Bishops end convention with busy legislative session

By Pat McCaughan and Melodie Woerman
Posted Jul 12, 2012

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] The House of Bishops wrapped up its business July 12, the last official day of the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, considering more than 60 resolutions on topics as wide-ranging as genetically modified food crops to the DREAM Act to social media and implementation of the Episcopal Church Medical Trust.

“We have labored long and hard and fruitfully and in a Christian manner,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the gathering after the meeting officially adjourned about 5:30 p.m. “I really want to commend this house for the care you have taken for each other and of each other. It represents a phenomenal standard of behavior. God bless you all.”

At the 11th hour, Bishop Tom Ely of Vermont told bishops that through a logistical snafu Resolution B016, which involved a 15 percent standard for diocesan giving to the larger church, got lost somewhere between the two legislative houses and likely would not be considered by deputies at this General Convention.

“We passed this on July 9 by a substantial roll call vote and for some reason in the system it was not communicated to the House of Deputies,” Ely told bishops. “When I went to find out where this stood at the end of today when we were getting ready to adjourn we discovered it was not out into the House of Deputies yet.

“We need to express this in as strong a way as we can,” he added. “We worked hard at that and the stewardship committee worked very hard at bringing back revised language to us that we supported strongly and without this mind of the house I don’t know whether we will communicate clearly our support for this resolution, so I urge us to adopt this mind of the house [resolution].”

Bishops overwhelmingly approved the measure, as Ely had requested. The budget drafted by the Program, Budget and Finance Committee had assumed $73.5 million in commitments from the church’s dioceses (line 2), nearly $4 million less than that in the current triennium. That total is based on keeping at 19 percent the amount that the church asks dioceses to annually contribute to the church-wide budget. It was not immediately clear if deputies were able to vote the resolution before the close of convention.

Bishops also rejected several resolutions attempting to postpone implementation of the Episcopal Church Medical Trust.

The house also approved Resolution D067, which urges passage by Congress of the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth and young adults. Other measures adopted included Resolution D055, urging the United States government to enact stricter controls on the use of carbon-based fuels, and Resolution A167, calling for creation of an “HIV Welcoming Parish Initiative” to help congregations to become more engaged with people living with HIV/AIDS.

Bishops adopted Resolution D069, which involves a “social media challenge” calling upon every congregation to use social media in its current and future forms.

Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah urged passage of Resolution D093, affirming the ongoing work of the Office of Black Ministries as of “prime importance for us as a church” and the need for support for some struggling historically African-American congregations.

Bishop Gregory Brewer of Central Florida expressed hopes of pairing earlier resolutions about how missionary enterprise zones might help create possibilities “to raise up new candidates for ordination among African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. There is an extraordinary need … We are receiving a flood of Africans of Caribbean descent and many of the historic African-American churches are not doing particularly well. It’s a challenge for me as a bishop that I want to see grow and support.”

They also adopted:

  • A122, which calls the Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church to study the current budgeting process and matters of financial oversight and make recommendations to the 78th General Convention on possible changes;
  • D066, approving creation of a network of retired Episcopal executives willing to assist dioceses and parishes, modeled on SCORE, a business counseling and mentoring organization;
  • D023, which affirms that all Episcopalians are called to be evangelists to help grow the church and the kingdom of God and commends the work of the Office of Congregational Vitality and the Office of Emergent Church and Church Planting.

Bishops concurred with deputies on Resolution D018, which called upon Congress to repeal federal laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, that discriminate against same-gender couples who are legally married in the states where that is permitted.

The house also adopted Resolution D059, which urges a halt to the Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s practice of detaining people suspected of being in the country illegally without filing any charges against them, which it said leads victims of crime not to contact the police. It also decries racial profiling in immigration matters.

Other resolutions adopted include:

  • B028, urging Congress to modernize the nation’s refugee resettlement program;
  • D005, which calls on the U.S. government to begin to use the term “criminals” for those who commit acts of terror rather than someone engaged in war;
  • A015, commending democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa;
  • C119, calling for reduced air pollution in ports and greater rights for port workers;
  • B023, calling for solidarity with the poor and indigenous people who bear great burdens because of global climate change, with special mention of the Inupiaq Community of Kivalina, Alaska, which is coping with rising sea levels;
  • D087, urging efforts in job creation; and
  • A040, urging Episcopalians to work for health care reform.

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. Melodie Woerman, a member of the ENS General Convention news team, contributed to this report.


Comments (2)

  1. Richard Sellers says:

    I read with interest the leading paragraph in this report that said, “The House of Bishops wrapped up its business on July 12….on topics as wide ranging as genetically modified crops….” As an animal scientist working to bring safe, ground-breaking and innovative technologies to the marketplace, I was stunned by the lack of information on this globally important topic that will clearly help with doubling food production by the year 2050, as we will need to do according to the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization (motto “Fiat Panis” (“let there be bread”)lp. A search of this site did not reveal what action(s) this Convention took on this issue. What happened and does my Church support this viable, scientifically defensible and safe form of production? After all, Christ speaks to me as to us all by saying, “Feed my sheep.”. I am disappointed in this report and its lead-in paragraphp

  2. James Teasdale says:

    I am overwhelmed by the amount of Political involvement I’m seeing from this Convention report. We ask the Government to pay heed to the Constitutional First Amendment separation of Church and State. Yet as a CHRISTIAN CHURCH you presented and adopted Resolutions such as:
    • D067, which urges passage by Congress of the DREAM Act.
    • D055, urges the United States government re. the use of carbon-based fuels.
    • D018, which called upon Congress to repeal federal laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act.
    • D059, which urges a halt to the Immigration and certain Custom Enforcement’s practices.
    • B028, urging Congress to modernize the nation’s refugee resettlement program.
    • D005, which calls on the U.S. government to begin to use the term “criminals” – a “PC” issue.
    • A015, commending democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa.
    • C119, calling for reduced air pollution in ports and greater rights for port workers.
    • D087, urging efforts in job creation.
    • A040, urging Episcopalians to work for health care reform.
    These are just a few of the issues which have our CHURCH telling the STATE what to enact or repeal at the EPISCOPALIAN Convention. There is no question that these are important issues to our country. But they are political issues which our CHURCH should leave in the hands of the STATE. We have enough to do WITHIN the church to keep it viable. This Convention took time to address all those issue yet somehow overlooked a Resolution B016, which addressed a change in the standard for diocesan giving to the larger church. That was PURELY Church business! Church members are politically as rigidly divided as the populace. Taking sides divides, alienates, and will absolutely separate this church.
    Prosperity, our free market system and the work ethic which made this country the best place in the world to live are all under attack. Those are huge and divisive political issues. Of course they affect us all, and as individuals; Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist we should be involved with politics at whatever level our spirits move us. Christianity is under attack as well; prayer, the Commandments and crosses challenged. Our members are intelligent enough to join ALL Christians as they are so moved to take on the political aspect of these battles. The Episcopal Church in wisdom would be aware that a strong church, unified in the zeal to promote Christianity and Christian behavior WITHIN gives its membership a clear path to follow and promote. We in the trenches want to see our church provide a place of peace and Christian teaching; Christian support of our members and communities. This alone. Our free choice of political preference and involvement must be left to ourselves, left OUT of our churches.
    State & Federal political issues bombard our lives daily in every media form. The church should logically and theologically be above that. Infusing Church membership with politics, regulations and minutia like being green, global warming and immigration is to embroil us in uncompromising conflict, controversial “science” and legal chaos. For God’s sake, I hope you who lead this Faith can get on about teaching the word of Jesus Christ and the healthy growth of the church in the USA. Imagine how simple the agenda for next year’s Convention could be if it focused on church business and let politics and law be the business of Government. To encourage individual involvement is healthy. End it at that, please!
    Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God, the things which are God’s.

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