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Here’s a summary guide to the major issues facing the 79th meeting of General Convention in Austin

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 6:06am

The 79th meeting of the General Convention ofically begins July 5 and runs until July 13 at the Austin Convention Center. Photo: Austin Convention Center

[Episcopal News Service — Austin, Texas] Episcopalians are starting to arrive here ahead of the official July 5 start of the 79th General Convention at the Austin Convention Center.

As usual, the agenda facing the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies is so packed that legislative committee meetings are set for the evening of July 3 and the morning of July 4. The complete draft convention schedule is here. Convention concludes on July 13.

For a general guide to convention, see the Episcopal News Service story “Episcopalians preparing for 79th General Convention in Austin can expect ‘a real Texas welcome’

Here are summaries of some of the major work facing General Convention:

Marriage equality

General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage has monitored the use of two new marriage rites General Convention approved in 2015 for trial use (Resolution A054) by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples and is aware of concern about unequal access to the trial use liturgies. Its Blue Book Report says it found widespread acceptance of the rite across the church except eight diocesan bishops in the 101 domestic dioceses have not authorized their use.

“Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You, and You Will Be a Blessing” was one of the rites General Convention authorized in 2015 for trial use. Photo: Church Publishing Inc.

The task force is proposing that convention require all bishops in authority to “make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have reasonable and convenient access to these trial rites.” It also would have convention say that bishops will “continue the work of leading the church in comprehensive engagement with these materials and continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

Episcopalians who support that effort have been active ahead of convention. Claiming the Blessing, which formed in 2002 to advocate for the “full inclusion of all the baptized in all sacraments of the church, according to its website, has published an advocacy piece. Some Episcopalians in the Diocese of Dallas have developed a website called “Dear General Convention” that includes videos and written stories about people who cannot be married in that diocese.

The task force is also calling for continued trial use of the liturgies as additions to the Book of Common Prayer, as well as amendments to the prayer book’s other marriage rites, prefaces and sections of the Catechism to make language gender neutral.

Five Province IX diocesan bishops and one retired bishop representing the dioceses of Ecuador Litoral, Ecuador Central, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Honduras warned the task force that if convention makes changes about marriage that would force them “to accept social and cultural practices that have no Biblical basis or acceptance in Christian worship,” the action would “greatly deepen the breach, the division and the Ninth Province will have to learn to walk alone.” The bishops of Colombia and Puerto Rico did not sign the statement.

On June 28, Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, Pittsburgh Bishop Daniel Gutiérrez and Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely proposed Resolution B012, which would continue trial use of the marriage rites without a time limit and without seeking a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The resolution proposes that access to the liturgies be provided for in all dioceses, without requiring the permission of the diocesan bishop. Instead, congregations that want to use the rites but whose bishops have refused permission may receive Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) from another bishop of the church who would provide access to the liturgies.

An earlier Episcopal News Service story on the marriage access issue is here.

The task force also proposes two liturgies for blessing the relationships of couples who choose not to marry for legal or financial reasons. It also recommends that the church ponder new ways to minister to the growing number of people who cohabitate in committed and monogamous relationships rather than marry. ENS coverage of those recommendations can be found here.

Revising the Book of Common Prayer?

This summer’s meeting of General Convention is being invited to consider how it orders its common prayer and why.

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is offering bishops and deputies a comprehensive plan for revision, as requested by the 2015 meeting of General Convention, as well as a way for the church to spend time discerning the future shape of its common prayer. The first option would move the church immediately into a full-blown prayer book revision process that would be completed in nine years. The second would call on the church to plumb the depths of the current Book of Common Prayer’s theology, as well as its usefulness as a tool for unity in a diverse church, for evangelism and discipleship. If convention agrees to the second approach, this would include new BCP translations.

The SCLM has included “guiding assumptions,” work plans, suggested processes and tools, hundreds of pages of supplemental material and budgets for each approach. The approaches are described in a portion of the SCLM’s Blue Book report released to the church Feb. 13. The prayer book subcommittee’s report is here.

An Episcopal News Service story on the possibilities is here.

The Episcopal Church and the #MeToo movement

Convention will ponder the Episcopal Church’s role in and response to the #MeToo movement with resolutions, reflections and the hope for reconciliation.

In what could be an extraordinary session, the House of Bishops is inviting Episcopalians to a July 4 “Liturgy of Listening” event. The session, planned for 5:15 to 7 p.m. CT in the worship space set up in the Austin Convention Center, has been called “a sacred space for listening and further reconciliation.”

Meanwhile, close to 30 related resolutions have been filed. The bulk of them are from the 47 members of the special House of Deputies Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation appointed in February by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, deputies’ president.

A related Episcopal News Service story is here.

A salary for the president of the House of Deputies

Presiding over the House of Deputies is just one of the canonically required duties of the president of the House of Deputies. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The issue that prompted a rare conference committee between bishops and deputies in the waning hours of the last convention – whether the currently unpaid position of president of the House of Deputies should be salaried – will return for consideration.

The 2015 meeting of convention called for the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies to appoint a task force to study the issue. The issue of compensating that officeholder has been discussed for decades, and the Task Force to Study Church Leadership and Compensation has concluded that the president of the House of Deputies’ work amounts to a full-time job. Its Resolution A-028 calls for a salary, but does not set an amount. The task force asked Executive Council to include a salary in its draft 2019-2021 budget. Council budgeted $900,000 for a full-time salary and benefits for the three years.

Supporters of the change say making the office a paid job would broaden the pool of people able to consider running for election. Other disagree, some saying they fear “mission creep” in the form of an expansion of the president’s duties and authority.

A group of bishops has proposed a compromise in the form of Resolution B014 that would direct the Executive Council to pay the president director’s fees “for specific services rendered in order to fulfill duties required by the church’s Constitution and Canons.”

An Episcopal New Service story on the issue is here.

And, Resolution C042, proposed by Province IV of the church, would pay what it calls per diem compensation for the president when for certain aspects of her or his work, and once again study the larger issue of compensation.

Following up on the church’s three priorities: evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice and care of creation

A major part of the discussion on evangelism at General Convention will focus on continuation of the church’s increased support for church planting and new regional ministries, as encompassed by Resolution A005. But other resolutions assigned to the Evangelism and Church Planting Committee show the broad range of thinking about this fertile spiritual ground, including the role of social media and the ties between evangelism and stewardship of the environment. The committee also will review a proposal that would focus more attention on how well ministry leaders’ demographic backgrounds mirror those of the communities they seek to serve.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry stands at the foot of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sept. 7, 2017, with the Rev. Paul Walker, rector of the nearby Christ Episcopal Church. The statue had been wrapped in plastic while the city fights a legal challenge to the monument’s removal. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

A range of shocking racial incidents in the months leading up to the 78th General Convention, especially the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, helped fuel passage in Salt Lake City of a number of resolutions about racism. Prominent among them was Resolution C019, which called on church officers to develop a church-wide response to racial injustice. How to follow through with those efforts will be the core question before the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee. But racism and racial healing are such big topics, both socially and spiritually, that the discussion is expected to expand well beyond a single resolution or even a single committee. Additional resolutions to be discussed include one studying the church’s track record of diversifying its leadership and another that questions whether “anti-racism” should be replaced with a term that alludes to the spiritual transformation sought in this work.

Supporting local food growers, carbon taxes and offsets, opposition to environmental racism and Episcopalians’ continued participation in the Paris Climate Agreement are some of the stewardship of the environment and creation care resolutions set for discussion at the 79th General Convention. A list of environmental stewardship and care of creation resolutions is here.

Formulating the 2019-2021 triennial budget

The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) has already begun work on the draft 2019-2021 triennium budget that Executive Council passed in January.

The total income in council’s draft budget of $133.7 million would pay for an equal amount in expenses, with a very small surplus of just $2,654. The triennial budget is up about $8.7 million from that approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention for the current 2016-2018 triennium.

At the 2015 meeting of General Convention, bishops and deputies turned the current voluntary asking system into a mandatory assessment, beginning with the 2019-2021 budget cycle. Council’s draft anticipates that up to 20 dioceses will get full or partial waivers of those payments under a system that will go into effect in the new triennium.

PB&F will also be asked to consider Resolution B001 to scrap the mandatory across-the-board assessment and adopt a system of diocesan funding of the church’s triennial budget based on how much each diocese spends on average per congregation in their annual budget.

PB&F plans an open hearing on the budget at 7:30 p.m. July 5. Its final budget must be presented to a joint session of the Houses of Bishops and Deputies no later than the third day before convention’s scheduled adjournment. According to the draft convention schedule, that presentation is set to take place at 10:30 a.m. CDT on July 11.

Middle East peace

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, left, and Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani walk March 26 through the barren area between an Israel checkpoint and Gaza City. They were going to visit the Anglican Al Ahli Arab Hospital. Their journey took place five days before violence broke out along the fence that separates Israel and the Gaza Strip. Photo: Sharon Jones

Numerous General Convention resolutions are expected on topics related to Israel and Palestine by the time the gathering gets. At least three have been submitted so far, including one proposed by the Diocese of California that reintroduces a push for divestment from “those companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands or whose products or actions support the infrastructure of the occupation.”

Corporate engagement won’t be the only topic related to the Holy Land. Two additional proposed resolutions call for greater attention to the plight of Palestinian children, including those being tried in Israeli military courts.

A group of bishops and deputies who were asked to find a way to navigate the often-thorny discussions of Episcopal Church policy toward Israel and Palestine has announced its recommendations for fostering open and productive debate on those issues at this meeting of convention. An Episcopal News Service story about those plans is here.

How to follow the work of General Convention

A media hub, operated by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Communication, offers people everywhere the opportunity to follow the convention’s proceedings. It will include live streams of sessions from the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, a calendar, daily worship and daily media briefings. Episcopal News Service’s headlines will feed into the site. You can find the hub here.

The media hub offers the opportunity to follow convention’s proceedings. It will include live streams of sessions from the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, a calendar, daily worship and daily media briefings. Episcopal News Service’s headlines will feed into the site.

People who are not bishops or deputies can check the progress of legislative resolutions  via the so-called Virtual Binder here. The site mirrors the setup on bishops’ and deputies’ loaner iPads and changes along with it in real time. The online version also includes each house’s daily agendas, calendars for each day and journals (a list of messages sent between the houses informing the other of actions taken), committee calendars and reports. It contains tabs for checking on current action and floor amendments in each house.

In addition, a free app is available for any smartphone or tablet running Android 4.4 or IOS 8.0 or later. The app contains schedules, maps, vendor information, daily orders of worship services and other useful materials.

Download the app here or from the App Store or Google Play, and then enter the code 79GC when prompted. The app can also be used on a computer. That link is here.

— This guide was compiled from reporting by Episcopal News Service editor/reporters David Paulsen and Mary Frances Schjonberg, ENS Managing Editor Lynette Wilson.  

Episcopalians preparing for 79th General Convention in Austin can expect ‘a real Texas welcome’

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 6:00am

The 79th General Convention will be held at the Austin Convention Center from July 5 to 13, with registration and orientation already underway.

[Episcopal News Service] Is Austin, Texas, ready to welcome thousands of Episcopalians for the two weeks of church business and socializing known as General Convention? Episcopalians from around the church certainly are ready for Austin.

“It is my hope and prayer that this General Convention will truly embody and model what it means to follow the way, the teachings and in the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in a written statement to Episcopal News Service. “That means taking seriously being a part of the Jesus Movement, not only in the church but in the world.

“My prayer is that our GC will truly be a witness to the way of love that Jesus taught us.”

The 79th General Convention officially gets underway July 5 at the Austin Convention Center, though registration, orientation and pre-convention activities start July 1. According to the House of Deputies, this is the first time since 1970, when women were permitted to be seated as deputies, that the deputies will be majority female, and this General Conventions boasts the youngest and most diverse group of legislative committee officers ever.

“As Christians, we know that scripture tells us over and over again not to be afraid, and we know that we are called to make a faithful and courageous response when the people of God are hurting and vulnerable,” the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, said in a statement to ENS. “And so, while we are at General Convention, we need to be faithful in considering the many creative and hope-filled proposals related to the three priorities established by the last General Convention: racial justice and reconciliation, evangelism and church planting, and environmental stewardship and care of creation.

“As we do so, we will be called upon to make challenging decisions about how to fund our hopes for vastly increased mission and ministry and how to follow where God is leading us.”

Planners of the Episcopal Church’s largest churchwide gathering, held every three years, already are on the ground in Texas’ capital, putting the final pieces in place for a successful convention.

“There’s a new energy in general in our church, and I think most everybody knows that. And General Convention is no exception,” the Rev. Michael Barlowe, General Convention’s executive officer, said in an interview with ENS. “We have a lot of serious matters that we’re going to look at, but they’re being done in an atmosphere of hopefulness and a real conviction that God is going to be with us.”

Estimating attendance can be difficult until General Convention gets underway, but Barlowe said around 10,000 people are expected to participate in all or part of the convention.

Come visit the Office of Development at The Episcopal Church's General Convention in Austin, TX, July 3 – 13!#GiveEpiscopal #GC79 #LoveIsTheWay pic.twitter.com/gFdeUtlZh5

— TEC Development (@EpiscopalDev) June 28, 2018

Unlike at some past General Conventions, no single issue is expected to boil over into controversy over the nine days that the House of Bishops and House of Deputies are in session, though bishops and deputies are looking forward to thoughtful discernment and spirited discussion on a long list of resolutions, addressing topics ranging from Israel-Palestine to spending more money on church planting, as well as whether to revise the prayer book and how to settle the question of same-sex marriage access.

This General Convention also has several new focal points, including TEConversations, three joint sessions that will feature panel discussions on evangelism, racial reconciliation and care of creation.

“General Convention is one of our most important churchwide convenings. It felt important to invite the whole church into this deep and diverse engagement around ministries we share in the Jesus Movement,” the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, said in an email.

Additional events have been scheduled to highlight the church’s outreach on the issues of sexual harassment, gun violence and immigration. And General Convention organizers are expecting the biggest turnout of convention at a revival service planned for July 7, similar to the series of revivals led by Curry in various Episcopal dioceses since February 2016.

For Episcopalians who are making their way to Austin for General Convention and for those planning to follow along from home, here’s a summary of what to expect.

How to prepare and to follow along

The best place for any General Convention participant or observer to start is the convention’s own website, generalconvention.org, which is loaded with orientation materials, schedules and legislative information, as well as video introductions from Curry, Jennings and Barlowe.

You’ll also find the Blue Book Reports generated by the various advisory bodies that were formed in response to past General Convention resolutions.

General Convention also has a mobile app again this year with a robust collection of digital tools to help navigate everything from the convention hall to the legislative agenda. The app can be downloaded onto a smartphone or accessed on a web browser at eventmobi.com/79gc.

Once legislative sessions get underway, Episcopalians anywhere in the world can watch live video streams of the hearings and discussions through General Convention’s Media Hub.

“We’re trying to make this much more open to everybody, whether they’re in Austin or not,” Barlowe said.

Schedule and agenda

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. July 3, and the exhibit hall opens that day at noon. Barlowe said General Convention sold out all available exhibit space, so look for a wide variety of interactive exhibits, presentations and featured ministries, such as a ministry from the Diocese of California that makes communion bread from what are known as ancient grains.

Legislative hearings get underway July 3, and Curry and Jennings are scheduled to address General Convention later that day. Legislative sessions will be held beginning at 8 a.m. July 5 and will continue through the final day, July 13.

Diocese of Newark Deputies the Rev. Joseph Harmon and the Rev. John Mennell show off the loaner iPads assigned to all deputies and bishops for the Salt Lake City meeting of General Convention in 2015. They contain a “Virtual Binder,” electronically replacing most of convention’s until then-traditional paper systems. Photo: Nina Nicholson/Diocese of Newark

This is the second time General Convention has gone paperless by giving bishops and deputies tablets and pointing them to the Virtual Binder, where information on all assigned resolutions appears. The Virtual Binder is a great tool, too, for those following General Convention remotely to find out what is on the agenda of each of the nearly two dozen committees.

ENS also has produced preview stories on a variety of issues expected to come before General Convention, and you can review those stories and updated coverage here. ENS’s summary guide to the issues can be found here.

The convention center

Formally known as the Neal Kocurek Memorial Austin Convention Center, the center in downtown Austin has just over 880,000 square feet, including five exhibit halls with a combined 247,052 square feet of column-free space. That is the sort of space General Convention requires, given that the gathering requires room for more than 1,000 to worship, a hall big enough for more than 800 deputies, one for the smaller House of Bishop, plus an exhibit hall and all the offices that will house the convention support staff.

The 79th meeting of the General Convention ofically begins July 5 and runs until July 13 at the Austin Convention Center. Photo: Austin Convention Center

The convention center is completely powered by renewable energy, primarily from two solar arrays, the most visible of which is a vertical array above the Trinity Street entrance.

House of Bishops’ meeting space is on level four. House of Deputies will meet on the first floor, next to the exhibit hall. One of the more discrete features of the convention space – its restrooms – became an unexpected flashpoint during the planning of General Convention because of legislation proposed by Texas lawmakers.

The bill would have required people to use public restrooms labeled with the gender shown on their government-issued identification. Such a measure threw into question plans for gender-neutral bathrooms at this General Convention, similar to those offered three years earlier at General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Curry and Jennings issued a statement suggesting the Episcopal Church might change the convention location to a different state if the bill passed, depriving Austin of a much-sought-after economic boost.

But Texas’ so-called bathroom bill failed in August, and General Convention stayed put.

Introducing TEConversations

In 2015, General Convention established evangelism, racial reconciliation and care of creation as the three priorities for the subsequent triennium, and Curry has championed those priorities in his first three years as presiding bishop, including by hiring Spellers to oversee efforts on all three fronts.

The three 90-minute TEConversations organized by Spellers’ team will offer prominent showcases for such efforts while seeking to deepen the discussion on the core theological issues.

“The TEConversations are a way to open up a different kind of learning and engagement at General Convention,” Spellers said in an email. “We wanted to hear fascinating and unique perspectives on evangelism, reconciliation and creation care; mix the talks with art and song and film, and then open up an intentional space for small group sharing and conversation.

“The great hope is that it extends into the exhibit space and into churches far beyond who live-stream and host their own small groups.”

The racial reconciliation discussion is 10:30 a.m. July 6 and will feature Arno Michaelis, an author and former skinhead; Catherine Meeks, who heads the Diocese of Atlanta’s anti-racism commission, and the Rev. Nancy Frausto, a “Dreamer” from the Diocese of Los Angeles who was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child.

The discussion of evangelism will be at 2:30 p.m. July 7, and the panel will feature the Rev. Lauren Winner, a priest and author; Iowa Bishop Alan Scarfe, who led revivals at every congregation in his diocese last year, and the Rev. Daniel Velez-Rivera, a church planter in the Diocese of Virginia.

Care of creation will be the topic at 10:30 a.m. July 10. Panelists will be South Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba; the Rev. Stephanie Johnson, co-chair of the Stewardship of Creation Advisory Council, and Bernadette Demientieff, leader of a Native Alaskan group defending the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

New worship times and a Saturday revival

One big change at this General Convention is the worship times. In the past, by celebrating Eucharist each morning, it segmented the legislative schedule and sometimes led to truncated late-morning sessions. This time, the worship each day will take place in the evening.

The two exceptions are opening Eucharist at 9:30 a.m. July 5 and the Sunday worship on July 8, when attendees are encouraged to attend services in local parishes in Austin or the simple Eucharist that will be offered at the convention center at 10:30 a.m.

There will be nothing simple, however, about worship on July 7. That Saturday evening service, the revival-style worship featuring preaching by Curry, is expected to be the largest event of General Convention. It is open to the public, and turnout may get a boost from Curry’s increased profile after his royal wedding sermon in May.

“There’s never been anything like it,” Barlowe said of the revival. “For one thing, it’s going to be at a separate venue” – the Palmer Events Center across the Colorado River from the convention center.

Worship is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and will be followed by a barbecue organized by the Diocese of Texas, which has been a gracious hometown host, Barlowe said.

“The clergy and lay leader have gone the extra mile,” Barlowe said. “They’re going to give us a real Texas welcome.”

Coming next week to #GC79… ready to learn more about the #WayofLove? #Episcopal #JesusMovement pic.twitter.com/MFfSEX8M1o

— C. Andrew Doyle (@TexasBishop) June 28, 2018

Parallel events during convention

Plenty of activities, in addition to legislative business, will be taking place in and around the convention center while the Episcopal Church gathers in Austin. One prominent example is the Episcopal Church Women’s Triennial, which is more than 100 years old. It will be July 5 to 11.

Barlowe also noted the Official Youth Presence, which is a group of 16 teens, two from each province, who have seat and voice in the House of Deputies and visit the House of Bishops. They often testify at committee hearings. The Young Adult Festival will be underway, as will General Convention’s program for children, including educational activities.

The bishops and deputies also have scheduled high-profile events on specific issues, starting with the House of Bishops’ listening session for Episcopalians to share stories of sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation at 5:15 p.m. July 4. The session, “Pastoral Response to #MeToo,” will include a selection of reflections submitted in advance.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence has scheduled a public witness event at Brush Square Park at 9:30 a.m. July 8. Speakers will include Philip and April Schentrup, Episcopalians from Florida whose daughter, Carmen, was one of the 17 students and educators killed by a gunman Feb. 14 at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Abigail Zimmerman, a ninth-grader and Episcopalian from Texas, also will speak. She co-led a school walkout in March in response to the Parkland, Florida, massacre.

Heading to General Convention? Please join Bishops United Against Gun Violence at 9:30 am on Sunday July 8, for a public witness at Brush Square Park, across the street from the convention center in Austin. https://t.co/CtZMuYENat #gc79 #Episcopal

— The Cross Lobby (@TheCrossLobby) June 21, 2018

And the House of Deputies announced last week that church leaders were organizing a visit to an immigration detention facility to highlight the recent controversy over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy toward migrant families crossing the border illegally with children. A prayer service is planned for about noon July 8 outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center. The privately owned prison is operated for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in Taylor, Texas, about a 40-minute drive northeast of Austin.

Curry and Jennings, who plan to attend the prayer service, arranged to delay the Sunday legislative calendar by an hour to accommodate bishops and deputies who also want to participate.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, senior editor and reporter, contributed to this story.

Tres obispos proponen una solución para el acceso pleno a los ritos matrimoniales de parejas del mismo sexo

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 5:54am

“Medios litúrgicos 1: Te bendeciré y serás una bendición”, fue uno de los ritos que la Convención General autorizó en 2015 para uso experimental. Foto de Church Publishing Inc.

[Episcopal News Service] Tres obispos han propuesto una resolución sobre el matrimonio [de parejas] del mismo sexo que “busca garantizar que todo el pueblo de Dios tenga acceso a todas las liturgias matrimoniales de la Iglesia, independientemente de la diócesis, si bien respetando la dirección pastoral y la conciencia del obispo local”.

Lawrence Provenzano, obispo de Long Island; Dorsey McConnell, obispo de  Pittsburgh  y Nicholas Knisely , obispo de Rhode Island dijeron en un comunicado de prensa en las últimas horas del 28 de junio que su Resolución B012 es “un intento de hacer avanzar la Iglesia en una atmósfera de respeto mutuo, reconciliación y el amor de Jesucristo”.

La resolución sigue autorizando los dos ritos matrimoniales de uso experimental aprobados por la reunión de la Convención General en 2015 sin límite de tiempo y sin procurar una revisión del Libro de Oración Común de 1979.

“Dado nuestro particular momento en la historia, esta resolución ofrece una manera de progresar para toda la Iglesia sin la posible interrupción de un ministerio que podría provocar la propuesta revisión del Libro de Oración Común”, dijeron los tres obispos.

La Resolución B012 propone que en todas las diócesis se facilite el acceso a las liturgias, sin que requiera el permiso del obispo diocesano. En lugar de eso, las congregaciones que quieran usar los ritos, pero cuyos obispos  hayan rehusado la autorización, pueden solicitar y recibirán una Supervisión Pastoral Episcopal Delegada (DEPO) de otro obispo de la Iglesia que facilitaría el acceso a las liturgias. La DEPO es un mecanismo concebido por la Cámara de Obispos hace 14 años para congregaciones que discrepen con sus obispos diocesanos en materia de sexualidad humana y otros asuntos teológicos.

El acceso a los sitos ha sido un punto de fricción desde el comienzo en un pequeño número de diócesis.

La Convención General en 2015 autorizó los dos ritos matrimoniales para uso experimental (Resolución A054) tanto para parejas del mismo sexo como de sexos opuestos. Los obispos y los diputados también hicieron la definición canónica (mediante la Resolución A036) del género neutro del matrimonio.

El Equipo de Trabajo para el Estudio del Matrimonio dijo en su Informe del Libro Azul haber encontrado una amplia aceptación del rito a través de la Iglesia, excepto que ocho obispos diocesanos, de las 101 diócesis nacionales, no habían autorizado su uso.

El equipo de trabajo propone (por vía de la Resolución A085) que la Convención exija a todos los obispos con jurisdicción que “tomen medidas para que todas las parejas que soliciten casarse en esta Iglesia tengan un acceso razonable y conveniente a estos ritos experimentales”. La Convención también tendrá que decir que los obispos “continuarán la labor de dirigir a la Iglesia en una participación integral con estos materiales  y seguirán proporcionando una generosa respuesta pastoral que cubra las necesidades de los miembros de esta Iglesia”.

Los episcopales que apoyan ese empeño han estado activos antes de la Convención. Demandando la bendición [Claiming the Blessing], [organización] que se creó en 2002 para abogar por la “plena inclusión de todos los bautizados en todos los sacramentos de la Iglesia”, según aparece en su cibersitio, ha publicado un texto de promoción o apoyo. Algunos episcopales de la Diócesis de Dallas han creado una página web llamada Querida Convención General [Dear General Convention] que incluye vídeos y testimonios escritos acerca de personas que no pueden casarse en esa diócesis.

La  Resolución A085 del equipo de trabajo también pide la adición de las liturgias de uso experimental al Libro de Oración Común. Y propone cambios a otros ritos matrimoniales, así como a prefacios y secciones del Catecismo del libro de oración para adoptar un lenguaje de género neutro.

La Iglesia Episcopal incluye 10 diócesis en jurisdicciones civiles fuera de Estados Unidos que no permiten el matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo. Puesto que los Cánones de la Iglesia exigen acatamiento tanto a los requisitos civiles como canónicos para el matrimonio, la Convención de 2015 no autorizó el uso de liturgias experimentales en esas diócesis.

Cinco obispos diocesanos y uno jubilado de la IX Provincia, en representación de las diócesis de Ecuador Litoral, Ecuador Central, República Dominicana, Venezuela y Honduras le han advertido al equipo de trabajo que si la Convención adopta cambios acerca del matrimonio que los obligaran “a la aceptación de prácticas sociales y culturales que no tienen base bíblica ni aceptación en la adoración cristiana”, esos cambios estarían “ahondando mucho más la brecha, la división, y la Novena Provincia tendrá que aprender a caminar sola”. Los obispos de Colombia y Puerto Rico no firmaron la declaración.

Para abordar sus preocupaciones, la Resolución B012 también pide la creación de un Equipo de Trabajo sobre la Comunión frente a la Diferencia, “encargado de encontrar una senda duradera para todos los episcopales en una sola Iglesia, sin retroceder a la clara decisión de la Convención de extender el matrimonio a todas las parejas, y su firme compromiso de proporcionarles acceso a todas las parejas que buscan casarse en esta Iglesia”, dice el comunicado de prensa de los tres obispos. El equipo de trabajo buscará una vía coherente con la normativa de la Iglesia y la declaración de la Cámara de Obispos ““Comunión frente a la Diferencia” en 2015, que dio lugar a que varios obispos objetaran las decisiones de la Convención sobre el matrimonio.

Siete obispos, cinco de los cuales rehusaron autorizar los ritos y dos de los cinco que firmaron la declaración de la IX Provincia, dijeron el 28 de junio que acatarían la Resolución B012 si era aprobada.

“De aprobarse la propuesta que tenemos ante nosotros, confiaríamos en caridad las congregaciones que no lean la Sagrada Escritura de esta manera al cuidado de otros obispos en la Iglesia Episcopal con quienes nos mantenemos unidos en el bautismo”, escribieron. “Si bien no podemos respaldar todos los aspectos de esta propuesta, agradeceríamos si nos ayuda a seguir contendiendo unos con otros por la verdad [y] en amor dentro de un solo cuerpo”.

ProvenzanoMcConnell y Knisely encomiaron esa promesa. Dijeron, además, “puesto que los Cánones de la Iglesia dicen que la Convención General puede fijar normas y condiciones para ritos de uso experimental, las normas y condiciones que se especifican en esta resolución tienen por extensión fuerza canónica. Todos los obispos están obligados a aceptar esas normas y condiciones, conforme al derecho canónico. Creemos que ellos las defenderán si las impugnan”.

Los obispos proponentes afirman en su comunicado de prensa que su propuesta “les permite a los conservadores florecer dentro de las estructuras de la Iglesia Episcopal, pero no a expensas de congregaciones progresistas en diócesis conservadoras. Si bien a primera vista puede sonar innecesariamente complejo, es una ‘vía intermedia’que les da sitio a todos en una misma Iglesia”.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora principal y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

La Convención General se prepara para conversaciones expansivas sobre racismo y reparación racial

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 5:52am

El Rdo. Paul Walker, rector de la iglesia episcopal de Cristo en Charlottesville, conversa con el obispo primado Michael Curry frente a la estatua del general Robert E. Lee en septiembre pasado. La estatua está cubierta con una lona en tanto el municipio enfrenta los desafíos a su decisión de quitar el monumento al general confederado. Foto de David Paulsen/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service] Líderes de la Iglesia Episcopal ya habían comenzado a pensar en las respuestas espirituales al racismo en 2015 cuando el impacto de los acontecimientos resaltó la urgencia de ese discernimiento.

Un joven supremacista blanco, entusiasta de la bandera confederada, abrió fuego el 17 de junio de 2015 en la iglesia africana metodista episcopal Emanuel, en Charleston, Carolina del Sur, y mató a nueve personas. La masacre, junto con noticias de incendios en iglesias negras y de policías que baleaban a negros desarmados, ayudó a la aprobación de la Resolución C019, que les pedía a los funcionarios de la Iglesia la creación de una respuesta denominacional a la injusticia racial, y hasta $2 millones fueron aprobados para esa tarea.

La masacre de Charleston, en particular, dejó a los obispos y diputados “con una sensación de conmoción e indignación, porque no creo que ellos pensaran que eso podía ocurrir en 2015” dijo, a Episcopal News Service, Heidi Kim, funcionaria del personal para la reconciliación racial.

Kim había estado en su cargo aproximadamente un año en ese tiempo. Desde entonces, ella ha colaborado en dirigir un equipo de miembros del personal de la Iglesia en llevar a cabo el mandato de la Resolución C019 a través de un marco convenido por los funcionarios de la Iglesia, incluido el obispo primado Michael Curry, que fue electo en 2015 como el primer líder negro de la Iglesia.

El equipo de reconciliación racial ha creado el marco para convertirse en la Amada Comunidad, que ahora es el eje central de los empeños de reconciliación racial de la Iglesia Episcopal. La manera de llevar adelante esos empeños será la interrogante esencial ante el Comité de Justicia y Reconciliación Raciales cuando se reúna en la 79ª. Convención General la semana próxima en Austin, Texas.

Pero el racismo y la reconciliación racial son temas de tal importancia, tanto social como espiritualmente, que se espera que el debate se expanda más allá de una sola resolución , o incluso de un solo comité, para incluir reuniones, eventos y exposiciones y  mostrarse en todos los  ámbitos del centro de convenciones del 5 al 13 de julio.

La Rda. Stephanie Spellers, canóniga del Obispo Primado par la evangelización, la reconciliación y el cuidado de la creación, pronuncia el discurso principal el 17 de enero en la  Conferencia Todos Nuestros Niños, en Columbia, Carolina del Sur. Foto de David Paulsen/ENS.

“El mundo nos necesita para tomar en serio la regeneración , la reconciliación y la justicia raciales”, dijo la Rda. Stephanie Spellers, canóniga del Obispo Primado para la evangelización, la reconciliación y el cuidado de la creación, en un correo electrónico. Eso sólo sucede cuando decimos la verdad sobre nuestras iglesias y la raza, proclamamos el sueño de la Amada Comunidad, ponemos en práctica el camino de Jesús de amarnos los unos a los otros y  reparamos las violaciones en nuestra sociedad y nuestras instituciones.

“Estoy ansiosa de ver a nuestra Iglesia compartir el saber y los recursos en apoyo de una adaptación aún más local y de compromiso con esta visión”.

La Resolución C019 fue sólo la más prominente de una serie de resoluciones sobre el racismo en 2015, y no era en modo alguno la primera vez que la Convención General abordaba el racismo. Resoluciones que datan de varias décadas han ayudado a orientar a la Iglesia a responder al racismo y a expiar por su propia complicidad en la injusticia racial y por su apoyo a sistemas racistas, desde la esclavitud a la segregación. El mandato en 2015 procuraba llevar esos empeños un paso adelante.

“La abominación y el pecado del racismo siguen plagando nuestra sociedad y nuestra Iglesia a un gran costo de vida y dignidad humanas; formalmente reconocemos nuestra participación histórica y contemporánea en este mal y nos arrepentimos de él” reza la C019Otra resolución, la A182, le pedía a la Iglesia que abordara el racismo sistémico en todos los niveles.

La Convención General de 2015 también identificó la reconciliación racial como una de tres prioridades para el trienio 2016-18, junto con la evangelización y el cuidado de la creación. Las tres prioridades se destacarán en Austin en tres sesiones conjuntas de la próxima Convención General.

Esas sesiones,  llamadas Conversaciones de la IE [TEConversations], presentaran discusiones con paneles de tres miembros sobre cada tema. La conversación sobre reconciliación racial abrirá la serie el 6 de julio, de 10:30 AM a mediodía, con los panelistas Catherine Meeks, que encabeza la comisión de antirracismo de la Diócesis de Atlanta; la Rda. Nancy Frausto, una de los “dreamers” de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles a quien trajeron de México siendo niña, y Arno Michaelis, autor y  ex cabeza rapada (La discusión sobre la evangelización es el 7 de julio y el tema del cuidado de la creación será el 10 de julio).

Meeks es también fundadora del Centro Absalom Jones para la Reparación Racial en Atlanta, Georgia. El centro  ofrecerá un almuerzo sobre reparación racial al mediodía del 6 de julio en el hotel Hilton que queda frente al Centro de Convenciones de Austin.

Están planeadas otras exposiciones sobre reparación racial  para el mismo día en el salón de exhibiciones, dijo Kim.

“Es realmente un momento emocionante”, dijo ella. “La Convención tendrá la oportunidad de hablar acerca de lo que estamos intentando emprender”. Y ella espera que esos diálogos sean intensos y esclarecedores, así como instructivos para el próximo trienio.

Por ejemplo, una resolución ante el Comité de Justicia y Reconciliación Raciales (B004) cuestiona , si “antirracismo” debería reemplazarse por un término que recoja mejor la transformación espiritual que se busca en esta labor. El obispo de la Diócesis de Atlanta Rob Wright aparece como el proponente.

Una resolución (A042) que presentó por separado el Comité sobre Antirracismo del Consejo Ejecutivo, busca cambiar el nombre del comité añadiéndole la palabra “reconciliación”.  “Una resolución compañera (A043) se ajustaría adecuadamente al mandato del comité.

Otra resolución (A138) se centra en el historial de la Iglesia en la diversificación de su liderazgo. La resolución, presentada por el equipo de trabajo sobre el episcopado y remitida al Comité del Liderazgo de Toda la Iglesia, le daría a las diócesis 60 días después de la elección de un obispo para presentar una información demográfica de todos los nominados.

“El progreso hacia los objetivos y las aspiraciones de la Iglesia en la diversidad de su liderazgo, incluidos los obispos, depende en gran medida del acopio de datos clave que conforman los planes para lograr esos objetivos y ser fieles a esas aspiraciones”, dijo el equipo de trabajo.

La labor de la Iglesia para Convertirse en la Amada Comunidad se describe en detalle en el informe del Libro Azul generado por funcionarios de la Iglesia en respuesta a la Resolución C019 de 2015. Convertirse en la Amada Comunidad se divide en cuatro partes que se ilustran como un laberinto: decir la verdad acerca de nuestras iglesias y la raza, proclamar el sueño de la Amada Comunidad, practicar el camino del amor de Dios en el modelo de Jesús y reparar la brecha en la sociedad.

Becoming Beloved Community with Heidi Kim and Charles Wynder Jr – #episcopal church Executive Council’s critical Board Development #excoun pic.twitter.com/x9OFfs0T2d

— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 20, 2017

Ese marco concluyó a principios de 2017, dijo Kim, y se dio a conocer a la Iglesia en mayo de ese año. Hasta el momento,  se ha gastado aproximadamente la mitad de los $2 millones aprobados para esta tarea de poner en práctica el Convertirse en la Amada Comunidad en el ámbito diocesano y congregacional, y esa implementación se espera que prosiga en el nuevo trienio, dijo Kim.

El Convertirse en la Amada Comunidad hace referencia el Comité de Antirracismo del Consejo Ejecutivo en sus resoluciones remitidas al Comité de Justicia y Reconciliación Raciales. El objetivo expreso de la Resolución A044 es “fomentar la capacidad de Convertirse en la Amada Comunidad”  y recomienda un marco de certificación para el adiestramiento en antirracismo que fue lo dispuesto por una resolución en 2000. El Comité de Antirracismo también presentó una resolución a esta Convención General (A045), clarificaba ese adiestramiento requerido y se lo recordaba a las diócesis. Y proponía un programa de reconocimiento a la reconciliación racial (A046) a fin de premiar los empeños locales exitosos.

La Resolución D002 aprobaría $1 millón para ofrecerles subvenciones a ministerios locales dedicados a la obra de reconciliación racial. Ese tipo de ayuda económica directa no se incluye en el alcance de las anteriores resoluciones que produjeron y han apoyado el Convertirse en la Amada Comunidad.

Leona Volk saluda al obispo primado Michael Curry durante la visita de Curry en septiembre a Dakota del Sur, donde hubo episcopales que participaron en manifestaciones contra el oleoducto de acceso a las Dakotas cerca de la reserva sioux de Roca Enhiesta Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

La importancia de tales empeños se ha visto marcada a lo largo de los últimos tres años por la continua conmoción de los acontecimientos actuales , desde violencia armada de la policía de gran resonancia, hasta los violentos enfrentamientos del año pasado en Charlottesville, Virginia, entre grupos supremacistas blancos y contramanifestantes. Kim dijo que ella también ve la necesidad de una reparación racial en la manera que los estadounidenses responden a los migrantes en la frontera mexicana. Y los asuntos medioambientales con frecuencia están interrelacionados con la raza, como se ha visto en la lucha de los sioux de Roca Enhiesta [Standing Rock] por preservar el agua potable de la tribu y los empeños de los nativos alasqueños en proteger las zonas de reproducción del caribú en el Refugio Nacional de la Vida Salvaje en el Ártico.

Ella espera también que los episcopales hagan suya la labor de reconciliación racial como una andadura espiritual permanente, no como una manera de avergonzar a los que podamos ver como racistas.

“Todos tenemos nuestra propia obra que hacer, de manera que no podemos solamente externalizar el problema del racismo”, señaló ella. “Todos podemos ser mejores siendo reconciliadores y reparadores”.

Spellers dijo que se siente esperanzada en la labor visionaria de la Convención General [al adoptar] medidas tales como la Resolución C019 de 2015, y espera que esa sea la visión que haga suya la Iglesia a través de las próximas dos semanas de discernimiento sobre el racismo sistémico.

“Cuando contemplo la labor que nuestra Iglesia emprendiera tan recientemente para Convertirse en la Amada Comunidad, y cuando escucho las intensas conversaciones sobre justicia y  reparación raciales entre obispos, diputados y redes dedicadas a ello, me siento profundamente motivada”.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él en at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.


El Obispo Primado encabeza una oleada de entusiasmo por la evangelización en vísperas de la Convención General

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 5:44am

Pan y Rosas, un ministerio de la iglesia episcopal de la Trinidad en Charlottesville, Virginia, se ha asociado con el Comité de Rescate Internacional para celebrar demostraciones de cocina en un mercado agrícola de la ciudad con vistas a promover técnicas culinarias nutricionales y cultivo de verduras de parte de refugiados que viven en Charlottesville. Pan y Rosas recibió subvenciones de la Zona de Iniciativa de Misión. Foto del Comité de Rescate Internacional.

[Episcopal News Service] El Rvdmo. Michael Curry, en sus tres años como Obispo Primado, ha definido regularmente a los episcopales como parte de “la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús” subrayando el llamado de la Iglesia a la evangelización.

El impulso de la Iglesia Episcopal hacia una mayor evangelización no es nuevo. La asunción de Curry de su autotitulado papel de “director general de evangelización”continúa años de crecimiento en el apoyo organizacional y económico de la Iglesia para tales empeños.

“Creo que teníamos una tendencia hacia un incremento en nuestra obra de evangelización y de fundación de iglesias antes de la elección de Michael Curry como obispo primado”, dijo el Rdo. Frank Logue, miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo con un énfasis de larga data en la evangelización. Curry ha aumentado esos esfuerzos desde 2015, dijo Logue.

La Convención General aprobó $1,8 millones para fundación de iglesias y Zonas de Iniciativa de Misión en el trienio 2013-3015, y $3,4 millones se asignaron para tales ministerios de 2016 a 2018. Al Comité de Evangelización y Fundación de Iglesias, que preside Logue, se le ha asignado una resolución (A005) que aprobaría $6,8 millones en gastos en el transcurso de los próximos tres años para avanzar a partir de los éxitos logrados en estos “santos experimentos”.

Algunos estudiantes aprenden a jugar ajedrez en la sesión de 2017 del Ministerio Episcopal Appleton en una escuela libertad de su Fondo para la Defensa de la Infancia. El ministerio se benefició de una subvención de Zona de Iniciativa de Misión. Foto del Ministerio Episcopal Appleton.

“Veo que hay un movimiento dentro de la Iglesia para invertir en esta área”, dijo Logue. Y si bien la fundación de iglesias desempeña un papel importante —Episcopal News Service  destacó recientemente varios ejemplos de exitosos beneficiarios de subvenciones—  la Iglesia está invirtiendo en innovación en todos los niveles, incluidas las congregaciones establecidas y por diócesis.

Hasta ahora, se han remitido ocho resoluciones al Comité de Evangelización y Fundación de Iglesias, aunque muchas más pueden añadirse para el 6 de julio, la fecha límite de presentación [de resoluciones]. Entre ellas hay una medida (A030) presentada por el Consejo Ejecutivo para renovar la financiación de un pequeño programa para subvencionar la evangelización en $100.000.

Esas subvenciones están limitadas a $2.000 por congregación y hasta $8.000 por diócesis o ministerios regionales, y usualmente respaldan eventos puntuales en lugar de la obra continúa de fundación de iglesias, explicó Logue. Al igual que las fundaciones de iglesias, algunas de estas iniciativas más pequeñas pueden proporcionar modelos para nuevos ministerios en el ámbito denominacional.

“Hemos visto que suceden algunas cosas buenas con pequeñas cantidades de dinero”, dijo Logue, que es canónigo del Ordinario en la Diócesis de Georgia.

La evangelización es una de las tres prioridades que la Convención General ha fijado para el actual trienio, junto con la reconciliación racial y el cuidado de la creación. Las tres servirán como puntos focales para sesiones conjuntas y separadas de la Convención General en una nueva serie de discusiones en paneles llamados TEConversations [Conversaciones de la Iglesia Episcopal].

El diálogo sobre la evangelización tendrá lugar a las 2:30 PM del 7 de julio, y el panel estará integrado por la Rda. Lauren Winner, sacerdote y autora; Alan Scarfe, obispo de Iowa, que dirigió [campañas] de avivamiento en todas las congregaciones de su diócesis el año pasado, y el Rdo. Daniel Vélez-Rivera, fundador de iglesias en la Diócesis de Virginia. El diálogo sobre la reconciliación racial es el 6 de julio y el cuidado de la creación será el tema del 10 de julio.

Todas estas prioridades conforman la misión de la Iglesia Episcopal  y se relacionan entre sí, dijo el obispo de California, Marc Andrus, que es copresidente de un organismo asesor que presentó una resolución (la A019) sobre la interrelación de la evangelización, la fundación de iglesias y el cuidado de la creación. La resolución del Consejo Asesor sobre la Mayordomía de la Creación pide que se cree un equipo de trabajo para estudiar y estimular esas conexiones.

“En verdad no hay cosas separadas”, dijo Andrus, y si bien muchas fundaciones de iglesias ya enfocan su trabajo incorporando en su evangelización, la reconciliación racial y la mayordomía medioambiental, él espera que el equipo de trabajo propuesto proporcione las bases para hacer de ese enfoque algo habitual.

“Un enfoque integrado de fundación de iglesias y evangelización es una manera sana de evangelizar”, afirmó. “ Se relaciona con el único espíritu de Cristo, que no está dividido. Cristo no favorece una causa justa por encima de otra”.

La Rda. Stephanie Johnson, otra copresidente del consejo asesor, se muestra de acuerdo.

“Al reconocer que el cuidado de la creación es central a nuestra fe, entendemos que la reconciliación con todas las criaturas de Dios es parte de quienes somos”, dijo Johnson, rectora de la iglesia episcopal de San Pablo [St. Paul’s] en Riverside, Connecticut.

Esto también podría extender el alcance de la Iglesia a generaciones más jóvenes, lo cual fue otra consideración aludida en la resolución que presentó el Consejo Asesor sobre la Mayordomía de la Creación.

“Para ellos es importante saber que la Iglesia vela por su futuro y el de las generaciones que vendrán después”, añadió Johnson.

Algunas resoluciones asignadas al comité de evangelización proponen continuar con la labor que ya está en marcha, tales como la resolución presupuestaria presentada por el Grupo Asesor Génesis sobre fundación de Iglesias y la resolución del Consejo Ejecutivo sobre pequeñas subvenciones para la evangelización. El Consejo Ejecutivo también presentó una resolución (A031) para la creación de un nuevo cargo de funcionario del personal para ayudar a administrar la red de fundación de iglesias.

Otra resolución presentada por el Grupo Génesis (A006) pide el acopio de información demográfica  sobre los líderes de la Iglesia que se encuentran detrás de los nuevos ministerios de evangelización, de manera que los datos puedan compararse con la información sobre las comunidades a las que intentan servir.

La resolución no pide ninguna acción ulterior en respuesta a esa información, pero Logue, que es el enlace del Consejo Ejecutivo con el Grupo Génesis, dijo simplemente que tener esa información puede alentar a los ministros a pensar más en la representación. Por ejemplo, un ministerio de participación latino se beneficiaría de líderes latinos, del mismo modo que tiene sentido tener a una persona joven al frente de un ministerio orientado hacia la generación Y [o del milenio].

Otra resolución le pide a la Convención General que le recomiende a la Iglesia los resultados de los organismos asesores. Uno de ellos es la Carta de la Evangelización (A029) redactada por el Comité de Ministerio y Misión Locales del Consejo Ejecutivo para promover un lenguaje común para describir y llevar a cabo la obra de la evangelización.

El obispo primado Michael Curry en la noche del 17 de noviembre ayuda al comienzo de la campaña de avivamiento de tres días en la Diócesis de San Joaquín. El inicio del evento tuvo lugar en el campus de la Universidad del Pacífico, en Stockton, California. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Curry ha tomado la delantera en los últimos 16 meses de presidir, en general, los avivamientos públicos en diócesis de toda la Iglesia, pero pese a lo que el Obispo Primado dice acerca de ser parte del “movimiento de Jesús”, muchos episcopales pueden no entender plenamente el llamado a la evangelización que subyace en ese término, dijo Logue. En consecuencia, la Carta de la Evangelización es un punto de referencia para la acción común

Logue, enfatizó también que es importante no interpretar la evangelización como una sugerencia de que la Iglesia Episcopal o los episcopales tienen todas las respuestas. La evangelización “también nos cambiará”, expresó.

El Equipo de Trabajo sobre Aprovechar las Redes Sociales para la Evangelización presentó una resolución (A081) en que le pedía a la Convención General que diseminara su ponencia, “Teología práctica de la evangelización episcopal: cara a cara y en el ciberespacio” [A Practical Theology of Episcopal Evangelism: Face-to-Face and in Cyberspaceque se incluye en su informe del Libro Azul.

El informe hace una profunda inmersión teológica en lo que significa promover la evangelización en el mundo contemporáneo donde gran parte de nuestra comunicación con otras personas tiene lugar vía Internet.

“Nuestro llamado a compartir las Buenas Nuevas no desaparece cuando entramos en Facebook o Instagram”, dice la ponencia. “Tenemos la oportunidad de seguir la invitación del Espíritu Santo en una aventura jubilosa y sorprendente que nos cambia tanto como cambia a las personas y comunidades con las que compartimos”.

Gran parte de los consejos del documento pueden ser útiles para los evangelistas episcopales que operan en cualquier plataforma, desde esquinas de calles hasta el ciberespacio. Walker Adams, el presidente del equipo de trabajo, dijo que las redes sociales son una valiosa herramienta para la evangelización, pero un evangelista digital sigue necesitando fundamentar esa labor en una trayectoria de fe personal.

“Creo que sería mejor si dedicáramos algún tiempo a pensar quiénes somos, en qué creemos y cómo lo expresamos”. Dijo Adams, miembro de la Diócesis de Misurí Occidental que ahora trabaja en admisiones en Sewanee: la Universidad del Sur. “Si no podemos proponer alguna especie de conceptos básicos para compartir tu propia historia y tu relación con Jesús, realmente no importa cómo ponerlo online.

La Convención General pidió la creación del equipo de trabajo en 2015, para crear un currículo para la evangelización digital. Al mismo tiempo, agregó Adams, los empeños de Curry como director ejecutivo de evangelización, “realmente puso la evangelización a la vanguardia” incluida la contratación de la Rda. Stephanie Spellers, canóniga para la evangelización, la reconciliación y el cuidado de la creación, y de Jeremy Tackett, evangelista digital. El equipo de evangelización  de Curry creó algo llamado los instrumentos de la evangelización, concebidos para adiestrar a los episcopales en todos los niveles en nuevos métodos de compartir su fe.

It's Social Media Sunday this Sunday. Time to share the Good News in word and image. #SMS17 #chsocm #evangelism pic.twitter.com/BjdQAWFjua

— Episcopal Maryland (@episcomd) September 21, 2017

El equipo de trabajo de Adams presentó una segunda resolución (A082) en que solicitaba de la Convención General $100.000 para proseguir ese adiestramiento. Una opción, dijo él, sería identificar, en cada diócesis, una persona responsable de la evangelización que pueda trabajar con congregaciones y feligreses. En lugar de esperar porque el personal del Obispo Primado visite cada congregación, puede resultar más efectivo para preparar a más adiestradores regionales.

“Creo que la evangelización no es algo que pueda esperar”, afirmó Adams. “La Iglesia está volcada a la evangelización ahora. La Iglesia está entusiasmada”.

Spellers le dijo a ENS en un email que ella, también, se siente entusiasmada respecto a dónde habrá de llegar en la Convención General el continuo diálogo sobre la evangelización.

“Al entrar en esta Convención General, nuestra Iglesia tiene docenas de pujantes nuevos ministerios con la orientación, el apoyo y el adiestramiento que la Convención ha soñado”, dijo Spellers. “Hemos visto dos cumbres y conferencias de La Evangelización es Importante y hemos lanzado una red de evangelistas episcopales. Nos hemos asociado con diócesis para organizar seis avivamientos episcopales y hemos adiestrado a más de mil evangelistas en esas comunidades anfitrionas. Hemos conseguido una serie de recursos globales, multilingües, en la Internet que llamamos los Instrumentos de la Evangelización y un nuevo programa de subvenciones para la evangelización.

“Si la  ‘evangelización episcopal’ era antes un oxímoron, esos tiempos han pasado”.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él en at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

La Convención General tendrá sus momentos de #MeToo

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 6:25pm

[Episcopal News Service] La 79ª. Convención General sopesará el papel de la Iglesia Episcopal y su respuesta al movimiento #MeToo con resoluciones, reflexiones y la esperanza de la reconciliación.

En lo que podría ser una sesión extraordinaria, la Cámara de Obispos invita a los episcopales a un evento que han llamado “Liturgia de la Escucha”. La sesión del 4 de julio, programada de 5:15 PM a 7 PM (hora del Centro) en el espacio de culto reservado en el Centro de Convenciones de Austin, se ha definido como “un espacio sagrado para escuchar y para ulterior reconciliación”

Entre tanto, se han presentado cerca de 30 resoluciones relacionadas con el tema. La mayoría de ellas provienen de los 47 miembros del Comité Especial de la Cámara de Diputados sobre Acoso y Explotación Sexuales nombrado en febrero por la Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, presidente de los diputados.

Propósito y configuración de la ‘Liturgia de la Escucha

DeDe Duncan-Probe, obispa de la Diócesis de Nueva York Central, que preside el Equipo de Planificación de la Respuesta Pastoral de la Cámara de Obispos al [movimiento] #MeToo, espera que durante esa liturgia se echarán las bases para el debate y la aprobación de resoluciones encaminadas a ponerle fin al acoso y la explotación sexuales. Planeada para el día antes de que la Convención empiece a sesionar formalmente, los participantes serán invitados a hacer suya la idea e que el acoso y la explotación sexuales ocurren “porque no estamos mirando la imagen de Cristo en los demás”.

La sesión, le dijo Duncan-Probe a Episcopal News Service, se fundamentará en la idea de que los episcopales creen en el poder transformador de la liturgia. “Acudimos con nuestro dolor y nuestro pesar, y lo ponemos ante el sueño de Dios para la Iglesia y ante la misericordia y la gracia de Dios”, afirmó. “Según hacemos eso, Jesús está en medio nuestro y tenemos un momento donde un futuro novedoso es posible”.

En mayo, los obispos invitaron a los episcopales a “compartir reflexiones sobre acoso, abuso y explotación sexuales”, diciendo que una selección de las reflexiones, sin nombres adjuntos, se leería como parte de la liturgia. El equipo de planificación aclaró posteriormente la naturaleza confidencial del proceso de recibir y compartir esas reflexiones. Los planificadores han insistido en que la sesión no es una disciplina clerical, o una audiencia del Título IV [de los Cánones].

Alrededor de 40 personas decidieron compartir sus historias con el equipo de planificación, y 10 de ellas la leerán los obispos en alta voz durante el oficio. Las historias están narradas en primera persona sin detalles de identificación. Incluso los llamados “obispos lectores” no conocen el nombre de las personas cuyas historias leerán, dijo Duncan-Probe, usando la voz en primera persona, “cuando se oye algo en primera persona, automáticamente uno se proyecta en ello”.

Ella dijo también que “la mayoría de las veces, esas historias se cuentan en secreto. Se les han contado en privado a un obispo con un canciller presente, y todas son confidenciales. Y luego se comentan en voz baja a la hora del café o se cuentan detrás del bebedero, pero nos hemos reunido como Iglesia para oír estas historias en alta voz sin ninguna agenda oculta”.

La liturgia, que se transmitirá en directo aquí, fue específicamente redactada por el equipo para este fin y tendrá una estructura sencilla, añadió Duncan-Probe. Con el obispo primado Michael Curry invitamos a los presentes a una “sagrada escucha’. Con cada historia se orará y se meditará en silencio. Los obispos, que estarán sentados en la congregación, se pondrán de pie y se arrepentirán de su papel en el perjuicio infligido. A todos los participantes se les pedirá que se arrepientan de las veces que fueron “observadores silenciosos” y depredadores, que dejaron de respetarse mutuamente o que se olvidaron de reconocer en los demás a los amados hijos de Dios.

“Se van a decir algunas cosas duras que creo resultarán una sorpresa porque la gente ha pensado que esto va a ser un recurso de parte de los obispos para ‘cubrir las apariencias’ o algo por el estilo, dijo Duncan-Probe.

Habrá un equipo de respuesta pastoral integrado por psicólogos clínicos, terapeutas y directores espirituales, que estará disponible antes, durante y después del oficio y a lo largo de la Convención General, explicó ella. Además, un grupo de personas expertas en los procesos disciplinarios del clero [contenidos en] el Título IV también estarán disponibles para explicar ese proceso.

Resoluciones que se presentarán en la Convención

Las 24 resoluciones del comité especial de la Cámara de Diputados se centran en teología y lenguaje inclusivos; disparidad en salarios, contratos, licencias y pensiones; cambios en el proceso disciplinario y en adiestramiento en lo concerniente al Título IV; verdad y reconciliación; y justicia social sistémica fuera de la Iglesia. Jennings, que presidió el comité, dijo a Episcopal News Service vía email que el comité ha “trabajado eficiente, colaborativa y creativamente para redactar una impresionante gama de legislación. La Rda. Ruth Meyers, diputada suplente por la Diócesis de California, era la vicepresidente del comité, y Jennings dijo que ella “llevó a cabo una enorme cantidad de trabajo en un calendario muy ajustado”. Jennings agregó que le daba las gracias a Meyers y a “todas las mujeres cuyos esfuerzos están llevando a la Iglesia Episcopal a confesar nuestros pecados de discriminación sexual, así como de acoso y violencia contra mujeres y niñas y a ponerle fin al sexismo sistémico, a la misoginia y al abuso de poder que plagan la Iglesia y la cultura”.

El informe de 38 páginas del comité se encuentra aquí.

La Oficina de la Convención General se encuentra en el proceso de publicar aquí las resoluciones del comité especial. A algunas aún les falta el número y otras necesitan información. Las 24 resoluciones son:

A178 Suspensión de la intensificación e implementación de políticas migratorias y de prácticas lesivas a mujeres, padres y niños migrantes (propuesta por Jennings).
B011 Normativas de lenguaje inclusivo para seminarios episcopales, programas formativos (resolución escrita por miembros del comité y propuesta por el obispo de la Diócesis de Ohio Sur Thomas Breidenthal).
D016 Un equipo de trabajo para las mujeres, la verdad y la reconciliación.
D017 Reducción de acoso, asalto y explotación sexuales en el centro de trabajo.
D020 Un equipo de trabajo para encuestar la Iglesia y entender el acoso y el asalto sexual en la Iglesia.

D021 Revisión de la cartera de información de la Oficina del Ministerio de Transición.

D022 Restablecimiento del Buró de las Mujeres.
D023 Adiestramiento obligatorio para clérigos y obispos [con vistas a]f establecer un equipo de trabajo antisexista.
D025 Adiestramiento obligatorio para clérigos y obispos
D026 No discriminación en la contratación y colación del clero.
D031 Reconocer y ponerle fin a la violencia doméstica en nuestras congregaciones.
D032 Igual acceso a la atención sanitaria independientemente del género.
D033 Un gestor a nivel denominacional en casos de disciplina del clero.
D034 Suspensión de la prescripción en lo concerniente al Título IV durante un período de tiempo.

D035 Cambio en el Título IV sobre la disciplina del clero para prevenir represalias.
D036 Revisión del Libro de Oración Común para incluir un lenguaje inclusivo y expansivo.

D037 Que El Fondo de Pensiones de la Iglesia informe trienalmente sobre la compensación del clero.

D040 Estudio sobre la condición de las mujeres músicos en la Iglesia.
* DXXX Materiales litúrgicos en lenguaje expansivo.
* DXXX Uso de un lenguaje desprejuiciado y expansivo para Dios y la humanidad.
* DXXX equidad en las pensiones para empleados laicos.
* DXXX Recomendación para acuerdos ecuménicos.
* DXXX: Reconciliación y mediación entre clérigos.
* DXXX: Cambio en el Título IV para proporcionarle protección a los denunciantes.

Además, la Comisión Permanente de Estructura, Gobierno, Constitución y Cánones  ha presentado dos resoluciones para cambios canónicos. La Resolución A108 concerniente al entrenamiento de sacerdotes y diáconos para la prevención de conducta sexual impropia. La Resolución A124 esclarece el lenguaje respecto a la conducta sexual impropia que se usa en los cánones del Título III. Además, la comisión permanente pide [la creación de] un equipo de trabajo sobre acoso sexual (A109) y que la Iglesia adopte la Carta por la Seguridad de las Personas dentro de las Iglesias de la Comunión Anglicana (A115).

Hay tres resoluciones (A048,  A049 yA50) del Equipo de Trabajo para Actualizar las Normas sobre la Conducta Sexual Impropia.

El origen de la sesión de escucha y las resoluciones que se presentan en la Convención se encuentran en una carta de Curry y Jennings del 22 de enero  en que llamaban a los episcopales a dedicar la Cuaresma y más allá a examinar la historia de la Iglesia y su manejo o mal manejo de los casos de acoso, explotación y abuso sexuales. Curry y Jennings decían en la carta a la Iglesia que querían que la Convención General discutiera estos problemas porque “quieren oír la voz de toda la Iglesia mientras determinamos cómo proceder tanto en hacer expiación por el pasado de la Iglesia, como en configurar un futuro más justo”.

Jennings nombró al comité especial de diputados después que dijo que se había puesto en contacto con “veintenas de mujeres” que querían compartir sus historias.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora principal y reportera de Episcopal News Service Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Episcopacy task force proposes ways to make a ‘healthy and representative’ House of Bishops

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 2:32pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church is episcopal because it has bishops among its leaders and the upcoming 79th General Convention will consider many aspects of their formation, election and role in the church.

The word “episcopal” comes from the ancient Greek epískopos, meaning overseer. The first session of the first General Convention, held in 1785, consisted only of the House of Deputies. However, it adopted a constitutional provision establishing a separate House of Bishops, which joined the convention at its second session in 1789.

The Task Force on the Episcopacy, formed at the request of the last meeting of convention, has submitted 34 resolutions. They are in reply to convention’s mandate that it study “the election, appointment, roles and responsibilities of the episcopate.” To do so, they began at that 1785 beginning.

Those resolutions will be considered, first by the Churchwide Leadership Committee, when the 79th General Convention officially gets underway July 5 at the Austin Convention Center. Convention runs through July 13. The task force’s Blue Book report to convention is here.

Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, task force chair, told Episcopal News Service that the group had a huge job and “we had a lot of different constituencies represented.”

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, a task force member who is the interim rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, California, said that range of constituencies made for “some real differences of opinion on the task force.” However, most members came to a “consensus place” on most of the issues, he said.

Some might think that the first part of the task force’s mandate – to examine the fact that lay Episcopalians and clergy elect their bishops – would have been a bit of a rubber stamp. However, task force member and Diocese of Fort Worth Deputy Katie Sherrod said it was a very serious discussion, especially when it was set in light of another of the task force’s mandates: to “pay particular attention to the recent trend away from a diverse House of Bishop,” and devise ways to encourage diversity. The task force, she said, learned that some Anglican Communion provinces in which bishops are appointed have more diverse groups of bishops than the Episcopal Church.

In the end, the task force concluded that diocesan clergy and laity electing their bishops “is in our DNA and there are reasons for that, and they matter,” she said.

And, the task force agreed that dioceses should hold the main responsibility for electing their bishops, Douglas said, but sought ways to help give them the resources they need.

There are some resolutions that offer what Douglas called technical fixes in this area, such as A142 and A145, which urge dioceses to have bishop search and election policies and canons in place long before they are faced with an episcopal election.

Another part of the proposed solution is a requirement (via Resolution A144) that dioceses “engage in the process of a missional review periodically but no less often than prior to engaging in an episcopal search process.” Douglas said the things the review would examine range from discerning what God is calling Episcopalians in that diocese to do, to such questions as can the diocese afford a bishop and a diocesan staff that are paid fairly and make its assessment to the churchwide budget. Such reviews would also include conversations with neighboring dioceses about “collaboration and a sharing of ideas and visions,” the resolutions says.

“I think this is a hugely important question. As we know, there are dioceses and there will be an increasing number of dioceses that are not viable or might not be viable, and there is no vehicle currently for the wider church to say what should we do in that place,” Douglas said. “So, we often continue to spend a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of energy electing bishops for places that might not even be able to afford a bishop.”

Resolution A156 would change church canons to require that the diocese share its review results with the presiding bishop and the Executive Council for their feedback. Their assessments would then have to be sent to each bishop exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees in advance of their consent to a call for an election.

Douglas that the missional review process is meant to help the wider church be able to give “meaning consent” to such a call.“We’re going to have to as church engage that reality one way or another,” he added.

How to help the church elect bishops who will have successful episcopates was part of the task force’s work, Sherrod said, noting that former Maryland Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook’s “shadow obviously loomed large over the resolution that put us into existence.” Cook killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo in December 2014 as she was driving and texting while drunk. Cook had been was arrested in 2010 on a drunken-driving charge. Cook disclosed the arrest to diocesan leaders during the bishop suffragan search process, according to a diocesan statement released after the Dec. 27 accident, but the entire convention that elected Cook on May 2, 2014, however, was not told about it.

The task force made recommendations on how and when background checks should be done, and who should see the results. For instance, there is no churchwide canonical requirement for background screening when a diocese elects a bishop, the report notes. Resolution A148 proposes to change that.

Responding to the diversity question, the task force notes in its report that the House of Bishops is “overwhelmingly male and white.” Moreover, the members note, the church does not know much about the demographics of those priests who stand for election as bishops. Thus, the task force said one of its primary recommendations is that the church require (via Resolution A138) dioceses holding episcopal elections to report the demographic characteristics of the applicant pool, finalists and elected bishop. Such statistics, it said in Resolution A139, “will allow more empirically-grounded, evidence-based recommendations for enhancing the diversity of the episcopate in future years.”

The task force asks in Resolution A140 that dioceses at the beginning of their search process be given the section on diversity included in its Blue Book report, as well as other materials on diversity.

While not all on the task force agreed, the group is also proposing “pilot Board for Episcopal Transitions” of bishops, priests or deacons, and lay people. The board, described Resolution A147, would operate for six years to work in collaboration with and help the current the presiding bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development, which currently has oversight of the bishop search processes churchwide.

The introduction of lay people, priests and deacons into the bishop search process at the churchwide level is an new effort and it is continued in the task force’s Resolution A149 that urges the College for Bishops to have its board of directors  jointly nominated by the presiding bishop and president of the House of Deputies, elected by the House of Bishops and confirmed by the House of Deputies. Such a process, the resolution explanation says, “likely to result in a board more equally comprising the orders of ministry of the church, all of whom have a vital stake in the calling and formation of bishops.”

Hall said the resolution’s choice of the word “urge” is an example of the compromises that the members made in the midst of what he called “the entire range of opinion” in the group. The word choice came at the end of a long process in which some task force members, including him, advocated for requiring the new process for the college’s board.

The inclusion of all four orders in those processes, Sherrod said, “was all grounded in our belief that the election and formation of bishops should include all four orders of the church because bishop are elected in a diocese, but they are elected for the whole church and so the whole church has a vested interest in every bishop that’s elected.”

“And it should be the whole church, not just bishops, because bishops can’t know everything or understand everything or see everything that the whole of the body [of the church] can bring into the room.”

For more about the College for Bishops see the Episcopal News Service article “Teaching bishops to be bishops.”

The 2015 meeting of convention also told the task force to address the issue of discernment. The members said in their report they were concerned about the lack of a formal process “for a person to test an initial call to the episcopate as an order” similar to “the prolonged, informed, prayerful process that we employ for a call to the diaconate or priesthood.” Still, the task force wanted to be clear it was no calling for a pool of pre-approved candidates.

“We envision a process where the result is clarity for the seeker, and not the conclusion of a group as to whether this individual ought to put him or herself forward,” the task force said. “This discernment is not pre-vetting. It is a pastoral response to an individual who seeks a safe place to wonder about a specific call. The result of the experience and what to do with the information is solely up to the individual.”

Douglas said “expressions of clericalism and patriarchy” sometimes prompt people to “see the episcopacy as the cherry on top of the ordination sundae.” And, they don’t say out loud that he or she feels called to be a bishop because they are afraid, feel it is unseemly or have a sense of what he called “false humbleness.”

“We think that those kinds of attitudes are not going help make a healthy House of Bishops, get our best leaders, nor lead to a diverse and representative House of Bishops.”

The task force wants a clear discernment process, he said, to encourage the entire Episcopal community to raise up and nurture all sort of people for the episcopate.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

Archbishop’s dispensation required for Church in Wales’ youngest ever ordinand

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 12:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop of St. Asaph Gregory Cameron will ordain a 22-year-old as deacon June 30 – a year younger than that normally allowed in the church’s rules. Archbishop of Wales John Davies has given special permission for Dominic Cawdell to be ordained deacon – making him the youngest ever ordinand in the Church in Wales. He is one of thousands of people being ordained as deacon or priest in the weeks around Petertide, a traditional season of ordination.

Read the full article here.

Global South theologians reflect on evangelism throughout the Anglican Communion

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 12:44pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A group of 10 theologians from five continents have met to discuss insights on evangelism and how the Anglican Communion engages in evangelism in different contexts. The group, from the Global South, met in Dallas this month for the event hosted by Bishop George Sumner and the Diocese of Dallas. Some were from majority Muslim contexts where overt evangelism is not possible and new believers are brought into the faith through friendship and humanitarian service.

Read the full article here.

General Convention prepares for expansive conversations on racism and racial healing

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 12:17pm

The Rev. Paul Walker, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, talks to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in front of the city’s statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in September. The statue had been shrouded in a tarp while the city dealt with challenges to its decision to remove the statue of the Confederate general. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal Church leaders already had begun thinking about spiritual responses to racism in 2015 when a shock of events underscored the urgency of that discernment.

A young, white supremacist gunman with a fondness for the Confederate flag opened fire June 17, 2015, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people. That massacre, along with news reports of arsons at black churches and police shootings of unarmed black men, helped fuel passage at the 78th General Convention of Resolution C019, which called on church officers to develop a churchwide response to racial injustice, and up to $2 million was approved for that work.

The Charleston massacre, in particular, left bishops and deputies “feeling a sense of shock and outrage, because I don’t think they thought that that could happen in 2015,” Heidi Kim, staff officer for racial reconciliation, told Episcopal News Service.

Kim had been on the job about a year at that time. Since then, she has helped lead a team of church staff members in carrying out the mandate of Resolution C019 through a framework agreed on by church officers, including Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who was elected in 2015 as the church’s first black leader.

The racial reconciliation team developed the framework into Becoming Beloved Community, which now is the centerpiece of the Episcopal Church’s racial reconciliation efforts. How to follow through with those efforts will be the core question before the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee when it convenes at the 79th General Convention next week in Austin, Texas.

But racism and racial healing are such big topics, both socially and spiritually, that the discussion is expected to expand well beyond a single resolution, or even a single committee, to include meetings, events and exhibits in all corners of the convention center from July 5 to 13.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon the the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation, delivers the keynote speech Jan. 17 at the All Our Children Conference in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“The world needs us to get serious about racial healing, reconciliation, and justice,” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, said in an email. “That only happens as we tell the truth about our churches and race, proclaim the dream of Beloved Community, practice Jesus’ way of love with one another and repair the breach in our society and institutions.

“I’m eager to see our church sharing the wisdom and resources to support even more local adaptation and engagement with this vision.”

Resolution C019 was only the most prominent in a series of resolutions on racism in 2015, and it was hardly General Convention’s first time addressing racism. Resolutions dating back decades have helped guide the church as it responds to racism and atones for its own complicity in racial injustice and support for racist systems, from slavery to segregation.The mandate in 2015 sought to carry those efforts a step further.

“The abomination and sin of racism continue to plague our society and our Church at great cost to human life and human dignity; we formally acknowledge our historic and contemporary participation in this evil and repent of it,” C019 readsAnother resolution, A182, called on the church to address systemic racism at all levels.

Racial reconciliation also was identified by General Convention in 2015 as one of three priorities for the 2016-18 triennium, along with evangelism and care of creation. All three priorities will be highlighted in Austin in three joint sessions of the upcoming General Convention.

Those sessions, named TEConversations, will feature three-member panel discussions on each topic. The TEConversation on racial reconciliation will kick off the series on July 6, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with panelists Catherine Meeks, who heads the Diocese of Atlanta’s anti-racism commission, the Rev. Nancy Frausto, a “Dreamer” from the Diocese of Los Angeles who was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child, and Arno Michaelis, an author and former skinhead. (The evangelism discussion is July 7. Care of creation will be the topic July 10.)

Meeks also is founder of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta, Georgia. The center will hold a luncheon on racial healing at noon July 6 at the Hilton hotel across the street from the Austin Convention Center.

Other exhibits on racial healing are planned for the same day in the exhibit hall, Kim said.

“It’s actually kind of an exciting time,” she said. “The convention will have an opportunity to talk about what it is we’re trying to engage in.” And she expects those conversations to be lively and illuminating, as well as instructive for the coming triennium.

For example, one resolution before the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee (B004) questions whether “anti-racism” should be replaced with a term that better encompasses the spiritual transformation sought in this work.  Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright is listed as the proposer.

A resolution (A042) submitted separately by the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism seeks to change the committee’s name by adding “Reconciliation.” A companion resolution (A043) would adjust the committee’s mandate accordingly.

Another resolution (A138) focuses on the church’s track record of diversifying its leadership. The resolution, submitted by the Task Force on the Episcopacy and assigned to the Churchwide Leadership Committee, would give dioceses 60 days after a bishop election to submit demographic info on all nominees.

“Progress towards the church’s goals and aspirations in the diversity of its leadership, including bishops, is dependent to a significant extent on gathering critical data to inform plans to achieve those goals and be faithful to those aspirations,” the Task Force said.

The church’s work on Becoming Beloved Community is detailed at length in the Blue Book report generated by church officers in response to Resolution C019 from 2015. Becoming Beloved Community is broken into four parts that are illustrated as a labyrinth: telling the truth about our churches and race, proclaiming the dream of Beloved Community, practicing the way of love in the pattern of Jesus and repairing the breach in society.

Becoming Beloved Community with Heidi Kim and Charles Wynder Jr – #episcopal church Executive Council’s critical Board Development #excoun pic.twitter.com/x9OFfs0T2d

— Frank Logue (@franklogue) October 20, 2017

That framework was finalized in early 2017, Kim said, and it was released to the church that May. About half of the $2 million approved for this work has been spent so far, to implement Becoming Beloved Community at the diocesan and congregation level, and implementation is expected to continue in the new triennium, Kim said.

Becoming Beloved Community is referenced by the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism in its resolutions assigned to the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee. The stated aim of Resolution A044  is “building capacity for Becoming Beloved Community,” and it recommends a certification framework for the anti-racism training that was mandated by a 2000 resolution. The Committee on Anti-Racism also submitted a resolution to this General Convention (A045) clarifying that training requirement and reminding dioceses of it. And it is proposing a racial reconciliation awards program (A046) to recognize successful local efforts.

Resolution D002 would approve $1 million to provide grants to local ministries engaged in racial reconciliation work. That kind of direct financial support is not included in the scope of the past resolutions that produced and have supported Becoming Beloved Community.

Leona Volk greets Presiding Bishop Michael Curry during Curry’s September 2016 visit to to South Dakota, where Episcopalians were involved in demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The importance of such efforts has been punctuated over the past three years by the continued shock of current events, from high-profile police shootings to the violent clashes last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters. Kim said she also sees the need for racial healing in how Americans respond to migrants on the Mexican border. And environmental issues often are interwoven with race, as seen in the Standing Rock Sioux’s fight to preserve the tribe’s drinking water and Native Alaskan efforts to protect caribou breeding grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

She also hopes Episcopalians will embrace the work of racial reconciliation as a personal spiritual journey, not as a way to shame those whom we may see as racist.

“We all have our own work to do, so we can’t just externalize the problem of racism,” she said. “We all can be better at being reconcilers and healer.”

Spellers said she finds hope in the visionary work of General Convention in measures such as Resolution C019 from 2015, and she expects that vision to carry the church through the next two weeks of discernment on systemic racism.

“When I look to our church’s work so recently begun toward Becoming Beloved Community, and when I hear today’s fierce racial justice and healing conversations among bishops, deputies and dedicated networks – I am deeply encouraged.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Bishops propose solution for full access to same-sex marriage rites

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:11am

“Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You, and You Will Be a Blessing” was one of the rites General Convention authorized in 2015 for trial use. Photo: Church Publishing Inc.

[Episcopal News Service] Three bishops have proposed a resolution on same-sex marriage that “seeks to ensure that all of God’s people have access to all the marriage liturgies of the church, regardless of diocese, while respecting the pastoral direction and conscience of the local bishop.”

Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell and Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely said in a news release late on June 28 that their Resolution B012, is “an attempt to move the church forward in an atmosphere of mutual respect, reconciliation and the love of Jesus Christ.”

The resolution continues to authorize the two trial-use marriage rites first approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention without time limit and without seeking a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

“Given our particular time in history, this resolution provides a way forward for the whole church without the possible disruption of ministry that might be caused by the proposed revision of the Book of Common Prayer,” the three bishops said.

Resolution B012 proposes that access to the liturgies be provided in all dioceses, without requiring the permission of the diocesan bishop. Instead, congregations that want to use the rites but whose bishops have refused permission may request and will receive Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) from another bishop of the church who would provide access to the liturgies. DEPO is a 14-year-old mechanism devised by the House of Bishops for congregation that disagree with their diocesan bishops on matter of human sexuality and other theological matters.

Access to the rites has been a sticking point from the beginning in a small number of dioceses.

General Convention in 2015 authorized the two marriage rites for trial use (Resolution A054) by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The bishops and deputies also made the canonical definition (via Resolution A036) of marriage gender-neutral.

The Task Force on the Study of Marriage said in its Blue Book Report it found widespread acceptance of the rite across the church except that eight diocesan bishops in the 101 domestic dioceses have not authorized their use.

The task force is proposing (via Resolution A085) that convention require all bishops in authority to “make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have reasonable and convenient access to these trial rites.” It also would have convention say that bishops will “continue the work of leading the church in comprehensive engagement with these materials and continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

Episcopalians who support that effort have been active ahead of convention. Claiming the Blessing, which formed in 2002 to advocate for the “full inclusion of all the baptized in all sacraments of the church, according to its website, has published an advocacy piece. Some Episcopalians in the Diocese of Dallas have developed a website called “Dear General Convention” that includes videos and written stories about people who cannot be married in that diocese.

The task force’s Resolution A085 also calls for adding the trial use liturgies to the Book of Common Prayer. And, it proposes changes to the prayer book’s other marriage rites, prefaces and sections of the Catechism to make language gender-neutral.

The Episcopal Church includes 10 dioceses in civil legal jurisdictions outside the United States that do not allow marriage for same-sex couples. Since church canons require compliance with both civil and canonical requirements for marriage, convention in 2015 did not authorize the trial liturgies for use in those dioceses.

Five Province IX diocesan bishops and one retired bishop representing the dioceses of Ecuador Litoral, Ecuador Central, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Honduras had warned the task force that if convention makes changes about marriage that would force them “to accept social and cultural practices that have no Biblical basis or acceptance in Christian worship,” the action would “greatly deepen the breach, the division and the Ninth Province will have to learn to walk alone.” The bishops of Colombia and Puerto Rico did not sign the statement.

To address their concerns, Resolution B012 also calls for a Task Force on Communion Across Difference, “tasked with finding a lasting path forward for all Episcopalians in one church, without going back on General Convention’s clear decision to extend marriage to all couples, and its firm commitment to provide access to all couples seeking to be married in this church,” the three bishops’ news release said. The task force would seek a path consistent with the church’s polity and the 2015 “Communion across Difference” statement of the House of Bishops, prompted by bishops who objected to convention’s actions on marriage.

Five bishops, three who refuse to authorize the rites and two of the five bishops who signed the Province IX statement, said on June 28 that they will implement Resolution B012 if it is passed.

“Should the proposal before us pass, we would entrust in charity congregations that do not read Holy Scripture in this way to the care of other bishops in the Episcopal Church with whom we remain united in baptism,” they wrote. “While we cannot endorse every aspect of this proposal, we will be grateful should it help us all to continue contending with one another for the truth in love within one body.”

Provenzano, McConnell and Knisley praised that pledge. In addition, they said,since the canons of the church state that General Convention may set terms and conditions for trial use rites, the terms and conditions specified in this resolution have by extension canonical force. All bishops are obliged to abide by these terms and conditions, as by canon law. We believe that they will hold if challenged.”

The proposing bishops contend in their news release that their proposal “allows conservatives to flourish within the structures of the Episcopal Church, but not at the expense of progressive congregations in conservative dioceses. While at first glance it may sound unnecessarily complex, it is a ‘middle way’ that makes room for all in one church.”

 – The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

A previous version of this story gave the wrong name for the Diocese of Pittsburgh bishop. This version corrects that error and cladifies that the proposal would require bishops to grant all requests for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.