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The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, has released this response to Bishop Bill Love of Albany:
For more than 40 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed, studied and discerned and, in doing so, we have seen the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of LGBT people. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, our highest temporal authority, first acknowledged that God calls LGBT people to any ordained ministry in 2009. In 2012, the General Convention authorized a liturgical rite for the blessing of same-sex unions, and in 2015, we authorized marriage equality in the church.
We recognize the Holy Spirit at work in the marriages of LGBTQ people and we know that there are Christians who have been drawn further into fidelity and service to the world by living in committed same-sex partnerships and marriages based on holy love and the gift of seeing Christ in one another. When we celebrate these marriages, the entire church is blessed by the love and fidelity of these faithful couples.
Durante más de 40 años, la Iglesia Episcopal ha orado, estudiado y discernido y, al hacerlo, hemos visto la evidencia de la bendición de Dios en las vidas de las personas LGBT. La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal, nuestra más alta autoridad temporal, reconoció por primera vez que Dios llama a las personas LGBT a cualquier ministerio ordenado en 2009. En 2012, la Convención General autorizó un rito litúrgico para la bendición de las uniones del mismo sexo, y en 2015, autorizamos la igualdad de matrimonio en la iglesia.
Reconocemos el trabajo del Espíritu Santo en los matrimonios de personas LGBTQ y sabemos que hay cristianos que se han sentido más atraídos hacia la fidelidad y el servicio al mundo por vivir en parejas y matrimonios comprometidos del mismo sexo basados en el amor santo y el don de ver a cristo en el otro. Cuando celebramos estos matrimonios, toda la iglesia es bendecida por el amor y la fidelidad de estas parejas fieles.
Executive Council kicked off its first meeting since the 79th General Convention, gathering in a conference center Oct. 15 in suburban Minneapolis to begin discussing how to align church operations with the priorities and mandates established in July.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry opened the morning session at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center by using a passage from the Gospel of John to set the tone for this four-day session: “I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus said during his Last Supper. “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”
Curry came back to those lines several times during remarks that ran about 20 minutes. The church “loses its soul the further it gets away from Jesus of Nazareth,” he said, but the work of the council will build on the movement of Christians seeking to reclaim what it means to be followers of Jesus and his teachings.
“I know that it’s easy for fads to come and go, and yet it is my deep and earnest prayer that our embracing what it means to be the Jesus Movement will not be a fad that comes and goes,” Curry said.
The Episcopal Church passed more than 500 resolutions at the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas. “Our structures for translating, processing and disseminating strained at the sheer volume” of resolutions, said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies. But she was heartened rather than troubled by the numbers. A record number of resolutions shows Episcopalians are energized by their faith.
She also was encouraged by the number of people who have volunteered to serve on one of the interim bodies that continue the work of General Convention during the triennium. “The good news is 1,200 people want to be involved in the work between conventions,” Jennings said.
At convention, the House of Bishops held a “Liturgy of Listening” to hear the stories of sexual abuse and exploitation, including within the church, drawing attention to these issues “that too many church leaders have refused to acknowledge and have only become more urgent since convention concluded,” Jennings said.
In February, Jennings appointed a 47-member Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation to lead the church’s efforts, and those efforts will accelerate in the new triennium, Jennings said Oct. 15. She also referenced her guest post Oct. 8 for The Christian Century, which she wrote in response to the sexual assault allegations made against Justice Brett Kavanaugh by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford.
The agenda for the first day of the meeting was light on legislative business, though the group voted in the morning to establish a new roster of committees based on the priorities set by General Convention under Curry. They are Finance, Government & Operations; Ministry Within the Episcopal Church; and Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Michael Barlowe, secretary of General Convention, sought to frame the council’s business partly as an attempt to bridge the gap between the churchwide and the local. “The further you get from the local congregation,” he said, “the more remote things can sometimes seem.”
He encouraged council members to keep the local context in mind, and he said the council plans to meet in all nine provinces during the triennium leading up to the 80th General Convention, which will meet in Baltimore. “We’re going to make an effort to learn more about that local context as we go around,” he said.
In his remarks, Curry alluded to unspecified organizational crises within the Episcopal Church that had been hindering its spiritual work. “Every crisis is a disguised opportunity; you just have to figure out what it is,” he said. “We realized we needed to do something different.”
One of those things was hiring a personnel consultant to study the workplace culture of the churchwide offices and help church leaders improve that culture.
“Through it all, we’re going to love each other and take care of each other,” he said.
Curry was more pointed in making his case for “reclaiming Jesus,” invoking an initiative that he and other ecumenical leaders launched earlier this year to refocus the broader culture on Jesus’ teachings.
“Christianity is being hijacked in public perceptions of what it means to be Christian,” he said.
By trying to reclaim the Jesus of love and compassion, Curry said, he was not making a political commentary, though “it may have political consequences.”
“That’s what I believe we need, not just in the church,” he said. “I’m talking in the culture — a revival of the way of being Christian that looks something like Jesus, the Jesus that said ‘love is what it’s all about.’”
The next council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21-24 in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Future locations have yet to be announced.
Adapted from David Paulsen, ENS
The Rev. Mark Pendleton, rector of Christ Church in Exeter, New Hampshire, writes for General Theological Seminary’s Beyond the Close:
Over the years I have led countless mission trips, sponsored refugee families to come to the U.S., and even encouraged my son to take a gap year during college to be the first Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) volunteer in Cuba in 2013 (where he met and would later marry his Cuban bride). In 2015, I was appointed a member of the Task Force on Cuba that met in preparation to General Convention and wrote a comprehensive report that recommended that Cuba be welcomed home.
… My one-time General tutor William “Chip” Stokes, Bishop of New Jersey and co-chair of the committee, was masterful in weighing various paths while keeping Gospel reconciliation at the center of the deliberations. General Seminary trustee Bishop Andrew Dietsche, the Bishop of New York, as a member of the committee and a friend of Cuba offered context and timely assurance that there could be a way forward to embrace the moment and move on the resolution at the current convention.
Bishop Delgado, who received an honorary doctorate from General in 2017, has been a tireless leader and ambassador for a long isolated church. Plans for dioceses to help pay the five-decade-long pension arrears are now underway.
The Rt. Rev. William Love, Bishop of Albany, writes about his meeting Sept. 6 with diocesan clergy regarding General Convention’s Resolution B012, which requires all dioceses to provide for same-sex couples who wish to marry:
As I mentioned in my letter of invitation to the clergy, the purpose of the meeting was not for me to issue a proclamation at that time on how B012 will be carried out in the Diocese of Albany, but rather for me to share with them some of my thoughts regarding B012; to clarify my understanding of what it does and doesn’t say; and to give me a chance to listen to the thoughts and concerns of the clergy.
Ultimately, as the Bishop, I will make a decision regarding my response to B012 and how it will be dealt with in the Diocese of Albany. That decision will be made thoughtfully and prayerfully and will be openly shared with the whole Diocese prior to December 2nd.
While I know there are some who would like me to simply say today what I am going to do, it is not simply a matter of being for or against same-sex marriage. As a result of the complexity of B012, there are a multitude of implications not only for same-sex couples wishing to be married in their home parish, but also for the clergy and parishes involved; for my role and ministry as Bishop; for the Diocese of Albany and its relationship with the wider Anglican Communion and body of Christ.
Whatever decision I and or the rest of the Church make regarding B012, there will be consequences. There is no escaping that. My ultimate desire as your Bishop, is to be faithful and obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ, discerning not my will, but His will in knowing how best to lead the Diocese of Albany in such a way that He will be glorified and His Church and people be blessed. Please keep me and our Diocese in your prayers.
Photo essay by Asher Imtiaz, with reporting by G. Jeffrey MacDonald
About 900 Episcopalians traveled on 14 buses to a remote Texas field July 8 to send messages of hope and solidarity to more than 500 migrant women detained a federal facility.
The spontaneous mini-pilgrimage to the entrance was part of a day as emotionally intense as the scorching sun, which drove many to wear wide-brimmed hats and hold parasols. A small stage, wedged between two Little League baseball fields, gave a platform for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to address the crowd. Others read Scripture verses such as Leviticus 34:19: “The stranger living among you must be treated as your native-born.”
From a field in Taylor, Texas, where the group was permitted to gather about a quarter-mile away, prayer vigil participants could see the hulking, almost windowless T. Don Hutto Residential Center in the distance on the edge of an industrial park. But it was not clear whether detainees were aware of the mass event outside. That changed, however, shortly after several hundred breached the perimeter of the permitted area and slowly walked down a one-lane road to the facility’s driveway entrance.
The event provided a Sunday morning opportunity during General Convention for participants to venture beyond the Austin Convention Center and nearby hotels where meetings have been concentrated. They rode in coaches chartered by Trinity Wall Street, a New York City parish with extensive grant-making and justice ministries. During the 32-mile journey, city outskirts gave way to tree groves and open fields, dotted occasionally by grazing cattle and farm equipment for sale.
The event had the air of a prayer vigil combined with a political rally. Protesters spontaneously broke into slogan chants and songs of solidarity. They sang “We Shall Overcome,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “Amazing Grace.” Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said he had tears welling up behind his sunglasses.
“It evokes emotions of my incarceration under apartheid,” Makgoba said. “I never thought it would be happening in democracies like yours.”
Members of Episcopal Church Women used 100 boots as Texas-style table decorations at its 49th Triennial Meeting in Austin and as donations afterward. The Rev. Cathy Boyd, formerly of Austin, and Pam Link of Texas helped secure the boots, at the suggestion of the Rev. Cathy Boyd, the triennial’s chaplain.
“They served one purpose — thematic decorating — beautifully,” said Lisa Towle, president of the National ECW Board. “But because the boots were not in matched pairs, the question then became how best to use them. A wonderful answer emerged. We pray that they’re useful.”
ECW leaders worked with the Rev. John Moock (above) of Episcopal Veterans Fellowship to send the boots to the National Odd Shoe Exchange in Chandler, Arizona. The exchange is a clearing house for amputees and others who need only one shoe.
Photos from Episcopal Veterans Fellowship, ECW, and TLC
The Rev. Titus Presler, a veteran of world mission, writes about General Convention reviving the Standing Commission on World Mission, but without any funding:
[T]he resolution was adopted by both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, so Resolution A208 is an official action of convention. But: the $90,000 requested to fund the commission — travel and meeting expenses — was not included in the budget adopted by convention. The net result is that as of right now there will be no Standing Commission on World Mission.
How can this happen? you might ask. One could say that convention agreed that an SCWM would be helpful and useful, but in all the horse-trading that goes on among various priorities, not everything can be funded. Moreover, the Program, Budget & Finance Committee explained that in its budgetary deliberations it rejected numerous requests to reestablish various standing commissions both because funds are limited and because it felt it should honor the streamlining decisions of the 2015 General Convention. That is a reasonable argument, and I respect it. The continuing membership decline of the Episcopal Church has financial consequences, one of which is we can no longer afford the generously funded structures to which we had become accustomed.
So what now? There may still be an effort to secure funding for the SCWM that was approved in principle. Equally important, the Global Episcopal Mission Network — the church’s voluntary and freestanding network of mission-activist dioceses, congregations, mission organizations, seminaries and individuals — is well positioned to provide much of the overview and envisioning that an SCWM would be tasked to do.
GEMN’s membership is substantial and growing. Its annual conference is a major networking event for global mission, with speakers and workshop leaders who are recognized churchwide. Its website (www.gemn.org) provides a wealth of resources, and its Mission Formation Program is well respected. GEMN submitted a number of resolutions to this General Convention, and that advocacy role will grow. GEMN hosted the Global Mission Reception at this convention, reviving the World Mission Reception that the Church Center used to host in the 1980s and 1990s, and about 150 people attended this inaugural event. As president of GEMN and a former SCWM chair, I believe it is possible for GEMN to offer much that SCWM used to provide. We don’t have a canonical role, but the current and future energy of the church is increasingly found in networks such as GEMN. So I am hopeful.