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Deputy News from the 79th General Convention
Updated: 1 hour 57 min ago

Deputies Say Goodbye to the 79th General Convention

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 12:15pm

Before they journey home, we asked several deputies, “where did you see God at General Convention?”

The article Deputies Say Goodbye to the 79th General Convention appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Deputies Send Challenging Israel-Palestine Resolutions to Bishops

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 8:57pm

The House of Deputies on Thursday morning passed five resolutions that, if approved by the House of Bishops, would challenge the state of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza more forcefully than the Episcopal Church has been willing to do in the past.

Under Resolution B016 the church would follow the example of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in developing “criteria for Israel and Palestine based on a human rights’ investment screen and the actions of General Convention and Executive Council over the past seventy years.” The Lutheran’s policies are spelled out in their document, “Justice for the Holy Land Through Responsible Investment.”

In presenting the legislation, Deputy Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, chair of the Committee on Stewardship and Socially Responsible Investing, told the house that unlike a previous resolution on investment screens that had been defeated in the House of Bishops, B016 was on the bishops’ consent calendar.

The resolution passed on a voice vote after a brief floor debate. Later in the day, the resolution was removed from the bishops’ consent calendar and the bishops took up in the afternoon a number of the resolutions that deputies had passed in the morning. B016 awaits final action in the House of Bishops.

After the debate on B016, the deputies next passed resolution D039 which condemns Israeli laws and policies that “discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel and have inevitably led to the current state of apartheid.”

The resolution also “condemns the system of military justice applied in the occupied Palestinian territories that subjects Palestinians to detention without charges or counsel, detain minors without parental presence,” deprives Palestinians of their right of peaceful assembly, and results in lethal violence against unarmed Palestinians.”

Supporting the resolution, Deputy Pam Nesbitt of the Diocese of Pennsylvania read a letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bonnie Anderson, former president of the House of Deputies and Patti Browning, widow of former Presiding Bishop Ed Browning.

“Just as we rightly hear the cry of migrants seeking shelter and asylum on the borders of the US, so, too, does our conscience demand we campaign to end the detention of children and political prisoners caught in the 51-year-old vice of occupation,” the trio wrote.

Deputy Bill Murchison of Dallas took strong issue with the debate, which was dominated by supporters of the resolution. “What is it that foreign policy experts of Episcopal Church have against Israel’s right to deal … with its security issues?” he asked. Murchison, who said Hamas and Hezbollah are primarily responsible for the continuing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, called the use of the word “apartheid” in the resolution “intellectually dishonest.”

The house next passed Resolution C038, which calls on Israel to “guarantee basic rights and exercise a prohibition against torture and ill-treatment of detained children.” In presenting the resolution, Deputy Sarah Lawton of California said Palestinian children are held by Israel’s military, rather than its civilian detention system where they are subject to nighttime arrests at home, physical and verbal abuse, “blindfolds and restraints, strip searches, solitary confinement, coerced confessions and confessions written in Hebrew, a language they do not speak.”

She said detained children are sometimes not allowed to see their parents or legal counselors and sometimes transferred to prisons in Israel where their parents cannot visit.

The resolution passed on a voice vote.

Two additional resolutions ask the United States government to consider withholding military aid to Israel and Palestinian forces in certain circumstances.

Resolution D027 calls for an investigation of “the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians by the Israeli Defense Force, as well as by Palestinian forces.” If allegations of human rights violations are corroborated, the resolution stresses “the obligation of the U.S. government to enforce the Leahy Amendment,” which prohibits the United States from funding foreign military units that commit human rights violations.

In their afternoon session, the bishops approved this resolution on a voice vote.

Resolution D038 calls on President Trump and Congress to suspend “all military aid to Israel until Israel is in full compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by changing its laws, policies and practices that favor its Jewish citizens and discriminate against its Christian and Muslim citizens and other minorities.”

Several deputies questioned whether the resolution singled Israel out for special condemnation, but the resolution passed 433-377.

The only resolution related to Israel and Palestine that failed was D028, which called on elected officials to reject legislation that would “penalize companies and organizations for their participation in nonviolent boycotts on behalf of Palestinian human rights.” Should such legislation become law and be challenged in the courts, the resolution urges the Executive Council and the Presiding Bishop “to consider filing an amicus brief in support of court challenges to the law.”

During debate Deputies Russ Randle and L. Zoe Cole, both lawyers, persuaded the house that the resolution would put the convention on the wrong side of free speech issues.

Lawton said she was not surprised by how many of the resolutions passed. “We thought there were a few controversial issues embedded in them, but we didn’t think it was controversial to decry a separate system of detention and prosecution for children in the region in a case of occupation,” she said. “Nor did the speaking against the disproportionate use of live fire against unarmed protestors. “

She said she was encouraged that the House of Bishops had previously concurred with the deputies on Resolution B003 reaffirming Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and of a potential Palestinian state, and yesterday afternoon concurred on Resolution D027, on investigating the use of live fire against unarmed civilians.

The article Deputies Send Challenging Israel-Palestine Resolutions to Bishops appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Headed in the Right Direction

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 8:56pm

Miguel Escobar, director of Anglican studies at EDS@Union, wraps up his #GC79 podcast with the ninth and final episode.

Listen to the podcast.

The article Headed in the Right Direction appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Podcast de Nancy Frausto, Episodio 4: María Bautista Vargas y Liz Luna

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 8:55pm

La Rda. Nancy Frausto, rectora asociada de la Iglesia Episcopal de San Lucas en Long Beach, California, y miembro fundador del Grupo de Trabajo del Santuario de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, presenta un podcast de #GC79.

Invitadas:   María Bautista Vargas es la asociada misionera de la Universidad del Sur de Texas y para San Jacinto Central. Liz Luna es una joven pasante de la Iglesia Episcopal de San Andrés en Houston, Texas. Las dos participaron en el Festival de Jóvenes Adultos de la Convención General.

Los temas incluyen:  Sus experiencias en la Convención General, la bienvenida de Cuba a la Iglesia Episcopal, desarrollando lideres jóvenes, sus sueños para la iglesia después de la convención.

Escuche aquí.

The article Podcast de Nancy Frausto, Episodio 4: María Bautista Vargas y Liz Luna appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Podcast de Nancy Frausto, Episodio 5: La Rda. Diácona Ema Rosero-Nordalm

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 10:56am

La Rda. Nancy Frausto, rectora asociada de la Iglesia Episcopal de San Lucas en Long Beach, California, y miembro fundador del Grupo de Trabajo del Santuario de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, presenta un podcast de #GC

Invitada: La Rda. Diácona Ema Rosero-Nordalm es de la Diócesis de Massachusetts. Participó en el Trienio de ECW y fue elegida representante de justicia social para la organización.

Los temas incluyen: ECW, ministerio con abuelas y mujeres, lo que espera que salga de la convención.

Escuche aquí.

The article Podcast de Nancy Frausto, Episodio 5: La Rda. Diácona Ema Rosero-Nordalm appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Resolutions Move Church Forward on Issues of Race, Gender

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 9:19am

Deputy Jenny Repogle of Chicago speaks in favor of D087 while holding six-month-old Rowan (Photo: Cynthia Black)

Three resolutions adopted on Wednesday by the House of Deputies are intended to dismantle racism and sexism in the Episcopal Church through practices and processes promoting equity, diversity, justice, healing, and reconciliation.

Resolution D002, Funding the Work of The Beloved Community, proposed by Deputy Joe McDaniel of Central Gulf Coast, came through Committee 9, Racial Justice and Reconciliation. First adopted by the House of Bishops, the resolution requested that the Joint Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) allocate $5 million for “the implementation of additional work organizing our efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow a Beloved Community of healers, justice makers and reconcilers.”

Later in the day, PB&F presented a  budgeted $1.75 million to fund D002, $1 million of which carries over from the 2016-2018 triennium and $750,000 of which is new funding. The allocation is part of a larger racial justice budget of $2.77 million.

D002 specified that money budgeted for this work would be used exclusively “to make grants to agencies and dioceses and other affiliated entities” of the church for activities such as “speaker series, sacred conversations, Racial Reconciliation Workshops” and other activities that promote The Beloved Community. Deputy Lindsey Ardrey of Louisiana, speaking in favor of the resolution, argued that we “don’t need a top down approach, but one that works up from the bottom,” one that works to support “foot soldiers on the ground” and “transform the contents of our tool box.”

Deputy Beth King of Atlanta cited an example from her diocese, the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing led by Dr. Catherine Meeks, as “a perfect example of what can be accomplished with reasonable funding.”  The resolution specifically mentions the Absalom Jones Center as the entity that would facilitate sharing with the rest of the church the “much-needed culturally appropriate and relevant resources” that would be developed by those awarded Beloved Community grants.

Since no one spoke against the resolution, House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings called for a voice vote and the deputies voted overwhelmingly to concur with the House of Bishops and adopt D002.

Later, the House of Deputies passed two resolutions intended to diminish sexism in the church. The first of these, resolution C060, Breaking the Episcopal Stained Glass Ceiling, was proposed by the Diocese of Newark and came to the house through the Ministry Committee (Committee 15). The resolution proposes the creation of a task force of three bishops, three priests or deacons and six lay people, including at least two young adults, to research sexism in the church, and “the role it plays in pay equity, status, and gender-based harassment.” The resolution stipulates that at least half the members of the task force be women.

C060 includes a budget request of $60,000.  It could possibly be funded from a line item in 2019-2021 budget of $491,000 for “pastoral development/other,” some of which is to be used for “harassment sensitivity training, responding to several resolutions.”

Presenting the resolution Ministry Committee Chair Deputy Molly James of Connecticut noted that C060 “highlights the reality of sexism in the church.” James said that following the #metoo inspired Liturgy of Listening and Lament on July 4, and after considering the memorial submitted to General Convention by and Milliennials and members of Generation X, the House of Bishops had adopted an amended version of C060. She moved that deputies concur with the amended resolution.

Deputy Kate Spelman of Chicago spoke “strongly in favor” of C060, identifying herself as one of the co-authors of the Gathering of Gen X and Millennial Clergy’s Memorial, which she commended to the house’s attention. Spelman said she had created the t-shirts emblazoned with the words, “This is what a priest looks like” which several women had been wearing during convention “because so many of us… need not only the full armor of Christ, but also a shirt to assert our full ability to be here.”

Recalling that in his sermon at the convention’s opening Eucharist Presiding Bishop Michael Curry had asked bishops and deputies to consider the life of Jesus before speaking at the microphone or voting, she urged deputies to “remember the many women of the Gospel who our Lord served with.”

Helena Upshaw of South Carolina, a member of the Official Youth Presence, told the house that “sexism continues to persist … in our church” and said she especially appreciated that the task force proposed in the resolution include two young adults and at least six women. She characterized the task force as a “next step toward equal salary, status and safety” for women in the church. Likewise, Deputy Fran Holliday of Chicago argued that “it is essential for us to create a task force that looks at sexism throughout the church if we are to fully live into our baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being.”

Noting that once again, no one had spoken against the resolution, Jennings moved the house to a voice voice, which was nearly unanimous.

In a similar spirit of promoting greater opportunity and access within the church, the house passed resolution D087, Parents Nursing or Bottle-Feeding Children, originally proposed by Deputy Michael Funston.

The resolution was presented by Rules of Order Committee Chair, Deputy Rob Schneider of West Texas, who noted that, this usually-lightly attended committee “may have set an attendance record” at the hearing on this issue.

This resolution was proposed in response to an incident at the beginning of the first legislative session on July 5 when Deputy Erica Pomerenk of Colorado and her 12-week-old daughter Beatrice, were denied admission to the house floor by a volunteer who said the child was not allowed on the floor.

When discussion on D087 opened, Pomerenk spoke first. She told the house that this convention was her seventh, and that she had attended with her mother when she was a teen, in other capacities as a young adult, three times as an alternate, and finally, at this convention, as a deputy.

Pomerenk recalled that when she was denied entrance to the house floor, she was “in tears as I texted my deputation to let them know what was going on.” While she noted that the matter was quickly resolved—thanking Jennings and others for their assistance and support— “It still happened and still marred the excitement and joy of Trixie’s first convention and my first as a deputy.”

Pomerenk said she “did not come here to be a poster child for breast-feeding,” but that the church needs to be mindful of issues affecting women and families.

“This should not happen again,” said Deputy Lawrence Hitt, co-chair of the Colorado deputation, especially because “women are increasingly powerful members of this house, members since 1970, and breastfeeding since at least that long.”

Deputy Jenny Repogle of Chicago spoke in favor of the resolution while holding her six-month-old son Rowan on her hip. She said she wanted to be sure that the house’s rules of order support  “the beautiful diversity of parenting in our church,” for parents who nurse, for those who are unable to nurse, and those who have chosen to bottle-feed. Jennings responded by saying, “The chair looks forward to seeing Rowan in the future.”

D087 was adopted by a unanimous voice vote, garnering applause from some of the deputies.

Rebecca Watts is a senior MDiv student at the Seminary of the Southwest, and an alternate lay deputy and candidate for holy orders from the Diocese of Central Florida. Prior to seminary, she was associate professor of communication and media studies at Stetson University.

The article Resolutions Move Church Forward on Issues of Race, Gender appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Bishops Say No to Investment Screens in the Holy Land

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:33pm

The House of Bishops Wednesday defeated a resolution that would have established “a human rights criteria social investment screen” to guide the church’s investment in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

On a vote of 78-48, the bishops defeated Resolution D019, Ending Church Complicity in Israel and Palestine. The resolution sought to “develop a human rights social criteria investment screen based on the social teachings of this Church and 70 years of Church policy on Israel/Palestine.”

The House of Deputies had passed the resolution on Monday.

Issues relating to Israel and Palestine have been especially contentious in recent years, and after the 2015 General Convention, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings appointed a working group to propose new procedures to facilitate a deeper consideration of the issues by both houses.

The group recommended that at this convention, the House of Deputies receive resolutions regarding Israel and Palestine first during a special order of business to insure the fullest possible deliberation of the issues.

The deputies had their debate, but the bishops, clearly uncomfortable with putting economic pressure on the Israeli government, had the last word.

“This is a divestment resolution,” said retired Bishop Ed Little, who said divestment in the Israeli economy was misguided. “This would remove us from our role as peacemakers” in Israel and Palestine, he said.

Bishop Gayle Harris, suffragan of Massachusetts, disagreed with Little’s description of the church’s role in the Holy Land. “This resolution only asks us to recognize our complicity in empowering apartheid to happen,” she said.

Bishop Scott Barker of Nebraska was one of several bishops who said he favored positive investment in the region and would oppose any resolution that would sanction “Israel alone.”

Opponents of the resolution were promoting a “false equivalency,” said Bishop Marc Andrus of California, who supported the resolution. “There is no equivalency in the number of lives lost by Palestinians and Israelis,” he said, citing figures that Palestinian deaths far outnumbered those of Israelis during the conflict to date.

The working group had recommended that no group “purport to speak” for Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Anglican archbishop in Jerusalem and bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and  the Middle East.

But Bishop Peter Eaton of Southeast Florida told the house that bishops in the Middle East had not asked for a resolution like D016 and feared it would harm their ministries.

After the vote was taken, Harris cautioned the house against attributing positions to bishops in the Middle East when they had refrained from public statements themselves. She said Dawani requires a residency permit to live in Jerusalem and is not free to speak.

Dawani visited General Convention but made no public statements.

The article Bishops Say No to Investment Screens in the Holy Land appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

A Move Toward Resolving the Impasse on Marriage

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 9:17pm

The House of Bishops on Wednesday moved the Episcopal Church much closer to making it possible for all same-sex couples to marry in their home churches.

Currently eight diocesan bishops do not permit such marriages in their diocese, and several do not allow their priests to officiate at the marriages of same-sex couples in other dioceses.

The bishops passed a slightly amended version of Resolution B012, which had been passed by the House of Deputies on Monday.

That resolution directs that provision be made for same-sex couples to marry in local churches under the direction of the clergy member in charge of the congregation. The bishops added a clause specifying that nothing in the resolution should be construed as narrowing the authority of a congregation’s clerical leader.

In addition, the resolution directs bishops to permit them in their diocese nonetheless, requiring them to “invite, as necessary, another bishop of this Church to provide pastoral support to the couple, the Member of the Clergy involved and the congregation.”

The matter now returns to the House of Deputies, which is expected to approve the amended version of the resolution.

Debate on the matter was largely one-sided, with several bishops who do not currently permit same-sex couples to marry in their diocese saying they supported B012, which they preferred to a competing resolution on marriage, which would have made marriage rites available to same-sex couples by beginning the process of including them in the Book of Common Prayer.

Some bishops were tepid in their support. Bishop John Howard of the Diocese of Florida, said that the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003 landed in his diocese like “a nuclear warhead,” and that B012 forced local clergy leaders into a “Sophie’s choice,” between their consciences and the needs of a same-sex couple.

Others were more enthusiastic. Bishop Mary Glasspool, an assistant bishop in the Diocese of New York, said same-sex couples were “a gift to the church that the church hasn’t unwrapped.” She recalled that she and her wife were married not in a church, because that was not then permitted, but “in my therapist’s office.” She said it was time to move toward marriage equality in the church.

The longest and most emotional contribution to the debate came from Bishop William Love of Albany who first read a section of his ordination vows and then told the house that if B012 passed, he was no longer sure he could assent to all of them.

Love charged the church with trying to “silence” him and the seven other bishops who currently do not permit same-sex couples to marry in their dioceses.  He said he had been accused of being bigoted, homophobic and mean-spirited by people who did not know him. “I treat people with respect,” he said.

Speaking directly to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Love said, “I am concerned that the actions that are about to happen are going to undo all of the good work, sir, that you have tried to do.

“When this passes the floodgates are going to open once again,” he said, and predicted additional “bloodshed.”

Bishop Brian Thom of Idaho said that although he came to General Convention to support putting marriage rites for same-sex couples into the Book of Common Prayer, he supported B012 because, in the end, people want to “get married at home.”

A vote on the amended resolution has not yet been scheduled in the House of Deputies.

photo credit:  Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash

The article A Move Toward Resolving the Impasse on Marriage appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

#GC79 Podcast: As the Clock Winds Down

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 9:15pm

Miguel Escobar, director of Anglican studies at EDS@Union, hosts the eighth nightly #GC79 podcast.

The Rev. Carlos de la Torre is a deputy from Connecticut. He is curate at Christ Church, New Haven and program director of St. Hilda’s House, an Episcopal Service Corps program located in New Haven.

The Rev. Canon Broderick Greer is canon precentor at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, Colorado. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Teen Vogue, On Being, and The Washington Post.

Topics of discussion include La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba, prayer book revision, and reconciling General Convention’s outward-looking and inward-looking work.

Listen to the podcast.

The article #GC79 Podcast: As the Clock Winds Down appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Podcast de Nancy Frausto, Episodio 3: Dra. Sandra T. Montes

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 9:14pm

La Rda. Nancy Frausto, rectora asociada de la Iglesia Episcopal de San Lucas en Long Beach, California, y miembro fundador del Grupo de Trabajo del Santuario de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, presenta un podcast de #GC79.

Invitada: Sandra Montes es de la Diócesis de Texas. Es una amante de la música, cantante, y consultora en Episcopal Church Foundation.

Los temas incluyen: Música, justicia y mayordomía.

Escuche aquí.

The article Podcast de Nancy Frausto, Episodio 3: Dra. Sandra T. Montes appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

¡Cuba Sí!

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 7:05pm

This morning the House of Deputies concurred unanimously with the House of Bishops vote to admit Cuba as a diocese of the Episcopal Church. Before the vote, President Gay Jennings asked for a moment of silence, saying, “This is a historic vote.”

The vote ended a 52-year separation. In 1966, the House of Bishops had voted unilaterally to separate from the Episcopal Church in Cuba.

A joyous celebration took place on the floor after the vote, in which deputies voted “sí” to indicate their asset. Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, bishop of Cuba, spoke to the house, saying, “Right now that I know the Holy Spirit is blowing on this entire convention.”

She asked the convention to observe a moment of silence in memory of those who “experienced so much pain because of the separation. I think of all of those people who are alive, some of them elderly now, some of them who have already gone, and are with God now … I would like you to stand to honor them, to honor their life, to honor their ministry in the Episcopal Church in Cuba.”

After presenting the bishop with a scarf patterned with the Episcopal Church shield, Jennings asked the house to suspend the rules to give the Rev. Gerardo Logildes Coroas, Delgado’s husband, and Mayelin Aqueda, the president of the ECW in Cuba, seat and voice in the House of Deputies immediately. The two were seated at a table in the house marked by a new standard labeled for their dioceses.

“It is a great day in the life of our church,” Jennings said. “Welcome home.”

photo credit:  Cynthia Black

The article ¡Cuba Sí! appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

My great-great grandfather and the founding of a black Austin college

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:41am

Racial justice and reconciliation is a theme lacing through much of the work of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas.

The Episcopal Church has struggled—and faltered—with this for all of its existence.

Yet there are also stories of courage in our church, some nearly lost to time. One of these nearly forgotten stories is here in Austin.

Not far from the Austin Convention Center, on the east side of I-35, stands Huston-Tillotson University, an historically African America school officially connected to the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ—and connected to my family.

This thriving university would not have been born without the Episcopal Church, and one parish in particular—St. David’s—in the 1870s.

The story of Huston-Tillotson is a story of survival against official persecution, vigilante violence and a chronic lack of financial support from churches in the North.

The school was founded in 1875 by my great-great grandfather, the Rev. George Richardson, a Methodist pastor from Minnesota, who with his wife, Caroline, had used their home as a stop on the Underground Railroad. In the Civil War, he served as the white chaplain to a black Union regiment in Memphis.

After the war, he felt his mission incomplete. He came to Texas with the dream of starting a school for the freed slaves. He kept a journal, and I have that journal.

George Richardson had no idea how to start, and hardly enough money to rent a room for himself and his oldest son, Owen. He soon found a partner: a black pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Webster, and together they launched a one-room school in Dallas in an old wooden church. The school was soon burned by the Ku Klux Klan. Rebuilt, the school was closed by the city of Dallas after the teachers could not pass an exam designed so they could not possibly pass it. Pastor Webster died not long after.

George came to Austin to restart the school, and it was here where his work intersected with the Episcopal Church.

St. David’s Episcopal Church was founded in Austin by the Rev. Charles Gillette, who was pro-Union during the Civil War. When he refused to recite a prayer on Sundays ordered by his bishop calling for the victory of the Confederate army, Gillette was forced to flee. He settled in New York, never to return to Texas.

In 1867 Gillette was elected the first Secretary and General Agent of the Commission of Home Missions to Colored People—the Episcopal Church’s organization establishing schools for the freed slaves. Gillette raised funds to build black schools in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas. He died suddenly in March 1869.

Charles Gillette deserves to be remembered by our church.

During the Reconstruction years, Gillette’s house in Austin stood empty. His family would not allow it to be occupied.

In 1875, George Richardson, relocated in Austin, heard about the Rev. Gillette and the abandoned church rectory. The house was large—eight rooms—and built of concrete and bricks. Gillette had designed it for a seminary, with the lower floors for classrooms, and the upper floor for living quarters.

George believed that both its size and pedigree from Fr. Gillette made it perfect for a school serving the freed slaves and their children. He appealed to the Gillette family, and they approved using it for the school. The Richardsons moved in and started classes. “We dignified it with the name Gillette Mansion,” my great-great grandfather wrote. It was there that the future Huston-Tillotson University was launched.

Gillette Mansion was torn down long ago, and the school went through many trials. It closed more than once for lack of funds. The estate of Samuel Huston, an Iowa abolitionist, eventually provided enough money to keep the school open, and hence the name of the school (locally pronounced “Houston”).

In the 1950s, Samuel Huston College merged with another black college, Tillotson College, connected to the United Church of Christ, and the name was changed to Huston-Tillotson College. Not long ago, with graduate programs, it became a university.

Among H-T’s illustrious alumni are the Rev. Cecil Williams, retired pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. The faculty has included John Mason Brewer, a prominent scholar of African-American folklore. A young athlete named Jackie Robinson coached the basketball team in 1944-45 before going to the Negro baseball leagues and then on to make history.

The connection to the Episcopal Church continues. St. James Episcopal Church in Austin was founded by H-T alumni, and former rector Greg Rickel is now the bishop of the Diocese of Olympia.

The school sits on Bluebonnet Hill, the highest hill in Austin, and today has 965 students. You can learn more about Huston-Tillotson University here:

George Richardson died in 1911 at the age of 86. Near the end of his life, he returned to Northfield, Minnesota, where he had spent much of his ministry before the Civil War. He preached one last sermon, recounting the many trials and many miles he had traveled.

He ended with this: “Not only is God’s Almightiness in the sense of strength available; but his Almightiness in the form of love.”

The Rev. James Richardson is an alternate deputy from Diocese of Northern California, interim dean of Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, and a former political writer with The Sacramento Bee.

The article My great-great grandfather and the founding of a black Austin college appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Day of the Purple Scarf

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:41am

Seminary of the Southwest students, staff, and faculty including dean and president Cynthia Briggs Kittredge (third from right). Photo: Eric Scott

Of the 160 bishops active in the House of Bishops, only 21—or 13 percent—are women. To raise awareness of the effort to continue to break the “stained glass ceiling” in the House of Bishops, supporters of moving more women into the episcopacy declared July 9 to be Purple Scarf Day at the 79th General Convention. Purple scarves could be spotted in just about every corner, from those in the exhibition hall booths to many of those who rose to speak the amendments and resolutions on the floor.

At 1:30 p.m., about 150 to 200 purple scarf-wearing deputies, bishops, and other convention-goers gathered outside the worship space in the Austin Convention Center. Those gathered heard from Judy Stark, Chair of the Board for Transition Ministry, who called upon several women bishops to share their perspectives. “Brother bishops” were also welcomed to share their perspectives on the need for more women to serve as bishops.

Bishop Chilton Knudsen of Maryland shared the story of her path to the episcopacy and the various episcopal roles in which she has served. Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of Indianapolis observed how “bishops are picked at the parish meeting,” elaborating on how leadership decisions made at the parish level ultimately impact leadership at the diocesan level.

Both Baskerville-Burrows and Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of Central New York emphasized that still having children at home should not be perceived as a barrier to a woman who is discerning a call to be a bishop. Duncan-Probe added that, in her experience, serving as a bishop has been better in some respects for raising children than serving as a parish priest. She noted the many ways people express resistance to a woman serving as a bishop, from those who told her she was too short to be a bishop to others who told her that DeDe just isn’t a good name for a bishop.

Sister Miriam Elizabeth of the Order of St. Helena highlighted the importance of prayer, both on the part of those who are discerning a possible call to the episcopate and by those supporting women who may be discerning such a call. She invited individuals who would like to be added to her prayer list to reach out to her, then asked that those assembled at the Purple Scarf rally join together in prayer, especially for the Rev. Martha N. Macgill of Maryland and the Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber of North Carolina, who are the two nominees for election as the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas. The election will be held on October 19 in Topeka.

At the 79th General Convention, a number of resolutions were proposed in response to the #metoo and #timesup movements, many by the Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation and its five subcommitees. Resolutions related to women serving as leaders in the church include A140 Diversity Guidelines for Episcopal Elections, which did not make it out of the legislative Committee on Church Wide Leadership; A143 Study Career Development of Female and Minority Clergy, which is on the House of Bishops’ consent calendar tomorrow; C060 Breaking the Episcopal Stained Glass Ceiling, which comes to the House of Deputies tomorrow, and D086 Inclusive Practices for Diverse Representation, which is awaiting action in the Committee on Governance and Structure.

“The Church is to be a beacon of what is possible, good, and right in society, and yet participates in outright discrimination, setting a poor role model for women and girls,” wrote the proposes of Resolution C060 in an explanation in support of the resolution. “The Church should always be at the forefront of justice, and the status and mistreatment of women and girls must be a part of that gospel mission. Something must be done to remove the log from our own eye, so that we may work to remove it from that of the society in which we live.”

Originally proposed by the Diocese of Newark, C060 proposes authorizing a twelve-person task force with the charge of “research[ing] sexism in The Episcopal Church, and the role it plays in pay equity, status, and gender-based harassment.” Resolution C060 is scheduled for consideration in the House of Deputies on July 10.

Although women have served as bishops in the Episcopal Church since the consecration of Bishop Barbara Harris almost 30 years ago, “the overall percentage of women in the House of Bishops today is little changed from 20 years ago, especially amongst diocesan bishops,” according to “Cast Wide the Net” on the Episcopal Church’s web site,

Province VIII, on the West Coast, has the most active female bishops with five.. Provinces I, in New England and III in the Mid-Atlantic have four each.

The article Day of the Purple Scarf appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

“Africa is not stagnant”

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:40am

Photo: Jon Richardson

Before he left General Convention on Sunday, Dr. Masiiwa Ragies Gunda, an Old Testament scholar from Zimbabwe, sat down for an interview with Rachel Harrison of Deputy News. In 2015, through Resolution A051, General Convention commissioned “a listing of information and resources developed by African Anglican leaders and organizations working to curb anti-gay and anti-transgender violence, discrimination, and marginalization.” In 2017, the presiding officers commissioned Gunda to complete the report.

Gunda, who attended the convention as one of the Anglican Communion guests invited by the presiding bishop, the president of the House of Deputies, and the executive officer of General Convention, fulfilled that duty by submitting “Information and Resources Developed by African Anglican Christians for Curbing Anti-Gay and Anti-Transgender Violence, Discrimination and Marginalization.” Gunda, who has a PhD from Bayreuth University in Germany, spoke to the House of Deputies on Thursday to share his findings.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Rachel Harrison:  What would you like the attendees to take away from your research?

Masiiwa Ragies Gunda:  For the House of Deputies to understand that [there is a perception] particularly in relation to the Episcopal Church as a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, that the Episcopal Church is going it alone. For some people in the Episcopal Church, this is reason enough to stop, particularly when it comes to developments around the humanity and rights of sexual minorities. In response to a resolution passed by General Convention in 2015, I did a study for the Episcopal Church to try and demonstrate that, actually, the idea that all Africans are against the humanity of sexual minorities was a lie. There were a number of African Anglican leaders and scholars who operate positively and have tried tirelessly to have sexual minorities integrated in the Anglican Communion within the African context.

So that was the gist of my presentation to the House of Deputies, to try and make them realize that members of the Anglican Communion are not at the same stage when it comes to accepting the humanity of sexual minorities, and that Africa is not stagnant. There are movements that are happening which may not be too visible for outsiders, but they are visible to us who are working within the Anglican Communion in the African continent.

RH:  How do you feel then about the vote, just hours ago for prayer book revision? Do you worry that the vote could move the Episcopal Church further away from the greater Anglican Communion?

MRG:  Generally institutions are too slow to react to their circumstances. They think as institutions, but in reality, we should actually be responding to the reality of our times.  There were people that sat down a long time ago and, responding to their contexts, came up with this prayer book. The prayer book is not a timeless document; it is a document that came out of a particular situation and a particular context. When a situation so demands, we begin to rework the prayer book. What is happening, I think, is possibly a reclaiming in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole of moving from being an institution to being a movement. You must always be reacting and responding to circumstances of the time.

RH:  So you see it as positive.

MRG:  It is! My hope is that, instead of reacting in a defensive way, a fighting way, that we understand that what we are doing is confronting today issues that have not been dealt with in the old prayer book. So that the new prayer book becomes a contextually relevant document.

RH:  For you then, prayer book revision is a return to our roots as Anglicans.

MRG:  Church politics is not too far removed from international secular politics, and particularly from developments in American politics. The way that Donald Trump is viewed generally also impacts the way that the Episcopal Church is viewed by fellow Anglican Communion members. So it is to be expected that some groups may feel that, because you have started [reforms], that you must be doing something wrong. But that’s something that you would expect. I think that even when it came to the abolition of slavery there were some that felt that the move towards abolition was not the right one, but today nobody questions that. So, with time, good decisions will stand the test of time.

RH:  So you see now as being a good time for change.

MRG:  It is; it is. I think that, generally, the nations of the Earth are crying for good leadership. This is the time for the movement to provide that leadership and you can’t provide that leadership unless you have renewed yourself, unless you have understood the context under which you are operating. Leadership can only be provided by a movement that has acknowledged the context within which it is operating.

RH:  What would you say is the leadership that the Anglican Communion needs right now?

MRG:  What we need is to accept that, inasmuch as the Jesus Movement stood for justice, empathy, and fairness, this world is lacking in all of those things. The lack of justice manifests itself in so many ways: communities where food is being thrown away, but I also know communities where people are going hungry. And in this world, you know of a community in which the humanity of a person is not highly regarded, but you also know of communities where the humanity of individuals is valued. It takes somebody to try and steer the universe towards realizing that justice in the United States should be justice in some far flung underdeveloped community, because even those people out there are still human beings in the image of God. Therefore, this is a time for the Episcopal Church and for the wider Anglican Communion to seriously introspect and to rededicate themselves to rediscovering the values of the Jesus Movement. As a church, we have become more like secular politicians, which is why we can’t provide moral leadership in our societies. What is happening is an attempt by some to claim that moral high ground, so that we can provide leadership.

RH:  You think that the Communion is in a place to provide leadership; so long as we get ourselves together?

MRG:  The world is crying for leadership and it is time for us to provide that leadership. But we can only do that if we have understood the context in which we are operating. We do not want the provision of leadership to be only on Presiding Bishop Curry or the Archbishop of Canterbury; we want the entire Communion and the entire leadership and the general Episcopalians and Anglicans to be in a position to provide leadership. For us to do that, we need the kind of resources that people can make use of. Which is why the question of the prayer book and resources we use as Anglicans and Episcopalians come into play. So we need to update them so that they reflect and respond to the realities of our time.

Rachel Harrison is a rising senior at Seminary of the Southwest and a candidate for Holy Orders from the Diocese of Ohio.

The article “Africa is not stagnant” appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

HoB Opens Door to Liturgical Revisions

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 7:09pm

The House of Bishops on Tuesday passed a resolution that would open the door to revision of the Episcopal Church’s liturgical texts.

The resolution, a substitute for resolution A068, was drafted by Bishop Andy Doyle of the Diocese of Texas in consultation with a group of more than 50 bishops with whom he consulted after Monday’s legislative session in which the house first discussed the matter.

The issue now returns to the House of Deputies which, on Saturday, passed a different version of the same resolution.

In introducing the substitute resolution, Doyle said he tried to address the concerns of his colleagues regarding the Deputies’ version of A068, while “moving liturgical revision forward while honoring our past.”

Deputies on the relevant legislative committee will meet Wednesday morning. Should they recommend adoption of the substitute resolution with no amendments, it could come to the floor of the house tomorrow.

The substitute resolution proposes creation of a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision comprising 10 lay people, 10 priests or deacons, and 10 bishops to ensure that “diverse voices of our church are active participants in this liturgical revision.”

The relationship of the task force to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is not spelled out in the resolution which also “envisions bishops engaging worshiping communities in experimentation and the creation of alternative texts to offer to the wider church.  The resolution urges each diocese “to create a liturgical commission to collect, reflect, teach and share these resources with the SCLM.”

The bishops’ resolution also envisions streamlining the process by which the church receives and approves liturgical texts. It directs the SCLM in consultation with the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons to propose constitutional and canonical revisions to the 2021 General Convention that would facilitate the church in being “adaptive in its engagement of future generations of Episcopalians, multiplying, connecting, and disseminating new liturgies for mission.”

The resolution memorializes the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as “a Prayer Book of the church preserving the psalter, liturgies, The Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents and Trinitarian Formularies.”

It proposes a $201,000 budget for the translation of liturgical materials and encourages Executive Council “to identify additional funds in the amount of $200,000” to begin the liturgical revision process.

Before the debate on the resolution began, Bishop Steve Lane of the Diocese of Maine informed the house that the Committee on Program, Budget and Finance had voted not to include money for prayer book revision in the budget it would release tomorrow. He said the committee, which he chairs, “is trusting our collaborative system” including trusting in the Executive Council to respond “if the church adopts a program of revision.”

In supporting the resolution, Bishop William Franklin of Western New York, a church historian, reminded the house that the English Reformation had begun with the liturgical revisions of Thomas Cranmer. “He was burned at the stake,” Franklin said, eliciting laughter in the house. “It will be a great investment for our church,” he said, “as it has been in our church since the 16th century.”

Several bishops who yesterday expressed reservations about the version of the resolution that had been passed by the House of Deputies said the substitute resolution allayed their fears. Bishop Skip Adams of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina said the substitute resolution lowered his level of concern from four on a scale of five to two on a scale of five.

Several bishops expressed reservations about designating the Book of Common Prayer 1979 as “a” prayer book of the church rather than “the” prayer book of the church.

Doyle said that using the indefinite article allowed parishes that wanted to continue to use the 1928 prayer book to do so. In addition, he said, memorializing the 1979 prayer book as “the” prayer book of the church would tie the hands of future conventions who might wish to make a different designation.

The article HoB Opens Door to Liturgical Revisions appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

#GC79 Podcast: Among Friends in This Faith

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 7:07pm

Miguel Escobar, director of Anglican studies at EDS@Union, hosts the seventh nightly #GC79 podcast.

Zena Link is an urban educator, deputy from Western Massachusetts, member of Executive Council and serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance.

Scott Madison, who works in e-commerce is vice chair of the Diocesan Host Committee, and has been one of the key organizers of this General Convention.

Topics of discussion include Truth and Reconciliation, Israel-Palestine, gun violence, the work of PB&F, prayer book revision, and strong lay leadership.

Listen to the podcast.

The article #GC79 Podcast: Among Friends in This Faith appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Podcast de Nancy Frausto, Episodio 2: Eduardo Solomón Rivera

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 7:05pm

La Rda. Nancy Frausto, rectora asociada de la Iglesia Episcopal de San Lucas en Long Beach, California, y miembro fundador del Grupo de Trabajo del Santuario de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, presenta un podcast de #GC79.

Invitado: Eduardo Solomón Rivera es director interino de comunicaciones de la Diócesis del Sureste de Florida y miembro de la directiva de Forma, una red de formadores cristianos.

Los temas incluyen: El trabajo de Forma en la iglesia, resoluciones importantes para la red de Forma, esperanzas para la Iglesia Episcopal del futuro.

Escuche aquí.

The article Podcast de Nancy Frausto, Episodio 2: Eduardo Solomón Rivera appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

The Hutto Service: Taking the Next Step

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 10:17am

By now you’ve probably heard that the women who came to the United States seeking asylum and are now incarcerated in the Hutto Residential Center watched our prayer service on the ballfields near their prison and waved towels through the slit windows to let us know they were watching.

Yesterday in the House of Deputies, President Gay Clark Jennings read this tweet from Grassroots Leadership, the local group that helped organize the event.

“A woman called from Hutto after today’s prayer and told us they were glued to the windows until the last bus left the detention center. Women inside were crying, saying they knew they weren’t alone after seeing so many people there. Thank you.”

If  you were moved by the service and are ready to take the next step, you can contribute to the Grassroots Leadership’s Hutto Community Deportation Defense and Bond Fund.

Grassroots Leadeship tells us that gifts “will be used to release people detained and ensure they remain free. Bonds on average are $1,500-$10,000.  Funds will be used for bond, basic needs, and commissary so women can call their children and community, and other emergency needs.”

The article The Hutto Service: Taking the Next Step appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

Creating a Big Tent for Formation

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 10:15am

The Episcopal Church has seen a renewed focus on evangelism this triennium, inspired largely by Presiding Bishop Curry’s evangelism initiatives and the work of Canon for Evangelism and Reconciliation, the Rev. Stephanie Spellers. However, those who work in the area of formation are quick to point out the vital connection between evangelism and formation.

“We can’t evangelize if we don’t know the Bible,” says Bill Campbell, executive director of Forma, a network for Christian formation for the Episcopal Church. “The people who are incredibly well formed are the ones who are going to be doing this evangelism, and the people who understand what it means to serve God in the world are the ones who are going to be doing this evangelism.”

Andrea McKellar, who serves as secretary of the legislative Committee on Christian Formation and Discipleship agrees. “We have so much energy that has been put into evangelism, and now people are realizing they need formation in order to do this work of evangelism,” says McKellar, diocesan ministry developer for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. “People are contacting those of us who do work with formation, and asking us for resources. Collaborations are starting to happen.”

McKellar’s legislative committee received 18 resolutions. “We’ve been talking in the Forma advocacy team about how few formation resolutions have come forward this year—There’s nothing about Confirmation, for example, and there’s always been something about Confirmation,” McKellar says.

The team behind resolution A022 — Create a Theological Education Networking Team hopes to address some of these challenges behind sharing formation resources across the church. “We really did our work this triennium as a big research project,” says the Rev. Dr. Susanna Singer, who chaired the Task Force on Clergy Leadership in Small Congregations. “We conducted a large survey of bishops, canons to the ordinary and commission on ministry chairs, and we also interviewed about 60 individuals around the church and did follow-up interviews with those who filled out the surveys.

“One of the things that came through loud and clear from the data was the sense that there were many good models and strategies and programs out there for non-traditional formation for leadership in ministry, but that people were frustrated because they were aware of what a slim sliver of them they knew about,” says Singer, associate professor of ministry development at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. “It really depended on who you know. And particularly the under-resourced dioceses. They just haven’t got the staff to do the digging around and the phone calling and everything.”

In analyzing the data, the Task Force started to imagine a “common table” of information. “We thought, ‘What if there were a group of people paid just a little bit, just to make sure that the work gets done, whose job it was to reflect together, to be contacts and eyes and ears out there in the church in the broadest possible way, and to pull resources out of the silos in which they’re hidden, and get all of them on the table,’” Singer says. “And then this Theological Education Networking Team would come up with some tried and true models, so that when, for example, a diocese calls up the team and asks about models for local clergy leadership training, they can say, ‘Here are three different ways this is being done in different parts of the country, here are some people to speak to, here are some academic avenues people have used to get course material, and if you want a conversation about it, we can chat.’”

The team also heard a call for training for commissions on ministry, especially in discerning and supporting vocational calls or people from non-Anglo communities. “For example, we talked to somebody who leads a Chinese American congregation who has a member discerning a vocation to priesthood,” Singer says. “But in that culture there is no way that he should be separated from his community because the elders in the culture play such an enormous role in both discerning his vocation and also supporting it as his theological education goes on.”

“We talked about the low numbers of people of color in the ordination process, and we discovered that there are either no guidelines at all, or if guidelines exist, they are so generic that they fail to appreciate cultural differences,” says the Rev. Canon Gregory Jacobs, a member the task force and canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Newark.

“We want to provide resources to our commissions on ministry to help them with their sense of what identifying leaders in a cultural diversity context looks like, and to move away from this kind of one-size-fits-all in terms of how we understand formation and the requirements for formation and theological education,” Jacobs says. “I’m hoping that TENT can help broaden the cultural diversity of the formation process that we have throughout TEC.

“There was also a universal recognition that the existing formal theological education system—seminaries—were not fulfilling the responsibility of formation for both lay leadership as well as clergy leadership. It was good that we had members from that segment of theological education on our task force, and they readily agreed that, yes, seminaries and other theological institutions were not fulfilling the role,” says Jacobs, who also served on the Task Force on Clergy Leadership Formation in Small Congregations.

“The old black box model of seminary formation has gone away,” Singer says. “There are multiple  theological education programs out there, the landscape is very diverse, and it’s going to stay that way. Most of the seminaries—certainly CDSP—are fully on board with that. But in a diverse ecosystem like this, there need to be some cultivation practices and resources being made available that have a good track record. If you’re going to diversify and move to local models, there has to be a lot more access to alternative because there isn’t one standard model anymore.

“In the long run, it will result in a stronger and more diverse cadre of leaders, but at the moment our research revealed a sense of, ‘There’s so much out here, and it’s so hard to put together and to think it through.’”

The resolution, initially titled “Creating a Formation Networking Team,” drew some concerns from those who work with Forma, which provides formation networking, sharing and training for people across the church. “We’ve been in touch with executive director Bill Campbell regularly about the work, and when we did the follow-up conversations with people after the resolutions we drafted in January and February, Bill was in that conversation too,” Singer says.

“Forma does fantastic work, but our understanding is that work is more in the arena of general baptismal formation. After our discussions, we changed the name of the body we were proposing deliberately to ‘Theological Education Networking Team,’ to indicate that really this refers to a specialist arena. This is formation for people who are called into ministry leadership, whether that’s ordained or licensed. There’s no way we want to undercut what Forma does; it’s excellent and the church needs it. But it also needs this.”

“The new substitute resolution looks at just clergy, or ‘specialist’ formation, and lets Forma do what Forma’s always been doing, which is empowering the laity — making sure we have strong lay people who are committed disciple makers,” Campbell says. However, he maintans that Forma could achieve the task force’s aims better and faster.

Forma was started 21 years ago by a group of women who wanted to talk about Sunday school curriculum, Campbell says. “They wanted to come together, form relationships, and compare notes on curriculum. And that’s it—that’s how a network is formed. People need to trust one another, they need to know what they’re about,  and I don’t think handing someone at 815 a bunch of money and a job title is going to form a network.”

McKellar has proposed Resolution D030 – Supporting Formation, which asks that a $50,000 grant be designated each year of the next three years to support Forma’s work.

“None of this money would be used for salaries or administrative costs,” McKellar says. “It would all be used specifically for programming, and lifting up programs. That’s where we can figure out what’s working. These certificate programs that are training people to become professionals in lay ministry, that’s working. The funds would be used for grassroots networking and things like the certificate programs.

Jacobs says that he is uncertain how the task force ran afoul of Forma.

“The final product of our task force is talking about a universal offering of resources,” he says. “This would include appropriate resources for Forma to use, in addition to identifying Forma itself as a primary resource for congregations or for dioceses who wanted more in-depth programming around leadership formation for lay people.

“So throughout the process I will admit that I had difficulty understanding how what we are proposing could be thought of as in opposition to Forma. It is clearly different from what Forma is doing. We’re not talking about offering a program here, or running our own set of programs. I think there’s plenty of room in the arena for both Forma and for TENT.”

McKellar says she is more at ease with the revised version of A022 that is now working its way through the legislative process. “This resolution has been edited in the hopes of giving it its best chance at being successful,” she says. “The resolution now calls for a task force to be developed to pull together the resources that exist and share them with congregational leaders, both lay and ordained, and dioceses to have access to the breadth of materials especially for alternative theological education pathways.”

Meanwhile, the tent Forma requires is getting larger. Its annual conference has more than doubled in size in the last three years. “We had almost 450 people this year in Charleston,” McKellar says. “So there’s a hunger for it.”

The challenge, she says, is to draw a more diverse group to the conference, especially people from small churches. “A lot of work has been going toward scholarships to the conference so that we really can be accessible to everyone,” McKellar says.

Kathleen Moore is communications manager at Canticle Communications.

The article Creating a Big Tent for Formation appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018

“A crisis of Formation”

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 10:13am

We are in a crisis of formation.

I am reluctant to use the word “crisis,” as we have been in this state for so many years that it feels alarmist to use it now. As a native Iowan I don’t even use emergency words when there is an emergency, as “I am not happy about this,” translates to “I AM FURIOUS.” However, it is time to use the word crisis now, because although it is overused, it is actually true. We as a denomination are neglecting lifelong Christian formation, to our own detriment.

How do I know this?

I know this because we are not talking about formation and discipleship at this convention. Why aren’t we talking about formation? We have made significant decisions about lifelong formation at the denominational level which have had a significant impact on where we are today. Those decisions have not only impacted the conversations we have at General Convention but have impacted the work we are all doing in our own contexts.

In the past nine years we, as General Convention, have made significant changes to the structures and governance of the church. We chose to end the work of the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and cut the Episcopal Church Formation Department budget by over $2,000,000, nearly cutting the department entirely in 2012. We have also reduced the staff of the office from nine full time employees to four. The Episcopal Church Formation Department now has four full-time employees:

  • Director for Formation, Youth and Young Adult Ministries
  • Officer for Young Adult and Campus Ministries
  • Officer for Digital Formation and Events
  • Associate for Formation Department

The end result of these staffing changes means The Episcopal Church has a formation department that has the necessary funding to work only with those ages 13-30. We as the Episcopal Church only fund formation ministries at the denominational level for eighteen years. Only eighteen years!

There is no criticism to be aimed at the formation department. It does remarkable work within their constraints. We need to own that we, as the Episcopal Church, do not support formation ministries with children, adults, older adults, or lifelong formation at the denominational level.

Following changes enacted at the 78th General Convention, there is no commission, committee, agency, board or task force truly tasked with specifically engaging lifelong formation and discipleship for all the baptized. As a result, there is a significant lack of legislation in front of this convention that engages a conversation around the ministry of the baptized. At recent conventions we have had lively conversations around how we engage the formation of our largest order of ministry, the laity. We have raised up:

  • The Children’s Charter for the Church
  • The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation (which informs the current Charter for Evangelism)
  • Safeguarding God’s Children
  • awareness of the Five Marks of Mission
  • questions around the role of Confirmation
  • resources for special needs
  • electronic resources for Christian formation
  • ministries to, by and with older adults
  • baptismal theology
  • certification for those who engage Christian formation with all ages
  • and formation curriculum for Province IX.

For the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church we have very few pieces of legislation which open conversation around the formation of the ministry of all the baptized.

Being formed as a disciple takes time. It isn’t sexy. It will never be the new “it” or buzzword. But it is at the root of all that we do as Christians. If we as a denomination choose not to invest in formation, if we don’t pay attention, if we are not intentional about it, formation will not happen. There are opportunities at this General Convention to make a change. D030 and A136 both support and encourage growth in our current formation structures and networks.

We have to be talking about, engaging, and funding formation ministries for all ages and supporting that work at the denominational level if we want to be in a “loving, liberating, life giving relationship with God, with each other, and with the earth.” We cannot do any of this good work of convention if we are not actively being formed as disciples of the risen Christ and creating spaces where the Holy Spirit can do her work of creating disciples.

In the words of Resolution A082 of the 2009 General Convention: Lifelong Christian Faith Formation in The Episcopal Church is Lifelong growth in the knowledge, service and love of God as followers of Christ and is informed by Scripture, Tradition and Reason.

We are not currently engaging in lifelong formation and discipleship as a denomination. At this convention we have the ability to change that trend by supporting D030 and A136, but we have to make active choices to do so. Will we?

Missy Morain is the Director of Program Ministry at The Parish of St. Matthew, Pacific Palisades, in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and is an advocate for lifelong Christian formation. 


The article “A crisis of Formation” appeared first on House of Deputies News.

Categories: GC2018