Bishops and deputies put in another long day as they moved through resolutions on a wide range of topics, both those to do with the structure and governance of the church and those looking to the Church’s role in the wider world. Convention will end no later than Friday, July 3, at 6:30 p.m. Deputies will head home on late evening flights and arrive home in Maine by noon on July 4. Please keep them in your prayers as they travel.
Earlier today some waggish deputy tweeted that perhaps the 1979 Book of Common Prayer shouldn’t be called the “new” prayerbook anymore. Both houses approved a study process to look into a major prayerbook revision over the next triennium.
House of Deputies News has the story here.
Late yesterday afternoon the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops on two resolutions that will open two marriage liturgies to all couples beginning with Advent 1.
Here’s the story at Episcopal News Service
Earlier today the House of Bishops concurred with the House of Deputies on the next triennial budget. The approved budget includes amendments to increase stewardship funding by $150,000 to be taken from the operations of the Development Office and the addition of $2.8 million for church planting by increasing the draw from the endowment by .5 percent.
More from House of Deputies News and Episcopal News Service
Today the House of Bishops, as the first house to address resolutions related to the conflict in Israel/Palestine, rejected a resolution that called for divestment in corporations that do business in Israel.
Episcopal News Service has the story
The House of Bishop concurred with a resolutions that calls for the Episcopal Church, though not the Church Pension
Fund, to divestment in fossil fuels.
A story on that action may be found in the Episcopal News Service daily digest (second headline down) for July 2.
Episcopal News Service has a comprehensive story about the three resolutions relating to alcohol passed on Tuesday by both houses.
by Dick Rozene, Deputation Chair
St. Ann’s, Windham
Today was one of our busiest days of the General Convention. We met as the House of Deputies to continue the discussion on the restructuring and streamlining of TEC operations; we met to hear and participate in the House of Deputies debate on marriage; and we met as a combined House of Deputies and Bishops to receive the operating budget for The Episcopal Church (TEC) over the next three years. The “temperature” in our house has been warm, sometimes edging on hot, but we are moving ahead on our tasks, albeit a bit more slowly than I might prefer.
As we have each day preceding, we began with Eucharist. The sermon was by the Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms, who is coming to Maine later this year to share her ministry of healing and empowerment among women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The day was topped off by a celebration of Utah at the world famous Salt Lake City tabernacle.
As to the business of the day, Bishop Steve is the vice chair of the very important Joint Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance (PBF). Two bold initiatives have been proposed for the next three years: to 1) allocate $2,000,000 for racial injustice and 2) decrease the financial ask from TEC over the next triennium (from the present 19 % to 18% in 2016, to 16,5% in 2017, and 15% in 2018. After 2019, the church asking would be set at 15%). This will be debated on Thursday, July 2. Think what we could do with more money to spend on mission!
Earlier this week, the House of Bishops approved two liturgies for trial use that will permit same-sex couples to be married in the Episcopal Church, beginning on the first Sunday of Advent of this year. Their action came just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can now be married in all 50 states. Today the House of Deputies concurred.
The two liturgies include a gender-neutral version of the current marriage service in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, as well as a version of a liturgy that was approved in 2012 for blessing same-sex unions that now also provides vows of marriage. These rites do not refer to “man and woman” or “husband and wife,” but instead use “these persons” or “the couple” to refer to the two people being married.
The House of Deputies also concurred with the House of Bishops on Resolution A036, which makes changes to the marriage canons to permit clergy to use either the current Prayer Book marriage rite or one of the trial use liturgies when performing marriages.
Sadly, this morning Deputy Brenda Hamilton had to leave early to be with her dad who suffered a stroke earlier in convention. At lunch today our deputation prayed together for her dad, Richard, Brenda and the family.
Although I’ve been through Salt Lake City before, this is my first time to enjoy this wonderful city. On my one free night, Canon Heidi Shott and I wandered from the Latter Day Saints complex to a modern shopping complex and past a variety of sights. A mixture of old and new, e.g., an operating tower clock originally powered by water in front of the first commercial building constructed in Salt Lake in 1868 and now a bank, a five-story sandstone building literally tucked in between an architecturally magnificent office building and a multi-story building under construction. Salt Lake is a “green” city with numerous LEED certified buildings.
As a first time deputy, I’ve a few observations from my time at the 78th General Convention.
- I never thought I would go to GC –here I am witnessing and participating in the work of The Episcopal Church.
- I’ve never taken part in a march, yet on Sunday I eagerly participated in the march against gun violence. Stories from gun violence survivors made an indelible impact and strengthened my resolve.
- GC has been humbling –several of us have had active roles in the daily Eucharists. We’ve also struggled with resolutions with monumental impacts on all our people. I hope we go forward with grace.
- GC has been celebratory –we’ve elected a new Presiding Bishop, the first African American to lead our church. We are also looking to restructure the church to respond to the needs of the 21st century. As deputies, we have renewed acquaintances and made new ones. Finally, we’ve met folks who love Maine.
- GC has been a thankful experience – for our own deputies and our bishop; for meeting other diocesan treasurers and sharing stories and challenges, and to see a blend of the experienced deputies helping the 40% who are here for the first time, most of whom are younger than me.
- What did we do before electronic balloting?
The challenge lies before us as Maine deputies is when we return with the energy we’ve accumulated over the last seven days. How will we to share it with the rest of our diocese? I have a feeling that our Presiding Bishop–Elect Michael Curry will help us do that.
As Lee Iaccoca used to say: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!’
As of today, the Episcopal Church is two-thirds through its nine day General Convention in Salt Lake City. Members of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops are deeply engaged in the consideration of 334 resolutions that have come through the 22 cognate legislative committees. Maine deputies have worked hard and into the wee hours crafting resolutions and preparing testimony to present to various committees. Some deputies have participated on committees while others have tracked resolutions on certain topics moving through the committee process. As of lunchtime on Wednesday only 72 resolutions have been resolved.
First a couple of congratulations are in order.
Congratulations to Sherri Dietrich, Maine’s United Thank Offering coordinator, upon being elected to represent Province 1 (New England dioceses) on the national board of the UTO.
Congratulations also to Calvin Sanborn, rector of St. George’s, York Harbor, upon being elected to a three-year term to the Committee to Nominate the Presiding Bishop. (While a new PB won’t be elected until 2024, it is necessary to have a committee in place in case of an unexpected need to elect a new PB arises.
Check out our photo albums from General Convention: Early Days, March Against Gun Violence, Days 2 and 3, Later Days. Also visit Bishop Steve’s GC Video page on his blog for a collection of his daily video updates from Salt Lake City.
Here’s his latest:
Bishop Lane has been extremely busy as the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance. The budget was completed late on Monday and is available at www.generalconvention.org, The budget, for the second triennium, is structured around the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission.
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers.
- To respond to human need by loving service.
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society.
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
The three-year budget includes $2 million for racial justice and reconciliation, strengthened funding for the Episcopal Youth Event and the Young Adult Service Corps, a pool of $3 million for grant programs to support local efforts: church planting, mission enterprise zones, and ethnic and indigenous ministries. It also includes $750,000 for a Digital Evangelism Initiative and as well as funds recommended for prayerbook revision and creation care.
On the income side, the current diocesan assessment of 19% will be stepped down to 15% in 2018 -18% in 2016, 16.5% in 2017, and 15% in 2018. This reduction continues the trend to free up funds for ministry and mission at the diocesan and local levels.
On Wednesday afternoon, the House of Bishops joined the House of Deputies for a presentation by Bishop Lane and the committee chair Canon Mally Lloyd of Massachusetts. The budget will be considered in both houses on Thursday.
Other issues under consideration:
The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies approved a resolution that continues the work of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage.
The House of Bishops have approved A054, which provides two new marriage liturgies for trial use, and A036, which amends the Canons to allow for gender neutral language in the Book of Common Prayer. Check out the Episcopal News Service story for a detailed explanation of the actions and implications of these actions. The House of Deputies will take up A054 and A036 on Wednesday afternoon.
The Rev. Calvin Sanborn, clerical deputy and rector of St. George’s, York Harbor, has been tracking the work of the Special Committee on Marriage. In this video he unpacks the resolutions about marriage.
Changing the Structure of The Episcopal Church
The legislative committee on Governance and Structure listened to testimony and worked hard to consolidate the resolutions brought to Convention by the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC). Three resolutions come to the House of Deputies for initial action.
The House of Deputies has approved A004 that will reduce the size of the Executive Council from 39 to 20 while preserving geographical representation as well as a balance of orders – bishops, clergy, lay people – among its membership. Now it heads to HOB.
A006 reduces the number of Standing Commissions to two bodies: a Standing Commission on Theology, Liturgy, and Music and a Standing Commission on Governance and Structure. This resolutions passed overwhelmingly in the HOD and now go to HOB.
Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse
The House of Bishops passed A159 The Role of the Church in the Culture of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and it now goes to the House of Deputies. Also passed by the bishops is A158 creating a Task Force to Review and Revise Policy on substance abuse, addiction, and recovery. A third resolution, D014 Question Ordinands About Addiction, proposed by Maine Deputy Ben Shambaugh, passed by both houses with slight amendments by the HOB, must now return to HOD for concurrence.
Brenda Hamilton, Maine deputy and vice-chair of the Committee on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse talks about the work in this video.
Two resolutions were passed by the House of Bishops: CO45, Environmentally Responsible Investing; and A030, which would create a Climate Change Advisory Committee. Both will go before the House of Deputies in the next few days. A resolution submitted by the Diocese of Connecticut, C015, to consider adding a promise in the Baptismal Covenant to protect God’s creation was referred by the House of Bishops for study to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music.
Here’s a comprehensive story on climate change resolutions from Episcopal News Service.
Liturgy and Prayerbook revisions
The Very Rev. Ben Shambaugh, dean of St. Luke’s Cathedral and a member of the legislative committee on Prayerbook, Liturgy, and Music speaks to the work of his committee and the resolutions it has put forward.
Assisting church communities whose churches have been burned down by arsonists
Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri, has set up a fund to assist with the re-building of the several black churches that been destroyed across the south in recent days by arsonists. Learn more about the effort and make a donation here.
And finally, it’s time to get to know Presiding Bishop-Elect Michael Curry better.
Here’s an interview he conducted with Episcopal News Service at General Convention.
In case you never saw it and have a spare 18 minutes…
Here is Bishop Michael Curry’s “Crazy Christian” sermon from the 2012 General Convention. The first few minutes are pretty subdued. Then watch out!
More stories are available on the Episcopal News Service website.
Good reporting on General Convention is also coming from House of Deputy News.
Chaplain to the House of Deputies Lester Mackenzie often closes his prayers by saying “because You love it when we pray!”
And we do pray, often. At the beginning of each legislative session, our Chaplain leads us in lively, joy-filled, exuberant music and prayer, and sometimes, after adjournment, he can be found quietly laying hands on individual deputies as he prays with them for matters of urgent personal concern.
And every morning before the Legislative session begins, we celebrate the Eucharist. From where I stand below the altar as a floor deacon at the Convention Eucharist, the hearing-impaired are seated directly in my line of sight. Watching them sign (not sing) the Sanctus has become my favorite moment of the morning. They make me think of Elijah finding the voice of God in sheer silence as their gestures weave heaven and earth together while the rest of us sing “heaven and earth are full of your glory.” If God indeed “loves it when we pray,” God must delight in these silent, ethereal prayers.
Hard and heavy work gets done in Legislative Committee meetings, many of which begin at 7:30 a.m. and one of which ran past 11 p.m. last night, as well as on the floor of the two Houses; our afternoon session today in the House of Deputies ran till nearly 7 p.m. (actually cut short because Spanish translations weren’t yet available for the resolutions before the House; we were supposed to finish at 7:30). By beginning this work with prayer, we are living into what the President of Episcopal Relief and Development said this morning; “Worship undergirds mission.”
I can’t imagine surviving the grueling schedule of General Convention without the faithful attention paid to prayer.
This is my first time serving as a Deputy, having been to four previous Conventions simply to do book signings and selling. I was allowed to attend Legislative sessions as a visitor in those years, but mostly I was expected to hang out in the exhibit hall. This year, I missed my scheduled half hour to sign Star of Wonder and Season of Angels on Saturday because we Deputies staged a revolt and refused to adjourn for lunch until after we were able to confirm the election of Michael Curry as our next Presiding Bishop – so instead I’ve stopped by the Forward Movement booth during a few rushed minutes here and there to sign the books, which is all vastly different from the leisurely five days I spent in the exhibit hall back in 2000 when my Confirmation program book, I will with God’s help, first came out – and which, to my surprise, is still available for sale 15 years later at another booth in the exhibit hall. A priest I’ve never met from Alabama stopped me in the hall last Friday to say he’s still using the program.
Our afternoon session today was long, sometimes frustrating, and incomplete, but our returning Deputies assure us this is normal, and all shall be well. It would be easy to get so caught up in the business of our sessions that we forget why we’re doing it, but Presiding-bishop Elect Michael Curry reminds us of the “why.” He unabashedly preaches his love for Jesus, continually insisting that following Jesus into the neighborhood is our deepest call. “How” we accomplish this “why” is the work of Convention. Bishop Curry quoted Billy Sunday: “If the Episcopal Church ever wakes up – look out!” The work and prayer of this Convention has shown that any Episcopal naptime is over: even if sessions run long and resolutions get delayed, we are awake! (If you doubt this, note Curry’s landslide election, then check out the resolutions that have been passed on such matters as marriage equality, racism, and gun violence [my favorite quotation of the whole Convention still remains Gay Jennings’ injunction to “turn guns into swing sets”]).
Much lies ahead in the final four days of Convention, but grounded in prayer and following Jesus, we may not yet know the outcome, but we for sure know the Way.
The Rev. Calvin Sanborn, rector of St. George’s, York Harbor, has been following the Special Committee on Marriage and the resolutions the Committee has engaged in during General Convention. Here he shares the work of the Committee and the status of the resolutions considered.
And congratulations to him upon being elected as the Province 1 (New England) clergy representative to the committee that will nominate the next Presiding Bishop who will be elected in 2024.
But for me, one of my favorite parts is the opportunity to meet people of convention on the streets, in the elevators, and in the halls of the convention center.Participants at convention are easily identified by the lanyards and name tags we all wear around our necks. It is easy to feel a connection to one another: we are all here for a common purpose and hold similar beliefs. People are always interested in where you are from and it is a form of instant fellowship.
I have had many amazing conversations and learned so many things from people I have met here at convention. One, a woman from the Diocese of Utah, told me as we stood on the corner waiting to cross the street, that the streets of Salt Lake City were laid out to be wide enough so that a team of eight oxen could make a u-turn. Another, Tony Chu from the Diocese of New York, described General Convention as “Camp for adults.”Yet another conversation was a chance reunion. On the way to the community eucharist one day, I bumped into Father John Palarine, who was the Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Central Florida when I was a kid. He and I went on a mission to Honduras during my high school years and we had not seen each other in nearly thirty years! When I was growing up in Orlando, I had the chance to participate in Happening, a weekend retreat for high school age kids. These weekends were filled with fellowship with friends old and new, music, laughter, worship, and fun. The chance to spend this time in a community of young persons, learning about Christ and the church are some of my fondest memories of my teenage years. There was a down side to all of this. When the weekend was over, I had to leave my Happening friends, and return to the real world.
At the General Convention we also share times of fellowship, music, laughter, and worship. It fills me with joy, a feeling of hope, and a sense of purpose. To me, being among the people of the General Convention seems like a small taste of the heavenly reward that awaits us on the other side of this life.
But as our work continues, there is a question that keeps nagging at me. When convention ends, how do I take what I am feeling now, the things that I have learned, and bring them back to the real world?In some ways, it is similar to the question Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian poses at the end of The Breakfast Club: What happens on Monday?
When I encounter someone at convention, it is safe. I know that I speak to someone with a common interest and a common love of Christ. In The Breakfast Club, Brian tells his new friends that he would never deny them. I hope that I have the courage to witness the joy and love of Christ that I feel here in Salt Lake City, when I return to the wider world.
Dean of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland and Maine Deputy Ben Shambaugh is a member of the Prayerbook, Liturgy, and Music Committee. Here he talks about the work members have engaged in and resolutions coming up for a vote.