Removing the Confederate battle flag from churches

The House of Deputies adopted resolution D044 – Removal of Confederate Battle Flag. The proposer of the resolution, the Rev. Betsy Baumgarten spoke on behalf of the entire Mississippi deputation. “We felt as deputies of Mississippi we need to speak to this issue, but it’s not just our issue.”

“Symbols are important; they help to shape our belief and our continued understanding of God… We believe it is time we remove that symbol which for some is claimed as a symbol of heritage but for many more has been and continues to be a symbol of slavery, racial injustice, and, now more than ever, a sign of the white supremacist movement.” – The Rev. Betsy Baumgarten

Read the story from Episcopal News Service about this vote.

Go now in peace… General Convention is adjourned

General Convention has now concluded. Watch for articles to continue to be released detailing some of the events of this very full nine-day session.

Adjournment in the House of Bishops

The Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase presented a courtesy resolution honoring The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori:

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 78th General Convention voice its profound thanksgiving for the leadership and ministry of the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori as she soon completes her nine-year term of office as the 26th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, and;

Be it further resolved, she has served this Church as Presiding Bishop and as Bishop of Nevada with great distinction and faithfulnessness, and;

Be it further resolved, she has represented The Episcopal Church in the councils of the Anglican Communion with humility and generosity of spirit, and,

Be it further resolved, her witness has inspired us to see the world through the eyes of one who loves all of God’s creation, and,

Be it further resolved, this 78th Convention offers her our fervent prayers and best wishes as she embarks on her continued ministry after she resigns her office on All Saints’ Day, 2015.

The House stood to applaud for quite some time.

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20150703-applause for KJS

The chaplain concluded with a litany, referencing the words of the Gospel: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

My sisters and brothers, now that your work here is done, we send you back to the fields where God calls you to work – to your people, the people you were chosen to serve.

God, your world is broken, so we respond: Here I am, send me.

God, your people are living in fear, and many are hopeless and lonely, so we respond: Here I am, send me.

God, your people need help, so we respond: Here I am, send me.

God, your children are suffering from the effects of violence, racism, human trafficking, poverty, discrimination, and injustices of every kind, so we respond: Here I am, send me.

God, we know you need someone to be a light in a dark world, so we respond: Here I am, send me.

God, we know you need someone to bring hope and good news to your people, to announce salvation, to proclaim that you reign, so we respond: Here I am, send me.

God, we know that you need to send someone, so we respond: Here I am; send me.

Bishop Shannon then led the House in singing “Abide with me.”

The Presiding Bishop then blessed those present, praying, “The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you this day and forever more. Amen”

After the dismissal, Jefferts Schori said,

We are now adjourned.

 Adjournment in the House of Deputies

Not long afterward, the President of the House of Deputies, Gay Clark Jennings, rapped the gavel in another room and proclaimed

20150703-PHOD gavel

Sine Die!

20150703-sine dieAnd the House of Deputies’ chaplain, Lester McKenzie, prayed to close the day:

20150703-Lester McKenzie

Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past. Be our companion in the way; kindle our hearts and awaken our hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in scripture and in the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.

Then, he added, “I want you to look around as I sing a song to you,” and the House joined him in singing

Go now in peace. Go now in peace. May the love of God surround you everywhere, everywhere you may go.

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20150703-go in peace2


Addressing alcohol and drug abuse

The 38 members of Committee 22 on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse was a last-minute committee put together by the President of the House of Deputies and the Presiding Bishop to look from a wide perspective at the use of alcohol and other drugs by those in our churches – both clergy and lay, as well at as our use of alcohol within church activities.

Unlike most Committees that respond to resolutions submitted, we only had one to review but thought the moment warranted other possible resolutions. That one resolution was changed substantially with the expertise in our midst. The substitute resolution we created, along with two more, were ultimately submitted and made it through the process. All three passed the House of Deputies and moved to the House of Bishops with minimal change and good discussion on the floor of the House of Deputies. The House of Bishops also concurred.

The Bishop of Ohio, Mark Hollingsworth and the Very Rev. Steven Thomason of Olympia were most capable co-chairs, and I am honored to have been a member. The committee’s hope and desire is that each Diocese and congregation will now either begin or continue a conversation regarding our churches being a safe place for all: for those that do not use alcohol, those that may choose to do so, and those in recovery.

Since alcoholism and drug addictions all have biological, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions, how can we as a church better promote lives of wholeness and holiness and be a positive ongoing support for each person’s journey? May the conversation continue in our Diocese of Fort Worth.

Also it is our hope that the Executive Council will consider a committee to look into other issues of misuse and addiction that may arise in the future. Possible issues are E-cigarettes now as well legalized use of marijuana, as in three states. What should be and will be our response to these “legalized” drugs?

What about other areas of addiction such as gambling, food, shopping, and sexual addictions? How do we now and how can we in the future be a place of support and recovery? While these were determined not under the Committee’s charge, they remain issues.

Let’s continue the conversation.

How to… Submit a resolution

Both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies are debating and voting on resolutions that have been submitted by various people or groups. There are so many, on a dizzying range of topics, that it can be overwhelming. Here is a little information to help.

Resolutions are catalogued with a letter and number. The letter tells where the resolution originated:

  • A” Resolutions are those submitted by CCABs.  (What’s a CCAB?)
  • B” Resolutions are those submitted by Bishops.
  • C” Resolutions are those submitted by Provinces or Dioceses.
  • D” Resolutions are those submitted by Deputies.

Each resolution is also categorized by its topic, by the committee it’s assigned to, and by who proposed it.

How does a resolution get submitted?

A resolution must also be vetted and approved by the Resolutions Review Committee of the House that will be hearing it before it can be voted on, to make sure that it follows certain guidelines and, if it passed, it wouldn’t be in conflict with the Constitution or Canons.

Resolutions are fluid documents, and the more complex or contested ones often undergo many changes on their way to the floor of either house. At legislative hearings, the resolutions are more extensively discussed; deputies may suggest amendments – or even entire substitute resolutions – to the proposer or author.

Many of the topics taken up at General Convention this year are part of continuing conversations.  The Archives of The Episcopal Church helps keep track of legislation from previous conventions that relates to resolutions at this year’s convention on a Legislative Research Services page.  Pick a resolution currently being considered, for example, A037, which is one of the resolutions on marriage, and the archives will show resolutions from previous years that are directly or indirectly related, with the text of those resolutions included.

All this discussion reminds David Madison of something from his childhood…


What’s happening on Day 4 of General Convention?

There are no legislative committees or sessions in the morning today, but many people will still be up and at it first thing.

The worship service, including the United Thank Offering ingathering, begins at 10:00 am in Utah.

Watch live at 11:00 am our time.

There will be one legislative session in the afternoon, with the bishops and deputies meeting separately. You can watch either of those sessions live on the General Convention Media Hub as well. Here’s what they’ll be talking about:

House of Deputies – view the calendars.

House of Bishops – view the calendars.

A “priority calendar” will include topics where debate and discussion is anticipated, and each resolution will be voted on separately.

Items on a “consent calendar” are usually not expected to require discussion or debate, so they’re voted on together in one block.

In the evening, the Fort Worth deputation has the option to get together with other deputations in our Province,  Province VII.

Bishops march against gun violence in Salt Lake City

The bishops and many others started early Sunday morning, with a 7:15 am march: “Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence.” The march was organized by Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

Watch more videos from the Episcopal News Service about the march, which was also covered on TV news in Salt Lake City.

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The convention is also voting on related resolutions, such as C005 – Decreasing Gun Violence, which is being considered by Committee 8 – Social Justice and United States Policy; Cliff Craig, a deputy from Northwest Texas, serves on that committee. The “C” in the resolution number indicates it was submitted by a diocese, in this case, the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The Diocese of Los Angeles’ Peace and Justice Ministries page has many resources related to gun policy and gun violence.

Let’s get together – yeah, yeah, yeah!

The Rev. Jordan Haynie Ware, a member of the Fort Worth deputation, is serving on The Episcopal Church – United Methodist Church Dialogue Committee on Full Communion. Here’s what she has to say about the work she’s involved in:

“There are some who say that ecumenical work isn’t important, or that we should ‘get our own house in order’ before we begin discussing relationships with other Christians. But relationships with other Christians are at the heart of the Christian life. They are our fellow members of the Body of Christ, and St. Paul cautions us against telling these members ‘I have no need of you.’ (1 Cor 12:21).

“A full communion partnership with the United Methodist Church would be particularly sweet. Methodism originally arose as a reform of Anglicanism as practiced in England in the 18th century. John Wesley, its founder, proudly died an Anglican. It is a great travesty that our ancestors were not able to find a way to accept the gifts that both ways of being Anglican Christians brought to the table, and to be reconciled now would be an inspiring witness to the world, as well as bringing us closer to the imitation of Christ.” – The Rev. Jordan Haynie Ware

If the dialogue stays on track, the committee hopes to submit resolutions to the next General Convention (our main governing body) in 2018 and also to the General Conference (the United Methodists’ main governing body) to formally approve the full communion relationship.

In May, the United Methodist Church’s Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships hosted the Dialogue Committee in Washington, D.C., with support from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.

According to a communiqué from that conversation,

“In its next meetings, the Dialogue Committee will agree to the content of resolutions to be submitted to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The Committee will also seek to identify and encourage local expressions of existing unity in mission between Episcopalians and United Methodists—in congregations, theological education, advocacy, worship, and service.”

The most recent version of the proposal is titled “Assist Us to Proclaim the Gospel: A Proposal for Full Communion.”

What does “full communion” mean?

The agreement with each denomination is unique, with some commonalities. In practice, full communion usually means, among other things, that our two denominations’ clergy can serve in each other’s churches and use each other’s liturgies, and our bishops can participate in each other’s consecrations. Our members can share together in the sacraments and form creative partnerships.

“Sharing in holy things creates a visible communion of the faithful, an ecclesial communion.” – The Episcopal Church website

Current Full Communion Agreements

Past dialogues have resulted in our joining in full communion partnerships with five other denominations so far: the Moravian Church (Northern and Southern Provinces), the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Philippine Independent Church, and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht.

For The Episcopal Church to create a full communion agreement with The United Methodist Church – or with any denomination – two critical areas are catholicity and independence. The term catholicity refers to wholeness or universality; our two denominations agree enough about our doctrine, our exercise of ministry, and the sacraments, that we see the Church fully represented in each other. Our two denominations also recognize that we have distinct identities and structures; full communion does NOT mean merging. It encourages sharing resources, however, including people and places.

The full communion relationship between the Episcopalians and the ELCA is the ground, for example, of the Common Grace Lutheran congregation that meets at St. Luke’s in Stephenville under the leadership of one of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth’s clergy, the Rev. Curt Norman.

Ongoing and potential future partnerships

Some of the other resolutions before the Convention also deal with ecumenical dialogues with other denominations.

Resolution A017 affirms ongoing dialogues: Presbyterian Episcopal Dialogue, Anglican Roman Catholic Consultation in the USA, as well as relationships among the primates of The Episcopal Church, the ELCA, the Anglican Church of Canada, and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Resolution B004 proposes beginning dialogue with the Church of Sweden. Read the report on the grounds for beginning this dialogue.

The TEC-UMC Dialogue Committee plans to meet over the next three years to be able to submit a resolution for a full communion partnership at General Convention in 2018.

Why create partnerships with other churches?

Each time the General Convention meets, it considers questions of Christian unity. Why does ecumenism matter? Take a look at what some deputies and guests have said in the past:


Vetting comes before voting

Kathleen Wells, our assistant chancellor, is serving on the Constitution and Canons Committee for General Convention, but she has another assignment as well, approving resolutions before they can be voted on by the House of Deputies.

“I am also on the House of Deputies Resolutions Review Committee, which reviews every resolution for canonical implications in order to assist each legislative committee. We report to the committee chairs and either approve or reject a resolution for constitutional and canonical compliance or other procedural or formatting problems. We also will issue advisories to the committees on possible nonsubstantive amendments that would help in implementation and consistency in form. We have already reviewed all the resolutions filed to date and will continue for new resolutions filed at the General Convention.”

Before the legislative sessions get underway, Wells is already doing committee work. New resolutions can be submitted all the way up through the second day of Convention, so she’ll stay busy.

Watch live streaming video of General Convention

UPDATE: Times were originally listed incorrectly. They have been updated to correctly reflect Central Standard Time.

The Episcopal Digital Network will be live streaming video of worship services and legislative sessions every day at General Convention, beginning Thursday, June 25.

Visit the General Convention Media Hub to access the daily live stream media players for:


Schedule of Worship Services:

(times reflect Central Standard Time)

Opening Eucharist –  Th, 6/25, 10:30 am

Community Eucharist – Fri, 6/26, 10:30 am

Community Eucharist – Sat, 6/27, 10:30 am

UTO Ingathering and Eucharist – Sun, 6/2, 11:00 am

Community Eucharist – Mon, 6/29 – Th, 7/2, 9:30 am daily

Presiding Bishop Elect Welcoming Service – Fri, 7/3, 9:30 am


Schedule of Legislative Sessions:

Th, 6/25 –  9:00 am, 5:30 pm

Fri, 6/26 – 12:15 pm – Joint session: Presiding Bishop Nomination and Structure Conversation

Fri, 6/26 –  5:30 pm

Sat, 6/27 – 12:15 pm – (House of Bishops session includes Presiding Bishop election)

Sat, 6/27 – 3:15 pm

Sun, 6/28 – 3:15 pm

Mon, 6/29 – 12:00 pm, 3:15 pm

Tues, 6/30 – 12:15 pm – Joint Session: Mission Conversation

Tues, 6:30 – 3:15 pm

Wed, 7/1 – 12:15 pm

Wed, 7/1 – 3:15 pm – Joint Session: Program, Budget and Finance

Wed, 7/1 – 4:45 pm

Th, 7/2 – 12:15 pm, 3:15 pm, (7:15 pm Reserved for legislative session)

Fri, 7/3 – 11:30 am, 3:30 pm