Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The official news service of the Episcopal Church.
Updated: 1 hour 43 min ago

La Convención acuerda darle a la Iglesia  pleno acceso a los ritos matrimoniales de uso experimental

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 7:30am

El Rdo. Sam Candler, diputado de Atlanta y presidente del comité legislativo que estudió todas las resoluciones matrimoniales de la Convención, instó a la Cámara de Diputados el 13 de julio a aceptar la enmienda técnica de los obispos a la Resolución B012 y no hacer ningún cambio. Ellos la aceptaron. Foto Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Los diputados puntuaron la última “i” y tildaron la última “t” el 13 de julio con una resolución histórica que le da a los episcopales la opción de que los casen sus sacerdotes en las iglesias a las que pertenecen.

La Resolución B012 había ido de la Cámara de Diputados a la de Obispos y había regresado a la de Diputados en su trayecto a la aprobación. Los diputados aprobaron por abrumadora mayoría una versión muy enmendada de la resolución el 9 de julio y la Cámara de Obispos añadió una enmienda técnica dos días después que no cambia el objetivo de la B012 de dar pleno acceso a dos ritos matrimoniales de uso experimental para parejas del mismo sexo y de sexos opuestos aprobados por la reunión de la Convención General de 2015 (por vía de la Resolución A054).

La votación fue:

Clérigos: 99 sí, 3 no, 4 divididos
Laicos: 101 sí, 5 no, 1 dividido

Una diputada de Lexington mantiene en alto la boleta de la diputación que documenta su voto. Durante la votación por órdenes, los diputados votaron en boletas de papel y luego las diputaciones calcularon los resultados y emitieron su voto electrónicamente. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Se necesitaban cincuenta y seis votos en cada orden para aprobar la resolución. Los votos divididos se registran cuando los clérigos y laicos de una diputación dividen su voto entre el sí y el no. Las resoluciones de la Convención General deben ser aprobadas por ambas cámaras con el mismo texto; y eso es lo que los diputados hicieron al inicio de la sesión de la mañana del último día de la 79ª. reunión de la Convención General.

Algunos aplausos empezaron a oírse entre los diputados, pero la Rda.. Gay Clark Jennings, presidente de la Cámara, advirtió que las reglas de ese cuerpo prohíben tales celebraciones.

La resolución estipula:

  • Darles a los rectores o al clero encargado de una congregación la capacidad de brindar acceso a los ritos matrimoniales de uso experimental para parejas del mismo sexo y de sexos opuestos. La Resolución A054 de 2015 y la versión original de la B012 decían que los clérigos sólo podían usar los ritos bajo la dirección de su obisp
  • Que si un obispo “sostiene una posición teológica que no acepta el matrimonio para parejas del mismo sexo”, él o ella puede invitar a otro obispo, si fuere necesario, para ofrecer “apoyo pastoral” a cualquier pareja que desee usar los ritos, así como al miembro del clero y a la congregación interesados. En cualquier caso, debe pedírsele a un obispo de fuera que acepte solicitudes de nuevas nupcias si algún miembro de la pareja es divorciado, a fin de cumplir con el requisito canónico que se aplica a las parejas de sexos opuestos.
  • Continuar el uso experimental de los ritos hasta que concluya la próxima revisión integral del Libro de Oración Común.

    Una asistente de la Cámara de Diputados recoge las versiones escritas de la votación por órdenes de la Diócesis de Virginia Sur sobre la Resolución B012. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

La resolución también eliminó la petición de la B012 original de una Equipo de Trabajo sobre una Comunión que Trasciende las Diferencias. Tal equipo fue creado por una resolución aparte, la A227.

“Ya hemos entablado un debate lleno de gracia: debate, discusión y pugna honorables y sanas”, le dijo a la Cámara de Diputados el Rdo. Sam Candler, diputado de Atlanta y presidente del comité legislativo que estudió todas las resoluciones matrimoniales de la Convención, al tiempo de instar a la Cámara de Diputados la aprobación [de la resolución] sin más remiendos. “Se nos recuerda el importante acuerdo a que han llegado varios grupos comprometidos y gente santa de esta Iglesia”.

Nadie habló en contra de la resolución en el breve debate de la Cámara de Diputados.

El Rdo. Scot McComa, diputado de Fort Worth, les dijo a sus colegas que si aprobaban la B012 estarían actuando como pastores de todo el pueblo de la Iglesia Episcopal. Sin embargo, él señaló que “durante 40 años nuestros hermanos y hermanas LGBT han estado en el fondo del autobús y, de vez en cuando, los han invitado a avanzar hacia la próxima fila [de asientos]”.

La Rda. Susan Russell, diputada de Los Ángeles y líder durante mucho tiempo del empeño por la plena inclusión de las personas LGBTQ en la vida de la Iglesia, describió el “largo y sinuoso camino” que la Iglesia Episcopal ha recorrido para llegar a este punto. Dijo que apoya la B012 “reconociendo que este es un acuerdo ganado a duras penas, pero el cual, creo, nos hará avanzar en esa tarea como la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús”.

Ella le recordó a la cámara que su debate estaba siendo transmitido en directo a los episcopales en las diócesis de Tennessee, Dallas y Florida (tres de los lugares en los cuales los obispos no han permitido que los ritos se usen) “donde los fieles en los bancos esperan porque nosotros permitamos que nuestro ‘sí’ sea ‘sí’, que digamos ‘sí queremos’ al matrimonio para todos’.

Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, diputada por Carolina del Este, que presidió el Equipo de Trabajo sobre el Estudio del Matrimonio de la Convención General, le imploró a los diputados que concluyeran las decisiones de la Convención sobre el matrimonio. “En la Iglesia Episcopal nos encanta decir que todos somos bienvenidos, y todos significa todos, ustedes todos”.

Larry Provenzano, el obispo de Long Island, presentó la B012 en respuesta a la Resolución A085 propuesta por el equipo de trabajo, la cual se presentó en parte para ofrecerle una vía a los episcopales de usar los ritos en ocho de las 101 diócesis nacionales de la Iglesia en las cuales el obispo diocesano rehusó autorizar el uso de ritos matrimoniales experimentales.

“Creo que este es un momento verdaderamente importante para la Iglesia”, dijo Provenzano en una entrevista con Episcopal News Service inmediatamente después de la decisión de los diputados. “ Hacemos esto sin que haya habido una parte vencedores y perdedores. Muy semejante al tema de toda la Convención, hay un gran movimiento para que la Iglesia sea realmente la Iglesia en este tiempo”.

Tom Ely, obispo de Vermont, que durante mucho tiempo ha participado en la redacción de resoluciones para acercar a la Iglesia a la plena inclusión sacramental de los LGBTW, dijo que los episcopales también deben saber que los ritos que se describen en la B012 están a la disposición de todos en la Iglesia, no sólo de las parejas del mismo sexo. La resolución pide que se estudie la manera en que los ritos se usan a través de la Iglesia.

“Luego, veamos si nos gustan las liturgias concretas”, dijo. “¿Transmiten estas liturgias el espíritu de lo que queremos?  ¿Se rezan bien? ¿Funcionan para todas las parejas? ¿Merecen ser incluidas, en algún momento, en el Libro de Oración Común?”

Jeff Lee, el obispo de Chicago, definió a la B012 como “una solución elegante para avanzar en un camino que respeta el papel de los obispos como principales funcionarios litúrgicos en sus diócesis”, semejante a lo que se logró antes en el contencioso asunto de la revisión del libro de oración. Lee presidió, por parte de los obispos, el comité legislativo análogo que revisó las resoluciones sobre el matrimonio.

La avenencia “se basó en la generosidad de personas que habrían preferido que fuera en una u otra dirección”, puntualizó él. “Y eso es algo notable respecto a esta convención, creo yo: que la disposición de parte de personas que ambicionaban y realmente se empeñaron en tener ‘todo esto’ o ‘todo eso’ estuvieron dispuestas a prescindir de cosas que ambicionaban en pro de avanzar juntas”.

La Resolución A054 de 2015 decía que el clero sólo podía usar los ritos bajo la dirección de su obispo. La [Resolución] A085 de esta convención le habría exigido a los obispos que  se ocuparan de que todas las parejas que quisieran casarse tuvieran “acceso razonable y conveniente” a los dos ritos de matrimonio experimentales. Sin embargo, también habría añadido los dos ritos de matrimonio experimentales al Libro de Oración Común y enmendaría los otros ritos matrimoniales del libro de oración, así como prefacios y secciones del Catecismo para asumir un lenguaje de género neutro. Ese cambio era un punto de fricción para muchos.

La versión original de la B012 habría exigido que los obispos que no autorizaran los ritos le permitieran a las congregaciones recibir Supervisión Pastoral Episcopal Delegada (DEPO [por su sigla en inglés]) de otros obispos que brindarían acceso a las liturgias. Eliminaba el elemento del libro de oración.

Los diputados convinieron en una versión de la B012 que eliminó la opción de la DEPO y transfirió la facultad de la toma de decisiones para el uso de los ritos a los rectores u otros clérigos a cargo de congregaciones. La enmienda de los obispos se incluyó en la séptima cláusula de la resolución y añade las palabras “ siempre que nada en esta cláusula restrinja la autoridad del rector o del sacerdote encargado (Canon III.9.6(a)).”

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora principal y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

La Convención General respalda a los inmigrantes en oración, acción y legislación

Sat, 07/14/2018 - 5:51am

“No venimos con odio, no venimos con fanatismo, no venimos a rebajar a nadie. Venimos a realzar a todos. Venimos en amor”, dijo el obispo primado Michael Curry a una multitud de más de 1.000 personas reunida en oración frente al Centro de Detención T. Don Hutto en Taylor, Texas. Foto de Frank Logue.

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Si hubo un tema que desafió cualquier expectativa de controversia en la 79ª. Convención General, ese fue la inmigración.

Obispos y delegados llegaron a Austin la semana pasada a la zaga de un escándalo nacional por la política de “tolerancia cero” del gobierno de Trump hacia la inmigración, en particular la decisión de separar a niños de los padres detenidos. Y pese a que el gobierno revirtiera las separaciones de familias, las normas migratorias siguen siendo un tema candente, incluso en el estado fronterizo que servía de anfitrión a la reunión trienal de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Pero si el país continúa dividido respecto a qué hacer con la inmigración, los miles de episcopales aquí presentaron un frente unificado en apoyo a las familias que han sido separadas, de los que se enfrentan a la deportación y de los inmigrantes en general —a través de la oración , el testimonio, la acción y la aprobación expedita de una legislación.

Uno de los momentos definitorios de esta Convención General fue la vigilia de oración que tuvo lugar el 8 de julio frente al Centro de Detención Hutto, una instalación para la reclusión de inmigrantes [ilegales] a poco más de media hora a la salida de Austin. Una nutrida reunión de más de un millar de episcopales que oraron y cantaron en apoyo a padres inmigrantes y a sus hijos, que han sido separados.

“No venimos con odio, no venimos con fanatismo, no venimos a rebajar a nadie. Venimos a realzar a todos”, dijo el obispo primado Michael Curry en su sermón en la vigilia de oración. “Venimos en amor. Venimos en amor porque seguimos a Jesús, y Jesús nos enseñó a amar”.

Ese espíritu se mantuvo a lo largo del proceso legislativo de la Iglesia. Unas 25 personas testificaron el 7 de julio en una audiencia sobre todas las resoluciones relacionadas con la inmigración, y las políticas del gobierno de Trump estuvieron presentes.

La Rda. Nancy Frausto, que fue una oradora principal en la sesión conjunta de Conversaciones de la IE [TEConversations] sobre reconciliación racial, testificó en la audiencia de su temor a la deportación luego de que el presidente Donald Trump cancelara la política de protección a los “soñadores” como ella, que fueron traídos ilegalmente a Estados Unidos siendo niños.

“Los 800.000 soñadores deben tener el respaldo de la Iglesia Episcopal, y no sólo ellos, sino todos los inmigrantes”, dijo Frausto, hablando a favor de la Resolución C033, que deja constancia de que la Iglesia respeta la dignidad de los inmigrantes y bosqueja cómo la política pública [de la Iglesia] debe reflejar esa creencia.

El Comité de Justicia Social y Política de Estados Unidos, con las reacciones recibidas en la audiencia abierta, combinó algunos de las resoluciones en tres que abarcaron muchos de los asuntos debatidos. Además de la C033, el comité recomendó la A178, que asume una postura enérgica contra las separaciones de las familias y el trato a padres y a niños inmigrantes, y la C009, titulada “Convertirse en una Iglesia santuario”.

Esta última resolución insta a los episcopales a acercarse y apoyar a los inmigrante que enfrentan deportación, incluido el brindarles santuario físico si ellos así lo eligen, pero “esta resolución no los invita a hacerlo” dijo el miembro del comité Daniel Valdez, de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, en el pleno de la Cámara de Diputados durante el debate de la resolución el 12 de julio.

“El santuario tiene un poderoso fundamento teológico”, dijo Valdez al tiempo que enfatizaba que el propósito de la resolución es alentar a los episcopales a entablar conexiones con inmigrantes indocumentados, [al objeto de ofrecerles] ayuda legal, defensa social o cuidado pastoral.

La Cámara de Obispos había aprobado las tres resoluciones sin objeción y sin discusión en una votación de viva voz el 11 de julio, y las tres fueron adoptadas juntas en la sesión vespertina del 12 de julio en la Cámara de Diputados.

Diana Marcela Abuchar Sierra, miembro de la Presencia Oficial de la Juventud y proveniente de la Diócesis de Colombia, habla a favor de las resoluciones sobre la inmigración el 12 de julio en la Cámara de Diputados. Foto de David Paulsen/ENS.

Diana Marcela Abuchar Sierra, miembro de la Presencia Oficial de la Juventud proveniente de la Diócesis de Colombia, se pronunció contra las políticas de detención de inmigrantes del gobierno de Trump durante el debate en el pleno de la A178.

“Me niego a ver cómo las personas que sólo quieren mejorar son tratadas de manera tan cruel e inhumana”, dijo Abuchar en español valiéndose de un intérprete. Por favor, como Iglesia Episcopal debemos defender sus derechos y su dignidad. Como Iglesia Episcopal, debemos alzar la voz y ser oídos”.

Wendy Cañas, diputada de la Diócesis de Nueva York, expresó un sentir semejante en apoyo a la C033.

“Estamos hablando por los que no pueden hablar por sí mismos”, dijo ella. “También le estamos diciendo al gobierno… que la Iglesia Episcopal lo hace moralmente responsable de sostener y apoyar a las familias en nuestro país”.

Al igual que en la Cámara de Obispos, nadie habló en contra de ninguna de las tres resoluciones y los diputados fueron esencialmente unánimes a favor. Las tres fueron aprobadas en una votación de viva voz sin que se oyera ningún “no” en el salón.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él en dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

La Convención aprueba el uso de una versión en lenguaje expansivo de plegarías eucarísticas del Rito II

Sat, 07/14/2018 - 5:46am

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Ambas cámaras de la Convención General adoptaron el 12 de julio una resolución que les permite a todas las congregaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal el uso de versiones en lenguaje expansivo de tres plegarias eucarísticas del Rito II del Libro de Oración Común de 1979.

La Resolución D078 facilita un lenguaje alternativo para las [fórmulas alternativas] A, B y D de la Gran Plegaria Eucarística. Los cambios estarán disponibles para uso experimental hasta que se concluya la próxima revisión completa del Libro de Oración Común.

Toda la cobertura de ENS de la 79ª. reunión de la Convención General se encuentra aquí.

La revisión del libro de oración ha sido tema de gran debate durante esta convención, la cual finalmente convino en la creación de nuevos textos litúrgicos que respondan a las necesidades de los episcopales de toda la Iglesia en tanto siguen usando el libro de 1979. No se ha fijado ninguna fecha específica para comenzar esa revisión total.

Los diputados adoptaron por abrumadora mayoría la resolución en una votación por órdenes, la cual se exige para autorizar liturgias de uso experimental. Los resultados fueron:

Clérigos: 78 sí, 19 no, 12 divididos
Laicos: 89 sí, 14 no, 6 divididos

Se requerían cincuenta y cinco votos de cada orden para la aprobación. Los votos divididos se registran cuando el clero o los miembros laicos de una diputación dividen sus votos entre sí y no.

Luego de aprobada la resolución se envió rápidamente a la Cámara de obispos, la cual la aprobó en una votación de viva voz después de poco debate.

La Rda. Laurie Brock, diputada de Lexington, propuso la [Resolución] D078. La secundaron oficialmente la Rda. Beth Scriven de Misurí y el Rdo. Scott Gunn, de Ohio Sur.

Brock le dijo a los diputados que el amplio plan para la revisión litúrgica y del libro de oración no cambia el hecho de que cada domingo los feligreses oyen las palabras en el actual libro de oración que son “fundamentalmente masculinas” . Ella dijo que ofrecer las versiones revisadas de las actuales plegarias eucarísticas es “una manera inmediata de llevar de vuelta a nuestras congregaciones el anhelo que hemos oído en esta Convención, de manera que Dios pueda celebrarse en todos los géneros”.

[Hablando] de una manera más práctica, ella dijo que la resolución “reconoce la realidad de que muchos de nosotros estamos haciendo esto los domingos y no querríamos ser procesados por el Título IV por hacerlo”, refiriéndose a los cánones para la disciplina del clero.

A continuación algunos ejemplos del lenguaje opcional incluido en los ritos de uso experimental:

  • Los sacerdotes pueden comenzar cualquiera de los tres ritos diciendo: “Bendito sea Dios: santísima, gloriosa e indivisa Trinidad”. La actual aclamación de apertura de “ Bendito sea Dios: Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo” es también una opción. En cualquier caso, la respuesta del pueblo es “Y bendito sea el reino de Dios ahora y por siempre. Amén”.
  • Al comienzo de la Gran Plegaria Eucarística en los tres ritos, el sacerdote puede decir “Dios sea con ustedes”, en lugar de “El Señor sea con ustedes”.
  • El Sanctus ahora puede decirse usando “Bendito quien viene en el nombre del Señor”, además de “Bendito el que viene en el nombre del Señor”.
  • En la Plegaria Eucarística A, los celebrantes tienen ahora la opción de decir “ … tú, en tu misericordia, enviaste a Jesucristo, tu Hijo único y terno, para compartir nuestra naturaleza humana, para vivir y morir como uno de nosotros, y así reconciliarnos contigo, el Dios y hacedor de todo”. En la versión original, esa oración concluye con “…el Dios y Padre de todos”.
  • La Plegaria Eucarística B contiene un texto opcional para la oración: “Únenos a tu Hijo en su sacrificio, a fin de que, por medio de él, seamos aceptables, siendo santificados por el Espíritu Santo”. La opción dice: “Únenos en el sacrificio de Cristo, a través de quien somos aceptables a ti, siendo santificados por el Espíritu Santo”.
  • En la Plegaria Eucarística D se ofrece la opción de añadir la palabra “matriarcas”, después de “patriarcas” en esta oración: “Y concede que alcancemos nuestra herencia con [la Bendita Virgen María, con los patriarcas, profetas, apóstoles y mártires (con _____) y todos los santos que han encontrado favor contigo en tiempos pasados”.

Las opciones que se ofrecen en la D078 han de proporcionarse a la Iglesia sin costo alguno por distribución electrónica, dice la resolución.

La resolución le pide a la Comisión Permanente de Liturgia y Música, o SCLM [por su sigla en inglés] que considere revisar la Plegaria Eucarística C, a veces llamada la oración de la Guerra de las Galaxias por su referencia a “la vasta extensión del espacio interestelar, las galaxias, los soles, los planetas en su trayectoria, y esta frágil tierra, nuestro hogar insular”.

A la SCLM se le pide que supervise el uso de los ritos en lenguaje expansivo y que comience una traducción en equivalencia dinámica de los ritos en español, francés y creole haitiano.

La D078 solicita $12.500 para la labor inherente. El presupuesto 2019-2021 ya ha sido aprobado, de manera que esa parte de la resolución se convierte en lo que se conoce como un mandato sin financiación y es potestativo del Consejo Ejecutivo determinar la fuente para financiarla.

– La Rda Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora principal y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Melodie Woerman es directora de Comunicaciones de la Diócesis de Kansas y miembro del equipo de información de ENS en la Convención General. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Sermón del 11 de julio por el Hermano Aidan Owen, Monasterio Holy Cross, Diócesis Episcopal de Nueva York

Sat, 07/14/2018 - 5:42am
A continuación, el texto del sermón pronunciado por el Hermano Aidan Owen, Monasterio Holy Cross, Diócesis Episcopal de Nueva York, durante la Eucaristía de la Convención General, el día 11 de julio de 2018.

En nombre del único Dios que es amoroso, bienamado y desbordante de amor.  (Amén).

¿Qué es lo que desea usted?

Esta es la primera pregunta que le hacen cuando es aceptado como postulante en una comunidad monástica, y también la misma pregunta que le hacen cuando recibe el hábito de novicio, y nuevamente le preguntan cuando hace el triple voto benedictino de obediencia, estabilidad y el convertirse a una vida según el camino monástico.

La cuestión sobre el deseo impulsa el Camino Benedictino y, ciertamente, el Camino Cristiano. En esta Norma para monjes, san Benito de Nursia ofrece una respuesta que es a la vez muy sencilla y muy desafiante: no prefiera nada que no sea Cristo.

Como verán, san Benito lo sabía, contrario a la imagen del monacato en la cultura popular como una vida adusta y seria, la vida monástica es una verdadera historia de amor. Durante mil quinientos años la norma benedictina ha ofrecido una estructura y un contexto para seguir el anhelo más profundo del corazón hacia la integridad y la unidad en Dios. La tradición mística cristiana le llama a este ejercicio estar en busca de “la pureza de corazón”, aunque mejor lo describiríamos como una “unidad de corazón”, o lo que es lo mismo decir, unir todo nuestro ser –cuerpo, mente, espíritu, corazón– centrado en el amor de aquél que es Amor en sí mismo.

Las comunidades monásticas siempre han sido amplios espacios en un mundo abarrotado. Ese espacio fue precisamente el que me atrajo a la vida benedictina. Toda mi vida ha estado motivada por un anhelo tan profundo y potente que yo no le podía encontrar un nombre. Este anhelo era un secreto ardiente como algo central en mi vida. Cada contexto en el cual me hallaba era simplemente demasiado pequeño para contenerlo o para contenerme.

Cuando vine a Holy Cross, donde soy ahora un monje, mi intuición me dictó que yo había por fin encontrado un lugar con el suficiente espacio para darle cabida a mi anhelo. Fue ciertamente uno de aquellos pocos lugares que había encontrado en los cuales la gente asentía con la cabeza, a sabiendas, cuando les mencionaba este deseo tan profundo que no tiene nombre.  Lo reto a que trate de hablar sobre este anhelar a la hora del café, para que vea la clase de miradas que le van a lanzar.

Recuerdo a Andrew, en particular, aquel viejo monje escocés con un pícaro sentido del humor, quien se sentaba conmigo en mis visitas al monasterio. Me miraba directo a los ojos, observando profundamente mi corazón como solo sabe hacerlo alguien que ha vivido durante décadas la vida de la fe, y, entonces, decía “yo te amo”. Y mientras las lágrimas corrían por mi rostro, él decía, en una voz llena de compresión “sí, duele ser amado”.

Claro que duele ser amado. Pero también duele amar. Lo cual es probablemente una de las razones por las que muchos de nosotros evitamos amar de forma tan completa, profunda y libre como Jesús nos llama a que lo hagamos. En este mundo que con frecuencia es estrecho de miras, amargo y violento –y cada vez, así– endurecemos nuestros corazones para evitar que se rompan. Sin embargo, solamente es ese corazón roto el que tiene suficiente espacio para amar como debiéramos. Además, es sólo al romperse que nuestros corazones pasan de ser de piedra a ser de carne.

La vida monástica participa, justo en este aquí y ahora, en la eternidad. Ése es el secreto de su espaciosidad. En la santificación de la vida cotidiana, la norma benedictina señala hacia la santidad de la vida reencarnada en la cual, san Benito lo indica, los utensilios de la cocina o del jardín son tan valiosos como los recipientes del altar. Con la eternidad como contexto, hay suficiente espacio para que emerja la vida de uno en su plenitud.

Cuán diferente es este proceso del proceso de educación, construcción de la identidad y el éxito en la sociedad contemporánea e incluso en la Iglesia de hoy. En la vida benedictina uno no “se convierte en alguien”. Uno no “corona la meta”. Más bien, durante el curso de la vida, uno se rinde ante el deseo de Dios de recomponer los fragmentos de nuestra vida, de tal manera que lo que parecía mutilado, poco atractivo o vergonzoso se convierte, mediante la acción persistente y amorosa de Dios, en completo, hermoso, y sagrado.

La visión benedictina de la vida cristiana, de hecho, asevera que son precisamente estas partes de nosotros mismos, las que más nos gustaría negar, las puertas de entrada a la santidad. No hemos de desechar aquellos vergonzosos fragmentos internos, ni de desterrarlos o borrarlos, ¡como si pudiéramos! Desde luego que no. Hemos de permitir a Dios, dentro del contexto de nuestra vida comunitaria, que sane y transforme esos fragmentos, para que incluso puedan hacer circular una sangre nutritiva por todo el cuerpo.

Si esta acción hacia la integridad es verdadera a nivel individual, cuanto más lo será para la comunidad. Para los benedictinos, la salvación es nunca una cuestión individual; siempre es comunitaria. Cada miembro de la comunidad monástica es parte esencial de la salud de todo el cuerpo. Cada uno tiene una contribución única que hacer. Cuando un hermano o una hermana necesita un médico, la comunidad le ofrece uno, lo cual puede incluir una acción disciplinaria, siempre con el objetivo no de castigar o avergonzar sino de sanar, transformar y reintegrar ese hermano o esa hermana al cuerpo de la comunidad, donde su florecimiento es nuestro florecimiento.

Ninguno de nosotros puede o podrá ser salvado aisladamente. Es todos nosotros o ninguno de nosotros. Puesto que el amor nunca logra finalmente ser satisfecho. Como cualquier monje o amante puede contarle, mientras más se satisface su deseo, más profundo se hace ese deseo. Es que no tiene límite, porque, en última instancia, nuestro deseo está en la unión total con aquél que nos hizo y que nos sustenta, aquél cuyo nombre es nuestro verdadero nombre y nuestra verdadera naturaleza.

Mientras más vivo la vida monástica y la vida cristiana, más me convenzo de que nada ni nadie está más allá del amor de Dios. Y de que no importan los tiempos oscuros en los que vivimos, pues Dios todavía está trabajando, a través de cada uno de nosotros, para que el corazón del mundo se abra de tal manera que pueda convertirse en un corazón de carne.

Esta es una visión retadora en los tiempos en que vivimos. Las fuerzas del mal pululan a nuestro alrededor y parecen más bien agarrarse con más fuerza a nosotros que soltarse. Y, sin embargo, probablemente y de manera especial, cuando el mal parece estar en su apogeo, con mayor razón somos llamados a permitirle a nuestros corazones a que se abran y que amemos sin reservas.

Entiendo, sí, el impulso de vencer y de hacer desaparecer el mal. Pero tales impulsos violentos son, en realidad, parte del control que el mal ejerce sobre nosotros. Aunque podemos y debemos resistir al mal, nunca podremos destruirlo. Eso no está dentro de nuestro poder. Más bien, estamos llamados para dar testimonio de aquél que puede sanar e integrar el mal, de aquél que puede quebrar el mal, y convertir incluso el corazón más pétreo en carne. Nosotros estamos llamados a señalar el camino, mediante nuestros corazones carnosos, hacia aquél que puede transformar y convertir el mal en bien, de tal manera que, al final, incluso Lucifer portará otra vez la luz de Dios.

James Stephens expresa bellamente esta idea en su poema “La Plenitud del Tiempo”.

Sobre un trono de hierro oxidado

Sobre la estrella más lejana allá afuera

Yo vi a Satanás solitario sentado,

Viejo y demacrado su rostro era

Pues su trabajo ya había cumplido

Y descansaba en la eternidad.

 

Entonces hacia él, desde el sol

Vino su padre y su amigo

Diciendo, ahora que el trabajo está hecho

La enemistad llega a su fin

Guiando entonces a Satanás

A paraísos ya de él conocidos.

 

Gabriel sin fruncir el ceño,

Uriel sin una espada,

Rafael bajó cantando

Acogiendo a su antiguo semejante,

Y lo sentaron al lado

De aquél que había sido crucificado.

No hay nada ni nadie que, en última instancia, no pertenezca a Dios. No hay ninguna parte de nosotros, de manera individual o colectiva, que esté más allá del alcance del amor conciliador y sanador de Dios. Y si seguimos los deseos más profundos de nuestro corazón, si no preferimos nada que no sea Cristo y permitimos que el amor de Cristo rompa y llene nuestros corazones, ¿quién sabe acaso en qué tipo de espaciosos santuarios podemos convertirnos?

Sermón del 10 de julio de la Reverenda Winnie Varghese, Trinity Wall Street, Diócesis Episcopal de Nueva York

Sat, 07/14/2018 - 5:41am
El siguiente texto corresponde al sermón que la Reverenda Winnie Varghese, de Trinity Wall Street, Diócesis Episcopal de Nueva York, pronunció durante la Eucaristía de la Convención General, el 10 de julio de 2018.

Por favor tomen asiento.

Si eres de la Diócesis de Nueva York, sabrás que nuestro Obispo tiene una historia de manipulación de serpientes, pero como solo tengo ocho minutos, al estilo de Michael Curry, no puedo decírselos ahora mismo.

Es un honor estar aquí.

El final de Marcos es una respuesta a un dilema. Los académicos dicen que esta sección es probablemente una adición posterior, todos aquí lo saben. La parte más antigua de este texto termina abruptamente, la tumba está vacía – signo de exclamación o punto, punto, punto, punto y final.

Estos últimos versículos que concluyen en forma bien acabada probablemente sean posteriores, pero son consistentes con los temas en Marcos: discípulos incrédulos; Jesús viene a ellos mientras están en una mesa; debemos proclamar las Buenas Nuevas, recibiremos los dones del Espíritu, y cuando lo hagamos, Dios obrará en nosotros.

Entonces, quizás necesitemos ese recordatorio de que la salvación es para toda la creación, y que tenemos parte en ella. Aquí no hay confusión de que nosotros también tenemos un papel que desempeñar en la irrupción de este reino de Dios. Y que cuando proclamamos esta Buena Nueva, el Espíritu que trabaja en nosotros trae la restauración de todo. Y ese es un asunto muy serio, así que vayamos al grano.

Ahora bien, primeramente, es bueno estar en Texas. Nací y me crié en Dallas, y a veces olvido lo mucho que este estado es mi hogar, hasta que estoy aquí. Por lo tanto, es muy bueno estar aquí.

Para aquellos de ustedes que no son de aquí, estamos en la tierra de los comanches y los kiowas. La cosa fue bien complicada ya que había más de 100 tribus en lo que hoy es Texas, y los comanches eran una tribu grande y dominante, muy fuerte, para el momento de la colonización española. Y a diferencia de la mayoría de los Estados Unidos, España colonizó lo que hoy es Texas, y fue una colonización violenta, esclavizante y basada en la misión. Las Guerras Indias de Texas no culminaron sino hasta el año 1875, después de la Guerra Civil, y terminaron brutalmente, todas ellas fueron brutales.

El sendero comanche, un camino, en realidad una carretera, una ruta transitada, que se dice tenía una milla de ancho en algunas áreas. ¿Puedes imaginar una carretera de una milla de ancho? Como nuestros caminos de hoy, y como las carreteras romanas, estas eran las rutas para el movimiento de personas, bienes, y también para tiempos de guerra.

El sendero comanche comenzaba en lo que ahora es México y llegaba hasta la península de Texas. Si usted maneja desde Austin a Dallas, hay marcadores cerca de los centros comerciales, literalmente, yo he visto uno afuera de un Starbucks. O si se encuentra en el Parque Nacional Big Bend, puede caminar a lo largo de ciertas secciones rodeadas de campos de flores silvestres. Estamos en una hermosa, antigua e histórica parte del país.

Desde el norte de México hacia el sur, hay otras vías que han conectado las migraciones de pueblos antiguos y contemporáneos durante todo el tiempo en que ha habido gente viviendo en este hemisferio. Las carreteras míticas sobre las que los españoles habían oído hablar: arterias comerciales, de poder y de la gente. Una vez leí acerca de un académico que anduvo buscando estos senderos en las selvas amazónicas. Donde el calor, la humedad y la densidad del bosque lo detuvieron constantemente en su búsqueda. Él encontraría los extremos de estos viejos caminos. De modo que se dió por vencido y comenzó a creer que no sería posible que estos lugares despoblados tuvieran tales sistemas de carreteras, pero luego, en una oportunidad, mientras sobrevolaba una sección del Amazonas en otra área, notó un cambio en el paisaje. Mirando más atentamente, observó un paisaje lleno de copas de árboles, logrando divisar que entre los árboles y sus patrones de crecimiento habían largos caminos, la prueba de que solía haber algo así como carreteras o caminos. Con sus propios ojos vio claramente que había habido rutas de viaje a través de lo que ahora es la jungla. Las Américas habían estado conectadas por caminos en la antigüedad. Y la gente de hoy todavía camina por esos senderos hasta nuestra frontera sur. Puedes ver esto también en el norte del estado de Nueva York, donde ahora tenemos bosques, bosques que parecen antiguos, en los que encontrarás paredes de piedra en descomposición, prueba de que una vez fueron tierras de cultivo establecidas antes de que los agricultores se movieran hacia el oeste en su búsqueda de más tierras disponibles a la vez que las guerras indias continuaban en esa parte del país.

Nosotros vivimos en esta tierra, la mayoría de nosotros somos inmigrantes, no todos, pero la mayoría. Tercera, cuarta, quinta, sexta generación, algunos de nosotros primera o segunda como yo. Algunos de nosotros somos descendientes de los que fueron esclavizados. Algunos de nosotros somos descendientes de nativos americanos. Somos un país extraño en ese sentido. En casi todo el resto del mundo, las personas pueden contar las historias de sus familias durante 20, 30, 60 generaciones. Historias que nos dicen quiénes somos en los pedazos de tierra que siempre hemos habitado.

En este hemisferio tenemos historias más cortas que casi siempre comienzan con algún tipo de interrupción, a menudo una que define. Sabemos cómo llegamos aquí, la mayoría de nosotros, y es a menudo donde comienza nuestra historia. Y ha creado una relación complicada con esta tierra:

No es nuestra;

o es nuestra para someterla;

o no la entendemos.

–Es aterrador, o solo estamos de paso.

Estuve por un tiempo como rectora de San Marcos en Bowery, que es una iglesia en la ciudad de Nueva York. Bowery, resulta que no sabía esto, es la palabra holandesa para una finca o una granja grande. Nunca creería que parte de Manhattan era una granja. San Marcos está en el sitio de la tumba de Peter Stuyvesant. Peter Stuyvesant fue el último gobernador general holandés de lo que entonces era Nueva Ámsterdam, ahora Nueva York.

Y fue enterrado en su granja, en su bowery, en el sitio de su capilla, lo que hace que esa iglesia, San Marcos, sea el sitio más antiguo de culto continuo en Nueva York. Y habría sido una pequeña capilla en una granja excavada en los bosques de Manhattan, en los extremos septentrionales del asentamiento a una o dos millas al norte del Muro, la fortificación ubicada al fondo de Manhattan, que resguardaba a la pequeña población allí asentada, protegiendo a la colonia de Nueva York de la población local del norte. Ese muro ahora es Wall Street.

Cuando fui a San Marcos me encontré a gente maravillosa y grandes cosas sucediendo allí, y hubo algunos desafíos como en todas las iglesias.

Y entre las cosas más extrañas que encontré estaba este enorme patio, en la 2.a avenida, una manzana completa entre las calles 10.a y 11.a con una cerca de hierro forjado alrededor. Podías verlo desde la acera o la calle.

Una “tierra de nadie”, me dijeron.

Me dijeron que no fuera, a pesar de que la iglesia estaba asentada en él, para que ni me sentara allí ni definitivamente pusiera mis manos en él. Me dijeron que la gente arrojaba todo tipo de cosas sobre la valla y hacían cosas indescriptibles en ese jardín. Había ratas, las vi, realmente grandes. Y había esta extraña cualidad polvorienta. Estaba reseco y rocoso, lleno de ladrillos rojos. Y las malezas habían prosperado en él. Nueva York recibe mucha lluvia. Es una ciudad bien ajardinada. El estado de esta propiedad, realmente bastante grande en el medio de Manhattan, era muy extraño. Recuerden que este sitio era un bosque, y los bosques insisten en crecer, es mi experiencia, y luego una granja con huertos.

Así que, a medida que conocí la iglesia, aprendí que eran una comunidad pequeña. Tratando de encontrar la manera de llegar a fin de mes alquilando sus espacios. Por entonces, bastante desgastado con la administración de esos alquileres y aquellas relaciones, que como ustedes pueden imaginar eran muy complicadas. Todo el mundo estaba estresado. No quedaba mucha energía, yo sé que no saben nada sobre cosas así.

Entonces, las partes de la iglesia que daban hacia la zona visible del vecindario: el exterior del edificio, las vallas y ese gran patio abierto, se habían convertido en extraños símbolos visuales, disuasivos para la comunidad de la realidad del lugar, un gran patio reseco en una antigua gran propiedad.

Entonces, comenzamos a desmalezar.

Nos dijeron que era un esfuerzo inútil.

Las malas hierbas vuelven, nos dijeron.

Jimmy el sacristán, valiente y poderoso, desmanteló con un martillo un corral arruinado, y mirando por la ventana pude verlo brincar por todo el lugar, mientras soltaba una serie de gritos de los más agudos que he escuchado. Todo esto a la par de presenciar familias de ratas que salían corriendo, expulsadas de lo que debió haber sido su hogar durante décadas.

Así que de ahí venían…

Labramos y removimos rocas y agujas, e incluso cucharas, insinuando uso de crack.

Usamos guantes pesados.

Los adultos jóvenes hicieron el trabajo con nosotros, y todos nos conocimos del modo en que lo haces cuando trabajas en equipo.

¡Dios te ayude! si venías a la iglesia el domingo, te tendríamos en ese patio.

Plantamos césped y colocamos un laberinto.

– No quedó tan perfecto, plantamos rosas y tomillo, y salvia –las aves llegaron, pero tomó un par de años.

Y mientras trabajábamos juntos, escuchamos nuestras historias. Nos enteramos de que los trabajadores habían arrojado al patio los restos de la construcción de la iglesia, luego de un gran incendio; era y es, después de todo, un cementerio.

La idea de cultivar césped o el valorar la importancia del jardín en East Village entre las décadas del 50 al 80 era una locura, nos dijeron, pero ahora, en ese momento, parecía que la tierra estaba pidiendo a gritos su redención, ponerle final al abuso. Y francamente, si miramos alrededor de ese vecindario durante los años de las décadas del 50 al 80, ese era el corazón del movimiento del jardín urbano en la Costa Este, ese vecindario de inmigrantes clamaba por una conexión con la tierra, como las vidas que habían dejado atrás: Cultivar alimentos y flores; cuidar de la tierra del modo que ella lo requiere. Un cuidado, pero realmente un cuidado misterioso que con el poder del Espíritu produce sustento y belleza. La apertura de un camino, pues como ustedes saben en su jardín, es la vida misma la que hace la nueva vida.

Entonces, yo nunca había sido parte de un proyecto como ese. Y no podíamos darnos el lujo de dárselo a otra persona para que lo hiciera. Creo que un profesional habría dicho, muy probablemente con acierto, que debimos dragar todo ese jardín y comenzar con tierra fresca, esa tierra está muerta. Algo así como plantar una iglesia, ¿verdad? Comienzas de nuevo. Pero no pudimos pagarlo. Teníamos un sitio histórico que administrar. Entonces, lo hicimos sección por sección con herramientas alquiladas, como reiniciando la iglesia, supongo, a diferencia de una planta.

Y a medida que cubríamos con abono orgánico y arrojábamos semillas, literal e inmediatamente, las aves del cielo bajaron para comer. Y aprendimos una nueva oración que ellos luego eligieron para arrojarle sus excrementos en el mismo patio.

Sí, literalmente esparcimos semillas y las vimos caer sobre ladrillo, rocas y en buena tierra. Y las cubrimos gentilmente esperando que permanecieran. Pero no sabíamos qué había debajo, o si a las ratas les gustaba comer semillas. Y lo hicimos una y otra, y otra vez, y el césped, cuando lo dejé era bastante desaliñado. Pero es un césped con raíces profundas, elegimos nuestra hierba muy estratégicamente para que eventualmente devolviera la salud al suelo. Y hay flores, y en el otro lado hay frutales. Ahora no es un césped verde impecable al estilo de Texas con el que crecí, sino que el paisaje cuenta la historia de esa comunidad. Una en la que tomará tiempo deshacer viejas heridas y evitar repetirlas, y mientras lo hacemos, debemos preocuparnos por lo que nos corresponde a nosotros en este momento.

Mis padres siempre han tenido un jardín. Cuando era una niña en Dallas, pensé que todos tenían enrejados para sus verduras favoritas en el patio trasero, para nosotros se trataba de algunas verduras indias bastante oscuras, que crecían en un terreno rectangular, muy bien organizado en nuestro patio trasero. Mi padre creció en una granja, así que plantó meticulosamente y en línea recta, y observó las plantas todos los días, y me pregunto si eso lo mantuvo sano en el ambiente alocado en el que vivimos. Mi madre, como siempre, tenía un enfoque más creativo, literalmente, le gustaba diseminar cosas y dejarlas crecer libremente donde necesitaban crecer, entre algunas malezas, y tal vez, ofrecer de vez en cuando algunos esteroides a las plantas, como vitaminas, si alguna necesitaba ayuda para crecer. Y me pregunto si les ayudó a dar sentido al lugar donde habían venido a vivir.

Aprendí en San Marcos que poner nuestras manos en el suelo sana y fundamenta nuestras heridas y corazones. Algunos dicen que la causa principal del quebrantamiento de nuestro corazón en esta era es porque ya no cuidamos la tierra, que los seres humanos requerimos esa conexión para lograr nuestra integridad. Puedo creer eso. Esa es mi experiencia. Incluso podría decirse que el espíritu se puede encontrar en las cosas de la tierra, que podemos reconectarnos en la tierra con lo que literalmente da vida y sustenta todas las cosas: parece que regresamos a la tierra en cada generación, aquellos de nosotros que podemos, porque buscamos sanar, tanto como individuos como personas.

Aquí, en este territorio donde la sabiduría de la tierra ha sido aniquilada, así como sus pueblos más antiguos, luchamos por reconectarnos. La tierra cede bajo el peso de nuestros desechos. Las aguas dejan de fluir; o inundan; o ellas mismas están envenenadas. Algunos de nosotros estamos esperando ansiosamente noticias de un incendio cercano a nuestras casas.

O como escuchamos esta mañana, las tecnologías extractivas, la perforación de petróleo en Alaska, cosas así devastan nuestros frágiles entornos, los que hacen la vida posible. Esas empresas de las cuales ganamos nuestras pensiones, nuestros proyectos permitidos por el gobierno, somos cómplices.

Como dice la oración, hemos violado la creación y abusado los unos de los otros.

Hemos fallado en honrar la imagen de Dios entre nosotros.

Entonces debemos arrepentirnos y volvernos.

Y a medida que nos arrepintamos, la suciedad y las toxinas enterradas en lo más profundo (como todas esas ratas) emergerán.

Estaremos asqueados (siéntete libre de gritar y saltar de un lugar a otro).

No somos inocentes ni inmunes en esta catástrofe.

Pero estaremos mejor cuando se vaya.

Marcados (y tal vez desaliñados), pero mejor.

Podemos vivir de nuevo, pero se necesitará labranza, limpieza, plantación y mantenimiento,

Tomará resistir (y luchar) y cambiar,

una y otra, y otra vez.

La tierra pide nuestra ayuda. Somos sus protectores, dice la Biblia, pero si fallamos, seamos claros, esta tierra seguirá girando, sin nosotros.

Si hacemos este trabajo, mientras laboramos, escuchamos y contamos las historias de nuestros antiguos patrimonios, de esta tierra y nuestros sueños, en esta mesa aparece el Resucitado. El que ha entrado a la tierra misma y ha regresado para decirnos que una nueva vida es posible.

Una forma de descubrir que la vida está presente en las cosas de esta tierra,

y cuando posas tus manos sobre ella:

Tú también puedes expulsar a los demonios de la desolación.

Escucharás las historias de aquellos que nos han precedido.

Sostendrás animales salvajes en tus manos.

Encontrarás en ti mismo el poder para sanar.

Que Dios te haga valiente y creativo en el trabajo del amor.

Que Dios te bendiga a ti y al trabajo de tus manos.

Amén.

Lesser Feasts and Fasts a step closer to revision

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 6:22pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] It was a long and winding road, but the 79th General Convention has committed to revising “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” and the entire sanctoral calendar with the adoption of resolution A065.

The journey began in the Standing Commission on Liturgy in Music. The 2015 General Convention sent the SCLM 11 resolutions related to the church’s various lists of saints that it has chosen to remember and honor. Those resolutions, along with feedback from the church, led the committee to decide that it ought to prepare a new edition of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts,” which would better reflect the diversity of the church and could work in conjunction with “A Great Cloud of Witnesses,” which the last [2015] General Convention voted to “make available” but did not authorize.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

(“Lesser Feasts and Fasts” is a collection of proper collects, lessons and psalms for the Eucharist on each of the weekdays of Lent, weekdays of Easter season and each of the lesser feasts of the church year. It is used in addition to the major feasts and saints included in the Book of Common Prayer.)

The Blue Book Report filed by the SCLM contains the recommended revisions to Lesser Feasts and Fasts, recommended to make the calendar of commemorations less confusing and more diverse. It is 650 pages long.

The resolution resulting from the report, A065 , worked its way through the legislative process of General Convention from the first (unofficial) day of convention, July 4, to the last, July 13. There were a few detours along the way.

Hearings in the Committee for Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, chaired by Bishop Neil Alexander, Atlanta, for the House of Bishops and the Rev. Susan Anslow Williams, Michigan, for the House of Deputies were held the morning of July 4. People testified, mostly about the addition or deletion of a particular person or requesting that a person be moved from one resource to another. Learn more here.

A legislative sub-committee working solely on revisions to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 substituted new language in the resolution to combine the proposed Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2015) and Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 into one calendar for use during the 2018-2021 triennium.

But, a move in the House of Deputies to revert to the SCLM version of A065 brought debate to a halt until July 12.

The Rev. Jack Zamboni, deputy from New Jersey, and a member of the legislative committee, spoke against the amendment. “One of the challenges for the committee, they also included a secondary calendar within that book that left us with tiers A and B, and it was sense of the committee to get rid of tiers.”

The Rev. Scott Gunn, deputy from Southern Ohio, spoke in favor of the amendment. He asked for the house to accept the Blue Book report of SCLM [as the resolution]. “During this 2018 Lent Madness summit to choose the saints, [they] spent a lot of time with the calendar. These are worthy saints, a balanced calendar, not a perfect calendar, but that this why we have an ongoing revision process.”

In the end the House of Deputies agreed to go back to the SCLM’s recommended text and both houses approved the resolution near the end of convention on the morning of July 13.

Moving into the next triennium, “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006” is still in use; “Great Cloud of Witnesses 2015” is also still available for use; and the new commemorations in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 are authorized for trial use. The SCLM was told to provide “the 80th General Convention with a clear and unambiguous plan for a singular calendar of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts.”

—  Sharon Tilman is a freelance writer for Episcopal News Service.

General Convention reinforces its creation care stance

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 6:02pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] General Convention addressed some 18 resolutions further strengthening its position on the stewardship of the environment and creation care, sending a message of engagement to Episcopalians churchwide.

“The number of care of creation resolutions that passed General Convention 79 was remarkable and a sign of a growing, vital spirit in the Episcopal Church around creation care,” said California Bishop Marc Andrus, a member of the Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation Committee and co-chair of the Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation, in a statement emailed to Episcopal News Service.

The 79th General Convention met at the Austin Convention Center from July 5-13. Creation care is one of the three priorities of the Episcopal Church. The other two are evangelism and racial reconciliation and justice.

Several creation care resolutions, including A018, addressed Episcopalians’ participation in the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement calls on the countries of the world to limit carbon emissions voluntarily, which will require a decrease in dependence on fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources; and for developed countries, those responsible for the majority of emissions both historically and at present, to commit to $100 billion in development aid annually by 2020 to developing countries.

In June 2017, as part of his “American First” strategy, President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the international agreement, saying it undermines the economy and places the United States at a disadvantage.

By addressing participation in the Paris Agreement, the Episcopal Church joined the We Are Still In movement.

“We said we valued our participation in the United Nations climate summits and resolved to fully engage in them,” said Andrus.

“At the level of us as Episcopalians, and in our congregations, institutions and dioceses we began the beautiful, big commitment to daily choices leading to sustainable lives. It is possible that the Episcopal Church is the first denomination to join the partnership of businesses, cities, states, regions, faith bodies and tribes working together to keep the United States’ commitment to the Paris Agreement.”

Resolution C049 encourages churches to serve and promote locally grown food. B027 introduced gender inclusivity in climate change action. A213 promotes energy and water efficiency across the church. B025 urges the church to learn about regional watersheds and aquifers, recognizes water as a commons and access to water and sanitation as a human right.  C063 advocates for ocean health through public policy advocacy, for example “to prevent or limit adverse effects to species and ecosystems from offshore oil, gas, and mineral exploration, drilling, and extraction and to support sustainable fisheries”; and “to prevent illegal fishing, over-fishing, and by-catch.”

D081 helps communities affected by change in energy use as they transition to clean energy economies. And D053 encourages stewardship of creation with church-owned Land.

“[What] these resolutions are helpful for is, that while we do live on the frontline of creation, we do have a lot of variety in the sorts of parishes and property that we use,” said Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime, who served as the committee’s secretary.

“I’ve got churches in our urban areas that have been asking about what kind of support we can get so that we can perhaps change some of our properties, how we could be more energy efficient, how we can be more active in reducing greenhouse gases, and I think the resolutions that we adopted and looked at this year will help to provide those resources, as well.”

Not all the creation care resolutions, however, originated in the stewardship and creation care committee. On July 12, the House of Bishops received “with open and broken hearts the witness of Bernadette Demientieff to the struggle and plight of the Gwich’in people” by unanimously passing Resolution X023.

Even in times of food shortage and starvation, the Gwich’in have chosen not to go into the coastal plain, which they consider “the sacred place where life begins,” said Demientieff, during a July 10 TEConversation focused on creation care.

Energy companies view the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, particularly its 1.5 million-acre coastal plain, as a potential oil and natural gas bonanza. This conflict has fueled for more than 30 years a contentious debate over whether this coastal plain should be opened to oil drilling or kept as unspoiled habitat.

In December 2017, the Trump administration and congressional Republicans opened the refuge to oil exploration. In April this year, a first step was taken toward allowing drilling.

“The Episcopal Church has historically stood in solidarity with the Gwinch’in, but right now is a very crucial time because of course the 1002 section of the ANWR has been opened for further exploration and development in the extractions field, and that’s of great, great concern,” said Lattime.

Finally, A068 called for eventual liturgical revisions to the Book of Common Prayer “that incorporate and express understanding, appreciation, and care of God’s creation.”

During convention, the Diocese of California launched a web-based carbon tracker for the Episcopal Church intended to support personal and communal choices. The fully functional carbon tracker will be available to U.S.-based diocese of the Episcopal Church by spring 2019 and the rest of the church by the fall.

–Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Convention backs evangelism spending as leaders develop tools for the Jesus Movement

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 5:54pm

Postcards with the Evangelism Charter were distributed in the House of Deputies before the vote on A029. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] It never inspired the fiery passion of the debates on marriage or Israel-Palestine. It never threatened to upset the Episcopal Church’s status quo like the debates on prayer book revision.

But evangelism was a constant theme at the 79thGeneral Convention – and not only at the large revival July 7 when Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached to a crowd of thousands.

The bishops and deputies who gathered here from July 5 to 13 embraced their inner evangelists in ways subtle and grand throughout the church’s triennial gathering. They engaged people on the street in conversations about faith. They pledged to follow Curry’s “Way of Love” when they return home. And they approved a three-year church budget that allocates $5.2 million for evangelism, including $3 million for redeveloping declining congregations and starting new congregations, also known as church plants.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, has felt a lot of momentum since the last General Convention, starting with simply reclaiming the word “evangelism.”

“At this convention, what we’ve said is we’re taking it further and figuring out how is it that we as Episcopalians share and celebrate the good news of Jesus, with no shame, but also in a way that feels uniquely Episcopalian,” Spellers said in an interview with Episcopal News Service on July 12, the day before the end of General Convention.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry begins an impassioned sermon before a packed audience at a revival held on July 7 at Austin’s Palmer Center. Photo: Mike Patterson/Episcopal News Service

Curry’s revival sermon set the tone for the work to come, with a message of love’s power to bring people together.

“Love heals the wounds. Love can lift us up. Love is the source of setting us free, and it is the root source of life,” Curry said at the Palmer Events Center, across the river from the Austin Convention Center where General Convention was held. “In fact, the truth is, the only reason we’re here is because of love.”

Evangelism was one of three priorities set for the church three years ago by General Convention, along with racial reconciliation and care of creation. Curry took on the self-described role of “chief evangelism officer” and has preached at a series of revivals in dioceses around the church since February 2017.

The call to evangelism also has been taken up by church planters in community after community thanks to the Episcopal Church’s increased investment in new congregations and ministries over the past several years. General Convention approved $1.8 million for church plants and Mission Enterprise Zones in the 2013-15 triennium, and $3.4 million was allocated for such ministries from 2016 to 2018.

The main church planting resolution assigned the Evangelism and Church Planting Committee, A005, initially called for $6.8 million in total spending on that network over the next three years to build on recent successes of these “holy experiments.” The committee recommended $5.8 million, though the final budget only sets aside about $4.3 million for the church-planting network, said the Rev. Frank Logue, a deputy from Georgia and chair of the committee.

The final figure is hardly a disappointment for people in the church, like Logue, who have fought to make evangelism a priority.

“The budget gives us everything we need to continue that movement,” Logue, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Georgia, told ENS. The spending rightly emphasizes the support system needed to enable new communities of faith to grow and thrive, he said. It includes money to provide potential church planters with skills assessments, coaching and regular follow-up meetings with church staff members.

“At the end of the day, money doesn’t get churches planted like know-how does,” Logue said.

The budget also includes $380,000 over three years to create a churchwide staff officer to oversee evangelism, taking over responsibilities that had been covered part-time by three different contract workers.

Spellers thinks the person who fills that position will take the lead in following through on Curry’s “Way of Love,” seven practices that provide a Rule of Life that all Episcopalians are encouraged to adopt.

Curry, in his sermon July 5 at the opening Eucharist of General Convention, said the “Way of Love” was developed to encourage Episcopalians to embrace more fully their role in the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive, Spellers said, and her team printed and distributed more than 100,000 cards with details during General Convention.

“Episcopal Evangelist – it’s part of our identity now,” Spellers said. “It’s a growing part of our identity as a church.”

The budget includes $100,000 in small evangelism grants, a renewing program outlined in Resolution A030.

Another evangelism resolution, A006, was rejected by the committee. The resolution sought to collect additional demographic data on church leaders involved in church planting and ministry development as a way to encourage those ministries to greater reflect the communities they serve. Concerns were raised about how the data might be used in determining funding and whether the data’s benefits would merit the extra work.

Bishop Nicholas Knisely of Rhode Island, who chairs the bishops’ committee on evangelism, said he wishes more people had come to testify about the committee’s resolutions and engaged more directly with the questions.

Three members of the Evangelism and Church Planting Committee met and talked with this group of people who have formed a sidewalk community next to the Episcopal Church-owned parking lot on Trinity Street. The Rev. Alex Montes-Vela, deputy from Texas, stands on the sidewalk with arms crossed. Photo: Frank Logue

“I think everyone wants to be an evangelist. I don’t think we are keeping our eyes on that ball,” Knisely said. He was referring to other major issues at this General Convention that drew much more attention, such as same-sex marriage and liturgical reform.

Even so, he was heartened by the emphasis on evangelism at this General Convention, and early on, he and Logue led other committee members in some street evangelism. On July 4, when the committee’s business for the day was done in the JW Marriott, the members went outside the hotel, two by two, and practiced evangelism in any way the spirit led them, talking with the people they encountered in downtown Austin.

Logue held up the vote to approve A029 as an important next step for the church. That resolution adopted what is known as the Evangelism Charter, outlining how and why Episcopalians vow “to proclaim with our words and our lives the loving, liberating and life-giving good news of Christ.”

Logue, who helped distribute cards outlining the tenants of the charter to all deputies before the vote, said the endorsement of a document may not sound like groundbreaking work, but it is important to make clear to all Episcopalians what the church means when it talks about evangelism. That talk doesn’t end in Austin.

“It will be on the quiz,” he said. “You will see it again.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Convention makes Thurgood Marshall, Pauli Murray, Florence Li Tim-Oi permanent saints of the church

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 5:43pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Three 20th century figures are now a permanent part of the Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints.

Thurgood Marshall on May 17, Pauli Murray on July 2 and Florence Li Tim-Oi on Jan. 24 “are already very widely commemorated within the Episcopal Church,” the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music told the 79th General Convention in proposing the three’s permanence.

Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, lived in New York while serving as an attorney for the NAACP, and joined the historically black St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem in 1938.

Murray was an early civil rights activist, fiery feminist and the first African-American woman ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church.

Tim-Oi was the first woman ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion when then-Hong Kong Bishop Ronald Hall, made her a priest on Jan. 25, 1944, in Macao. Her ordination caused much controversy after the end of World War II, and she decided not to continue exercising her priesthood until it was acknowledged by the wider Anglican Communion.

HoD: In a vote by order, the HoD has adopted A066, add Thurgood Marshall, Pauli Murray, and Florence Li Tim-Oi to Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2018. #GC79 pic.twitter.com/mU7g0PvjXX

— HoD News (@DeputyNews) July 13, 2018

Both houses of the convention agreed July 13 to bypass (via Resolution A066) the normal expectation that people would not be added to the church’s Lesser Feasts and Fasts calendar until at least two generations have have passed.

(Lesser Feasts and Fasts is a collection of proper collects, lessons and psalms for the Eucharist on each of the weekdays of Lent, weekdays of Easter season and each of the lesser feasts of the church year. It is used in addition to the major feasts and saints included in the Book of Common Prayer.)

All three people have been on the calendar of saints since the General Convention added them on a trial basis in 2009. Normally they would have been permanently added at a future convention, but none of the calendars on which they were listed passed convention in 2012 or 2015.

Resolution A066 was crafted in light of the trajectory of movement on Resolution A065 to authorize a news version of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 for trial use over the next three years. The action ensures that Marshall, Murray and Tim-Oi remain on the church’s calendar regardless of what the next meeting of convention in 2021 decides about the 2018 edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

July 13 dispatches from 79th General Convention in Austin

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 5:42pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Much happens each day during General Convention. To complement Episcopal News Service’s primary coverage, we have collected some additional news items from July 13.

Bishops express gratitude to witnesses against gun violence

The House of Bishops, meeting on the last day of the 79th General Convention, expressed their “deep gratitude” to the Schentrup family and Abigail Zimmerman for their “presence and witness” against gun violence.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

At a downtown Austin park on July 8, Philip and April Schentrup, members of Saint Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, Florida, shared their emotional and spiritual journey before dozens of bishops and hundreds of onlookers following the Ash Wednesday murder of their daughter Carmen in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Carmen was among the 17 students and educators killed by a gunman at the Parkland, Florida. Resolution A279 also commends the keeping of Carmen to the “Almighty God” as well the 16 others killed and all victims of gun violence.

Specifically, the resolution “expresses our deep gratitude to Philip and April Schentrup and their children, Evelyn and Robert” and to Abigail Zimmerman “for their presence and witness among us.”

Also at the July 8 gathering, Zimmerman, a ninth-grader and member of Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church in Waco, Texas, who co-led a school walkout in March in response to the Douglas High School massacre, shared the story of her work to organize students to campaign against gun violence.

The bishops’ resolution “supports the young people of this church and their fellow students who have been striving to turn a moment into a movement for lasting chance in the culture of violence that infects our countries at every level of our societies.”

– Mike Patterson

General Convention considers issues affecting lay employees

The issue of equity for lay church employee pensions arose at General Convention from a proposal by a subcommittee of the special House of Deputies Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation. They called for increasing required employer contributions to lay pension plans from the current nine percent to 18 percent, to match what is contributed for clergy.

While Resolution A045  was amended to remove the mandated increase and instead have the Church Pension Fund study the steps necessary to provide equity in the pension plans for lay and ordained church workers, it did affirm “that in the interests of justice the pension plans for clergy and lay employees should be as equitable as possible.”

During debate in the House of Deputies, the Rev. Teri L. Bays, deputy from Northern Indiana, said clergy and lay deputies who serve on vestries can go home and immediately address the issue of equity by virtue of their responsibility to negotiate compensation packages with lay employees. “Just because there is not a mandate, that does not mean that we cannot go back and demand this equity every time we negotiate a letter of agreement with our lay employees,” she said.

Bays, who handles the diocese’s transition ministry process, said she regularly gets calls from vestry members “who want to know exactly where that cut-off point is so that they can avoid giving benefits to their lay employees.” She said, “We can put a stop to that, case by case, even as we await a decision on the steps necessary for a churchwide mandate.”

Another action that could affect lay employees is Resolution B006, which requests that church employers provide a letter of agreement for any church employee, as part of a transparent hiring process and in accordance with the guidelines of the Manual for Business Methods in Church affairs.

The resolution says such letters of agreement can describe duties and responsibilities of the position, including details about salary and benefits, and may also include provisions for an annual performance evaluation, procedures for the reconciliation of disagreements, and policies concerning dissolution.

-Melodie Woerman

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, presented seven deputies with the 2018 House of Deputies medal for distinguished service to the Episcopal Church. Photo: Amy Peden Haynie

Special award is given to seven members of the House of Deputies

The Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, during General Convention awarded the House of Deputies Medal to seven people – five deputies and two alternates – for distinguished service to the House of Deputies and the Episcopal Church. The award was established in 2012

Recipients are:

  • Deputy Katie Sherrod from Fort Worth, a three-time deputy, for her decades of work in support of the Episcopal Church in Fort Worth.
  • Deputy Lonnie Hamilton from South Carolina, a six-time deputy, for his work in his parish and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
  • The Rev. John Floberg, deputy from North Dakota, for his work in rebuilding St. John’s, Cannonball, after a devastating fire eight years ago, and for his prophetic witness at Standing Rock.
  • The Ruth Meyers, alternate deputy from California, for her years of teaching in seminaries of the church, as well as her work on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music and the Task Force on the Study of Marriage
  • Deputy Tom Little from Vermont, an eight-time deputy who is chancellor of his diocese and has served on the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons, the Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church and many other committees.
  • Alternate deputy Diane Pollard from New York, who has attended 14 General Conventions and has served on the boards of Episcopal Urban Caucus and the Church Pension Group, as well as chairing legislative committees of the convention.
  • Deputy Richard Miller from Southeast Florida, a 12-time deputy and two-time sergeant-at-arms, who has served on multiple committees at General Convention and in his home diocese.

New, simpler parochial report to be designed

Based on the actions of the 79thGeneral Convention, a new and simplified parochial report will be designed over the next few years. Resolution A053 charged the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church with designing a simplified report that is “relevant to the diversity of the Episcopal Church’s participation in God’s mission in the world.”

The resolution further asks that the data in the report be “easily collected and compiled” and relevant to the work of those who utilize the data. Finally, the resolution requests an improved user interface for entering and downloading data.

During testimony, skeptical legislative committee members on July 5 expressed concerns that the changes specified in the resolution might place too much of an added burden on congregations. There was also concern expressed about the relevance of the data collected. The resolution that was approved at the convention is an amended and streamlined version of what was originally proposed.

– Mike Patterson

 

General Convention commits to racial reconciliation and becoming a ‘Beloved Community’

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 5:24pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Efforts that began in 2015 with action by General Convention, when racial reconciliation was identified as a priority of the Episcopal Church, is bearing fruit in work done during the 79th General Convention.

That emphasis was made clear early on in the convention, when a joint session of deputies and bishops spent 90 minutes focused on racial reconciliation, one of three TEConversations.

Three speakers – Arno Michaelis, a former leader of a worldwide racist skinhead organization who now works to get people out of similar hate groups; Catherine Meeks, director of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta, Georgia; and the Rev. Nancy Frausto, who is a “Dreamer” who come to the United States without documents as a seven-year-old child.

Framing discussions throughout the convention was the concept of “Becoming Beloved Community,” the Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation and justice. It represents a series of interrelated commitments around which Episcopalians can organize efforts to respond to racial injustice and build a community of people working for reconciliation and healing:

  • Telling the truth about the church and race
  • Proclaiming the dream of beloved community
  • Practicing the way of love
  • Repairing the breach in society and institutions

Resolution D022 provides $5 million over the next three years to help dioceses and other entities of the church to respond to racial injustice. The Rev. John Kitagawa, deputy from Arizona and a member of the joint legislative committee on Racial Justice and Reconciliation, said most of the money will go to grants to help this work in communities – dioceses,  congregations and regions. “Many things in the past have been top-down.” He said. “This is bottom-up.”

Bishop Prince Singh of Rochester, bishop chair of the legislative committee, said he was most excited about a new initiative adopted by the convention – a Beloved Community summit. Resolution A228 provides for a gathering of leaders working in racial reconciliation and racial justice across the Episcopal Church before the end of 2019.

Singh said the summit will “share best practices, build networks and strengthen curricula. It’s building capacity so Episcopalians can play a leadership role in their communities and not just in the church.”

Kitagawa said the event will be an aid to people who are engaged in this work. “It can be lonely,” he said, so understanding who is in the work together will help.

The convention also tackled the issue of expanding anti-racism efforts to include racial reconciliation. That is reflected in Resolution B004, which started as a resolution calling for end to use of the term “anti-racism” as spiritually imprecise. It was amended to encourage continuing work to address institutional and systemic racism while acknowledging the need to work for healing, justice and reconciliation.

Singh said some people welcomed the chance to move forward with racial reconciliation, healing and justice, while others feared losing a commitment to dismantle racism.

He also said he was excited about a new framework for training that “can be a part of transformation and formation.” Resolutions A045 reaffirmed the necessity and importance of anti-racism training while calling for ongoing spiritual formation and education focused on racial healing, justice, and reconciliation.

“Racism isn’t a binary black-white issue,” he said, with it affecting Asians, Latinos, Native Americans and others. With the church made up of diverse languages and cultures, “training needs to take that into account,” he said.

– Melodie Woerman is director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas and is a member of the ENS General Convention reporting team.

General Convention responds to the voices and stories of women

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 5:15pm

Some of the 47 members of the special House of Deputies Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation appointed in February by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, deputies’ president, gathered at microphone 3 in the House of Deputies July 13 to thank Jennings for the work she had given them to do. They also presented her with a sculpture of the Virgin Mary. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The voices and stories of women played a significant role in the workings of the 79th General Convention, from a liturgy where bishops offered laments and confession for the church’s role in sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, to Resolution D087 that allows deputies to bring infant children on the floor of the House of Deputies to feed them.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

On the night of July 4, before the convention officially opened, a Liturgy of Listening featured stories from women and men who were victims of sexual misconduct perpetrated by someone in the church. Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of the Diocese of Central New York, who planned the service, said it was designed to help set a framework for General Convention’s consideration of resolutions dealing with sexual misconduct, exploitation and gender disparity. As part of a response to that liturgy, the House of Bishops on July 8 adopted a covenant that commits them to seek changes in their dioceses to combat abuse, harassment and exploitation. The document, which applies only to bishops, is entitled “A Working Covenant for the Practice of Equity and Justice for All in The Episcopal Church.” Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real said the covenant grew out of the Liturgy of Listening, because it was clear that “there is no way we can do this and nothing more.” She said, “Sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation are part of the system. This is about acknowledging and accepting that.”

Special House of Deputies committee offered resolutions

In February, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, appointed a 47-member special committee to draft proposed legislation on sexual harassment and exploitation. This followed a letter to the Episcopal Church in January from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Jennings, calling for the church to “examine its history and come to a fuller understanding of how it has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse through the years.”

The special committee, sometimes dubbed the “MeToo Committee,” proposed more than two dozen resolutions on topics ranging from changes to the canons on clergy discipline to issues of clergy compensation and pension equity for lay employees. Other resolutions touching on issues of gendered language and clergy employment were proposed by deputies from outside the committee.

The convention adopted many of the proposals.

Changes to Title IV canons on clergy discipline:

  •  D034, adding an extra three years to the existing 10-year statute of limitations for victims of clergy sexual misconduct
  • D074, on the start of the process of filing charges
  • D076,which protects people who file charges against a member of the clergy from retaliation and allows confidential filings for those who fear retaliation

Several resolutions dealt with changes to structures inside the church:

  • D016, creating a Task Force on Women, Truth and Reconciliation to help the church “engage in truth-telling, confession, and reconciliation regarding gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence against women and girls.”
  • D021,removing from the materials that clergy file with the Office of Transition Ministry any reference to gender or current compensation, since statistics show women in the church are paid less than men of comparable experience.
  • D022, creating a task force to track resolutions from this convention that relate to challenges of women in ministry and report findings twice a year to the Executive Council.
  • D025, creating a task force on clergy formation and continuing education, especially regarding preparation for ordination.
  • D026, adding family status, including pregnancy or child care plans, to the list of things for which no one in the church can be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, governance or employment of the church.
  • D037,  directing the Church Pension Group to expand its Clergy Compensation Report to include more specifics on items relating to gender.
  • D045, affirming that pension plans for clergy and lay employees need to be more equitable and calling on the Church Pension Group to study how to make that happen.
  • D046, continuing reauthorizing the expansive-language rites in the Enriching Our Worship series and calling on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to create principles to use in developing additional expansive-language liturgical texts.
  • D067, encouraging the use of inclusive and expansive language for God and humanity, offering examples of how to do that based on the stylebook of the Society of Biblical Literature

Addressing the needs of women in society:

  • A178, calling for a halt to inhumane and unjust immigration policies that are harmful to migrant women, parents and children
  • D017, calling for policies that reduce sexual harassment, assault and exploitation in the workplace
  • D031, encouraging clergy and congregations to educate themselves on resources to combat and deal with domestic violence
  • D032, advocating for equal access to quality health care regardless of gender
A thankful committee

The Rev. Laurie M. Brock, deputy from Lexington and member of the special committee, led some of the 47 committee members to microphone 3 in the deputies’ hall on July 13 to present Jennings with a sculpture of the Virgin Mary.

She thanked Jennings for asking them in February to serve on the committee and “for recognizing that as Christians we have the responsibility to respond to the plight and exploitation of women and all who are victims of abuses of power in this culture.”

She noted that Jennings invited many first-time deputies and other young women across the church and giving them the opportunity “to have our voices heard.”

“Thank you for giving this house and the House of Bishops a way to engage in the holy work of reconciliation and of love. Thank you for helping us all magnify the Lord and filling those who were hungry for good things of equality, of justice, of safety and, most importantly, of love.”

While the House of Bishops is overwhelming male, 53 percent of the deputies to this General Convention are women. That is just slightly lower than the Episcopal Church as a whole which, according to 2014 statistics, is 55 percent women.

– Melodie Woerman is director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas and is a member of the ENS General Convention reporting team.

Task force to ‘collaborate’ with Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development on bishop searches

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 4:09pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The 79th General Convention House of Deputies called for a task force to assist the presiding bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development in its work to assist dioceses in the discernment, nomination, search, election and transition processes for bishops.

There was some discussion by deputies on Resolution A147 after Pauline Getz of San Diego, deputy chair of the legislative Committee for Churchwide Leadership, introduced it, saying its intent was to “create a collaborative relationship with the Office of Pastoral Development.”

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

Deputy Benge Ambrogi of New Hampshire asked to clarify the “problem we are trying to solve with this resolution.” Getz responded, “Up until now, the process in episcopal elections has been based on what was done before. The purpose of the task force is to clarify the process, help the Office of Pastoral Development define a formal process and structure, and establish clearly what needs to be done in a search.”

Originally, the resolution called for a “Pilot Board for Episcopal Transitions.” The committee amended that language to “task force.” The other change was to alter the proposed length of time the task force would function from six years to an initial term of three years.

Additionally, the new task force will assist the Office of Pastoral Development in establishing guidelines and materials for the training and evaluation of transition consultants who work with dioceses throughout the election process. And, lastly, the members will help enhance “guidelines for reference, background, medical, and psychological screening of persons considered for nomination for episcopal elections and guidelines for the dissemination, evaluation, and record keeping of the screening information gathered.”

— Sharon Tillman is a freelance writer for Episcopal News Service.

Diocese of Arizona announces slate of 3 candidates for next bishop

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 3:58pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Arizona] The Standing Committee of The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona has announced a slate of candidates who will stand for election as the VI Bishop of Arizona at Diocesan Convention on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018.

The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

The Rev. Dr. Dena Marcel Cleaver-Bartholomew
The Rev. Jennifer Anne Reddall
The Rev. Andrew Wallace Walter

The Bishop Search/Nominating Committee, after careful and prayerful discernment, recommended these candidates to the Standing Committee, which voted to approve the slate.

“We believe these individuals possess the skills, qualities, experience and spiritual grounding necessary for the office of Bishop, and we are excited to commend them to the diocese,” said The Rev. Canon Daniel Tantimonaco, President of the Standing Committee.

The Standing Committee also announces the opening of the Petition Process on Friday, July 13, 2018, by which nominees may be added to the slate. The Petition Process closes at 5 p.m. (Arizona time) on Friday, July 20, 2018.

The introductions of the candidates, in the form of brief bios and answers to essay questions posed by the Search Committee, can be found on the diocesan website.

Parishioners across the diocese will have the opportunity to meet the candidates in person at “walkabouts” to be held in three locations across the diocese from Sept. 24-28, 2018, before the Oct. 20 election at Diocesan Convention.

Book of Occasional Services, 2018, approved for use by General Convention

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 3:44pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] On July 11, the evening of the so-called “after-dark legislative sessions,” the House of Bishops voted on Resolution A218, which called for the 79th General Convention to approve a working version of the Book of Occasional Services 2018, containing specific services that have been updated by the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music during this past triennium, and tweaked by the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music at this convention.

This was a substitute resolution for A064 on revision of the Book of Occasional Services, originally submitted by SCLM. A064 was substituted with three more specific resolutions, all of which have been passed by convention:

  • A218 offers the revised sections of the BOS for use and review in the next triennium.
  • A219 refers specific liturgies in the BOS back to SCLM for revision.
  • A283 adds three “Multicultural Liturgies for Occasional Services,” specifically Las Posadas, the Feast of the Virgen de Guadalupe (Dec. 12) and El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to the 2018 version of BOS.

Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, told the bishops on July 11 that there were no major substantive changes in the amended Resolution A218 to the liturgies, but editorial corrections and clarifications to liturgical directions in the rubrics had been made. The committee softened the language “so that someone reading it would not throw the book across the sacristy,” said Alexander, referring to directions that could have been interpreted as “snarky, bordering on offensive.”

The recommendation to the House of Bishops was to adopt the resolution as amended.

The Rev. Susan Anslow Williams, deputy from Michigan and chair of the deputies’ committee, said in her introduction of Resolution A218 to the House of Deputies on July 13 that the resolution contains texts ready for use from SCLM or the committee. “A crack team reviewed these texts, and any typos will be tagged and corrected.” She asked that these corrections not stand in the way of concurring with the HOB.

“SCLM had not had enough time or funding in the last triennium to complete the revision of the entire Book of Occasional Services,” Williams said. In the meantime, a separate resolution had passed, referring the sections not completed back to SCLM for work over the next triennium. The services offered in Resolution A218 will be available for use in a digital format, and the previous printed edition [2003] is still available for use.

An example of one of the revisions made by the committee can be found in paragraph 80 of the resolution. In the Service for the Anniversary of a Marriage, the revision changes the language to be inclusive: “Immediately after the Sermon (and the Creed if appointed), the Husband and Wife Couple present themselves before the presider, who stands facing the people.”

Most of the comments from the floor of the HOB were editorial corrections and bishops pointing out typos. For example, paragraph 118 of the resolution states, “We who are many in one body, share one break, one cup…” The bishops got a good laugh about that one in particular.

Flags also were raised about potential issues with the translation into Spanish. Bishop Lloyd Allen of Honduras said, “I’m sorry if I am going to be a little picky about this: In the copy I have, there is one copy translated into Spanish, but we have to be very careful because a word can mean one thing in one country and another (thing) in another.” He cited paragraph 33 in which “We welcome new people into a new parish” can be translated into Spanish as “We receive…,” which has a very different liturgical meaning.

Alexander responded that the Task Force on Translation provided input to the committee throughout the process of revising the text received from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. The task force advised that the committee would work to “perfect the English text the best we could” and the task force would translate it into Spanish with consideration for dialect and culture differences.

Another point was raised that some titles are not used universally. Not every cathedral has a “dean,” one bishop said – some are provosts and others might be interim deans – but the text refers to “dean” throughout the Seating of a Bishop in a Cathedral service. “These are optional texts in italics that can be freely used, so the committee expected that a cathedral with a provost or interim would make that change as needed,” Alexander responded.

Satisfied with the brief discussion, the bishops voted unanimously to adopt A218. The House of Deputies concurred on July 13 with no debate or comments, and the final version of the resolution is here.

In addition, Resolution A283, adding three multicultural liturgies to the Book of Occasional Services 2018, passed both houses during the July 13 morning legislative sessions. Deputy Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas of Arizona stood in favor of the resolution, saying, “As one of the reviewers of this resolution, I am excited.” Gonzalez-Bonillas said she realizes that this is not the last time the church will review multicultural liturgies, but that she loves new beginnings.

The Rev. Carlos de la Torre, deputy from Connecticut, was also excited about what he said were the new beginnings that these liturgies bring. However, he cautioned that as the church “thinks about multicultural liturgies, there is such a big raft of different celebrations; this is the reality of Latinx culture and identity. As we move forward, we have to look at the Pan-Latino culture.”

When the resolution reached the House of Bishops for concurrence, about an hour after passing the House of Deputies, it was passed with no debate.

– Sharon Tillman is a freelance writer for Episcopal News Service.

Dioceses can now explore establishing ties with different provinces

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 3:40pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Over the next three years, dioceses will have an opportunity to review the province they are currently in and explore whether they wish to become affiliated with a different province.

As approved by the 79th General Convention, Resolution A072 is an outgrowth of a review by the Task Force to Study Provinces. The task force was charged with studying the potential effects of eliminating the provinces and considering what structures might replace them that would support the ministry and mission of the church.

Rather than recommend that provinces be eliminated, the task force instead proposed allowing dioceses to align with the province that “best suits their identity and needs.”

The resolution specifically enables each diocese to “review its involvement in and relationship to its current province, and faithfully discern whether, based on its identify, gifts and needs, it may wish to explore established constitutional and canonical paths toward becoming a constituent diocese of a different province.”

In making its recommendations, the task force said that “the pattern of having some type of structure connecting the diocesan level with the church is important. Rather than invent something new, the recommendation is to look at what already exists and maximize what is working, as well as shifting what may not be working in each of the provinces.”

– Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. He is a member of ENS General Convention reporting team and can be reached at rmp231@gmail.com.

General Convention approves support for small congregations

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 3:05pm

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The 79th General Convention took steps during its triennium meeting to provide support for clergy and lay leadership development in small congregations.

The convention approved Resolution A022, which directs the creation of a Theological Education Networking Team (TENT) to “collect, assemble, evaluate and publicize” the resources in the Episcopal Church “for the training of commissions on ministry and discernment committees.” The focus would be on the “education, training and formation of leaders who serve in small congregations with a special emphasis on alternative theological education pathways.”

TENT would also work with others in “collecting, disseminating and encouraging the use of resources and best practices for identifying, educating and forming clergy and lay leaders of small congregations.”

The resolution grew out of the Task Force on Clergy Leadership in Small Congregations, which was formed three years ago at the 78th General Convention to “develop a plan for quality formation for clergy in small congregations that is affordable, theologically reflective and innovative.”

In a related move, the convention also approved Resolution A027, which authorizes a task force to “develop and implement a plan to provide need-based central scholarship funding to individuals” pursuing a theological education to serve as priests or deacons in small congregations.

General Convention speaks against humanitarian crisis in Israel-Palestine despite shelving ‘divestment’

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 1:29pm

The House of Bishops votes on one of the four Israel-Palestine resolutions it took up July 13, the last day of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas.

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The 79th General Convention wrapped up its consideration of resolutions relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on July 13, with mixed results due largely to the House of Bishops unwillingness to take many of the bolder steps urged by the House of Deputies.

Of the 15 resolutions submitted on Israel-Palestine going into General Convention, only six passed both houses, though the successful resolutions still touch on a range of issues, including the plight of Palestinian children, the status of Jerusalem, the disproportionate use of lethal force on both sides and ways the Episcopal Church can press for peace through its investments.

Bishops and deputies, even those arguing for a tougher stance against the conditions of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, took pains to affirm Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself, citing longstanding church policy toward the region. And while the bishops rejected the most controversial resolution, D019, saying it amounted to a dangerous “divestment” from Israel, General Convention’s deliberations over the past week have highlighted what many see as an escalating humanitarian crisis in the region.

“We need to really stand with Palestinians at this point,” Virginia Bishop Associate Robert Ihloff said in the morning session on the final day of General Convention. “It is not an even playing field.”

Ihloff was speaking in favor of Resolution C038, which calls on Israel to safeguard the rights of Palestinian children in Israel’s military detention system. Joining the House of Deputies, the bishops passed C038 in a rather one-sided voice vote. Related resolutions were approved earlier in the week by both houses with relatively little objection: B021, supporting the resumption of humanitarian aid to Palestinians; B003, regarding the status of Jerusalem as shared Holy City, and D018, reflecting on the deterioration of negotiations toward a two-state solution.

Even allowing debate on D019 in the House of Deputies was seen as progress over three years ago, when a similar measure at General Convention was defeated by the bishops before it got to the deputies’ calendar.

The Rev. Brian Grieves, deputy from the Diocese of Hawaii, speaks in favor of the resolution he proposed about ending the church’s complicity in the Israeli occupation. “Palestinian lives matter.” The Rev. Hillary Raining, deputy from Pennsylvania, speaks against Resolution D019 during the special order of business on Israel-Palestine in the House of Deputies on July 9. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

D019 sought to end what proponents say is the church’s financial complicity in the Israeli occupation through its investments in companies that profit from human rights abuses there. That resolution was taken up as a special order of business July 9 through an expedited process recommended by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies. That process also established the House of Deputies as the house of initial action for all Israel-Palestine resolutions.

Resolution D019 would have asked Executive Council, based on 70 years of church policy toward the Middle East conflict, to research and develop a plan by 2019 for a “human rights investment screen” for church investments in the region. The deputies voted 74 percent in favor, but the bishops defeated the resolution July 11, with 62 percent voting no.

After that vote, Sarah Lawton, deputy from the Diocese of California and chair of the Social Justice and International Policy Committee, said she was disappointed by the bishops’ decision to reject D019 but still saw opportunities for General Convention to raise its voice on the conflict through the other resolutions.

“Given how things are getting so much worse and dire, both the [Israeli] settlements and the human rights issues, I think it would be useful to understand how things are shifting and also the role of the U.S. government,” Lawton told Episcopal News Service on July 11. “I wish the bishops would have more time to reflect on how that situation is changing there.”

The bishops on July 13 joined the deputies in speaking out on some of those issues, even passing Resolution B016, which echoes D019 in its use of the phrase “human rights investment screen.” Bishop Dan Edwards of Nevada spoke in favor of B016 before the vote, saying it balances use of targeted divestment when appropriate with the use of shareholder activism when that might produce greater results.

“There is a time to disinvest, and there is a time to do shareholder activism,” Edwards said. “This resolution provides for both of those. To do one without the other is to limp badly.”

The voice vote on that resolution was close enough that Curry requested a show of hands to confirm it had passed.

The bishops were far less divided on the other Israel-Palestine resolutions. While support was nearly unanimous for the resolution regarding Palestinian children, the bishops’ response to D038, raising civil rights concerns,  and D039, describing Israel as an “apartheid” state, was nearly united in opposition.

“Israel is not an apartheid state,” said retired Bishop Ed Little of Diocese of Northern Indiana, a consistent voice against the Israeli-Palestinian resolutions.

Use of that word alone may have been enough to defeat D039, though some of the bishops agreed that an unjust system of segregation and discrimination exists in Israel. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Anglican leader who was a pivotal figure in the fight to end apartheid in South Africa, also spoke in favor of taking a tougher stance toward Israel in a statement he released before General Convention with former House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Patti Browning, widow of former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning.

“I speak from a place of deep and profound respect for Archbishop Tutu,” Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor began his remarks on D039, but he disagreed that the “powerful word” chosen by the resolution was appropriate – at least not yet.

“Episcopalians are famous for taking words seriously. I would support this resolution without the word “apartheid,’” he said. “I fear that we may need the word back in another more appropriate context.”

Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton rose not only to speak against D039 but also to question why General Convention had spent so much time on Israel-Palestine. He said he supported and voted for some of the measures but asked, “Why the fixation on Israel?”

“I’m disturbed by the number of resolutions brought forward about this conflict, as if we here can suggest that we actually know what the problems are,” he said. “There’s a sense of piling on here in these resolutions.”

The apartheid resolution was defeated easily, as was D038, on civil rights in Israel, after a concern was raised about some of the later resolution’s supporting material.

General Convention has voted in support of Middle East peace for decades, though Israel-Palestine has become one of the thorniest topics at recent General Conventions, particularly the question of divestment.

Tarek Abuata of the pro-Palestinian Friends of Sabeel North America testifies July 6 at a hearing on General Convention resolutions related to Israel and Palestine. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The expedited process at this year’s General Convention was intended to ensure full, open and productive discussion of the issues, and that openness was on display July 6 at the hearing on the resolutions. Nearly 50 people testified, most of them in favor of passage.

After D019’s defeat, Lawton suggested there remained a disparity between the deputies and bishops in time spent deliberating on that and other resolutions. Some bishops expressed their own reservations about the process, saying they would have welcomed more substantive discussions before voting on what all agreed were complex issues.

Bishop Suffragan Jeff Fisher of Texas, who is on the board of Episcopal Peace Fellowship, offered that organization’s participation if the bishops wished to pursue such conversations formally. The topic is expected to be on the agenda when the House of Bishops meets next, in March.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Exclusive: General Convention Pigeon reveals its human avatars/agents to ENS

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 1:02pm

General Convention Pigeon has been on the move in the House of Deputies — on foot and on the wing — throughout the 79th General Convention. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The bird has been the word for 10 days here and, as the 79th General Convention prepares to fly the coop, its human avatars can now be revealed, ending countless days of speculation.

The Rev. David Sibley, Long Island deputy and rector of Christ Church in Manhasset, New York, right, hatched the General Convention Pigeon with the Rev. David Simmons, alternate deputy of Milwaukee and rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Waukesha, Wisconsin. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. David Sibley, deputy from Long Island, revealed the bird’s creation story to Episcopal News Service during an exclusive, secret and embargoed late-night interview outside the Austin Convention Center following the rare night legislative sessions July 11. Sibley, the rector of Christ Church in Manhasset, New York, announced that he and the Rev. David Simmons, alternate deputy of Milwaukee and rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Waukesha, Wisconsin, hatched the General Convention Pigeon.

@gc79pigeon gained more than 800 followers in the first few days after the account’s creation on July 4.

The bird’s birthnest was in what Sibley referred to as the “alternates’ pen,” the area to the side of the actual floor of the House of Deputies where alternate deputies roost, waiting for the chair of their deputations to get to them in the pecking order and have them fly into the legislative action. This account would confirm the pigeon’s earlier claim to ENS that it was a “nested Episcopalian,” apparently similar to the human designation of “Cradle Episcopalian.”

On July 4, as house leaders were explaining how to use the deputies’ loaner iPads to access the Virtual Binder, a pigeon swooped low over the alternate’s coop. Great bird brains instantly thought alike as Sibley and Simmons texted each, concluding that “this thing needs a Twitter account.” Thus, @gc79pigeon was hatched.

“The idea that coalesced very quickly after that was, OK, let’s be funny. Let’s not pick on anyone. Let’s not advocate for any particular issue,” Sibley said. “Let’s just try to make jokes about the things that pigeons do and, at times, the absurdity of the process and the current happenings in the house.”

Hey Deputies, here’s hoping you get your queues working tomorrow! #gc79 pic.twitter.com/tzA7S5we8G

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 7, 2018

Rumor has it that @gc79pigeon has introduced a resolution to use the Syriac translation of Leviticus, which mistakenly called not for the sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" as a sin offering, but rather of "a pair of turtledoves or two young PRIESTS". #gc79

— Liza Anderson (@ecclesiangst) July 5, 2018

There would be no comments on the tough issues the convention faced, such as prayer book revision, full access the marriage rites by same-sex couples and the church’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The pigeon was not in the business of crying fowl or rustling anyone’s feathers.

@gc79pigeon I feel a sense of comfort to see you flying about today for the conversation about Prayer Book Revision. Yesterday you reminded us about the importance of listening-may we remember that today. #GC79

— Liz Wendt (@Rainstormgal) July 6, 2018

The occasional flaring of differences of opinions between bishops and deputies was also off limits, Sibley said.

The over-perching goal was “just to keep it light for everyone at convention because it can be really stressful,” he added.

“This is something that pretty much everyone has found amusing at convention,” Sibley said. “This was a good way to continue trying to keep people laughing when you’re in the middle of a floor debate.”

No allocations for pigeon operations from PB&F. #youcantalwaysgetwhatyouwant

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 11, 2018

In an earlier interview with ENS during July 7 and 8 (the bird is busy) via Twitter direct message, @gc79pigeon said it hoped it could be “part of the movement of the spirit that brings something to keep people relaxed, laughing, and in good spirits when things get tense.”

Thus, @gc79pigeon opined at opportune times about donuts (or lack thereof), crumbs on the floors or whether it could get a pension.

I’m out of order – as usual. Just tried to get myself a pension, y’all.

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 10, 2018

I have been informed that a pension would have involved green pieces of paper once a month, not food. HOW DO YOU FLIGHTLESS BIPEDS LIVE? #GC79

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 10, 2018

It occasionally made its presence known in other ways.

In other news, @gc79pigeon dropped a bomb on the table right next to my computer. That was a close one! OK, you win, feathered foe. I’m heading back to the (bird-free) newsroom. #gc79 pic.twitter.com/jpgvI2s5hj

— David Paulsen (@thisispaulsen) July 12, 2018

The most surprising thing about @gc79pigeon’s flight path through General Convention, Sibley said, was that its Twitter account earned more than 800 followers in about three or four days. In addition, he and Simmons are pleased that “for the most part everyone has received it really well.”

“We haven’t seen a lot of folks who are upset or who take convention so deathly seriously that this is a betrayal of the decorum of convention.”

Sibley said it has been fun to see that some of the bird’s followers aren’t even in Austin.

I posted this earlier on my Instagram and really, it's a "I wish I could be at #GC79 for real" moment. But as I've been following the into as best as I can… the highlight of Gen-Con 18 is @gc79pigeon!
After all, this Episco'bird IS the word! pic.twitter.com/k8mGTQIFSg

— Jennifer Villalobos (Sunny to most, Riley to some) (@StarKnight1Sun) July 9, 2018

I’m asking all my friends for caffeine via osmosis. Convention is tiring! https://t.co/SILHvy9pVX

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 10, 2018

Over the course of convention, @gc79pigeon began to influence more and more of the deputies’ work, winging its way into floor proceedings, prompting various “communications from the chair” and even being scape-birded for certain errors.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

On July 12, Deputy Barbara Miles of Washington, chair of Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, presented Resolution A295 on the 2019-2021 budget and announced the correction of a revenue number in the text. “I have neither explanation or excuse,” she said the error. “But there is a rumor about pigeons.”

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president, reported at the start of the July 12 morning legislative session that the Rev. Mary Janda, deputy from Utah, informed her that Deputy Pidge and Deputy CooCoo Mydove “have enjoyed convention and plan to join their cousins in Baltimore about 2021.” The Charm City is the site of the next and 80th meeting of General Convention.

“The chair regrets to inform the deputy from Utah that, because the secretary did not receive a certification from the diocesan bishop or the secretary of the diocesan convention, that these two deputies are in fact pigeons, not deputies,” Jennings explained.

A kit of pigeons surrounds the Rev. Matthew Cowden, a Northern Indiana deputy, July 12 as he reads their statement to the House of Deputies. Photo: screenshot of House of Deputies livestream

Near the start of the July 12 afternoon session, Jennings invited the Rev. Matthew Cowden, a Northern Indiana deputy, and “his cohorts” to microphone 4 to “please entertain the house.”

Cowden, who claimed a “specialty in ornithological languages,” said he had been blessed to be able to translate a statement from Deputies Peck, Peep and Poop of Birdlandia (three clergy persons wearing bird masks who surrounded Cowden and periodically pecked at his head). “We are not influential birds; not one of us comes from a cardinal parish,” they said in their “point of pigeonal privilege.”

They said they were disappointed that all of their motions have been ruled out of order, acknowledging that they were conducting themselves on a wing and a prayer, suggesting they might even be called “birds of pray.” Cowden wrapped up the statement by quoting the birds as saying they did “not wish to be robbin’ this house of any more time.”

At the beginning of the House of Deputies’ morning legislative session on convention’s last day, July 13, the house’s Committee 24 on Privilege and Courtesy presented Resolution A301 “Gratitude for Special Guest” to, in part, give “thanks and shows its appreciation for the General Convention Pigeons. We give thanks for their representation of the Holy Spirit when necessary, for providing vital entertainment when needed, and for being gentle guides when ‘crumbs are left under thy table’ or on the floor.”

The resolution, which was approved, was the second item on the deputies’ legislative calendar. It followed Resolution A289 which expressed appreciation for Jennings, who received a standing ovation after that resolution passed. She warned deputies that they should not clap more for the pigeon than her. The resulting clamor was strong but somewhat muted. She also received a stuffed pigeon toy from the Diocese of Vermont.

Soon, it was onto Baltimore.

A little bird told me today is #gc79 last day. Please leave your donuts, crumbs, and assorted food items with an appropriate volunteer so that I may feast sumptuously in the days ahead.

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 13, 2018

I’m gonna go with three years. The better question is whether they’ll let me into the convention center. https://t.co/EZLFYZXjPS

— General Convention Pigeon (@gc79pigeon) July 10, 2018

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Convention lets its ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ agreeing to give church full access to trial-use marriage rites

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 1:01pm

The Rev. Sam Candler, deputy from Atlanta and chair of the legislative committee which considered all of the convention’s marriage resolutions, urged the House of Deputies July 13 to accept the bishops’ technical amendment to Resolution B012 and not make any changes. They agreed. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Deputies dotted the last i and crossed the last t on July 13 with a historic resolution giving all Episcopalians the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches.

Resolution B012 had gone from the House of Deputies to the bishops and back to deputies on its road to being approved. Deputies overwhelmingly approved a heavily amended version of the resolution on July 9 and the House of Bishops added a technical amendment two days later that does not change B012’s goal of giving full access to two trial-use marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention (via Resolution A054).

The vote was:

* Clergy: 99 yes, 3 no, 4 divided
* Lay: 101 yes, 5 no, 1 divided

A Lexington deputy holds up the deputation’s paper ballot documenting its vote. During votes by orders, deputies vote on paper ballots and then deputations calculate the results and cast their vote electronically. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Fifty-six votes in each order were required for passage. Divided votes are recorded when the clergy or lay members of a deputation split their votes between yes and no. General Convention resolutions must be adopted by both houses with the same text, and that is what deputies did early in the morning session of the last day of the 79th meeting of General Convention.

Scattered applause started to be heard among the deputies, but the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the house, cautioned that the body’s rules forbid such celebrations.

The resolution provides for:

  • Giving rectors or clergy in charge of a congregation the ability to provide access to the trial-use of the marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Resolution A054-2015 and the original version of B012 said that clergy could only use the rites under the direction of their bishop.
  • Requiring that, if a bishop “holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples,” he or she may invite another bishop, if necessary, to provide “pastoral support” to any couple desiring to use the rites, as well as to the clergy member and congregation involved. In any case, an outside bishop must be asked to take requests for remarriage if either member of the couple is divorced to fulfill a canonical requirement that applies to opposite-sex couples.
  • Continuing trial use of the rites until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer.

The resolution also eliminated the original B012’s call for a Task Force on Communion across Difference. Such a group was created via a separate resolution, A227.

“We have already engaged in a grace-filled debate – an honorable and healthy debate, discussion and struggle,” the Rev. Sam Candler, deputy from Atlanta and chair of the legislative committee which considered all of the convention’s marriage resolutions, told the House of Deputies in urging passage without further tinkering. “We were reminded of the significant compromise that was made by various committed constituencies and holy saints of this church.”

No one spoke against the resolution during the House of Deputies’ short debate.

A House of Deputies page collects the written version of the Diocese of Southern Virginia’s vote by orders on Resolution B012. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Scot McComas, Fort Worth deputy, told his colleagues that if they passed B012 they would be acting as pastors to all the people of the Episcopal Church. Yet, he noted, “for 40 years our LGBT brothers and sisters have been at the back of the bus and, every so often, they are invited to move forward one row at a time.”

The Rev. Susan Russell, Los Angeles deputy and longtime leader in the effort for full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church, described the “long and winding road” that the Episcopal Church had traveled to get to this point. She said she supported B012 “recognizing that this is a hard-won compromise but one which I believe will lead us forward into that work as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.”

She reminded the house that its debate was being livestreamed and that Episcopalians in the diocese of Tennessee, Dallas and Florida (three of the places in which the bishops have not allowed the rites to be used) “where the faithful in the pews are waiting for us to let our ‘yes’ be yes – to say, ‘we do’ to marriage for all.”

East Carolina Deputy Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, who chaired General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, implored deputies to complete convention’s actions on marriage.  “We are fond of saying around the Episcopal Church that all are welcome, and all means all, y’all.”

Long Island Bishop Larry Provenzano offered B012 in response to proposed Resolution A085 from the task force, which was proposed in part to give a way for Episcopalians to use the rites in eight of the church’s 101 domestic dioceses in which the diocesan bishop refuses to authorize use of the trial-use marriage rites.

“I think this is a really important moment for the church,” Provenzano said in an interview with Episcopal News Service just after the deputies’ decision. “We do this without there having to be one side wins and one side loses. Very much like the theme of the whole convention, there’s a great movement for the church to really be the church in this time.”

Vermont Bishop Tom Ely, who has long been involved in crafting resolutions to move the church closer to full sacramental inclusion of LGBTW, said Episcopalians also need to know that the rites described in B012 are available to everyone in the church, not just same-sex ones. The resolution calls for studying how the rites are used across the church.

“So, let’s see if we like the actual liturgies,” he said. “Do these liturgies convey the spirt of what we want? Do they pray well? Do they work for all couples? Are these worthy of inclusion, at some point, in the Book of Common Prayer?”

Chicago Bishop Jeff Lee called B012 “an elegant solution for moving forward in a way that respects the role of bishops as the chief liturgical officers in their diocese” similar to that achieved earlier in the contentious issue of prayer book revision. Lee chaired the bishops’ part of the cognate legislative committee that reviewed the marriage resolutions.

The compromise was “built on the generosity of people who would rather have seen it go further in one direction or another,” he said. “And, that’s a remarkable thing about this convention, I think: that willingness on the part of people who cherish and really invested themselves in having ‘all this’ or ‘all that’ being willing to let go of the things they cherish for the sake of moving forward together.”

Resolution A054-2015 said that clergy could only use the rites under the direction of their bishop. This convention’s A085 would have required bishops to make provision for all couples asking to be married to have “reasonable and convenient access” to the two trial-use marriage rites. However, it also would have added the two trial-use marriage rites to the Book of Common Prayer and amend the prayer book’s other marriage rites, prefaces and sections of the Catechism to make language gender neutral. That change was a sticking point for many.

The original version of B012 would have required bishops who would not authorize the rites to allow congregations to receive Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) from another bishop who would provide access to the liturgies. It removed the prayer book element.

Deputies agreed to a version of B012 that took away the DEPO option and placed the decision-making power for using the rites with rectors or other clergy in charge of congregations. The bishops’ amendment comes in the seventh resolve of the resolution and adds the words “provided that nothing in this resolve narrows the authority of the rector or priest-in-charge (Canon III.9.6(a)).”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Pages