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[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal congregations across the country are at the forefront of voter engagement efforts – registering voters, serving as polling places, providing ballot information and promoting civil discourse – with a week to go until the midterm elections on Nov. 6.
In Memphis, Tennessee, Calvary Episcopal Church already is welcoming downtown voters who want to take advantage of the early-voting hours the congregation is hosting in its parish hall. Other congregations, like Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Waco, Texas, are opening their doors on Election Day for voting at their churches.
And there has been a run on the Episcopal Church’s “Vote Faithfully” stickers. More than 200 parishes and dioceses have reached out to the Office of Government Relations asking how to place orders, said Alan Yarborough, the Washington, D.C.-based agency’s communications coordinator.
“They’ve absolutely loved the ‘I’m an Episcopalian and I voted’ stickers,” Yarborough said.
— The EPPN (@TheEPPN) October 27, 2018
The Office of Government Relations also offers resources for Episcopalians and congregations interested in getting engaged locally. Its Vote Faithfully Toolkit provides guidance on individual action and community mobilization in ways guided by faith.
One of the links in the church’s toolkit is to a five-week curriculum on civil discourse, which Yarborough helped write. Some Episcopal congregations, such as Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, have followed that model to cut through the bitter divisiveness that has plagued national political discourse and sometimes infected community civic engagement. Trinity, a self-described “purple parish,” sought to foster greater openness and respect within its political diverse congregation.
Such a Christian message of being respectful despite political differences resonated with Bill Steverson of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, when he met Yarborough at a conference earlier this year. Steverson asked for Yarborough’s help in launching a course on civil discourse at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, where Steverson serves on the vestry.
Working with the Rev. Derrick Hill, the rector at St. Timothy’s, Steverson modified the curriculum into a four-week program on consecutive Sunday afternoons in September and October, culminating with a forum with town council candidates on Oct. 28 in the parish hall.
“We at St. Timothy’s, and all God’s children, have been worried about the state of civility in our world, and it’s creeped into our community,” Steverson said. Several hot-button local issues recently have inflamed tensions at council meetings, including a zoning application for a grocery store and a proposed change to school district governance.
Previously, “even when we disagreed, we were kind to each other,” Steverson said. “Over the past few years it’s just gotten to where instead of speaking nicely … we became mean.”
He thinks the hyper-partisan political climate at the national level was a factor in the deterioration of civil discourse in Signal Mountain, so the series at St. Timothy’s focused just on local issues. About 60 people attended the sessions, half from the congregation and the other half from the wider community. Some of the initial discussions focused on shared community values and what it means to engage in civil discourse.
“If we share the same values, why can’t we talk civilly with each other?” Steverson said.
By the end of the four weeks, residents and community leaders were talking of keeping the momentum going by holding followup meetings to foster more positive community interaction. Steverson hopes that this success in Signal Mountain can stand as one model for greater civility at the national level.
Episcopal Church encourages nonpartisan political engagement
Although Episcopalians may be motivated in their advocacy by personal political beliefs, their church-based election efforts are necessarily nonpartisan. Those efforts also are grounded in church policies established by General Convention, which in July passed additional resolutions calling Episcopalians to greater political engagement. One of those resolutions highlighted the Office of Government Relations’ civil discourse curriculum as a resource for congregations.
Civic engagement is a natural fit for some congregations, like Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, which is active in serving its downtown community. The parish hall will be a site for early voting through Nov. 1.
“It fits within our ministry very well, and it serves the downtown community,” said Laurel Reisman, the parish administrator. “It’s been a very successful effort. We get a lot of walk-ins from people who work downtown.”
Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Waco had served as a polling place on Election Day until a few years ago, when election officials ruled the church and several other locations in the community were not eligible because they were not fully accessible to people with disabilities.
Bringing Holy Spirit into accessibility compliance was one of the goals of a renovation project that concluded this year, so the church again will be a polling place for city voters on Nov. 6.
“We take very seriously the idea of church in place,” said the Rev. Jason Ingalls, rector at Holy Spirit. “We don’t have formal parish boundaries, but we see the three neighborhoods around us as the place we’ve been called to serve.”
Part of that call is to serve the neighborhoods’ voters who otherwise might struggle to make it to one of the polling places farther away, Ingalls said. “We all know how things being nearby really increases participation.”
The Episcopal Church has stepped up its efforts to increase voter participation this year. In July, General Convention approved a resolution, D003, that condemns voters suppression and calls on governments “to create policies to enhance voter participation by, among other strategies, seeking to implement policies that will increase early voting, extend registration periods, guarantee an adequate number of voting locations, allow absentee balloting without the necessity of having an excuse, and prohibit forms of identification that restrict voter participation.”
Bishop Douglas Fisher of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts cited Episcopalians’ Christian faith as a reason to vote in an opinion piece this month in the Worchester Telegram & Gazette.
“May we all vote faithfully and bring what is of utmost value with us as we exercise this precious privilege. May we seek the leadership we need to be a nation that truly is a shining light in a world so in need of hope,” Fisher wrote while referencing similar sentiments expressed by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
— Episcopal WMA (@EpiscopalWMA) October 20, 2018
Episcopal congregations and institutions are backing voter registration drives in a variety of ways. At Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, the campus partnered with the The Skimm’s “No Excuses” campaign and hosted an event on National Voter Registration Day, Sept. 25, to support the nonpartisan goal of getting 100,000 people to commit to voting on Nov. 6.
Some students received help changing their registrations to Virginia, while others were reminded of absentee ballot deadlines in their home states, said Rachel Holm, the seminary’s registrar, who organized the event. It wasn’t part of Holm’s normal duties as registrar, but she saw it as an ideal opportunity to serve students while living out her faith.
“My personal faith is formed around the idea of being life-giving and following the example Jesus set for us,” Holm said by email. “Beyond being an important staple of our democratic nation, I feel that voting is a productive way for each person to support candidates they feel will embody life-giving practices and policies.”
Other Episcopalians are inspired by their faith to register and educate voters. The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, partnered with a coalition of more than 50 congregations to hold trainings on voter mobilization efforts. The Diocese of Indianapolis joined an interfaith initiative working to reach more than 100,000 Indianans who haven’t voted before.
To support the Indiana campaign, Episcopalians have participated for the past six weeks in phone banks, calling potential voters to remind them about the midterm elections, when every U.S. House seat and a third of all U.S. Senate seats will be up for votes. The diocese will start its final push Nov. 3, said the Rev. Fatima Yakubu-Madus, who is organizing the effort as the diocese’s missioner for community engagement.
In Georgia, Soyini Coke, a member of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, coordinated the congregation’s voter registration efforts in the metro Atlanta area.
Coke said she and others involved in registering new voters have been frustrated by reports that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican who is running for governor, is enforcing a measure that could put more than 50,000 voters’ registration status in limbo.
“It’s kind of two steps forward, one step back,” Coke said, but such obstacles also are “really stiffening people’s resolve” to get more voters registered and to the polls.
At the same time, measures that threaten to decrease voter participation may have diminished effect, she said, because more people are voting early this election and are able to resolve registration issues long before Election Day.
Holy Cross’ rector printed out sample ballots and distributed them at coffee hour after the Sunday service on Oct. 28, Coke said. She took advantage of early voting and has cleared her schedule for Nov. 6.
“I’m personally taking the day off, to work [at the polls] Election Day,” she said.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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Responding to General Convention resolution B017, the Episcopal Church’s Faith Formation Department and the Board of Directors of Episcopal Service Corps (ESC) announced today that the functions and tasks of the 501(c)(3) organized as Episcopal Service Corps will be transferred to the Faith Formation Department of the Episcopal Church effective January 1, 2019.
While dioceses and local faith communities have been experimenting with young adult intentional communities for decades, Episcopal Service Corps began nearly 10 years ago when six programs identified a set of common needs and created a covenanted community for sharing resources and support. Since that time, Episcopal Service Corps has grown into a nationwide network of more than 20 independently incorporated intentional communities that share common recruitment, best practices and gather online and in person for education and mutual support.
“During its first ten years, the passionate and innovative leadership of Episcopal Service Corps and its member programs drove tremendous growth and developed new models for ministry. However, the landscape for this work has changed, reflecting the changing reality of dioceses and young adults,” said Jason Sierra, Board Chair of Episcopal Service Corps. “At our recent gathering, the board, program directors, and various stakeholders discerned that the resources, expertise, and network of the Episcopal Church’s Faith Formation Department, working in an innovative partnership with our program directors, will help unleash new visions and possibilities for ministry with young adults.”
“The Episcopal Service Corps is a significant and essential ministry of young people in the Episcopal Church,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. “In coming together in intentional community, deepening their engagement with Jesus through both prayer and service, these young adults offer a tangible expression of the Way of Love, serving as the hands and feet of the Jesus Movement.”
“The programs and people that make up Episcopal Service Corps are filled with a deep and abiding passion for community, justice, and prayer” said Wendy Johnson, Officer for Programs and Events, who will be coordinating the Episcopal Service Corps network. “Our Department looks forward to joining these vibrant communities in continuing to nurture the programs and directors, promote the sharing of resources, and identify new ways that Episcopal Service Corps can spark new movements and new visions for young adult ministry in the Episcopal Church.”
ESC Recruitment Starts November 1; Application Opens December 1
Recruitment for the 2019-2020 program year will kick-off on November 1 with release of a discernment survey designed to encourage potential ESC members to enter a period of prayer and reflection in preparation for making application to serve. The application will open December 1.
Because each Episcopal Service Corps program is incorporated locally with individual by-laws and requirements, application requirements vary by program. Generally, ESC programs require corps members to be 21-29 years old. However, a few programs offer positions to people outside of that range, offering positions to people as young as 18 years old and up to 32 years old. While some programs may give preference to Episcopal applicants, potential Corps members are not required to be Episcopalian to participate. See this ESC FAQ for more: https://episcopalservicecorps.org/faq/.
Questions about Episcopal Service Corps, contact Wendy Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The survey, application, and other details are posted to the Episcopal Service Corps website, www.episcopalservicecorps.org.
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[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has collected five of his most notable sermons, including his royal wedding sermon, in a book that will be released on Oct. 30.
“The Power of Love” takes its title from the theme of Curry’s May 19 sermon for Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s wedding, 13 minutes of preaching that elevated Curry to worldwide renown, though the five sermons span his three years as head of the Episcopal Church. Three of the sermons are from July, when he preached during the church’s 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, and the fifth is his 2015 installation sermon at Washington National Cathedral.
Hardcover copies of “The Power of Love: Sermons, Reflections & Wisdom to Uplift and Inspire” will sell for $20. It is being published in the United States by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House, which plans to send a courtesy copy to each diocese of the Episcopal Church.
Curry told Episcopal News Service in an emailed statement that he began talking with the publisher before General Convention about turning his royal wedding sermon into a book. The publisher later asked if Curry had more material, so he suggested the three sermons from General Convention: at opening Eucharist on July 5, the revival on July 7 and the prayer service July 8 outside the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas.
“To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about including those sermons in a book, but when the publisher saw them we all realized that they would take the message of the love of Jesus deeper and apply it to life,” Curry said. “I hope and pray that this message of the way of love, which is the way of Jesus, can be a message for our world at this time.”
Curry is due in London at the end of this month for the book launch.
Penguin Random House touts the 112-page book as Curry’s royal wedding sermon and “four of his favorite sermons on the themes of love and social justice.”
“The world has met Bishop Curry and has been moved by his riveting, hopeful, and deceptively simple message: love and acceptance are what we need in these strange times,” the publisher says in its online description.
The presiding bishop isn’t new to the book world. His 2012 sermon at General Convention generated plenty of attention within and outside the church and led to his 2013 book, “Crazy Christians.” A follow-up, “Songs My Grandma Sang,” focused on his faith upbringing and was released in June 2015, the month he was elected the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the church’s first African-American leader.
Curry’s past acclaim, however, offered no precedent for the intense global buzz and widespread praise he received for his royal wedding sermon. For a week afterward, Curry was interviewed or profiled by seemingly every major media outlet, from the BBC to ABC’s “The View” to the celebrity gossip site TMZ.
In the introduction to “The Power of Love,” Curry describes how he received the invitation to preach at the royal wedding and how he approached the task of crafting a sermon that would be heard by a billion or more people around the world. He emphasizes, as he did in his post-wedding interviews, that his focus was always on the young couple and their example of love.
“The miracle is that we all got to experience that love,” Curry writes. “We witnessed the love of these two people. We witnessed something bigger, the source – God – while we were watching. For a while, this powerful love brought us all together. … Whatever sermon I actually preached was only an attempt to find words for that.”
Video and text of the May 19 sermon are here. The text was “edited lightly so that it is more suitable for reading,” Curry notes in the book’s introduction.
Curry and thousands of other Episcopalians gathered in Austin for General Convention just six weeks after the royal wedding sermon. The General Convention sermons expanded Curry’s message about the power of God’s love.
“They actually went deeper on the way of love as the way of Jesus and the way to real life,” Curry told ENS. For the book, he decided they “would be the right sermons to talk about what it means to love God and to love your neighbor.”
The book’s second sermon, from the opening Eucharist at General Convention, is titled “Living the Way of Love.” At that July 5 service, Curry described seven practices to help Episcopalians lead a Jesus-centered life as he unveiled the Way of Love as a churchwide rule of life. Video and text of that sermon are here.
It is followed by “The Good Life” from the Austin revival. Curry preached for nearly 45 minutes on July 7 to more than 2,000 people in the Palmer Center, with thousands more watching online video feeds of the service.
“God is love. And guess what, that’s the reason we are here,” Curry said. Video and text of that sermon are here.
The third sermon during General Convention, titled “Love Your Neighbor,” was part of an off-site prayer service July 8 at a detention facility for women, including immigrant detainees. About a thousand Episcopalians joined the service in public witness to federal immigration policies that had separated families.
“We come in love,” Curry told the crowd. “I would submit that the teachings of Jesus to love God and love our neighbor is at the core and the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.” Video and text of that sermon are here.
The book closes with “Welcome to the Movement,” Curry’s installation sermon on Nov. 1, 2015. Video and text of that sermon are here. Curry says in the book’s introduction he “turned back the pages” for this earlier sermon, in which “the themes of movement, love and transformation were already front and center.”
The publisher is working with Episcopal bookstores to stock the presiding bishop’s book. No book tour has been announced, though Curry is scheduled to appear at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at a book launch event hosted by London’s Southwark Cathedral.
Not long til @PB_Curry joins us at @Southwarkcathed to talk about #Love. Hosted by @revkatebottley + in conversation with @ColeMoreton hear more about THAT sermon from #HarryandMeghan #RoyalWedding
Tickets only on sale in advance from https://t.co/38YWamWDfj#BishopCurryLove pic.twitter.com/GwOZPQnXsL
— Greenbelt Festival (@greenbelt) October 17, 2018
The publisher also is planning a #poweroflove social media campaign on Oct. 30, encouraging people to share “a moment you saw the power of love firsthand.”
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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[15 de agosto de 2018] El Rdo. Canónigo Michael Barlowe, secretario de la Convención General, ha anunciado que el Resumen de las acciones de la 79.a Convención General está ahora disponible en línea en el sitio web de la Convención General, aquí.
Puede acceder al texto de las resoluciones en la sección de las resoluciones de la carpeta virtual, aquí: vbinder.net.
El Resumen de las acciones de la 79.a Convención General presenta los resultados de las resoluciones y la membresía del Consejo Ejecutivo como también otras elecciones y nombramientos hechos durante la 79.a Convención General, que se llevó a cabo el 5-13 de julio de 2018 en Austin, Texas. Este documento está en cumplimiento con el requisito del Reglamento de Orden Conjunto V.15 de la Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal.
El registro diario de la 79.a Convención, que es el registro oficial de las actas, estará disponible comenzando en el 2019.
Si tiene preguntas acerca del Resumen de las Acciones de la 79. a Convención General comuníquese con firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Secretary of General Convention, has announced that A Summary of Actions of the 79th General Convention is now available online at the General Convention website, here: https://www.generalconvention.org/. The text of resolutions can be found in the resolutions section of the virtual binder at vbinder.net
A Summary of Actions of the 79th General Convention presents the results of resolutions and the membership of the Executive Council as well as other elections and appointments made during the 79th General Convention held July 5th – 13th, 2018 in Austin, Texas. This document is in fulfillment of the requirement under Joint Rule of Order V.15 of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
The Journal of the 79th General Convention, which is the official record of the proceedings, will be available in 2019.
For questions on A Summary of Actions of the 79th General Convention, contact email@example.com.
[Episcopal News Service] There are times when the Episcopal – and Anglican – tendency toward compromise makes for differing interpretations on how far the church’s big tent has been stretched, and what it all means for the people seeking shelter under its flaps.
The latest example is the recent 79th General Convention’s passage of often-rewritten and often-amended Resolution B012, designed to give all Episcopalians unfettered access to two trial-use marriage rites that were approved in 2015, days after U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. B012 was passed in response to the refusal by eight of the diocesan bishops in the church’s 101 domestic dioceses to “make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies.” They did not authorize use of the rites and required couples wanting to use them to be married outside their diocese and away from their home church.
— Scott Gunn ن (@scottagunn) July 13, 2018
When Resolution B012 becomes effective on the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2, same-sex couples in most of those dioceses still will have to go through some steps that are not required of straight couples, even though the resolution moved the authority for deciding to use the rites from the diocesan bishop to their parish priests.
The compromise that B012 represents is a “classically Anglican solution” to help same-sex couples in all dioceses use the rites in their home parishes and give bishops who oppose such marriages “a way to live within the canons of the church and yet still not violate their theological conscience,” according to the Rev. Susan Russell, a deputy from Los Angeles and longtime leader in the effort for full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church.
Russell, who worked for what she has called the “hard-won compromise” of B012, told Episcopal News Service that “bishops are going to do what they’re going to do, but that doesn’t mean that that isn’t what the resolution says, that isn’t what the resolution is requiring. They’re making those choices on their own.”
She said there is a “relatively broad continuum of how [the resolution] is being interpreted or misinterpreted or framed and/or distorted.”
The pertinent part of B012 says that when a bishop “holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples, and there is a desire to use such rites by same-sex couples in a congregation or worshipping community, the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority (or ecclesiastical supervision) shall invite, as necessary, another bishop of this Church to provide pastoral support to the couple, the Member of the Clergy involved and the congregation or worshipping community in order to fulfill the intention of this resolution that all couples have convenient and reasonable local congregational access to these rites.”
For the bishops who have prohibited same-sex marriage in their dioceses and denied use of the trial-use rites (and required same-sex couples to go elsewhere in the church to get married), it comes down to the interpretation of the words “shall invite, as necessary.” Six of the eight bishops have publicly said that they would require the assistance of another bishop for clergy who want to use the rites.
They are interpreting B012 as requiring – or allowing them to require – the involvement of another bishop. Some of those bishops have said that mission congregations in their diocese, where the bishop is effectively the rector, will not be allowed to use the rites.
California Deputy Christopher Hayes, who helped lead the revision of B012 and then proposed it to the House of Deputies, agreed with Russell’s sense of the hard compromise that the final version of B012 represents.
“Some of us who had hoped to see these liturgies become part of the prayer book or at least be on track to become part of the prayer book did not get as much as we would have liked to see,” Hayes told ENS. “People on the other side of the issue prevailed on that issue, but they do not get to have entire dioceses where same-sex couples are forbidden from being married. I’m concerned that these are efforts to undermine the compromise.”
Russell, Hayes and other framers of the revised resolution say that B012 does not require the involvement of a bishop, except to deal with a canonical provision about remarriage after divorce. Canon I.19.3 (page 60 here) requires priests to show their bishops (or the bishop in the diocese in which the service is planned) that they have verified the annulment or dissolution of a divorced person’s previous marriage, and that they discussed with the couple the need to show “continuing concern” for the well-being of the former spouse, and of any children. Resolution B012 specifically notes that this requirement applies to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex ones and requires a bishop who opposes such marriage to invite another bishop to provide the needed consent.
The framers changed the original version of B012, proposed by Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, to remove its requirement that congregations wishing to use the rites but whose bishop objected could ask for the 14-year-old option of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) and the bishop would have to grant it. The House of Bishops devised DEPO in 2004 for congregations that so severely disagree with their diocesan bishops on matter of human sexuality and other theological matters that their relationship is completely broken.
“We worked really hard to not use DEPO language in that resolution,” Vermont Bishop Tom Ely, who also worked on the resolution, told ENS. “We did not feel it was necessary because we kept hearing in the hearings [at convention] from those bishops that they had great relationships with the congregations. There were just some who didn’t agree with them” on this issue.
A summary of where the eight bishops stand now
Albany Bishop William Love has not said whether he will require such outside support. He passionately conveyed his opposition to the resolution during debate in the House of Bishops. Love has scheduled a Sept. 6 meeting with the diocesan clergy “to discuss their concerns and the potential impact of B012 on the clergy and parishes of the diocese.”
Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer spoke on July 21 about his commitment to implement B012. However, he later told ENS that he has not yet worked out the details of his plan. Jim Christoph, senior warden of St. Richard’s Episcopal Church in Winter Park, Florida, a congregation that has advocated for marriage equality in the diocese, was at the July 21 gathering and told ENS that Brewer was clear that the resolution did not call for “a DEPO mechanism” but a more limited arrangement for oversight by another bishop. Christoph said he understood that Brewer will require the vestry to agree with the clergy’s desire to use the rites.
Dallas Bishop George Sumner, likewise, is still working out the details of his plan, but he said on July 19 that any parish wishing to use the rites will need to have another bishop handle all of that congregation’s pastoral oversight, provide confirmation and manage the process of people discerning a call to ordination.
Florida Bishop John Howard told his diocese earlier this month that he is “committed to honoring Resolution B012” even though he opposes same-sex marriage. He said he would work with clergy “to find a fellow bishop willing to undertake pastoral oversight” in accordance with the resolution.
North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith said that DEPO will serve as “a roadmap for these matters” in his diocese. However, he did not say whether that “supplemental episcopal pastoral care” would involve more that same-sex weddings.
Springfield Bishop Dan Martins said that he will at first require that a congregation’s “ministry leadership team” meet with him “to discern whether there is indeed a consensus around the desire to hold such a ceremony.” If so, they will agree to “the terms, conditions, and length of the relationship” with another bishop who will provide all episcopal functions.
Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt calls B012 “a creative application of the principle of the local adaptation of the historic episcopate” that sets up “a particular structure that upholds the bishop’s unique role as chief pastor and teacher and presider at the liturgy,” even when the bishop cannot support same-sex marriage. Bauerschmidt said he will consult with clergy and vestries that desire to use the rites and will ask another bishop to provide the pastoral care to ensure that the trial liturgies will be available in the diocese.
Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs told ENS via email on Aug. 9 that he will not ask clergy to request pastoral support from another bishop. “As the bishop of the diocese, I should be able to provide pastoral support to clergy who request it,” he wrote. “I am committed to following the mind of the church.”
Hayes said, “I commend Bishop Gumbs for stating that he will make provisions for priests to perform marriages for same-sex couples in their parishes and that he is committed to providing full pastoral support for those priests.” He noted that the diocese is in “a legally anomalous position.” The U.S. Virgin Islands has civil marriage equality, but the British Virgin Islands, which are also part of the diocese, does not.
Working out B012 in Tennessee
Indie Pereira, who serves on the vestry of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, told ENS that she is “cautiously optimistic” about the stance Bauerschmidt has taken. “We’ll wait and see about how the details work out,” she said.
Four couples at St. Philip’s hope to use the rites, but some members oppose same-sex marriage, she said.
The vestry plans to use an outside facilitator “to help us come to a consensus as a parish” before the clergy move forward, she said.
Pereira and her partner, who wed civilly during the time when Bauerschmidt required same-sex couples to be married in the Diocese of Kentucky, want to have their marriage blessed in their home church. “We’re pretty hopeful,” she said. “More hopeful than I have been in a long time.”
Connally Davies Penley, who helped form the advocacy group All Sacraments for All People, or ASAP, in the Diocese of Tennessee, told ENS that she is grateful that the bishop “is conforming to the vote taken at General Convention.”
“One of the gifts that John [Bauserschmidt] has brought to the diocese is that he really cares about unity, unity within the diocese and unity with the church,” she said. “He is really moving in a way that we can stay together. I am grateful for that.”
And in Dallas
The Rev. Casey Shobe, rector of Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, told ENS that he and Sumner have discussed the bishop’s “draft plan for how he envisions trying to implement this.”
Shobe called it “a way forward that would potentially allow us to have even greater pastoral oversight from a visiting bishop beyond just the issue of marriage.” That, he said, could mean this bishop would perform confirmation, license clergy and supervise the discernment for those considering a call to ordination, including LGBTQ persons.
“We are comfortable with this proposal, because it would result in Transfiguration experiencing a big leap forward on a set of matters that are deeply important to us, which have consistently kept us at odds with our bishop in the past,” he said.
After convention approved the rites in 2015, Shobe said he did not ask Sumner for DEPO because he was not given assurance he and the congregation would not be punished for performing same-sex marriages even under the oversight of another bishop. The diocese’s canons prohibit same-sex marriage. Instead, Shobe and others spent the time until the Austin meeting advocating for convention to help remedy the issue.
Meanwhile, eight couples went elsewhere to be married by other clergy. Shobe says Transfiguration hopes next year to have a “significant celebration and renewal of vows” for those people. He also anticipates a number of “long-expected and hoped for weddings” taking place at the Dallas church in 2019 and 2020.
A different ecclesiology in Dallas and Springfield
Sumner of Dallas and Martins of Springfield contend that their understanding of their episcopal ministry means that any congregation wishing to use the rites must be assigned another bishop for all of their congregation’s spiritual, pastoral and sacramental oversight.
Sumner said in his letter that he cannot “by conscience and conviction” oversee a parish using these rites because “a bishop and his or her doctrinal teaching cannot be separated.”
“Let me emphasize that this referral will not [occur] because of any anger, breakdown of pastoral relation, or rejection — it is because of a deep difference in theology,” he said.
Martins summed it up this way in an interview with ENS: “The theology that runs behind this viewpoint is that all sacramental ministry, all ordained ministry, in a diocese is a derivative of the bishop’s ministry. There’s nothing that can happen that can be separated from that. There’s no way that we can have our spiritual fingerprints on it or canonical fingerprints for that matter.”
He said in his letter that “there must be a robust firewall between a community that receives same-sex marriage into its life, along with its clergy, and the rest of the diocese, including and especially the bishop. This does not have to mean that there is anger, rancor, or anything but sincere love between such a congregation and the diocese.”
And, he told ENS, his July 2015 prohibition against Springfield clergy using the rites outside of the diocese still applies. “I’m hoping canonically resident clergy will take me at my word,” he told ENS, and respect his teaching about marriage and respect their oath of obedience to their bishop.
Hayes, who is also the chancellor of the Diocese of California, said the view of the episcopate that Sumner and Martins hold is not supported by the Episcopal Church’s canons, which vest control of a congregation’s worship with the clergy member in charge.
“The bishop’s obligation is to provide for there to be sufficient clergy to serve the needs of the people, and to be sure that the canons and rubrics are obeyed,” he said. “The bishop does not have the right to say, ‘I disagree with the priest’s lawful use of those liturgies that conform to the rubrics and canons.’ The bishop simply does not have that right and never has, not in our tradition.”
Hayes added that “what’s of more concern to me is that they seem to be using it as, I’m sorry to say, an intimidation tactic” to force congregations to into a DEPO situation if their clergy want to these rites.
“They’re putting up hurdles that are not contemplated in the resolution or authorized by canons,” he said. “A rector does not need to consult with the bishop about the use of an authorized liturgy of the church.”
That, Hayes said, is a canonical provision that dates to 1904 and has its roots in the traditions of the Church of England. (Canon III.9.6(a)(1a) at page 91 here. More background is available in the highlighted sections on pages 818, 826, and 855–856 here.)
On its way to passage, the eight bishops called for an amendment to B012 to say that nothing in the resolution narrows the authority of the rector or priest-in-charge, as outlined in that canon, Ely said. It was meant to protect clergy who did not want to offer the rites, but, he said, it also applies to clergy who do want to use them and whose bishops not approve.
“If you need to put up 27 hoops to make your clergy jump through in order to provide local access, that’s a pastoral decision you are making,” Ely said. “I don’t think you need to, but if you believe you need to, then craft it in a way that it works but make sure it works.”
During convention, the California deputation shared a table in the House of Deputies with that of Springfield, and Hayes said the deputies spoke about belonging together despite disagreeing about marriage.
“We belong together despite disagreeing on this issue and that has been part of what defines Anglicanism for 500 years,” he said. “The issues of Protestant versus Catholic were a lot harder to bridge than this issue of marriage. They go much deeper into the creeds. To have people who agree about every word of the Nicene Creed say we can’t be in relationship with each other because we disagree about marriage is really is a misapprehension of what we’re called to be as church.”
Read more about it
- Full ENS coverage of marriage equality is available here.
- The two rites at the root of this debate are here and here.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spent much of his first three years as head of the Episcopal Church talking about Episcopalians being part of the Jesus movement. He has called them to follow Jesus into loving, liberating and life-giving communion with God, with God’s creation and with each other.
“Pretty early on, people started saying, how do we do that?” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care. “So, the presiding bishop really took that to heart.”
Curry provided an answer last month by launching a “rule of life” framework dubbed “The Way of Love”, featuring seven practices for Jesus-centered living. The churchwide response to the initiative so far has been overwhelmingly positive, Spellers said, and efforts to promote The Way of Love have just begun.
“You want to be people of the Jesus movement? You want to follow Jesus and to live his way? Well, his way is the way of love,” Spellers said. “And if we as a whole church commit to living a set of spiritual practices with conviction and in community, we will more and more live as Jesus’ people in this world.”
Curry first spoke of The Way of Love in his sermon July 5 for the opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas. Since then, Spellers and her staff have produced more than 100,000 wallet cards for the initiative and posted additional print-ready materials to The Way of Love website. Those materials have begun showing up in church bulletins across the church, and Episcopal partners, including Church Publishing, Forward Movement and Forma, are developing and releasing their own Way of Love resources for congregations. Some bishops, meanwhile, have issued personalized messages to their dioceses inviting them to follow the Way of Love practices.
Those practices, hardly revolutionary, should be familiar to most Christians.
- TURN: Pause, listen and choose to follow Jesus.
- LEARN: Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings.
- PRAY: Dwell intentionally with God each day.
- WORSHIP: Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and dwell with God.
- BLESS: Share faith and unselfishly give and serve.
- GO: Cross boundaries, listen deeply and live like Jesus.
- REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace and restoration.
As we focus on the 1st discipline in The Way of Love, TURN, here is a question to ponder: Who will be your companion as you turn toward Jesus Christ?
Tweet your response so we can all learn from each other as we follow The Way of Love together! #WayOfLove pic.twitter.com/rKbLorEZVn
— ECWW – Olympia (@DioOfOlympia) August 4, 2018
Curry, his staff and a group of outside advisers known as his “kitchen cabinet” began working on that framework in December. “We realized that we already have what we need in the tradition of the church going back centuries,” he said in his July 5 sermon, citing monastic traditions that have long relied on rules of life.
The presiding bishop also drew a comparison to the set of practices followed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the civil rights movement to focus their efforts. The Jesus movement, then, is built on the practices of The Way of Love, and Curry’s initiative aims to refocus Episcopalians on what it means to be a Christian in today’s world.
“I know and I believe that we in this church can help Christianity to reclaim its soul and re-center its life in the way of love, the way of the cross, which is the way of Jesus,” he said.
Spellers called this “an invitation to come home again.”
“If you look at what it takes to really grow spiritually vital Christian community, it’s not rocket science, but it does take commitment,” Spellers said. She thinks The Way of Love has been an early success because church members are hungry for spiritual formation and eager as Jesus’ followers to work for justice.
Church leaders also emphasize this isn’t a solitary journey. The shared commitment to The Way of Love echoes Episcopalians’ commitment to their baptismal covenant, a way of saying “yes” to God in a particular way.
“That’s powerful, and it’s also what movements do,” Spellers said.
Spellers’ team plans to begin a major push on social media soon in support of The Way of Love while encouraging local congregations to share their experiences with the hashtag #WayOfLove. They also are developing Way of Love liturgical materials that will be ready in time for Advent in December.
Wallet cards and brochures explaining The Way of Love can be downloaded from the website and printed for distribution locally. Spanish-language resources are being prepared. Congregations also are encouraged to experiment in how they incorporate The Way of Love into their parish life, part of an “open source” approach to developing the initiative.
Looking for ways to engage in "The Way of Love" at home? "The Way of Love for Families" is a free resource and ready to download https://t.co/p1AR6LbnV0 #wayoflove #episcopal #jesusmovement pic.twitter.com/bBS6NlbJfl
— Church Publishing (@ChurchPubInc) July 28, 2018
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway, Arkansas, has paired each of the seven practices with a different liturgical season over the coming year, and The Way of Love will help shape all ministries from the youth group to a senior citizen book club. Jerusalem Greer, the minister of formation and connection at St. Peter’s, is active in Forma and was part of the group Curry assembled to develop The Way of Love.
“One of the things that makes this really necessary right now is, as a culture we feel a little free-floating, a little lost,” Greer said. “And I think this helps us create a trellis, to try to kind of cling to and grow up.”
And as Curry inspires more and more people with his talk of being part of the Jesus movement, “people want to know how do you do that,” Greer said. “I think it’s that age-old question, how then shall we live? … I want to figure out how to be light and hope in a very dark world.”
One of the questions The Way of Love asks is “who will you walk with?” Forming discipleship groups will be an important step, to support each other and share experiences of spiritual growth, Spellers said. Parishioners may choose to form small Bible study groups, and several Episcopal seminaries have committed to developing on-campus gatherings centered on The Way of Love, including Virginia Theological Seminary, General Theological Seminary and the seminary at Sewanee: University of the South.
“That gives us the chance to shape the leadership of the church and to deepen the spiritual roots for the next generation of Episcopal leaders,” Spellers said.
The initiative also is drawing attention from other corners of the Anglican Communion. A priest in Canada wrote recently to Spellers saying he’d like to print Way of Love posters for his church. A similar inquiry came from someone in the Anglican Church of Mexico.
Curry’s team conceived of The Way of Love as part of the Anglican Communion’s Season of Intentional Discipleship, an initiative following the theme of “living a Jesus-shaped life.” That language and vision pairs with how Curry describes the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement.
“I want to ask not only you, but every Episcopalian, to make a commitment to throw yourself into the hands of Jesus. And then live life out of that,” Curry said in his sermon at General Convention. “These tools may help you.”
Others in the Episcopal Church are helping to spread the word about The Way of Love.
“Any rule of life takes practice, and really that’s the point, practice. In a sense we never stop practicing,” Diocese of Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel said in a video message encouraging Episcopalians there to take up The Way of Love. “It’s a lifelong practice, one most of us never get to be perfect, but in this, the practice is the gift.”
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Episcopal News Service] One of the biggest developments at the 79th General Convention related to the Episcopal Church’s work on racial reconciliation was the approval of a new grant program to support grassroots efforts, building on the progress made under the church’s new Becoming Beloved Community framework.
The grant program outlined in Resolution D002 marks the first time the church will provide direct financial support for Episcopalians working toward racial healing and justice in their congregations and communities. The 2019-2021 church budget includes $750,000 for the grants, much less than the $5 million recommended by D002, but these initiatives – such as forums, workshops and informal gatherings – often don’t need a lot of money to become viable and thrive.
“It is exciting to think about how $750,000 over three years could really seed some powerful work,” said Heidi Kim, the church’s staff officer for racial reconciliation, and she is hopeful that the grant process will shine a brighter light on existing efforts already making a difference. “I think people all over the church are doing amazing things that we just don’t know about.”
The church also is taking steps to bring those people together to share their insights. Another resolution, A228, calls for the creation of a Becoming Beloved Community summit by the end of 2019 to support and inspire the leaders of such initiatives.
The resolution references the church’s aspiration to create “a network of healers, justice makers, and reconcilers” who would benefit from the pool of knowledge and shared experiences. Church leaders and staff members point to the model of the Episcopal Church’s church planting network, through which the creators of new ministries receive grant money and learn from fellow church planters.
“That’s when grants make a huge difference in the church, and that’s what we now have the opportunity to build around Beloved Community,” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care.
General Convention in 2015 identified racial reconciliation as one of the church’s three top priorities, along with evangelism and creation care, acknowledging the church’s decades-old efforts to confront its historic complicity in the sin of racism during the eras of slavery and segregation.
Becoming Beloved Community is a framework that launched just last year. It is broken into four parts that are illustrated as a labyrinth: telling the truth about our churches and race, proclaiming the dream of Beloved Community, practicing the way of love in the pattern of Jesus and repairing the breach in society.
Because Becoming Beloved Community launched in the middle of the triennium, about $1 million was left from the money budgeted for implementation in 2016-18. When the 79th General Convention met last month in Austin, Texas, it approved a new budget that applies that unused amount to continued implementation in the new triennium.
A total of $10.4 million was OK’d for racial justice and reconciliation work over the next three years. That amount includes a range of expenses, from anti-poverty initiatives to ethnic ministries, as well as Becoming Beloved Community and the new grant program. The grant program was assigned to Executive Council for development and implementation. Executive Council meets next in October.
The local focus of the grants will be critical, said the Rev. Edwin Johnson, a deputy from Massachusetts and chair of General Convention’s Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee.
“We’re excited because there is considerable funding available for communities to do this work in their own context,” said Johnson, who is rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts. “There was overwhelming support in both houses [of General Convention] for this work and, in particular, for work that is decentralized.”
Johnson points to the experience of his own congregation, which is largely Afro-Caribbean. He received a Mission Enterprise Zone grant to start a Spanish-language ministry there, and it has thrived with support from the network of Episcopal church planters.
Johnson is active in the development of a similar network of racial reconciliation leaders. About 50 people testified before Johnson’s committee at General Convention about the various resolutions assigned to the committee, and afterward, he reached out to each of them to enlist them in a new community of action around racial healing.
“I think we did a really good job of bringing forth and calling forth new leadership in this area,” he said. Their energy is “precisely what we’re going to need for the long haul.”
Catherine Meeks, one of the pre-eminent leaders in the church’s longtime push for racial justice, echoed Johnson in emphasizing the role of congregations.
“This work has to be done at the parish level ultimately. … Becoming Beloved Community is trying to make that happen,” she said. “The more informed, the more conscious people are, hopefully, the more they engage with the work.”
Meeks’ work in developing and conducting anti-racism training for the Diocese of Atlanta has served as a model churchwide for such training, which was mandated for ordained and lay leaders by a 2000 resolution passed by General Convention. Implementation has been uneven.
“It’s a mandate that nobody really enforces,” she said, and dioceses’ track record of implementing plans for the training continues to be a topic regularly taken up by General Convention.
Last month, General Convention passed Resolution A044 attempting to clarify the criteria for such training, suggesting a structure that coincides with the four parts of Becoming Beloved Community. Another resolution, A045, acknowledges “not all dioceses have followed the spirit of the anti-racism training required,” and it calls for better documentation of participation in the training.
The training is vital, Meeks said, because it provides a safe setting for Episcopalians to confront tough questions about their church and themselves while helping them open their minds and consider ways they engage in racial healing and justice.
Meeks now serves as executive director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing, a ministry of the Diocese of Atlanta that offers a churchwide resource for fostering open dialogue about race and racism.
At the same time, Meeks led a push this year to move away from the term “anti-racism” in favor of a greater focus on healing, justice and reconciliation. She helped Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright and others draft Resolution B004, which sought that shift in language.
“To talk about our work under the rubric of healing and justice and reconciliation just has a more positive energy around it and states what we’re trying to do in the world,” Meeks said.
Questions about the language of reconciliation and clarifying the mandate of the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism generated spirited debate during General Convention, and it ultimately ended in something of a compromise. “Anti-racism” remains in the committee’s name, but “reconciliation” was added, making it the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism & Reconciliation. And the approved version of B004 adjusts the church’s focus to “dismantling racism” while adding the emphasis on “racial healing, justice and reconciliation.”
“What pleased me the most was the conversation we had around the issue, because I think that conversation was very healthy and very needed,” Meeks said.
Many people feel strongly about these issues, whether affirming the need to maintain a focus on dismantling racism or pushing for a more theological approach to racial healing, said Kim, the staff officer for reconciliation. The value of the Becoming Beloved Community framework, she said, is that it seeks to engage all Episcopalians in that conversation, wherever they may be on their spiritual journey.
“We all have room to grow in terms of how we can be reconcilers and healers,” she said.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.
[Episcopal News Service] The action of General Convention can feel frenetic in a parliamentary sort of way and, when the Episcopal Church met in Austin earlier this month, Episcopal Relief & Development offered an antidote.
The organization’s booth, which was front and center in the Exhibit Hall, featured four life-sized coloring opportunities.
Illustrator and designer Portia Monberg converted some of Episcopal Relief & Development’s most iconic images to help tell the story of the organization’s three key strategic priorities: women, children and climate.
The two 8-by-8 panels and two 8-by-16 ones were blank canvases on July 3, ready for participants to color.
By the time the Exhibit Hour folded its tents mid-afternoon on July 11 (two days before the end of convention), the panels were a riot of color.
Some areas of the panels were colored precisely and complimented other more child-like spaces.
“Honestly, General Convention is long, and we felt that a booth that changed and evolved day-by-day with the ‘creative’ help of attendees would be more interesting and interactive,” said Sean McConnell, senior director for engagement. “Many people also wanted to learn more about what they were coloring, so the images gave us an opportunity to talk in depth about our partnerships and integrated programs.”
— RobRadtke (@RobRadtke) July 11, 2018
And, the panels live on. The Rev. Anthony Guillen, the Episcopal Church’s missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries, helped arrange to have Episcopal Relief & Development donate the coloring book panels to the Sunday schools at two Austin churches: St. James Church and San Francisco de Assis.
For those who wanted to continue their coloring elsewhere, Episcopal Relief & Development handed out coloring books and colored pencils. The booth panel illustrations are included in the “Color Our World” book, which can be downloaded here.
Episcopal Relief & Development also offered convention participants the opportunity to contribute to its climate-resilience programs to help offset the carbon footprint of the average attendee. Staff member were available to discuss the organization’s key program priorities and help people learn about the Episcopal Asset Map.
Visitors to the organization’s loication in the Exhibit Hall could pick up giveaways and sample fairly-traded coffee and chocolate via Episcopal Relief & Development’s partnership with Equal Exchange. The organization offered post-TEConversations discussions related to its worldwide work. The three TEConversations were joint sessions of bishops and deputies that featured presentations on evangelism, racial reconciliation and care of creation.
More information about Episcopal Relief & Development’s work on at the 79th General Convention is here.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.