Committees take action on 11 social justice and U.S. policy-related resolutions

By Shireen Korkzan
Posted Jun 22, 2024

General Convention’s Social Justice & U.S. Policy committees June 22, 2024, voted on 11 proposed resolutions. The meeting at the Louisville Marriott Downtown Hotel in Kentucky marked the first time the parallel committees of deputies and of bishops, which, though distinct, typically meet and deliberate together but vote separately, met in person. The committees began holding online meetings in April. Photo: Shireen Korkzan/ENS

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] General Convention’s Social Justice & U.S. Policy committees June 22 voted on 11 proposed resolutions addressing issues ranging from ending the practice of labor trafficking of migrant youth to closing the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The June 22 meeting at the Louisville Marriott Downtown Hotel marked the first time the parallel committees of deputies and of bishops, which, though distinct, typically meet and deliberate together but vote separately, met in person. The committees began holding online meetings in April.  

The meeting started with a hearing on Resolution A166, “Registration of Firearms; Licensing of Firearm Sellers, Buyers, and Users; Use of Taggants.” Eli Crowley, a youth delegate from the Diocese of the Rio Grande, testified in favor of the resolution.

“Days’ waiting periods and background checks on the state level will help, but the primary focus must be holding the government accountable and closing these loopholes,” he said.

Loopholes include evading background checks and mental health evaluations. Such laws, if any, vary by state.

Crowley also testified in favor of Resolution A167, “Water Rights for Indigenous Communities and Land,” but with amended language to strengthen the church’s advocacy.

 “The language of this resolution must be strengthened to allow [The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations] to hound the federal government and the state governments to provide the water infrastructure needed to support the Navajo Nation… ,” he said.

The Navajo Nation reservation stretches across 27,000 square miles in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Tribal leadership said almost a third of the 170,000 residents do not have access to potable water, according to news reports.

The Rev. Tracy Johnson Russell, rector of St. Monica’s Episcopal Church in Hartford, Connecticut, testified in favor of Resolution D054, “A Resolution to Address the Issue of Black Maternal Mortality Rate.” 

In the United States, the maternal mortality rate for Black women is almost three times higher than rates for white and Hispanic women. Black babies are also more likely to die, or to be born prematurely, which puts them at higher risk for long-term health issues.

“The history of racism within health care must be understood to dismantle the institutionalized racism in health care systems and to create policies that protect Black women. Social and systemic changes are imperative to reduce Black maternal morbidity and mortality,” Johnson Russell, who is Black, said. “Therefore, the stark differences in reproductive health outcomes for Black women necessitate an increased focus on the intersectional roles of racism, discrimination and other social determinants of health in influencing disease and mortality risk.”

The committees also debated over the best use of language for Resolution D039, “Condemning Censorship,” which addresses censorship in public schools and libraries. The resolution was ultimately adopted as substituted and removed from the consent calendar in the House of Deputies, the resolution’s house of initial action.  

The deputies’ and bishops’ committees then took action on the following resolutions:

  • D034, “Support and Advocacy for Restorative Justice and a Moral Commitment to Abolition of Prisons and Policing” — adopted a substitute resolution.
  • D027, “Addressing Traffic Fatalities” — deputies adopted, bishops took no action.  
  • D028, “Close Guantánamo Bay Prison” — resolution adopted with amendments.
  • D042, “Ending Child and Forced Marriage” — adopted a substitute resolution.
  • A166, “Registration of Firearms; Licensing of Firearm Sellers, Buyers, and Users; Use of Taggants” — adopted the resolution.
  • A167, “Water Rights for Indigenous Communities and Lands” — adopted with amendments.
  • C035, “End the Practice of Labor Trafficking of Migrant Youth” — adopted resolution.
  • D054, “A Resolution to Address the Issue of Black Maternal Mortality Rate” — resolution adopted with amendments.
  • D057, “Advocate for Housing Solutions” — resolution adopted. 
  • D067, “Support Temporary Protected Status” — resolution adopted. 
  • D039, “Condemning Censorship” — adopted substitute resolution; removed from the consent calendar.

The House of Deputies and House of Bishops will convene legislative sessions on June 23, the first official day of the 81st General Convention. 

All resolutions can be tracked on General Convention’s Virtual Binder website.

 -Shireen Korkzan is a reporter and assistant editor for Episcopal News Service based in northern Indiana. She can be reached at skorkzan@episcopalchurch.org.


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