Reserves for Evangelism Initiatives.” The DMFS’ unrestricted invested assets and its short-term reserves are two different pools of money. The $2 million allocation for racial reconciliation and justice work is also due to come from short-term reserves.

The Rev. Susan Snook of Arizona, Resolution D005’s sponsor, told the deputies that “it is time for us as The Episcopal Church to put our money where our mouth is, to be bold, daring and passionate in the belief that we have something to offer every community, every culture, every place where we are The Episcopal Church.”

“No investment in changing lives is ever, ever wasted,” she said.

The deputies voted 571-257 to add the $2.8 million.

Deputies also agreed, 455-368, to move $150,000 out of the amount budgeted for the church’s development office and grant it to The Episcopal Network for Stewardship. The $266,530 the group received in the current budget had been viewed as a one-time grant, and PB&F did not renew it.

The Rev. John Floberg, deputy from North Dakota and a member of Executive Council and PB&F, then took to a microphone to urge deputies to stop changing the budget.

Calling this one of the most open budget processes the church has ever known, Floberg said: “It’s time for this house to allow the budget that was presented and is now amended to remain in place. This is not the time for deputies who haven’t been hearing all of the information about all of the requests that have come through to be pitting one thing up against another. It’s time for some trust.”

The budget then passed 799-24.

The House of Bishops debated the evangelism provision with most bishops calling for its acceptance.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to take the risk,” said Bishop Scott Hayashi, of the hosting diocese of Utah. “We have spoken that evangelism and racial reconciliation are important to us. If we really believe that, we need to find a way to do it.”

“To say yes, we’re in favor of evangelism but we’re not going to fund it would make us look pretty foolish,” said Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith, adding, “The mission of the church is not to balance the budget.”

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Bruce told her colleagues “it’s important that we remember we’re talking about God’s economics, not man’s or woman’s economics.”

The bishops approved the budget as sent to them by deputies on a voice vote.

The impetus for the budget’s racial justice and reconciliation initiative came from Resolution C019 that calls on the church to respond to systemic racial injustice. It asks for $1.2 million for that work.

“It was the sense of the (PB&F) committee that given the atmosphere we’re living in now – the shootings and the plight of African-American men – that we wanted to do more,” the Rev. Mally Lloyd of Massachusetts, PB&F chair, told ENS the day before the budget was presented. “Give them $2 million and a blank slate to really try something new for the church that we hope will have major impact.”

Lloyd said the committee decided to leave the dimensions of the work “for the movement of the spirit” to guide the church’s leaders.

The $2 million will come from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s short-term reserves and is part of the $4.7 million surplus with which the 2013-2015 triennium is predicted to end.

“We’re taking a risk as a church that we don’t have an emergency that would call on those reserves,” Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen Lane, PB&F vice chair, told ENS. “We’re seeing this as an extraordinary circumstance and an extraordinary opportunity and, therefore, using extraordinary means to support it.”

The original budget as proposed by PB&F is here. ENS’s coverage of PB&F’s budget presentation is here and includes more detail about what it contains.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service. Tracy Sukraw, a member of the ENS General Convention team, contributed to this story.

Convention agrees to major structural changes

Episcopal News Service - sex, 03/07/2015 - 02:36

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The General Convention has approved two resolutions making major changes to the structure of The Episcopal Church.

The deputies and bishops serving on the Committee of Structure and Governance, which considered the resolutions, “were united in love for this church and its mission,” Committee Chair Bishop Clifton Daniel of Pennsylvania told the House of Bishops July 2. “In the end the tone of our conversations brought hope as our church enters into a renewing process of change.”

Substitute Resolution A004, rewriting the rules governing the church’s Executive Council, rejected a proposal by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church to halve council’s size. The resolution slightly expands Executive Council’s appointment power concerning three members of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s executive staff, including the chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief legal officer (a position created in the resolution). The presiding bishop will conduct annual performance reviews with all three of those officers and share the results with council’s executive committee under the terms of the resolution.

The resolution also sets up a provision for those three officers, along with the presiding bishop and the House of Deputies president, to engage in a mutual ministry review every 18 months.

Deputies struck from the resolution a controversial provision proposed by the Legislative Committee on Governance and Structure that would have allowed council, by a two-thirds vote, to direct the presiding bishop to fire any of those three officers.

Substitute Resolution A006 reduces the number of the church’s standing commissions from 14 to two. The two would be the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons, and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. The presiding bishop and House of Deputies president would appoint study committees and task forces to complete the work called for by a meeting of General Convention, with council’s approval. All of those bodies would expire at the start of the next General Convention unless they are renewed.

The resolution concerns standing commissions only and not committees, agencies or boards. As with all General Convention resolutions, the legislation will take effect in the next triennium, which begins Jan. 1, 2016.

Substitute Resolution A004
Substitute Resolution A004 calls for both the presiding bishop as chair and the president of the House of Deputies as vice chair to nominate people to serve as the church’s chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief legal officer. People who hold those three positions also act as officers of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, along with the chair and vice chair.

Council would then vote to appoint those people. Currently the presiding bishop appoints the chief operating officer, with the advice and consent of the council. The churchwide staff reports to the chief operating officer who reports to the presiding bishop. The presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies, as chair and vice chair of council, jointly nominate the chief financial officer, whom the council then appoints.

During a Governance and Structure Committee hearing on June 25, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori took the unusual step of speaking in opposition to substitute Resolution A004, as well as D006 and D010, saying they would dilute the authority and responsibilities of the presiding bishop. Resolutions D006 and D010 went beyond the reorganization of the presiding bishop-Executive Council relationship of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society proposed by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.

“A board cannot be responsible for employment relationships,” she told the committee. “A board can set policy about employment relationships but a board cannot carry out the work of managing employment issues. I see that as one essential piece of the presiding bishop’s responsibility.”

Northwestern Pennsylvania Deputy the Rev. Adam Trambley kicked off the debate in the House of Deputies July 1 by trying to assure the house that the controversial provision to enable council, by a two-thirds vote, to direct the presiding bishop to fire the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer or the chief legal officer constitutes “very limited ability to provide some kind of accountability authority to the officers.”

Trambley, a member of the Legislative Committee on Governance and Structure, said if the council is going to appoint the officers after the chair and vice chair nominate them, then it ought to have a way to hold them accountable.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, deputy from Pennsylvania, provided the shortest testimony of the debate, saying simply “the authority should stay with the chair of Executive Council.”

Deputies voted 464 to 359 to strike the firing provision, and passed Substitute Resolution A004 on a 649-179 vote.

The House of Bishops concurred with the House of Deputies on Resolution A004.

There was, however, debate on the appointment provisions. The bishops committee on governance and structure amended the deputies-passed version of the resolution to give the presiding bishop the authority to appoint a COO, with the advice and consent of the council, as is the current practice.

After some concern that the committee’s amendments would mean referral back to deputies, a motion was put forth to change the resolution back, retaining the language passed by the deputies that all three nominations need to be made jointly by the chair and vice chair, and then appointed by a vote of council.

Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut spoke against the committee’s amendment and urged the bishops to concur with the deputies. “As I read it, it seems pretty clear to whom the staff and these officers are accountable,” he said. “Three times it says ‘accountable to the chair.’”

Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas said he believes “we are experiencing an unprecedented assault on the authority of the presiding bishop and bishops in general. It sounds like, ‘Wow, we are paranoid, but one time my mom told me the house is on fire and it was.’ So I want everyone to be careful about this. I want to give our next presiding bishop the best possible runway to take off.”

In the end, the bishops passed the resolution’s language as approved by the deputies.

When asked, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori confirmed that the resolution would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and that it does not affect the incumbents of those positions.

Substitute Resolution A004, which revises Canon 1.4 Sections 1-8, covers some of the ideas advanced in the original version proposed by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church as well as in Resolutions C032, D006, D020 and D010.

Debate on Substitute Resolution A006
Deputies rejected a motion to refer the standing commission resolution, which covers Resolution A006 in its original form and A097, to the church’s Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church. Such a move would have postponed any actions on standing commissions to at least the 2018 General Convention.

Diocese of the Virgin Islands Deputy Patricia Rhymer Todman, who made the motion to refer, said reducing the number of standing commissions amounts to the “indiscriminate destruction” of the church’s structure of committees, commission, agencies and boards, which operate between conventions to recommend policies and strategies for consideration by the next meeting of convention.

She said the church wants to focus on mission, evangelism and “our church needs a streamlined but suitable structure to fulfill its rich promise in mission.”

Diocese of Colorado Deputy L. Zoe Cole said that to adopt the reduction means “we become a church with a permanent structure devoted to rules and music.”

She added that it will take a long time during each triennium to determine what groups are needed, what they’re in charge of, and who will be appointed.

Deputies rejected a proposed amendment by California Deputy Sarah Lawton to add a Standing Commission on Mission, despite her argument that the church should not have only inwardly focused standing commissions.

North Dakota Deputy the Rev. John Floberg, who is also an Executive Council member, noted that the proposed 2016-2018 budget increases the amount of money available for the interim bodies as council might form. He said council needed the power to create interim bodies “in order for this church to more nimbly respond to the needs” that the church faces in society.

The Rev. Victoria Balling, chair of the Diocese of New Jersey deputation, said before rejecting the reduction, the church needs to remember that it is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “We need to live into the spirit of what the governance and structure committee has put forward and I believe that under the direction of Bishop Curry that this (idea of being members of a missionary society) will continue and (we will) not lose our identity as missioners.”

West Missouri Deputy the Rev. Stan Runnels, a member of Executive Council, told the house that “I want to assure the convention that the Executive Council in conversation in this last triennium, especially as the TREC report became more and more available to us, we are aware that this privilege to appoint task forces will require us to use the history of the CCABs as a guide and that many of the task forces that will be appointed will basically reflect the history of the CCAB structure.”

The house passed the resolution 649-114.

House of Bishops accepted the resolution on a voice vote.

Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania, a member of the General Convention Legislative Committee on Structure and Governance, clarified that the resolution concerns standing commissions only and not committees, agencies or boards. As with all General Convention resolutions, the legislation will take effect in the next triennium, which begins Jan. 1, 2016.

Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller proposed two amendments, one to call for the chair and vice chair of the two standing commissions to be appointed from different houses, and another to add a Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations.

The House of Bishops voted in favor of the first amendment but voted down the second by 69 to 71 votes.

However, following some debate, Miller asked the house to reconsider his amendment. The house voted to remove the amendment and consider the unamended Substitute Resolution A006, which passed by a straight majority vote. Had the amendment passed, the revised resolution would have required the concurrence of the House of Deputies.

Before the house revoked the amendment, Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer for The Episcopal Church, expressed appreciation for the resolution but concern about amending it and sending it back to the House of Deputies. “There are many people standing in line to add standing commissions back in,” he said. “I urge us to be very careful.”

Earlier, several other bishop members of the structure committee spoke about the resolution.

Bishop Mary Glasspool, suffragan of Los Angeles, said she is grateful for the work of TREC “for putting in some creative and loving thinking.”

The reduction in the number of standing commissions, she said, is the “most concrete and visible manifestation of change. It is very clear that we’re not ready for a unicameral legislature. We’re not asking for a decrease in the number of Executive Council members or deputies at General Convention. But the CCABs (the church’s committees, commissions, agencies and boards) is a starting place for an ongoing conversation. This is a marathon and not a sprint.”

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano of Long Island expressed concern about “the inward-looking focus of the two standing committees that remain.”

But he said he hopes it will allow Executive Council “to be more nimble in response to mission, evangelism, social justice, and then to fund some of these ministries, and then to sunset them as appropriate needs change.”

Matthew Davies and the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg are editors and reporters for the Episcopal News Service.

Convention calls for closer relations with Cuban church

Episcopal News Service - qui, 02/07/2015 - 21:02

Marilyn W. Peterson, a visitor from the Diocese of Florida, Bishop of Cuba Griselda Delgado Del Carpio and El Salvador Bishop David Alvarado during a June 25 hearing of the Standing Committee on World Mission. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The U.S.-based Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Cuba took a step toward closer relations during the 78th General Convention, meeting here June 25-July 3. Convention also passed a resolution calling for the U.S. government to lift its economic embargo against Cuba.

“As state-to-state diplomatic relations between the United States and the government of Cuba are quickly progressing, the focus of The Episcopal Church upon our relationship with the Episcopal Church in Cuba should be intensified wherever possible,” said the Rt. Rev. James Magness, bishop suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries of The Episcopal Church, who visited Cuba recently and proposed Resolution B003.

“The Episcopal Church in Cuba, our Anglican Communion partner, is a clear multiplier when it comes to the spiritual, social and physical infrastructure of the country of Cuba, and therefore has the potential to be a significant partner for us as we move forward to enhance our relationships,” he said.

Resolution B003 called on General Convention to “acknowledge and affirm” the Cuban church’s decision to request membership as a diocese, and to identify and address the canonical issues, including offering pensions to clergy, involved with Cuba becoming a diocese.

Resolution B002 called for the embargo to be lifted, and directed The Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations “to concentrate its effort with respect to this issue toward lifting aspects of the embargo that impede The Episcopal Church’s partnership with The Episcopal Church in Cuba.”

The decades-long U.S. economic embargo and Cuba’s extra-provincial status has left the Cuban church feeling isolated, said the Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado Del Carpio during a June 25 hearing on resolutions A053, which was later discharged, and B003 in General Convention’s Legislative Committee on World Mission.

“These have been tough times nationally and in the life of the church,” said Delgado, who became bishop of Cuba in 2010, adding that the last five decades under the embargo and as an extra-provincial diocese have been difficult.

During a March synod meeting the Episcopal Church of Cuba voted 39 to 33 in favor of returning to The Episcopal Church. The Cuban church was a diocese of The Episcopal Church prior to the Cuban Revolution, before Cold War politics inhibited travel and communication between the two churches.

The 78th General Convention could not formally welcome the Episcopal Church of Cuba back into the U.S.-based Episcopal Church during this convention, as such an action requires a study of the constitutional and canonical implications.

Despite the hardship and isolation, however, the Episcopal Church of Cuba has a mature, thriving ministry focused on evangelism, as evidenced in its strategic plan.

“The last decade has been one of creativity: Our churches (are) always open, always in prayer, and expanding in spirituality, and always believing we belonged to a larger family,” said Delgado during her testimony. “We, after these years, feel mature and solid in every aspect.

“We have an identity as a culture. And the Cuban people work with society, especially children and youth, focusing always on mission training for laity and clergy, and always preparing lay people so that they can become formed in Christianity. I believe that with our human resources and spirituality, we have something to offer the rest of the church.”

Following the Cuban church’s 1967 separation from The Episcopal Church, the Metropolitan Council, which includes primates of The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Province of the West Indies, was created to govern the church as an extra-provincial diocese.

Resolution B003 also calls on the church to seek to strengthen relationships with the goal of creating “greater understanding and fellowship,” and that such efforts “seek to promote mutual ministry and understanding through cultural exchange, prayer, worship, fellowship, education, and humanitarian work – identifying and facilitating specific opportunities for exchange, including, but not limited to, travel so that an exchange may occur between Cuban and North American Episcopalians.”

The embargo and the strict travel restrictions didn’t stop some Episcopalians from the United States from organizing mission trips and traveling on religious visas to the island, the largest and most populated of the Greater Antilles.

For example, during her June 25 testimony in regard to strengthening the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Cuba, the Rev. Yamily Bass-Choate, an alternate from the Diocese of New York and its missioner for Latino and Hispanic Ministry, described the personal impact of visiting Cuba.

“I went to Cuba 12 years ago and met Griselda when she was a priest. She had seven churches, and was my inspiration. For the last six years I have led 16 to 20 teens to Cuba every year. We have done little work but they have loved us,” said Bass-Choate.

“Our Episcopal Church of Cuba needs our support,” she said. “It is a magnificent church and they do a fantastic job. The ministry has transformed my life and my ministry. It is our church, we need to open our hearts and our doors to the diocese of Cuba.”

The warming of relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments, and the anticipation that the U.S. economic embargo imposed on Cuba could be lifted, has sparked new hope in the church.

On Dec. 17, 2014, President Barack Obama ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, more than half a century after the United States severed relations with the communist government of then-President Fidel Castro. Prior to the Castro-led Cuban revolution, U.S. companies owned huge shares in Cuba’s economy, infrastructure, and utilities, and imported 90 percent of its sugar. Cuba is just 90 miles from Key West, Florida, and historically was a popular tourist destination for Americans.

In 1960, the United States placed an embargo on all exports to Cuba except food and medicine; by 1962 the embargo covered all imports and exports. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy imposed travel restrictions on Feb. 8, 1963. Despite a loosening of some travel and trade restrictions following Obama’s December announcement, the embargo cannot be lifted without congressional action. In February, the U.S. Senate introduced legislation to lift the embargo.

In October 2014, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to lift the embargo, with only the United States and Israel casting nay votes. It was the 23rd time a majority of the 193 member states voted to lift the embargo.

“The Episcopal Church has called for the lifting of the embargo before but nothing has happened to the suffering of the Cuban people that we in America are creating. I believe it is time now for this to happen. We are continuing our failed policies of 50 years ago,” said retired Bishop Leo Frade during a June 24 hearing of the Legislative Committee on Social Justice and International Policy. Frade was born in Cuba. “We are losing billions of dollars. … It will be ridiculous if this General Convention doesn’t make a statement about the question of the embargo. This injustice is created by the USA and we have been doing it for five decades. … it’s time to stop it.”

The Rev. Jose Luis MendozaBarahona of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras, member of the international policy committee, spoke June 25 on behalf of lifting the embargo.

“About three years ago I went to Cuba and I was able to witness the suffering, the pain and limitations the Cuban people are experiencing. I believe our committee has created too many expectations. … We need to demand that both governments support the lift(ing) of the embargo. The Cuban government has imposed an internal embargo against its people and they are not free to have relationships with other countries … So I would like our committee to support this resolution,” he said.

Two currencies exist in Cuba, the peso and the convertible peso; the latter is used by foreign visitors and has a U.S. dollar equivalent. Professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, earn the equivalent of $20 per month.

Lifting the embargo, for the church, would mean more money for mission and ministry; for the Cuban people, “it would signify a radical change,” said Delgado during an interview with ENS. “First of all, both countries would be in closer relationship.”

Specifically, in terms of the Cuban church, she added, funds could be transferred directly to Cuba rather than routed through Canadian banks at a 10 percent fee.

The Episcopal Church’s 2013-15 budget allocated $106,000 to the church in Cuba.

For clergy ordained in Cuba before 1966, the embargo eliminated their pensions, explained Delgado; a few years ago, those still living began to receive some pension money. Clergy ordained since 1966 are not part of a pension plan.

— Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.

Bishops overwhelmingly oppose divestment in Israel, Palestine

Episcopal News Service - qui, 02/07/2015 - 20:09

Editor’s note: The quotes from Bishop James Magness have been changed to clarify the purpose of his message to the House of Bishops.

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The House of Bishops sent a strong and clear message July 2 that divestment from companies and corporations engaged in certain business related to the State of Israel is not in the best interests of The Episcopal Church, its partners in the Holy Land, interreligious relations, and the lives of Palestinians on the ground.

The bishops rejected Substitute Resolution D016, which would have called on the Executive Council’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to develop a list of U.S. and foreign corporations that provide goods and services that support the infrastructure of Israel’s Occupation “to monitor its investments and apply its CSR policy to any possible future investments” in such companies.

Although the resolution didn’t use the word “divestment,” some bishops expressed concern that it was heading in that direction. Others reminded the house that Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has urged the Episcopal Church not to adopt a policy that would make it more difficult for him to manage his congregations and the more than 30 social service institutions throughout Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Territories. Those institutions include schools, hospitals, clinics and centers for people with disabilities and serve people of all faiths.

“To say that this is a compromise resolution is an extreme. This is a part of a trio of resolutions that we produced on Israel and Palestine,” said Bishop Jay Magness, bishop suffragan for Federal Ministries who served on the Legislative Committee on Social Justice and International Policy that considered the resolutions.

“There was a significant difference of passion and opinion in the committee, and it would seem to be divided along two particular lines. One was … that any hint of divestment will hamper the ministry of Archbishop Suheil Dawani and his priests and congregations in Jerusalem and the Middle East. The other side of this, and in respect to Archbishop Suheil Dawani and his priests and congregations, was that we have to engage in socially responsible divestment,” Magness told the bishops. “We were assured by the treasurer that we don’t have any direct investments in the usually named companies,” such as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, G4S, and Motorola Solutions.

Bishop Prince Singh of Rochester, chair of the committee, also confirmed that The Episcopal Church currently has no investments in corporations that negatively impact Palestinians on the ground.

Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana said the text of the resolution “clearly and unmistakably advocates boycott and divestment, and we must reject it. … As Anglicans, we have the gift and ability to reach out to people on both sides in the conflict. That is what The Episcopal Church is doing in the Middle East. Our current leadership under the presiding bishop is allowing us to be peacemakers.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in January led an interfaith pilgrimage to the Holy Land as recommended by Resolution B019 from the 2012 General Convention that called for positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories.

Little also acknowledged Executive Council’s rejection of boycotts, divestment and sanctions through its CSR committee, which affirms “positive investment” and “corporate engagement” to encourage positive change in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Rev. Gary Commins, a deputy from Los Angeles and a member of the international policy committee, told ENS he was disappointed by the bishops’ vote, which he described as “operating out of fear, which is never a good thing for people of faith.”

Donna Hicks, convener of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network, said: “We’re encouraged by the fact that bishops and deputies understand that this is a pressing issue, and that the discussion at this convention focused not on whether to take action, but rather what action would be most effective … We’re optimistic that today’s vote is just another step in our own process to ensure that we are not profiting from the occupation, and that divestment will pass at a General Convention in the near future.”

General Convention passed two resolutions on peacemaking. Substitute Resolution B013, proposed by Bishop Nick Knisely of Rhode Island, “reaffirms the vocation of the Church as an agent of reconciliation and restorative justice,” and recognizes that “meaningful reconciliation can help to engender sustainable, long-lasting peace and that such reconciliation must incorporate both political action and locally driven grassroots efforts.”

Knisely said his resolution is part of a process “inviting us all into a larger conversation over the next triennium to talk through” positive investment.

He reminded the bishops that the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society invested $500,000 in the Bank of Palestine in 2013 for the purpose of economic development in the Palestinian Territories.

Bishop Leo Frade of Southeast Florida said that his experience of embargoes and blocking, in particular the embargo of Cuba, is that “it hurts the same people we think we are helping. Palestinian jobs depend on investment, not on divestment.”

Resolution C018 expresses solidarity with and support for Christians in Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories; affirms the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in healing, education, and pastoral care; and affirms the work of Christians engaged in relationship building, interfaith dialogue, nonviolence training, and advocacy for the rights of Palestinians. The resolution also urges Episcopalians to demonstrate their solidarity by making pilgrimage to Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories and learning from fellow Christians in the region.

As General Convention convened June 25, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the focus of seven resolutions for which the Social Justice and International Policy Committee opened the floor for public testimony at three legislative hearings.

Some 50 people testified on the resolutions related to Israel and Palestine that ranged from calling for deeper investment in Middle East partnerships to calling the church to boycott against and divest from companies and corporations engaged in certain business related to the State of Israel.

Several people spoke to the need to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land through economic pressure, saying that the church’s current policy of positive investment has proved inadequate. Others underscored the Christian imperative for engagement and dialogue, citing concerns for any action that might cause further widespread hardship for the Palestinian people and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

A sainted life: Hiram Hisanori Kano turned internment camp into mission field

Episcopal News Service - qui, 02/07/2015 - 16:32

Taiko drummers perform at the July 1 Eucharist honoring the late Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano. The 78th General Convention passed a resolution including Kano and others in “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations.” Photo: Pat McCaughan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The fierce thunder of taiko drums reminded worshippers at the July 1 Eucharist of the intensity of the life and witness of the late Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano, who transformed his imprisonment in World War II internment camps into a mission field.

Asian Americans refer to the World War II camps that housed Japanese nationals, and Japanese Americans as concentration camps.

With the passage of Resolution A055, the 78th General Convention officially included commemorations for Kano and three other men and one woman in “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations,” for use in the next triennium.

The late Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano’s memoir, “Nikkei Farmer on the Nebraska Plains,” was published in English in 2010.

Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah presided at the Eucharist that honored Kano, who died in 1988 just short of his 100th birthday. Oct. 24 will serve as the official day for the commemoration of Kano, who authored “Nikkei Farmer on the Nebraska Plains,” a memoir tracing his early life in Japan to his move to America (Nikkei refers to people in the Japanese diaspora). It included stories of his time in the various camps where more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent were forced to live during World War II. In the camps, Kano led worship, ministered to and taught those around him, including his jailers, other prisoners, and German prisoners of war.

“He was gone three years,” recalled his son Cyrus Kano, 94, who along with other family members and friends attended the convention worship service.

The Rev. Fred Vergara, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s missioner for Asiamerica ministries, said it is important for voices and witness such as Kano’s to be commemorated and included in the church’s ongoing conversations to inspire future generations.

Adeline Kano, 87, said she watched the live-streamed Eucharist from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, in Fort Collins, Colorado, where her father had served occasionally in retirement.

Myrne Watrous, a St. Paul’s parishioner who attended the Salt Lake City convention Eucharist, said the honor was fitting. “If you look at the lives of saints, it was him,” she said of Kano, whom she knew. “He left a life of wealth to become a farmer in Nebraska and to preach the word of God, to talk the talk and walk the walk.”

Granddaughter Susan Kano said she was amazed at the size of worship and the commemoration. The only inkling she had of her grandfather’s role in the community came at a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for he and her grandmother, Aiko Ivy Kano. “People kept shaking my hand – hundreds of them – and saying ‘your grandfather is a saint,’” she recalled.

She said that he considered his time in the camps a gift to his ministry. “He had an amazing life,” she said.

The others included for liturgical commemoration in Resolution A055 were: Charles Raymond Barnes (who was commemorated at the July 2 Eucharist), Artemisia Bowden, Albert Schweitzer and Dag Hammarskjold.

The Rev. Hiram Kano

Cyrus Kano, a retired mechanical engineer who lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, said his father would want to be remembered “as a man of God.”

About his camp experiences, Kano turned adversity into fertile mission territory: “He said, well, God put me here, what does he want me to do?” recalled his son.

In addition to organizing a camp college where he taught English and other courses, he conducted nature studies and led worship services while incarcerated.

Kano immigrated to the United States after a youthful encounter with William Jennings Bryan in his native Japan stirred his sense of adventure, according to his daughter, Adeline Kano. His background was that of privilege: “My grandfather was the governor of the prefecture of Kagoshina,” explained Kano, 87, during a telephone interview from her Fort Collins home.

Initially, Kano earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska, and just as quickly became an activist and leader among the Japanese “Issei” or the first-generation Japanese-American community, many of whom had come to farm or to work on the railroads.

The Rt. Rev. George Allen Beecher, then bishop of the missionary Diocese of Western Nebraska, heard about Kano’s activism in 1921, when state lawmakers were considering legislation that would preclude Japanese immigrants from owning or inheriting land, or even leasing it for more than two years. The bill also would have forbidden them from owning shares of stock in companies they had formed.

Kano and Beecher met and traveled together to the state capitol to address lawmakers, who eventually passed a less restrictive measure, according to Kano’s memoir.

Beecher persuaded Kano several years later to become a missionary to the Japanese-American community, estimated at about 600. In 1925, Kano complied and the family moved to North Platte. He was ordained a deacon three years later and served two mission congregations, St. Mary’s Church in Mitchell and St. George’s Church in North Platte. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1936.

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a member of the Episcopal News Service team reporting about the 78th General Convention.

Music and dance showcase Utah’s cultural and religious heritage

Episcopal News Service - qui, 02/07/2015 - 16:08

The golden pipes of the Tabernacle organ make a backdrop for the American Festival Choir and Orchestra. Diocese of Utah/Chloe Nguyen

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The Kenshin Taiko drummers from the Japanese Church of Christ in Salt Lake City got the July 1 Utah Showcase off to a thunderous start with a reverberating opening number representing a dragon wishing listeners a long life and good health.

The evening came to an equally powerful end with a performance by the 220-voice American Festival Choir and Orchestra, whose program of hymns included a famous one by frontier-era Mormon composer William Clayton, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.”

In between, there were choral performances by the Calvary Baptist Inspirational Choir; the Lux Singers, a religious ensemble in residence at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Provo; and El Coro Hispano, a choir from the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine that sings traditional religious music of Mexico and Central and South America.

Ballet Folklorico Citlali performed Mexican folk dances. Chloe Nguyen/Diocese of Utah

Ballet Folklorico Citlali performed several traditional Mexican folk dances. The men, wearing white from hat to toe, did intricate tap-style stepwork, while the women, in vivid frilled finery, swirled in a kaleidoscope of color around them.

Then the Pow Wow Family, whose members represent Ute, Navajo, Northern Shoshoni and Hopi tribes, demonstrated a series of traditional dances accompanied by a drum circle.

In the elaborate fancy-dress regalia worn in contemporary powwow competitions, the women and men did dances in Southern Plains and Northern Lakota styles, an Ojibwe jingle-dress dance, an Omaha grass dance and a Blackfoot prairie chicken dance, among others. The set culminated in a swift showmanship piece derived from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, with a solo dancer improvising to the voices of the drums.

There are 566 federally recognized Native American tribes at present, the Pow Wow Family’s leader told the audience. “We’re still here,” he said as the group left the stage to an ovation.

A dancer from Pow Wow Family demonstrates a Northern Lakota-style dance. Chloe Nguyen/Diocese of Utah

“In addition to religious diversity that visitors may sometimes find surprising, we here in Utah have a strong heritage of cultural and ethnic diversity that enlivens and strengthens our community,” Diocese of Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi said at the beginning of the program. “Tonight we are showcasing this rich heritage.”

The Diocese of Utah organized the nearly two-hour program of music and dance for General Convention-goers. Many of them had rushed from a late-running legislative session to get there.

The showcase was held in Temple Square at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, a historic landmark and home of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The towering golden structure of the Tabernacle’s 11,623-pipe organ was a dramatic visual backdrop for the performers, all of whom donated their time and talent for the evening.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton, representing the Presidency of The Seventy, one of the senior governing bodies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the audience that the Tabernacle, built between 1864 and 1867 and known for its pin-drop acoustics, has an arched shape because it was designed by a bridge builder.

“They didn’t have a lot of the things that we would use today to build a building like this, but they had lots of wood, they had rawhide and they had gumption, and those three things put together made a pretty good building,” Clayton said.

Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi welcomes convention-goers to the Utah Showcase. Chloe Nguyen/Diocese of Utah

“I think the most important thing about the entire structure is that when the Mormon pioneers arrived here, they came in wagons, they came, some of them, on horseback, but many of them walked. When they arrived here, they started from scratch and built this wonderful city in which we live and which is home to so many of us,” Clayton said.

Clayton offered deep gratitude for Hayashi’s leadership. “I want to recognize him in a very personal way, for his friendship, for his cordiality, for his voice of inclusion and entertainment of other people’s views and ideas. His voice has been so critical to so many good things that have happened in this city and this state,” Clayton said.

“We believe that we are God’s children and that we are truly one family. As brothers and sisters in that family each of us has a wonderful opportunity – indeed, we’d say a divine duty – to treat each other with kindness and respect as we worship the Lord and follow his teachings according to the dictates of our own conscience and our own tradition,” Clayton said. “We pray that God’s blessing will be upon you throughout your convention.”

The American Festival Choir and Orchestra closed the program with “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

One audience member was overheard saying as he made his way out the door, “If you don’t feel good after that, something is wrong with you.”

— Tracy J. Sukraw is part of the Episcopal News Service team covering General Convention.

General Convention approves marriage equality

Episcopal News Service - qui, 02/07/2015 - 00:35

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] In the wake of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage for all Americans, General Convention followed suit on July 1 with canonical and liturgical changes to provide marriage equality for Episcopalians.

The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

The resolutions marked the culmination of a conversation launched when the 1976 General Convention said that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church,” said the Very Rev. Brian Baker, deputy chair of the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage. “That resolution began a 39-year conversation about what that full and equal claim would look like. The conversation has been difficult for many and painful for many.”

Resolutions A054 and A036 represented compromises reached after prayerful consideration and conversation within the legislative committee, and then the House of Bishops to make room for everyone, Baker said. “I know that most of you will find something … to dislike and to disagree with” in the resolutions, he said, asking deputies to “look through the lens of how this compromise makes room for other people.”

Deputies defeated an attempt to amend each of the resolutions. Following 20 minutes of debate per resolution, each resolution passed in a vote by orders. A054 passed by 94-12 with 2 divided deputations in the clerical order and 90-11-3 in the lay order. A036 passed 85-15-6 in the clerical order and 88-12-6 in the lay order.

Besides authorizing two new marriage liturgies, A054 also approves for continued use “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” from “Liturgical Resources I,” which General Convention approved for provisional use in 2012, “under the direction and with the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority.”

Earlier in the week, the bishops divided the portion of A054 dealing with the existing rite from that addressing the new liturgies for the purposes of discussion, ultimately voting to approve both portions. They approved A036 in a roll call vote, with 129 for, 26 against and five abstaining.

“At my first General Convention in 1991, I don’t think I ever dreamed that we would have such a resolution before us,” Atlanta Deputy Bruce Garner said as debate began on A054. “I came to Salt Lake City a second-class citizen in my nation and my church, and I hope to leave here a first-class citizen in both.”

Among the dissenting voices was Holden Holsinger from the Diocese of East Michigan, a member of the Official Youth Presence, who urged defeat “in order to maintain the unity of the church.”

The two new liturgies, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” from “Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” from the supplemental Blue Book materials of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, are authorized for use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for all couples. The liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission, including one rejected by bishops in their deliberations.

A054 stipulates: “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.”

The resolution also says that “bishops may continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.” During their house discussion, bishops said this was intended to address bishops’ situations in jurisdictions outside the United States, such as Italy and countries in Province IX, where same-sex marriages remain illegal.

Both resolutions say that clergy retain the canonical right to refuse to officiate at any wedding.

Resolution A036 revises Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here). Among many edits, it removes references to marriage as being between a man and a woman. The revised first section of the canon now says that clergy “shall conform to the laws of the state governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage. Members of the clergy may solemnize a marriage using any of the liturgical forms authorized by this church.”

Under the revised canon, couples would sign a declaration of intent, which the legislative committee crafted to respect the needs of couples where only one member is a Christian.

The Rev. Joseph Howard of Tennessee said he voted for A054 “because I thought it was a statement of honesty about where the church is and that it regularized what we have been doing.” But he opposed A036 as “a vote against good order because I believe it assumes a belief that has not yet become clear in our church.”

James Steadman of Northwestern Pennsylvania cited the words of the post-Communion prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, telling deputies: “This is the time. Use the courage that you have prayed for all these years and vote for this resolution.”

In other marriage-related legislation, earlier in the week the House of Deputies approved Resolution A037, after several failed amendments, concurring with bishops on the continued work of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

The resolution asks congregations to study resources that were created by the Task Force on Marriage to help understand the theology of marriage and the long history of marriage, which are now available to congregations (beginning on page 9 here), Baker told the deputies.

It also authorizes continued work of the task force “because the work is not done,” Baker said. It invites exploration of the cultural and theological diversity to move the conversation forward, he said, adding that too often the study has focused on an Anglo-Western perspective “when we are a church that has people from different nations.”

— Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.

Saints commemorations approved, but distribution in limbo

Episcopal News Service - qua, 01/07/2015 - 22:14

The Rev. Ruth Meyers, Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music chair, standing, addresses the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music legislative committee, chaired by the Rev. Devon Anderson and Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith, right. Meyers served as consultant to the committee during General Convention 2015. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] General Convention approved making available a revised resource for calendar commemorations but stopped short of officially authorizing it as a liturgical resource for use in the next triennium. Amended Resolution A056 also establishes criteria to use when considering additions to the resource, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations,” and directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to review all the names within it in light of these criteria, reporting back any revisions and explanations for them to the next convention.

SCLM will use those same criteria to review commemorations and their accompanying collects added to the resource via A055 and to review suggested additional commemorations outlined in A057. The latter resolution includes the names of more women for possible inclusion in response to previous General Convention directives to increase the number of women commemorated in the church calendar.

“Great Cloud of Witnesses” revises and replaces a previously authorized resource, “Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints.” Created as part of a major revision of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts,” the church’s commemoration of various saints and occasions not included as major holy days on the calendar of the Book of Common Prayer, “Holy Women, Holy Men” added many new commemorations and was approved for trial use by the 2009 and 2012 conventions.

With the passage of the amended A056, “ ‘Lesser Feasts and Fasts’ continues to be the authorized supplemental calendar of commemorations,” said SCLM Chair the Rev. Ruth Meyers. “ ‘Great Cloud of Witnesses’ will supersede ‘Holy Women, Holy Men.’ ” It will include everyone that had been in “Holy Women, Holy Men” – including commemorations originally proposed for deletion in A055 but later restored for review under the new criteria.

But how precisely the new resource will be made available remains to be determined.

“The commission will need to work with the General Convention office to determine how to make (it) available,” Meyers said.

An additional resource for trial use was approved via A056: “Weekday Eucharistic Propers 2015,” containing all of the seasonal collects and lessons previously contained in “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” and “Holy Women, Holy Men.”

Dividing these propers from the other commemorations means creating two books of more manageable size for liturgical use and, with the “Eucharistic Propers,” creating a longer-lasting volume because the propers, unlike calendar commemorations, do not change, Meyers told ENS before the convention.

“Great Cloud of Witnesses” includes “tags” for different aspects of saints’ lives that those using the resource might want to emphasize about a commemorated individual – such as martyr, pastor or bishop – and expands the Scripture options for the commemorations.

The House of Bishops had approved the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music legislative committee’s version of A056, which would have authorized “Cloud of Witnesses” for use during this triennium. But it ran into trouble in the House of Deputies, who approved the amended version that merely makes it available as a resource. Because it was amended, the resolution returned to the bishops, who concurred on July 1.

Describing the resource as “the next step in the development of the church’s calendar of commemorations,” Meyers told the House of Deputies on June 29 that “in 2003 the General Convention directed the SCLM to undertake a revision of ‘Lesser Feasts and Fasts’ to reflect our increasing awareness of the importance of the ministry of all people of God and the cultural diversity of The Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion and its ecumenical partners.”

After receiving feedback from across The Episcopal Church on “Holy Women, Holy Men,” she said, “Great Cloud of Witnesses” was developed “as a kind of family history of persons worthy to be remembered.”

Ohio Deputy the Rev. Jeremiah Williamson, a member of the legislative committee, opposed concurrence on the floor, saying adoption would establish “a set of criteria that fundamentally shifts our understanding of sainthood and baptism.”

He objected to paragraph 2, criteria 2, which changed the understanding of saints as “people made holy through their mutual participation in the mystery Christ.

“It defines holiness as a kind of good works; something earned rather than given us by God,” he said. “While there are certainly women and men outside the Christian church that are good people and do amazing things to better our world, they have often by their own choice not been baptized into the church. Therefore, it seems inappropriate to place them in the church’s calendar.”

Deputy Benjamin Shambaugh of Maine, chair of the legislative committee’s subcommittee on the calendar, said, “There are a variety of interpretations of sainthood.

“ ‘Cloud of Witnesses’ is the next evolutionary stage of ‘Lesser Feasts and Fasts’ and ‘Holy Women, Holy Men.’ It is a catechetical as well as a liturgical resource. It does, as pointed out, include criteria for inclusion against which all of those names will be judged and then those revisions will be brought to the next convention’s suggestions for revision.”

Deputy Melody Shobe of Rhode Island introduced the amendment, replacing the words “authorize in the next triennium” with “make available for publication and distribution by individuals and in congregations and in other church groups for devotional or catechetical use or use in public worship subject to the provisions for optional commemorations of page 18 of the Book of Common Prayer.”

She noted that The Episcopal Church is not of one mind about saints. “There are some who yearn to retain a core calendar and others who want to widen it. This helps us to balance that in a middle way,” she said.

Deputy Dante Tavalaro, also of Rhode Island, supported the amendment, saying that it spoke to the Episcopal ethos of “both-and” as opposed to “either-or.”

The amendment passed 571-244, and the amended resolution was approved 619-194.

— Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent. The Rev. Pat McCaughan, also an ENS correspondent, contributed to this report.

General Convention takes a first step, admits: ‘Alcohol affects us all’

Episcopal News Service - qua, 01/07/2015 - 20:59

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The House of Bishops on July 1 passed three resolutions, one with an amendment, on the issue of alcohol and drug abuse.

“I’m Mark and I’m an alcoholic,” said Bishop Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio, chair of the Legislative Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, as he introduced the resolutions to the House of Bishops and acknowledged his own journey of addiction and recovery.

Hollingsworth said that the committee represented “hundreds of years of sobriety and recovery.” He expressed “profound gratitude” to the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies for establishing the committee and thanked all the bishops for their affirmation of the work.

Resolution D014 recommends that ordinands should be questioned at the very beginning of the discernment process about addiction and substance use in their lives and family systems.

The bishops also passed Resolution A159, which acknowledges the church’s role in the culture of alcohol and drug abuse.

Hollingsworth said A159 is intended to give direction in how the church can move forward in owning that reality of complicity and in healing.

Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe said that Europe is, in many ways, “far behind the U.S. in understanding alcohol and drug addiction.” The resolutions, he said, “will enable us in Europe to put forward the policy in our church…to address a culture of denial in many respects.”

Resolution A158, to create a task force to review and revise policy on substance abuse, addiction and recovery, passed with one amendment. The amended resolution will return to the House of Deputies for concurrence.

The amendment asks that when offering the sacrament, a nonalcoholic wine be provided. The original resolution had suggested a nonalcoholic alternative, but did not specify that it be wine.

Deputies examine ‘unhealthy and unholy’ relationship
A day earlier, deputies had overwhelmingly supported the resolutions, asserting the time has come to transform the church’s “unhealthy and unholy relationship” with alcohol and addiction.

“We have lived too much into the jokes of ‘where there are four Episcopalians, there is a fifth’ and ‘we are whiskey-palians’: we must redefine the norm,” said the Rev. Kevin Cross, a deputy from Easton, Maryland.

Deputy Mary June Nestler of Utah said that alcohol topped the list of diocesan inquiries during preparation for General Convention.

“The No. 1 question that came into our offices went like this: Can we get a drink in Utah? Will we be allowed to drink in our hotel rooms? Can our group hold an evening meeting and serve alcohol? Can I bring alcohol in from other states?’

“We must address this in our corporate culture.”

After Maryland: courage to change the things we can

Paraphrasing the prayer popularized by recovery ministries, Deputy Scott Slater of Maryland, told deputies June 30: “I ask God to grant me the serenity to accept legislative actions I cannot change. I pray that we as a church will have the courage to change the things we can.”

Slater, a member of diocesan staff, said former Suffragan Bishop Heather Cook’s drunken driving arrest for manslaughter in the Dec. 27, 2014, hit-and-run death of cyclist Tom Palermo, a 41-year-old husband and father of two, “has shaken so many of us and we have yearned for our denomination to take a hard look at this issue.”

Legislative Committee 22 on Alcohol and Drug Abuse was created by the presiding officers to do just that and “there was a clear charge to us to conduct our work with compassion for all affected by the devastating effects of alcohol misuse and addiction,” said deputy Steven Thomason of Olympia, a co-chair.

“Many members of the committee and several who testified in our hearings shared their experiences with alcohol. Many shared their shameful experiences of the church’s complicity in a culture of alcohol,” he said. “Some have even felt unwelcomed or stigmatized by the church simply because they are in recovery.”

The Rev. Steve Lane, treasurer of Recovery Ministries of The Episcopal Church, was stationed at a booth during General Convention and said he is excited to see the church finally beginning to face the challenges of addiction.

“Addiction is rampant in every congregation in our church, I believe, in one form or another,” he told Episcopal News Service.

“The best known solution for it is a spiritual one, but our church needs to be aware of it and see our own shortcomings and be aware of our own failures first before we can reach out and help others.”

Retired Bishop Chilton Knudsen of Maine, who will begin assisting in the Maryland diocese in October, is a recovering alcoholic, an experience that is central to her ministry, she told ENS recently.

“When the case in Maryland happened, my heart broke, as everybody’s did,” she said. “There’s some good leadership in Maryland, and good recovery, and those folks are part of the forward movement in the diocese.”

Advocating abstinence is not the answer – training is, she said, and understanding addiction not as a moral issue but as a health issue. “Many denominations that do advocate abstinence have the same rate of alcoholism as we do.”

Rather, she is advocating for a sense of “intentional awareness that some people are at risk, and to make our social life so hospitable that it’s not weird or strange if you decline to drink.”

Updated policies and training for seminarians and communities of faith are needed “the way we make anti-racism training mandatory, the way we make sexual misconduct training mandatory,” Knudsen said.

Otherwise, “the church can be helpful, or can really help foster somebody’s denial or support their being sick for awhile.”

And finally, she said, becoming healthy requires telling the truth about who we are and requires telling our stories. “The tragedy in Maryland presents us with an opportunity,” she said.

Deputy Doris Westfall of Missouri agreed. “The church holds out the hope of living into recovery, which is no less than resurrection,” she said.

When urging adoption of Resolution A159, Westfall said: “This resolution also recognizes that addiction is a complex disease, that it needs to be treated in its totality and with all the support and love that we can muster as the people of God.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan and Matthew Davies are part of the Episcopal News Service team reporting on the 78th General Convention.

Racial justice work is highlight of proposed 2016-2018 budget

Episcopal News Service - qua, 01/07/2015 - 19:15

Central New York deputy Chuck Stewart studies the budget, with fellow deputy the Rev. Georgina Hegney. Photo: Tracy Sukraw/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) July 1 proposed a budget for The Episcopal Church in the 2016-2018 triennium that includes a major new $2 million initiative on racial justice and reconciliation, even as it reduces the amount of money it asks dioceses to contribute to 15 percent by 2018.

The 2016-2018 triennial budget is based on $122,259,959 in revenue, compared to a forecasted $118,243,102 for triennium that ends Dec. 31 of this year. The committee projected expenses of $122,189,125. Thus, the proposed budget comes in with a surplus of $70,834, a figure that the committee in the budget document called “negligible in view of the multiple forecasts in a three-year budget.”

The committee presented the budget to a joint session on July 1. Both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies must approve the budget, agreeing on any changes supported by one house or the other.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called the session to prayer. “We are gathered here to consider how best to use the resources you have given us for the work of your healed world. Keep us open in heart and mind and spirit that we may discern the leading of your spirit.”

Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen Lane, PB&F vice chair, told the joint session that the budget process, jointly designed by PB&F and Executive Council, was “collaborative and friendly [and] … was good for PB&F and good for the church.”

The budget is available as a PDF here in English and Spanish.

The impetus for the budget’s racial justice and reconciliation initiative came from Resolution C019 that calls on the church to respond to systemic racial injustice. It asks for $1.2 million for that work.

“It was the sense of the (PB&F) committee that given the atmosphere we’re living in now the shootings and the plight of African-American men, that we wanted to do more,” the Rev. Mally Lloyd of Massachusetts, PB&F chair, told ENS the day before the budget was presented. “Give them $2 million and a blank slate to really try something new for the church that we hope will have major impact.”

Lloyd said the committee decided to leave the dimensions of the work “for the movement of the spirit” to guide the church’s leaders.

The $2 million will come from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s short-term reserves and is part of the $4.7 million surplus with which the 2013-2015 triennium is predicted to end.

“We’re taking a risk as a church that we don’t have an emergency that would call on those reserves,” Lane told ENS. “We’re seeing this as an extraordinary circumstance and an extraordinary opportunity and, therefore using extraordinary means to support it.”

Income assumptions

The budget assumes $76.6 million in commitments from the church’s dioceses (line 2), about $2.1 million more than was projected in the current triennium. Nearly 62 percent of the budget’s revenue comes from pledges by the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas. The actual diocesan giving in the current triennium is forecast to amount to $79.3 million.

Massachusetts deputy Sarah Neumann studies the budget via the virtual binder on her iPad. Photo: Tracy Sukraw/Episcopal News Service

Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier, minus $120,000. Those entities are currently asked annually to contribute 19 percent of their income from two years earlier, minus $120,000.

PB&F’s proposed budget increases that exemption to $150,000. Its revenue projection is based on asking the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas to give 18 percent of their income to fund the 2016 budget, 16.5 percent for the 2017 budget and 15 percent in 2018.

Lloyd and Lane said that PB&F felt the Executive Council’s draft 2016-2018 triennium budget was based on solid research when it came to predicting how diocesan giving would respond to a reduced asking. Lane said he and Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, who chaired the council committee that drafted the budget given to PB&F, also conducted an informal poll of bishops whose diocese did not meet the 19 percent asking.

“We found complete support for the 15 percent goal,” he said. “We found substantial commitment on the part of those below 15 percent to move in that direction over the triennium. I have confidence that the 15 percent objective is solidly supported by the bishops of the church.”

Lloyd added that she believed there are some dioceses “for whom this 15 percent will never be reachable.” However, she said, council’s planned Diocesan Assessment Review Committee will help those dioceses’ “realistic” percentage contributions be seen as “full participation” in funding the church-wide budget, rather than feeling penalized and criticized for not paying the full asking.

The budget’s revenue is calculated on the assumption that the approximately one-third of the dioceses that pay 19 percent or more will decrease their contributions to match the annual asking, as will those who now pay between 19 and 15 percent.

Those dioceses that give less than 15 percent are predicted to increase their annual giving by a minimum of 10 percent of their giving each year. Thus if a diocese is paying 9 percent, it will increase its giving in the first year to 9.9 percent and so forth.

The diocesan commitments revenue projection is also based on income earned at the diocesan level growing by a half percent, according to the notes in line 1.

Despite pending resolutions calling for the assessment to drop to 15 percent immediately, Lloyd said the committee rejected such requests early on. “We felt it was too deep a drop too quickly and it would present the new presiding bishop with some tough choices to make that didn’t seem fair his first year,” she said.

The diocesan asking is not a canonically mandated assessment and the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church called in its final report for such a move. The House of Deputies considered substitute Resolution D013 (which would take the place of its original version and those of A008, A110 and A111) and would, among other things, change the voluntary diocesan asking to a mandatory assessment. PB&F does not have the authority to make the asking mandatory.

Out of 109 dioceses and three regional areas, 49 dioceses paid the full asking or more in 2014. A list of 2013 diocesan commitments and payments made, and 2014 commitments, is here.

The budget revenue also includes a 5 percent draw, or dividend, on the income from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s approximately $220 million in unrestricted invested assets. The draw amounts to $28.2 million, compared with $24.5 million anticipated in the current triennium (line 3).

In addition to diocesan payments, the 5 percent draw and the short-term reserves draw for the racial justice program, other major income line items include nearly $10 million in rental income from The Episcopal Church Center, $2.1 million from Episcopal Migration Ministries’ refugee loan collection program, a $1.1 million draw to support the development office and $1.2 million in General Convention income, along with other smaller sources.

The expenses side

Spending in the 2016-2018 budget is structured around the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, as is the current budget.

To conform to canonical requirements to designate spending in the areas of canonical, corporate and program, each expense line is coded to one of those three categories, and the budget’s enabling resolution, which does not yet have a number, summarizes the spending in that way.

Program expenses are funded at $64.3 million, corporate at $35.2 million, and canonical $22.5 million. The amounts for each category in each year are specified in the budget resolution.

There are four kinds of grants in the proposed budget:

  • Long-term development/sustainability grants which facilitate partnerships with dioceses and the rest of the church.
  • Block grants, whose use is decided by the recipient with audits and progress reports required. For example, $1.5 million is budgeted for the Dioceses of Alaska, Navajoland, North Dakota, and South Dakota to enhance work with indigenous populations. Those grants represent an increase over the current triennium. The budget includes its traditional grant to historically black colleges, which is a slightly lower $ 1.6 million. However, there is an additional $400,000 to be divided between the two colleges (St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina) as development grants, increasing the total granting by $20,000
  • New initiatives grants for experimental approaches to building up the body of Christ. Racial Justice and Reconciliation is such a grant.
  • Special purpose grants for specific programs with a purpose and plan. For instance, the current triennium’s $3 million in Mission Enterprise Zones and New Church Starts grants are examples of these grants. The proposed budget increases their funding by $1 million.

Other highlights in the budget:

  • $750,000 for digital evangelism has been added to the communication budget in response to Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry’s commitment to evangelism (line 53b).
  • $1.2 million as the church’s contribution to the Anglican Communion Office, an increase of $500,000 (line 193).
  • For the first time, the budget reflects the operating costs and income for the United Thank Offering board (lines 265-268).
  • $1.1 million (an increase of $257,357) for renamed line 281a, (formerly called Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards, and now named Interim Bodies). The budget assumes a one-third reduction in the number of interim bodies, and a one-third reduction in the number of members on each but increases the funding available for face-to-face meetings.
  • $300,000 training in the use of the church’s Title IV clergy disciplinary canons (line 281b).

Lloyd and Lane said they were extremely appreciative that so many resolutions with funding implications began moving through convention very early, thus helping the committee’s budget process.

“The hardest thing in an operating budget is to reserve funds for new work and I am particularly gratified that Program, Budget and Finance has been creative and aggressive in seeking ways to pool resources and so this budget does have significant new work in it in the midst of trying to be true to the program and structure of The Episcopal Church,” Lane said.

Any changes in that structure enacted by General Convention “might mean that Executive Council will have to take the budget that we pass and rework it to a greater extent than it ever has had to before,” Lloyd acknowledged.

PB&F had to operate under the current canons, she said, and could not anticipate canonical changes.

“We knew all along that even if restructuring had passed on Day 2, the canons wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1 so we had to produce a budget based on the old canonical model,” she said.

The committee said in a narrative it presented along with the budget spreadsheet that it is grateful that: PB&F members were involved in creating the process Executive Council used to develop its draft budget; how members were welcomed into every council meeting; and how council shared the feedback it solicited from the church at large.

“The collaborative approach taken by Executive Council produced a cogent and balanced budget,” the committee said in its narrative. “However, a budget so tightly balanced does not permit easy changes. Large allocations in response to legislation are even harder to come by.”

PB&F’s narrative suggests that council consider allocating an undesignated block of $2 million to $5 million in its 2019-2021 draft budget to give PB&F greater flexibility in responding to “the needs and the priorities of the General Convention.”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

 

IEAB na Câmara de Deputados contra a Redução da Maioridade Penal

SNIEAB Feeds - qua, 01/07/2015 - 15:33

Desde 1993, tramita na Câmara dos Deputados a Proposta de Emenda Constitucional 171 (PEC 171), que propõe a alteração do Art. 228 da Constituição Federal (propondo a redução da maioridade penal de 18 anos para 16 anos). Neste ano de 2015, a Comissão especial destinada a analisar e proferir parecer à Proposta de Emenda à Constituição ofereceu parecer favorável à proposta e, no dia de ontem, 30 de junho de 2015, a matéria foi pautada para votação no plenário da Câmara dos Deputados.

A Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil tem se unido ao movimento em defesa da não aprovação  desta PEC, e ontem foi um momento histórico de vitória da força popular .

A Juventude da Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil  emitiu uma nota pública repudiando a aprovação da PEC 171,  expressando que o “Brasil está na contramão da historia, pois no momento em que vários países têm revisado a sua decisão de redução da maioridade penal, por causa do insucesso da medida”. São exemplos disso a e a Alemanha. A Juventude da IEAB enfatizou que  precisamos nos manter no caminho das Marcas da Missão que nos chama “a testemunhar para todo o povo o amor do Cristo , que reconcilia, salva e perdoa”. E que a missão nos “desafia a lutar contra a injustiça, a opressão e a violência”.

Na realidade, ontem, a Câmara dos Deputados foi marcada pela tensão e violência. Foi um momento de muita pressão popular. Particularmente, consegui entrar até o Salão Verde da Câmara dos Deputados porque fui amparado pela Deputada Maria do Rosário (ex-Ministra dos Direitos Humanos). Ela ainda tentou acolher outras pessoas, mas foi proibida pela segurança parlamentar. Com esta situação, somente eu e Rosa Maria Ortiz, Comissária da Comissão Internacional de Direitos Humanos da Organização dos Estados Americanos (OEA), fomos autorizados a entrar no local.  Finalmente, o Plenário votou e  foram 303 votos a favor, 184 votos contra e 03 abstenções.  O resultado é a vitória da articulação do movimento popular e ecumênico em prol do amor, do cuidado e do respeito a todos e todas.

POR DOM MAURÍCIO ANDRADE

Barnes to continue service as treasurer of General Convention

Episcopal News Service - qua, 01/07/2015 - 13:08

Episcopal Church Treasurer N. Kurt Barnes. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service — Salt Lake City] Kurt Barnes will remain the treasurer of the General Convention after the House of Bishops voted to re-elect him on June 30.

A day earlier, the House of Deputies narrowly elected former Executive Council Member Del Glover, the only other nominee running against Barnes. Glover received 414 votes and Barnes received 400. From the bishops, Barnes received 102 votes and Glover received 48.

In the event that the houses don’t concur on the election of the treasurer, the current incumbent retains his or her position.

Barnes became treasurer of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society in 2004 and assumed the role of treasurer of the General Convention at the same time.

Barnes’ career has spanned finance and investment in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Barnes has worked as a RAND Corporation economist, a Time Inc. corporate planner, an editor of Fortune Magazine, an Inco Limited finance officer, and with Morgan Stanley Asset Management. He has assisted Amnesty International in restructuring its financial management and investment committee.

“I have a passion for efficiency and effectiveness in carrying out God’s mission, which means recognizing the fiduciary responsibility to work collaboratively for the entire church, without favoring individual groups, and while avoiding duplication of activities,” Barnes said in the Joint Standing Committee on Nominations’ report to convention. “I hope that with patience and the ability to explain complicated subjects simply, I can continue to serve the church in multiple roles.”

Every regular meeting of the General Convention elects a treasurer who may also be treasurer of the Domestic & Foreign Missionary Society.

Integrity celebrates 40 years with festive Eucharist

Episcopal News Service - ter, 30/06/2015 - 20:31

Participants in the Integrity Eucharist at the 2015 General Convention included, from left, House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Jennings, the Rev. Canon Russell of All Saints in Pasadena, California, retired Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, Integrity founder Louis Crew Clay and his husband Ernest Clay. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] In a colorful and festive Eucharist, members of the Episcopal LGBT community and its supporters celebrated the pioneers and victories of the past 40 years while looking ahead to the work yet to be tackled.

An estimated 1,200 to 1,500 worshipers attended the triennial Integrity Eucharist at General Convention, held for the first time in the convention’s main worship space.

The organization honored its founder, Louis Crew Clay, with a biographical tribute video and a presentation by the president of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings.

“Many of us here tonight have never known an Episcopal Church without a strong, steady voice supporting LGBTQ people,” Jennings said. As the church has moved toward full inclusion of all people, “sometimes wandering deep in the wilderness, sometimes walking backward … we have had Louie to guide us.”

She cited his accomplishments, including serving a term on Executive Council, being “one of the most-respected members of the house” during six stints as a deputy from the Diocese of Newark and helping the church move into the age of social media to foster communication, love and community.

“Louis was social media before there was social media,” she said. “His Facebook posts are funny, poignant and profound.”

“I’m proud to say Louie is my friend,” she said. “I am honored to present you with the House of Deputies medal on behalf of your distinguished, creative, courageous, persistent, prophetic service and witness to The Episcopal Church that you love so dearly.”

Crew, who attended with his husband Ernest, exhorted worshipers: “You love Jesus – say, ‘Amen.’ You love the church – say, ‘Amen.’ If you’re grateful to General Convention and to The Episcopal Church for the welcome – say, ‘Amen.’

“Celebrate,” he said. “But we have so much more work to do.”

Diocese of California Bishop Marc Handley Andrus, celebrant at the Integrity Eucharist, left, and Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool greet Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Bruce Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina after the June 29 worship service. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

Millions of people do not know that kind of love and welcome, he said, urging the congregation to be evangelical, “so that others near you … who feel unwelcome and unloved can share what you’re experiencing in this wholeness, in this sense of church with them.”

The evening’s preacher, Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary D. Glasspool, described some of the significant news events of the past week, from the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act and “making marriage equality the law of the land” to President Barack Obama’s eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and “eight other martyrs killed at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.”

General Convention experienced the election of its first African-American presiding bishop, North Carolina Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, and a march against gun violence that demonstrated “that we can do as well as debate. In addition to tongues, we have legs and wheels, and we need to use both,” she said.

“The president of the House of Deputies said in her excellent sermon on Friday that translation is an important part of the work we are called to do, translating great and glorious visions into concrete reality,” said Glasspool. “I’d like to add to that. I believe that redefining is also an important part of the work we are called to do, as in redefining marriage. And I think we got to this point of redefining marriage by redefining two other very common words: ‘home’ and ‘family.’ ”

Weaving together the stories of the Odyssey (former English professor Crew nodded and smiled at her reference to dactylic hexameter), her own life and Jesus, Glasspool explored the traditional meanings of home and family, and how Jesus expansively redefined them.

“For Jesus, ‘home’ meant many things. He was born in Bethlehem; grew up in Nazareth; [was] ‘at home’ in Capernaum,” she said. “He left home to bring forward the reign of God: to confront demons and exorcise them; to preach, teach, and heal people of their diseases and brokenness; and to show people a much more tangible and concrete way to be with God. Because ultimately, ‘home’ for Jesus was not as much a ‘where’ as it was a ‘when.’

“‘Home’ for Jesus was when he was with God – and that seemed to be, in some way, all the time. Yet there was still a sense in which Jesus and all of Scripture made a distinction between a temporal, earthly home and an eternal home with God, who is beyond time and place.”

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool preaches at the June 29 Integrity Eucharist at General Convention 2015. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

Family, for Jesus, “was not as much a ‘who’ as it was a ‘whoever.’ ‘Family’ for Jesus was whoever did the will of God: his disciples, present and future,” she said. “This presents a challenge to the church. … We need to understand that Jesus’ family does not look like our own blood-related and adopted families. Jesus’ family has all sorts of weird and wonderful, broken and diseased people in it. Jesus’ family is born through the waters of baptism and nourished by Jesus’ own blood.”

Glasspool concluded: “’Home’” is not so much where as when we’re with God. ‘Family’ is not so much who as whoever does the will of God. Which still leaves us with this adventure we call ‘life.’ It is God’s gift to us. It’s the journey from God and to God. It’s everything we do and all who we are, from birth to death and beyond, including fighting man-eating giants and facing those who would seduce us away from the great adventure. It’s rage and grief and joy and wonder and sorrow and hope and love. It’s marrying the person we love and are committed to and want to spend our entire lives with. It’s leaving home and returning home. With smokers and drinkers and priests and sinners and saints. With family. At home.

“Jesus was right. The Apostle Paul was right. You are right, Louie Clay Crew.Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.’ ”

— Sharon Sheridan is part of the Episcopal News Service team covering General Convention.

Deputies vote: Remove the Confederate flag

Episcopal News Service - ter, 30/06/2015 - 20:15

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral, has vowed to remove the stained glass window bearing the Confederate flag.

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The House of Deputies on June 29 approved in an overwhelming voice vote Resolution D044, which “strongly urges all persons, along with public, governmental, and religious institutions, to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag.”

The deputies join a growing number of people in sacred and secular organizations calling for discontinuation of the flag, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

Obama called for the flag’s removal while eulogizing the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine African-Americans killed during a Charleston, South Carolina, Bible study by a self-described white supremacist.

In recent weeks the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral, has also vowed to remove images of the Confederacy from the cathedral, the official seat of the presiding bishop.

Deputy Betsy Baumgarten of Mississippi urged the house to support the measure, noting that symbols “help to shape our belief and our continued understanding of God and the world. To continue to allow the Confederate flag to have a place in our churches says something about The Episcopal Church.”

The Mississippi state flag incorporates the Confederate battle flag in its design, while the Georgia state flag is a modification of the Confederate “stars and bars” flag. The National Cathedral displays the flags of all the states in its nave.

While acknowledging that the symbol is for some a sign of their heritage, “for many more it has and continues to be a symbol of slavery, racial injustice and violence – and now more than ever, a sign of the white supremacist movement. The Confederate Battle Flag has no place in a church that calls all baptized persons to respect dignity of every human being.”

The resolution went a step further, challenging “us to get out of our churches and engage our public and government institutions in a conversation about such a toxic symbol of hate having any place in our current civic life,” she said when presenting the measure to the house.

Several other deputies, including the Rev. Susan Haynes of Northern Indiana and the Rev. Canon Victoria Heard of Dallas, also urged approval.

Recently, the Very Rev. Anthony P. Clark, dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida, said in a statement that, after removing flags for cleaning, he would not return the Confederate flag to the cathedral proper, according to the Rev. Jabriel Ballentine.

“If the church is to be one like it’s supposed to be, then this is a divisive issue,” said Ballentine, 34, rector of St. John the Baptist Church in Orlando. “How can we be authentic unless we do everything we can to uproot it from ourselves?

“If one group is saying they’re not bound by the prayers of the people, when we pray that we all may be one, what are we really saying?”

Baumgarten said that removal of the flag “is only a step in starting the hard conversation we need to have about racism, and about acceptance of diversity in dismantling institutions that tear down some while lifting up others.

“It shows that The Episcopal Church is on board with the conversation that is happening on a national level right now,” Baumgarten said.

“As a deputation from Mississippi, we felt we needed to speak to this issue. But it isn’t just our issue. We call on the whole church as the people of God to join with us to remove this symbol of hate and oppression and to work towards bringing equality to all people.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and part of the ENS team reporting on the 78th General Convention.

Joint session focuses on taking home the Five Marks of Mission

Episcopal News Service - ter, 30/06/2015 - 19:56

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The Five Marks of Mission – and how to put them to work at home – were the topic of discussion for deputies and bishops at a morning joint session in the House of Deputies on June 30.

Developed by the Anglican Consultative Council between 1984 and 1990, the Five Marks “are summed up in the image of pursuing God’s kingdom here on Earth as it is in heaven,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in her opening remarks.

The Five Marks of Mission are:
To proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God.
To teach, baptize and nurture new believers.
To respond to human need by loving service.
To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation.
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the Earth.

“All of God’s mission in which we are engaged is done in a particular, incarnate context,” Jefferts Schori said. “We can’t do this in theory. We do it personally through our own interactions, our own relationships, our own stewardship, our own reconciliation, our own ministry in the world. These Five Marks of Mission are a summary of what it means to be a Christian in the world.”

In the hourlong conversation period that followed, brief videos introduced the Five Marks, one by one, and after each video, deputations engaged in conversation, using a set of questions related to each Mark, such as: How are we proclaiming the Good News to different demographic groups? How do our current diocesan structures enhance or impede our proclamation? What is the relationship between outreach and evangelism? How can people see Jesus in our work of caring for the earth?

“My encouragement to you is that you think about how you are going to take what you’ve learned here at convention home and put it to work in your own contexts, in your own particular places that need healing and reconciliation,” Jefferts Schori said.

Each of the Anglican Five Marks of Mission videos can be found here.

Mark 1

Mark 2

Mark 3

Mark 4

Mark 5

Fossil fuels, climate advisory committee resolutions move to House of Deputies

Episcopal News Service - ter, 30/06/2015 - 17:39

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] The House of Bishops passed two resolutions June 28 and June 29 aimed at environmentally responsible investing and creating a climate change advisory committee. The resolutions now move to the House of Deputies for approval.

Bishops passed Resolution C045, which calls upon the Investment Committee of Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund and the Episcopal Church Foundation “to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in clean renewable energy in a fiscally responsible manner.”

The amended version of C045, one of four resolutions that called for fossil fuel divestment, passed the house in a voice vote after an amendment removed the Church Pension Fund from the resolution.

Retired Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson, an outgoing Church Pension Fund trustee, proposed the amendment to remove the Church Pension Fund from the resolution.

“The church and the pension fund are two separate entities, and they have different missions,” he said, adding that the church’s mission is to “love God and do good in the world.”

The fund’s mission is to “provide and ensure all pensions promised to all our clergy and our lay employees,” Robinson said.

The pension fund is a corporate entity under New York law, Robinson said. “We are not allowed to defer from our fiduciary responsibility. If the resolution passed as written … the pension fund would have to say no,” he said. “It’s not as simple as it may seem.” He cited a similar problem that the United Church of Christ experienced.

A large number of assets in portfolios are combined, he explained. “You can’t just slip one or two or five out of there. You have to leave that fund.” In some cases, the Church Pension Fund worked for decades to get into these funds; once you leave, you can’t return, he said. “It would come at an enormous cost to us.”

At least four other bishops testified in favor of the amendment to remove the pension fund from the resolution, all citing fiduciary duty.

Bishop Suffragan Paul E. Lambert of Dallas warned of the unintended consequences of including the pension fund, which could affect pensions of younger clergy and those working in smaller congregations, he said.

Others, like Bishop Scott Barker of Nebraska whose diocese submitted one of the four divestment resolutions, opposed the amendment, saying, “Money is power.”

The Episcopal Church has financial assets totaling billions of dollars; more than $380 million in trust assets; $9 billion in clergy retirement funds; and another $4 billion among parishes and dioceses. “Importantly, the church endeavors to make a difference with its money – by investing in socially responsible ways,” according to a report on responsible corporate investment submitted to General Convention from the Executive Council Investment Committee.

The Church Pension Group, which includes the Church Pension Fund, is an independent agency of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society; its policies are not bound by General Convention resolutions. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission.

Following a June 25 hearing of the Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation Committee, T. Dennis Sullivan, retired president of the Church Pension Fund and a member of the Executive Council Investment Committee, said he doesn’t think there’s disagreement on whether or not there exists a need to address climate change, but rather whether divestment is the right strategy.

“I think it does come down to, when we’re considering divestment, a judgment about whether divestment is going to further the goals that we all share,” Sullivan told Episcopal News Service. “And here is where I think the disagreement can occur. I would argue that divestment not only is likely to be ineffective for a variety of reasons, but also counterproductive to the broad goal of improving the environment.”

Matt Gobush, a visitor from the Diocese of Dallas, and former chair of the Standing Committee on International Peace and Justice, came to convention to testify on both resolutions favoring creating an advisory committee that could empower individuals, congregations and dioceses to make everyday changes to reduce their carbon footprints.

“(Divestment) would be very costly to the church and have very little impact,” said Gobush, who is a senior adviser for integrated advocacy, public and government affairs at ExxonMobil, during a June 28 interview with ENS. “There are more effective ways that the church can do so. Now I’m speaking as an Episcopalian and an individual about what I can do personally to decrease my carbon footprint that ultimately is more effective than divestment.

“And ultimately divestment is divisive … it’s basically saying that we don’t want to talk to you anymore. We no longer want to be a shareholder, we no longer want to use our influence as a church to make our views know inside a corporate boardrooms.”

The global campaign to divest from fossil fuels has gained momentum and has become the most talked about divestment movement since that of apartheid South Africa. Cape Town Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who fought against apartheid in South Africa, is a strong voice in the movement to divest from fossil fuels.

A handful of dioceses across The Episcopal Church have passed resolutions in favor of divestment, including Western Massachusetts, Massachusetts and Newark. GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental organization rooted in Diocese of Newark, and others have called for divestment in fossil fuels.

“You might have been surprised to see a divestment and reinvestment resolution from Nebraska,” said the Rev. Betsy Bennett, a deputy from the Diocese of Nebraska. “This spring and early summer have brought record-breaking rainfalls to Nebraska and many areas have been flooded at least once this year. The little parish church in DeWitt, Nebraska, had 4 feet of water in its basement this spring and it’s still drying up.

“Nebraska’s prosperity rests on agriculture. Agriculture depends on climate stability. Don’t be surprised by our concern. We know something isn’t right. We know our way of life is threatened, our farms and ranches, and God have mercy on us, the lives of our children and grandchildren are threatened. More of us would like to be able to use clean energy instead. Help us choose life. Divest and reinvest.”

For two years, Episcopalians in favor of divestment have been working to facilitate the conversations that led up to the introduction of the General Convention resolutions, said the Rev. Stephanie Johnson, who serves on Executive Council’s Science, Technology and Faith Committee.

“We met with Church Pension Fund, we met with the Episcopal Church Foundation, to tell them we wanted to move divestment; we wanted to be straightforward with them, tell them what we were working on and tell them we are committed to this,” she said in an June 29 interview with ENS.

“We heard a lot from them, they heard a lot from us, and that was part of our strategy, to have a lot of conversations. And Committee 16, this new environmental committee, did a phenomenal job of taking four resolutions and putting it together into a robust, thoughtful resolution that offers the church a way forward in this and gives it a really prophetic voice.”

Johnson praised the House of Bishops for passing C045.

“I’m so energized by this, this is huge,” said Johnson. “I mean this is what we’ve been hoping for, and as for dioceses and individual congregations, the resolution that was crafted said we are inviting them into conversation and reflection. This is not a call for them to do it, this is an invitation for them, if they would like to participate in divestment.”

In April, the Church of England, citing “a moral responsibility to protect the world’s poor from the impact of global warming” announced it would divest from tar sands oil and thermal coal, two of the most heavily polluting fossil fuels. It did not completely divest from all oil and gas companies where its corporate engagement has had some success.

The Episcopal Church engages in shareholder advocacy through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

The House of Bishops adopted Resolution A030, which originally called for the creation of a task force, but was modified to call for the creation of a climate change advisory committee with one representative from each of The Episcopal Church’s nine provinces. The resolution also calls on each province to create a Regional Consultative Group composed “of no fewer than five experts in areas of environmental sustainability appropriate to the demographic, ecological, cultural and geographic specifics of each region.”

Diocese of Florida Bishop S. Johnson Howard offered an amendment, adding language stipulating that the advisory committee membership would represent what he described as “the diversity of scientific opinion on climate change and global warming” in order to give the committee’s work credibility in the wider world.

Two bishops responded that they believe, with the scientific community decidedly on one side of climate change at this point, little credible diversity could be added. The amendment failed.

Bishop of Rhode Island Nick Knisely, the resolution’s proposer, testified during a hearing of the Committee on Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation, that the resolution was not intended to start an argument about the existence of climate change, but rather to provide the church with the resources to respond pastorally to people who are affected by climate change.

— Lynette Wilson, an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service, and General Convention correspondents Tracy J. Sukraw and Sharon Sheridan contributed to this report.