Funding for youth event, evangelism mark House of Deputies’ first day

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Jul 5, 2012

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] The House of Deputies expressed its commitment to a national Episcopal Youth Event and expanded funding for evangelism in its first full day of business at General Convention. Those resolutions now go to the House of Bishops for consideration.

It adopted resolution C100, which calls for funding the Episcopal Youth Event and earmarking $300,000 for it. The every-three-year gathering of youth of the Episcopal Church had been slated for elimination in previously released draft budgets. Several young deputies, along with members of the Official Youth Presence, described the impact attending EYE had on them and its value in energizing a new generation of leaders for the church. Deputies voted to direct the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to place the funding in the youth ministries budget.

Deputies also asked for $1 million to establish diocesan “mission enterprise zones” to assist a diocese or a group of parishes in reaching out to under-represented groups in the church (resolution A073) and called for helping parishes and dioceses engage in evangelism, especially to those they don’t normally reach, through creating a multimedia evangelism guide (resolution A070).

Resolution D034 proved controversial by seeking to amend rules on how deputies are required to identify themselves to include stating the percentage of each deputy’s diocesan income is given to the Episcopal Church. Because the asking used to the support the Episcopal Church’s operations is voluntary, diocesan commitments range from the full 19 percent to zero. Deputies favoring the resolution said it would lead to greater accountability and would indicate that dioceses had “skin in the game” when it came to churchwide finances. Opponents feared that comments by deputies in low-paying dioceses would be discounted and that those from dioceses with financial struggles could end up being second-class citizens in the house. The resolution was defeated.

In a morning organizing session, deputies elected the Very Rev. H. Scott Kirby of the Diocese of Eau Claire to serve as vice president for this General Convention, following his recommendation by Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies. The office has been vacant since Brian Prior, elected vice president in 2009, became bishop of the Diocese of Minnesota in 2010.

A much-anticipated relaxation of House of Deputies Rule 67 on the use of electronic devices on the floor also was announced. Anderson asked that all such devices remain in silent mode to avoid disturbing others. Declaring, “I won’t be the electronic police,” she also asked deputies to give their full attention to matters at hand. Deputies who use the social media site Twitter responded there with approval.

The House of Deputies approved multiple other actions, all of which now must receive approval of the House of Bishops to take effect. They include resolutions that:

  • Urged enactment of legislation to permit same-gender legal domestic partners and spouses of United States citizens and permanent residents to seek permanent resident status in the same manner as different-gender spouses (resolution D011).
  • Affirmed the “Website Challenge,” which calls on all congregations to have an effective, dynamic and current website by 2015 (resolution A025) and affirmed communications as an essential ministry of the church (resolution A024).
  • Consented to the election of eight bishops: A. Robert Hirschfeld as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, Dorsey McConnell as bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, W. Nicholas Knisely as bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island, Susan E. Goff as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Virginia, Jeff Wright Fisher as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Texas, Jacob Wayne Owensby as bishop of the Diocese of Western Louisiana, Robert C. Wright as bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta and Douglas John Fisher as bishop of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

— Melodie Woerman is a member of the Episcopal News Service team at General Convention.