GC79 isn’t yet wrapped up, and deputies are not yet through the resolutions that they will deal with; they continue through Friday. These are ten of the most important things:
1 Marriage for All (Resolution B012)
This important resolution (B012) seeks to make marriage rites for same-sex couples available in every diocese where such marriages are legal (which rules out some non-US dioceses). On Monday, July 9, the House of Deputies (HOD) discussed it. There was much passionate debate. Deputy Scot McComas spoke in favor of it – watch his testimony:
Our deputation supported it:
It overwhelmingly passed the HOD and went to the HOB.
Wednesday, the House of Bishops (HOB) passionately discussed it, amended it with a small technical clause and passed it overwhelmingly (with a voice vote). It went back to the HOD because both houses must pass the same text. On Friday, July 13, it was overwhelmingly passed.
So what does it do?
B012 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. Bishops cannot prohibit this; that episcopal oversight is removed. It authorizes continued trial use of two marriage rites in current use, and authorizes publication of two more. Those two additional marriage rites are the Blessing of a Civil Marriage 2 and an Order for Marriage 2. These two rites fulfill a pastoral need for people who have had civil marriages and seek blessing from the church, and for people who want to make a lifelong, monogamous commitment other than marriage (perhaps so they can keep retirement benefits). The new rites will be available on Advent 1.
- Liturgical Resources 2
- A Move Toward Resolving the Impasse on Marriage
- Marriage rites resolution heading back to House of Deputies
- General Convention moves one step closer toward sacramental marriage equality
2 Book of Common Prayer Revisions
2A Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer(Resolution A068)
Fear about Book of Common Prayer (BCP) revisions has been rampant: fear that it would be done, and comforts and traditional concepts lost in a cultural re-do; fear that it wouldn’t be done, and our church’s pledge to welcome LGBT and non-binary siblings would seem false and insufficient. Rest easy. A plan has passed both houses that works toward the desired goal of updated, inclusive, and approved liturgies:
- The 1979 BCP has been memorialized. It may continue to be used with no end in sight.
- Work is authorized to proceed on liturgical and prayer book revision. An important goal is to have inclusive and expansive language and imagery, and expression of care of God’s creation. Translations will be provided.
- There will be a more dynamic process for discerning common worship. A new 30-member task force on liturgical and prayer book revision with diverse voices will be formed. Bishops are to engage worshiping communities in experimentation and creation of alternative texts to offer the wider church. There will be churchwide engagement on liturgical development.
The church will bring new things forward as it considers how new and revised liturgies can be given to the church without long and expensive road of BCP revision.
2B Holy Eucharist Rite II with Expansive Language (Resolution D078)
Resolution D078 is essentially another form of prayer book revision. Rite II Prayers A, B, D expansive language versions have been authorized for trial use; Prayer C is referred back to committee for possible revision for trial use. Translations will be provided.
This resolution gives the church the immediate option to use language in our worship that has other than male-gendered images of God, and male-referenced pronouns for humanity. We’ll have expression of a bigger God and our human siblings who are not male and female, immediately. This matters because the words we pray form what we believe.
Convention faced the Episcopal Church’s role in and response to the #MeToo movement with resolutions, reflections and the hope for reconciliation. The House of Bishops invited Episcopalians to a July 4 “Liturgy of Listening.” This service of lament and confession centered on stories of sexual abuse and exploitation in the Episcopal Church. The need for work to rectify gender-based discrimination is seen in equality of pay, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and gross misuse of power. Before convention, close to 30 related resolutions were filed.
A video of deputies responding to #MeToo and Church is here:
4 Racial Reconciliation
This Convention has offered expansive conversations on racism and racial healing and spiritual transformation. This topic launched the first TEConversation, held in joint session, with bishops joining deputies in the HOD. The racial reconciliation team developed a reconciliation framework into Becoming Beloved Community, which now is the centerpiece of the Episcopal Church’s racial reconciliation efforts.
Saturday evening Convention learned more about the work and life of love in a revival at Austin’s large Palmer Center. The revival combined inspiring worship, compelling teaching, prayer, and engagement with God’s mission – all for the sake of the spiritual renewal and transformation in our church. Presiding Bishop Curry brought some fire!
- Presiding Bishop preaches ‘God is love and gives life’ message during Austin revival
- sermon text
- sermon video
6 Public prayer & public witness
There were three opportunities for public prayer and public witness.
- Bishops United Against Gun Violence led daily prayer in the convention center lobby before afternoon legislative sessions.
- Bishops United Against Gun Violence sponsored a prayer and witness event at Brush Square Park. Deputies and bishops gathered on Sunday morning to pray and act against gun violence. Read Alternate Deputy Brent Walker’s Revival and Witness and Episcopalians Unite Against Gun Violence and watch Public Witness: Bishops United Against Gun Violence
- A prayer vigil at the Hutto Detention Center was where over 1000 Episcopalians practiced their beliefs, gathering to support parents and children who have been torn apart by our government in harsh immigration law enforcement. Read: Alternate Deputy Kevin Johnson’sJoining Episcopalians at Hutto Detention Center and also Episcopalians Gather in Public Witness Outside Immigrant Detention Center.
There is a hunger in our church (remember always that we’re not a national church, we’re international) for authorized translations of liturgy that actually work, certainly in Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole. A couple of points to make here. 1. The Spanish and French translations of the 1979 BCP are wooden, almost word-for-word translations, thus often unspeakable and generally unworkable. “It’s like you’re thinking in English and trying to write in Spanish,” one speaker shared. 2. On Haitian Creole: Haiti is our largest diocese, and the translation of the 1979 BCP provided for them was French, which only a small part of their population speaks. A Haitian spoke about this, calling out something like this: “Y’all know that the language of the colonizer is still thrust upon us, right?” It’s kind of a double whammy for Haitian Episcopalians.
Our church recognized the need for translations and is moving quickly to provide professional dynamic equivalence translation in Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole for any new liturgies materials. Translations should reflect the idiomatic style and cultural context of their languages.
8 ¡Cuba Sí!
We welcomed Cuba back into The Episcopal Church after we cut them off 52 years ago in a tense geopolitical time. Both houses voted unanimously to re-admit the Episcopal Church of Cuba as a diocese of the Episcopal Church. Cuba will become part of Province II. The Bishop of Cuba and her delegation were greeted with a standing ovation. Cuba Libre!
Read: Both Houses of the Episcopal Church’s 79th General Convention vote unanimously to admit Cuba as a diocese
9 Media Hub continues to improve
The church’s media hub allows people to watch from afar via livestream and catch up on what they missed with on-demand viewing. Anyone interested in the Convention can tune in to worship, follow legislation, or listen to conversations taking place. The hub features ten separate streaming channels, including four dedicated Spanish streams. Two shows, a talk show Inside General Convention/ Adéntro de la Genéral, and TEConversations, a new format for discussion, are new this year. Viewing rates are high and viewing time is reasonably long. Read: Episcopal Church Media Hub Engages Thousands, Remotely
The pigeon in the House of Deputies offered a brilliant levity. Read: Impeccable pigeon captivates 79th General Convention with real, digital presence
There will be more to reflect on
So much didn’t make this top-ten list: creation care, equal pay, immigration, social justice, ministry growth, Book of Occasional Services, Lesser Feasts and Fasts revisions, leadership, evangelism, Israel-Palestine, rules of order changes to allow nursing moms on house floor with babies, the budget, inspiring sermons… it’s a long list. Seek out information on what matters most to you. One great place to start is at the Episcopal News Service’s General Convention 2018 news category.