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.

Our First Eucharist at General Convention 2015

The 78th General Convention met in worship for the first time with some 1,000-plus bishops, clergy and lay deputies, along with visitors present.  The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts-Schori celebrated her last Eucharist for GC.

Voices were full and robust.  The first reading was from the prophet Isaiah in Spanish calling for “preparing the way of the Lord, making straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  This was followed by readings from Acts (13:14-46) and then the Gospel of Luke (1:57-80), which focused on the life and ministry of John the Baptist.  The collect concerned John the Baptist and called us “to follow his teaching and holy life.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine in her homily called us all to be the “John and Jane Baptists” of the world:

“Make the road flat for all people, sharing the healing presence of forgiveness that leads to the road of the Kingdom.”

She said we live in a world full “deserts of death” reminding us that “what nature doesn’t do to us, our fellow man will do.” Yet we are challenged to  help build a better road with “light bearers, not death dealers.”  As Charleston AME church shared their witness of light and forgiveness in the midst of grief and anger during the arraignment hearing of Dylan Roof, she reminded the General Convention Bishops and Deputies that we, too, are gathered here to let our light shine as we are on a road building journey in the desert.

As “Jesus was a road warrior with no place to lay his head,” we are called to take the longer road with ever increasing commitment.  “The gifts of Creation are at hand to share and make available to all as each had need.”  Selfishness and self-centeredness are obstacles to that journey and our actions, at GC and in the world.  She called us all to

“follow Jesus into the neighborhood… and travel light.”

With God’s presence and grace, may it be so in our actions at GC and in our lives as we return home!