image above: The House of Deputies of the 79th General Convention in conversation. Photo: Episcopal News Service
Here’s a brief summary of some of the major legislative actions of the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. All told, General Convention considered over 500 resolutions in 10 days. This post was updated as key legislation was passed. Most recent update: July 16, 2018 at 11:56 a.m. EST.
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General Convention has passed Resolution B012 Marriage Rites for the Whole Church, ensuring that same-sex couples can be married in their home church or diocese, even in dioceses where bishops have not authorized same-sex marriage liturgies. Where the bishop of a diocese does not embrace same-sex marriage, the resolution provides for that bishop to appoint another bishop to oversee the marriage. The resolution also specifies that no priest will be required to perform same-sex marriage liturgies, and authorizes same-sex marriage liturgies for continued trial use until such time as the Book of Common Prayer may be revised.
More details from Episcopal News Service here.
Liturgical and Prayer Book revision
General Convention has passed Resolution A068 Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer. The resolution takes a cautious approach to liturgical revision, asking bishops to engage worshiping communities in their diocese in creating alternative liturgies, and creating a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision (TFLPBR) tasked with lifting up these liturgies and sharing them in the wider church. Rather than proposing a plan for prayer book revision, the resolution “memorializes” the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (there has been debate on the meaning of this verb) and sets guidelines for future liturgical revision; such revision ought to include inclusive/expansive language for God and humanity, reflect the diversity of our Church and its common worship, and take into account new technology in considering how to disseminate revisions throughout the Church. The newly-created TFLPBR will report to the 80th General Convention with a proposal for an ongoing process of liturgical and prayer book revision.
While full prayer-book revision will not commence immediately, General Convention has passed Resolution D078 Authorize Holy Eucharist, Rite II (Expansive Language) for Trial Use, which authorizes trial use of inclusive-language versions of Holy Eucharist, Rite II. And Resolution D046 Expansive-Language Liturgical Resources, also passed, calls for the development of principles to guide the creation of inclusive and expansive-language liturgies.
More details from Episcopal News Service here.
Inclusion of transgender and non-binary individuals
General Convention has passed several resolutions to support transgender and non-binary people in the Church and in our communities. Resolution C054 Inclusion of Transgender People affirms guiding principles for the inclusion of transgender and non-binary people and urging dioceses to adopt and implement these principles in their parishes, missions, schools and camps. The principles focus on respectful listening to the movement of the Holy Spirit and to stories and experiences of transgender and non-binary individuals, and encourage institutions and communities to be attentive, creative and flexible in meeting the needs of these individuals.
Resolution C022 Supporting Transgender Access confirms The Episcopal Church’s support for secular laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, including restriction of access to public restrooms, locker rooms and bathing facilities. And Resolution A088 Proposed Guidelines for Amending Church Records is consistent with these principles of inclusion, directing the Archives of The Episcopal Church to develop guidelines for amending names and gender in church records. Such guidelines would provide transgender and non-binary individuals the dignity of church documents, such as baptismal records, that reflect their identities.
Sexism, harassment and exploitation
General Convention has passed a number of resolutions aimed at addressing gender-based discrimination, harassment and exploitation. Resolution D016 Seeking Truth, Reconciliation and Restoration acknowledges the Church’s failures and complicity in gender-based discrimination and violence, naming these as sins, and establishes a Task Force for Women, Truth and Reconciliation to help the church engage in truth-telling, confession and reconciliation around these sins. Resolution C060 Breaking the Episcopal Stained Glass Ceiling creates a task force to research sexism, pay equity, and gender-based harassment in The Episcopal Church.
General Convention has passed a number of resolutions aimed at U.S. immigration reform and Church support of migrants and refugees. Resolution A178 Halt the Intensification and Implementation of Immigration Policies and Practices that are Harmful to Migrant Women, Parents and Children condemns the treatment of migrant women and children by U.S. immigration policies and practices, calling especially for an end to the separation of children from their families. Resolution C009 Becoming A Sanctuary Church would encourage Episcopal churches and institutions to become “places of welcome, refuge, healing, and other forms of material and pastoral support for those targeted for deportation due to immigration status or some perceived status of difference.” Resolution C033 Respecting the Dignity of Immigrants calls for a number of U.S. immigration reforms, including: the provision of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are currently resident in the U.S.; the continuation of Temporary Protected Status for refugees resident in the U.S.
The Episcopal Church will create a new grant program to fund diocesan and agency initiatives addressing racial injustice, per resolution D002. Leaders of these initiatives will likely be among the audience of a churchwide Beloved Community summit to take place in 2019, per Resolution A228. And Resolution A045 reiterates the need to equip lay and ordained leaders in parishes, dioceses and church organizations for the work of dismantling racism. Admitting that compliance with this essential piece of Christian formation has been inconsistent across the Church since it was first promoted by General Convention in 2000, this resolution calls for new resources and procedures designed to improve participation.
General Convention also attended to terminology, affirming in resolution B004 the use of the terms “dismantling racism” and “racial healing, justice and reconciliation,” to most accurately describe the Church’s work. We can expect to see these terms more often while terms like anti-racism become less common.
General Convention adopted (Resolution A029) an Evangelism Charter calling every Episcopalian to take up evangelism as a spiritual practice—seeking, naming, and celebrating Jesus’ loving presence in the stories of all people. Funding in the 2019-2021 budget, to the tune of $5.2 million, will support the charter, including the work of planting new congregations and revitalizing existing communities, as well as funding a new full-time Evangelism Staff Officer in the Presiding Bishop’s office (Resolution A196).
In Resolution A238 Admit Episcopal Diocese of Cuba as a Diocese of The Episcopal Church, General Convention has restored Cuba as a Diocese of The Episcopal Church in our Province II. The Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, Bishop Of Cuba, becomes the seventh sitting female diocesan bishop in our church. Full reporting available from Episcopal News Service.
Israel and Palestine
While investment-policy-related Resolution D019 Ending Church Complicity in the Occupation failed to pass General Convention, The Episcopal Church will follow the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in developing an investment policy designed to promote human rights in Israel/Palestine, per Resolution B016 Adopt ELCA Action on Israel/Palestine.
General Convention also passed Resolution B003 reaffirming the church’s support of a two-state solution as well as and lifting up Jerusalem as a Holy City for Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The resolution criticizes the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as an obstacle to peace, and encourages continued prayers and advocacy for peace in Jerusalem. Resolution D018 Negotiating the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict also affirms the Church’s hope for peace by a two-state solution.
Resolution B021 Support Aid to Palestinian Refugees and C038 Safeguard the Rights of Palestinian Children provides for the church’s continuing aid and advocacy for Palestinians and refugees. gives a special focus on Palestinian children. D027 Pursuing Justice in Gaza calls for U.S. investigation of human rights violations in Gaza, and D018 ,
Supporting the Church in Sudan and South Sudan
Our own Diocese is gifted by the presence of Sudanese Episcopalians among us. The Episcopal Church recognizes and supports the Episcopalians of South Sudan, Sudan and the Sudanese diaspora with two resolutions, D024 Support for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan and Their Efforts to Foster Peace and D062 Companionship with Sudanese Christians.
Compensation for the President of the House of Deputies
General Convention has passed Resolution B014 Director’s Fees for the President of the House of Deputies, providing for compensation of the person in that role (more details from Episcopal News Service). General Convention also re-elected the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings to her third and final three-year term as HoD President.