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.
Maine Deputy Brenda Hamilton is Vice-Chair of the new Committee on Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Here she shares the work the Committee has engaged in during General Convention and resolutions slated to come up for a vote in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.
by Sherri Dietrich
UTO Coordinator for the Diocese of Maine
Today the General Convention worship celebrated the work of the United Thank Offering and I was one of the long line of blue-clad women (and a couple of men) who proudly processed in to the service and then across the stage to present the results of our dioceses’ UTO ingatherings from the past years. There were supporting hoots and hollers from deputies and bishops as the name of their diocese was called, but I didn’t hear any hooting from the Maine deputies. I think we should work on that for next time, and perhaps even invent a unique Maine diocesan holler—I’m thinking something like a loon’s cry or a moose call. Since the last Triennium in 2012 the United Thank Offering has gathered in and given out in grants some $4,400,000 dollars, and done the same with over $144 million in the 125 years since UTO was formed. That’s a lot of money and a lot of mission work, thanks to all of those coins dropped into Blue Boxes.
While the Deputies of the Day have been busy doing their work at General Convention I have been representing Maine at the Episcopal Church Women’s Triennium, taking place at the same time and in the same place—the gigantic Salt Palace, which I was sorry to discover is not at all made of salt. For the past few days ECW has been busy in meetings in which we changed our bylaws to conform to requirements of the IRS, announced the grant recipients for 2015, and celebrated UTO’s 125th anniversary at a dinner with Bishop Curry as our speaker. The next several days will include some more business and workshops about things from how to spread the word about UTO and get more people excited about participating in it to making and using Anglican prayer beads.
At the end of this meeting I will be joining the United Thank Offering Board as the representative for Province I, and I’m excited about the future of UTO and Maine’s part in it. In 2012 Maine’s ingathering total was $13,819.52, in 2013 our total was $10,239.22, and in 2014 the total was $8,607.80—a significant trend in the wrong direction! Be prepared to hear more about the practice of daily thankfulness and Blue Boxes soon.