Most days are very busy at General Convention. Today was no exception. It began with a morning legislative session in which we continued debate that started the day prior to discuss Resolution A068 (Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer). This was of particular interested to me, since I have been following the work of Special Committee 13, the committee created to hear testimony and perfect this resolution as well as the resolutions concerning the marriage liturgies approved for trial use at the 78th General Convention.
As we prepared for Convention many of us anticipated that A068 would be of great interest, not only to the deputies and bishops gathered here to discuss and vote on resolutions, but also to the wider church – people who follow the work of the Convention from afar via social media. As it turns out, we were correct. Social media has been buzzing with fervent opinions on both sides, and we saw this same fervor play out in our debate on the floor of the House of Deputies both yesterday and today.
After several amendments which strengthened the resolutions commitment to be faithful to the historic rites of the Church in the revision process, while also being sensitive to the Church’s liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, linguistic, gender, physical, and ethnical diversity, the resolution passed by wide a margin in a simple majority vote by orders. The Maine deputation voted unanimously in favor.
Prayer Book revision is, of course, not a done deal. Resolution A068 will now need to go before the House of Bishops. If the House of Bishops concurs with the House of Deputies and passes A068, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will begin its work on the comprehensive revision in the next triennium. It is likely, however, that a newly revised Book of Common Prayer will not be officially approved for use until the year 2030, so we have ample time to review materials and prepare for this potential transition. More to come on this resolution as we wait to hear from the House of Bishops. Stay tuned!
The morning legislative session concluded with a heartrending presentation by April and Phil Schentrup, the parents of Carmen Schentrup, a sixteen year old member of the Episcopal Church who was killed when she was shot four times by a semi-automatic, assault-style rifle at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.
April, Carmen’s mother and an elementary school principal, stood at the microphone on the platform in the House of Deputies with her husband, Phil, and two surviving children, Robert and Evelyn, close by. Pausing several times to hold back tears, April described for us how quickly life had changed for her and her family on that horrific and violent day. Carmen was a high school senior, one week shy of her 17th birthday, when she as killed in her AP psychology classroom. She was bright, self-determined, curious. She loved music and played guitar, violin and piano. She had such a promising life ahead of her, and now she is gone.
“We can no longer be silent,” April said. She implored the Convention and all members of the Episcopal Church to join with her and her family to do everything we possibly can to promote sensible gun reform.
On Sunday the Maine Deputation will join the Schentrups at a Public Witness sponsored by Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 70 Episcopal bishops, including our own Bishop, Stephen Lane. Please pray for us, for the Schentrups, for every family who has been affected by gun violence, and for our country – that we may create sensible solutions to prevent these tragedies and promote safety and peace for all.