GC81 Daily Digest, June 25: Presiding bishop writes about ‘Jesus in America’ and legislation progresses

Posted Jun 25, 2024

A deputy takes to the microphone to testify during the June 24 House of Deputies afternoon legislative session. Photos: Randall Gornowich

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] The third full day of the 81st General Convention is underway at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Legislative committees continue to meet in the early morning hours and the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops are meeting in their respective houses for late morning and afternoon legislative sessions.

Today’s big story will be the House of Deputies presidential election; full coverage of it will follow sometime this afternoon.

You can find full, regularly updated ENS coverage here. The ENS primer, or everything you need to follow the 81st General Convention, is here.

A lot can happen on any given day at General Convention. News that doesn’t make it into a full story gets filed into our daily digest. Here are some dispatches from June 25.

Deputies’ Social Justice & International Policy Committee moves peace and justice resolutions along

The deputies’ Social Justice & International Policy committee met this morning, June 25, and first addressed resolutions passed via the House of Bishops June 24 consent calendar.

Deputies voted first to concur with the bishops’ vote on the following resolutions and then voted to put them on the House of Deputies consent calendar:

  • A110, clarifying the distinction between Biblical and modern Israel.
  • C002, on “responsible travel” to the Holy Land
  • D012, conditioning U.S. military aid to Israel on adherence to humanitarian law.
  • D019, on justice and peace in Ukraine.
  • D037, encouraging Episcopal ministries to assess their intersections with issues of migration.

The committee then moved to resolutions on which bishops voted to take no further action, per the committee’s recommendations, because their content was integrated into other resolutions. Committee members voted to concur and to put them on the House of Deputies consent calendar.

“Take no further action” resolutions include: A011  and D003, all pertaining to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as apartheid; C013, C015  and C022, all titled “Migration with Dignity”; C027, conditioning U.S. military aid to Israel; and D058, calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Next, the committee voted to concur with the bishop’s yes votes on resolutions D075, calling for the immediate release of Palestinian Layan Nasir held in administrative detention without charge by Israel; D006, condemning Christian Zionism; and D062, expressing solidarity with Armenia. D062 was then placed on the House of Deputies consent calendar.

The rest of the meeting was dedicated to strategizing how the committee might present Holy Land resolutions to the House of Deputies by special order or by consent calendar. There was uncertainty around how the committee could discuss Resolution D056, which the House of Bishops postponed the previous day with potential amendments not accessible online at the time of the committee meeting.

-Logan Crews

Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice hosts lunchtime discussion

The steering group of the newly formed Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice led a lunchtime discussion June 24 in the Kentucky International Conference Center about the coalition’s mission to become a part of the Beloved Community by ending white supremacy and racism.

“One of the reasons for forming the coalition was so that we are not bound by what I call the tyranny of the triennial,” said the Rev. John Kitagawa, a priest in the Diocese of Arizona. “One of the things that we hope we can do as a coalition is to go into more depth, that we can really pursue things and not be bound by that three-year period.”

The coalition’s founding resolution, A125, passed by the 80th General Convention in 2022, as one of a series of recommendations made by a committee formed by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris’ predecessor, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings. Curry’s and Jennings’ intention was to press the church to make long-term and lasting commitments to its ongoing racial healing framework.

Executive Council, the church’s governing body between meetings of General Convention, set aside $300,000 in 2023 and 2024 to help launch the new entity.

The steering group also answered questions discussion participants had about the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice, which is open to anyone interested in engaging in work pertaining to racial healing and equity.

The voluntary coalition consists of Episcopal institutions and individuals.

— Shireen Korkzan

Folks are down with Jesus, but they take issue with his followers,’ presiding bishop says in Courier Journal op-ed

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote an op-ed piece published in the Louisville Courier Journal newspaper in which he referenced “Jesus in America,” the national study released in March 2022 in a partnership between The Episcopal Church and Ipsos.

“We found that while 84% of Americans polled believe Jesus was an important spiritual figure and want equality in society, they believe Christians often fall short of Jesus’ teachings, and they feel judged when talking about their own beliefs,” Curry wrote.

“In other words: folks are down with Jesus, but they take issue with his followers.”

Read the full op-ed here.

–ENS Staff

House of Bishops votes to adopt a resolution on creating a task force on ‘countering the colonial mindset’

The House of Bishops adopted an amended Resolution A080, “Create a Task Force on Countering the Colonial Mindset.” The task force would be required to research and highlight “historic and present realities of the colonial mindset in our common life” and produce educational materials for Episcopal institutions and partners.

A080 was amended to reduce the requested budget of $150,000 down to $10,000; and, to include language about adding a request that special consideration be given to the inclusion of people from non-domestic dioceses, Indigenous people, youth, young adults and mission agencies.

–Shireen Korkzan

House of Deputies vote to adopt resolution in support of books, media affirming marginalized communities

The House of Deputies has adopted Resolution D039, “Condemning Censorship,” with substitution, which calls on The Episcopal Church to condemn “harmful and oppressive” book bans by directing the church’s Office of Government Relations to advocate for access to books and other media that are affirming of LGBTQ+, racial minority and other marginalized experiences in schools and libraries.

Episcopal institutions would also be encouraged to advocate for access to such media through various initiatives, such as storing affirming media in church libraries. Episcopal-affiliated grant-making bodies would also be requested to consider directing funds to support anti-affirming media efforts.

The substituted text of D039 “acknowledges the very real harm these attempts at censorship do to the Beloved Community we are working to build and sustain together,” said Evangeline Warren, chair of the deputies’ Committee on Social Justice & U.S. Policy.

Despite opposition from the American Library Association and teachers, book banning has been on the rise in recent years. Many books that have been banned or challenged include LGBTQ+ characters, sex, magic and other topics that some groups say are objectionable.

— Shireen Korkzan

Prayer Book committees act on final resolutions assigned to them

The deputies’ and bishops’ committees on Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music acted June 25 on the last of the more than 40 resolutions assigned to it.

Resolution C036 dealt with the potential option of congregations sharing the peace of Christ at the beginning of the service instead of after the confession and absolution. After discussion, including anecdotes of instances where congregations have used this in helpful ways, the committee voted to recommend that General Convention take no further action on this resolution.

Members did, however, note that nothing in the Prayer Book precludes worshippers from offering greetings to one another before the service begins, while the sharing of the peace remains in its customary place in the service.

Prayers for the people of the Diocese of Haiti, The Episcopal Church’s largest diocese, were the topic of Resolution D070, which would have required every Episcopal congregation to pray for Haiti every Sunday. After the committee amended the resolution, it now encourages congregations and other worshipping communities to include the people of Haiti in their intercessory prayers regularly.

–Melodie Woerman

Province IX bishops appeal for creation care funding efforts, house agrees

The House of Bishops on June 25 approved an amendment to Resolution D050 to add funding to help fight climate change in the six dioceses in The Episcopal Church’s Province IX: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Central Ecuador, Litoral Ecuador, Honduras and Venezuela.

California Bishop Marc Andrus, joined by Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen, asked that in addition to the resolution’s $225,000 request for staffing to help the church meet previous commitments on carbon neutrality, $90,000 be added to the resolution and earmarked for staffing for Province IX.

After that amendment failed, Texas Suffragan Bishop Kay Ryan proposed adding $90,000 over three years to help fund climate care work in the province, with no stipulation on how it would be spent.

Province IX bishops then gathered to speak in favor of the amendment, with Puerto Rico Bishop Rafael Morales describing the dramatic environmental changes happening in his diocese, which in 2022 joined Province II.

The Rt. Rev. Cristóbal Olmedo León Lozano, bishop of Litoral Ecuador and provisional bishop of Venezuela, said through a translator that while central Ecuador suffered catastrophic landslides last month, along the coast the ground is cracking from lack of rain. León said that adding these funds to help his region fight climate change would let him tell God, “We are here to help take care of your creation.”

The resolution now goes to the House of Deputies for consideration.

–Melodie Woerman

Resolution on pricing structure of Denominational Health Plan is adopted by both houses of General Convention

The House of Bishops on June 25 concurred with action taken earlier by the House of Deputies to adopt Resolution A101 regarding the Denominational Health Plan.

The resolution calls for equitable access and price structures for plans for clergy and lay employees of The Episcopal Church, which attempted to achieve equity in pricing across the United States but actually skewed costs in favor of more expensive areas.

The resolution also specifically calls for prices that will ensure that the Navajoland Area Mission and the Dioceses of Alaska, North Dakota and South Dakota – all of which have a significant number of Indigenous ministries – can afford coverage for their employees.

–Melodie Woerman