Sermon for Proper 15
13th Sunday after Pentecost
August 19, 2018
The sermon begins at 3:37.
Sermon begins at 3:37.
At the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church we have considered over 500 resolutions, most of them in the last two days, as the discussions of possible prayer book revision and what provision would be made for bishops who disagree with the allowance for same-sex marriage rites throughout the church, as well as the budget, took up the bulk of the time of the House of Deputies. That means that a great many resolutions must be passed on what is known as “the consent calendar.” This provides a means for resolutions to be considered en masse and for convention to concur with the recommendation of the particular committee that has been working with the resolution. In effect it prevents things that are thought to be boiler plate, necessary, or uncontroversial, from being considered by 800+ people at once (and you thought vestry meetings were difficult).
I wanted to highlight some of the resolutions that find significant that have been passed through the consent calendar at convention.
These are not the only significant resolutions that were passed on those days. I have focussed on resolutions wherein the church has taken some action, or committed itself to take some action, as opposed to resolutions, however good, that encouraged other bodies (governments, agencies etc.) to take action.
Day 1: None
A034 Supporting General Convention Children’s Program
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the General Convention commends and supports the General Convention Children’s Program, and continues to direct funding to include the youngest of God’s children in our work together.
A030 Small Evangelism Grants
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the General Convention directs the Executive Council to implement small grants program to encourage local
parishworshiping community and diocesan evangelism efforts; and be it further
Resolved, That the sum of $100,000 shall be allocated for this grant program.
A196 Fund a Full-time Evangelism Staff Officer
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention affirm the initiative of the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council in the creation of and funding for a full-time Evangelism Officer to serve on the Presiding Bishop’s staff; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention encourage Program, Budget, and Finance to maintain the sum of $380,000, as currently allocated in the draft budget proposed by the Executive Council for this position.
A109 Create Task Force on Sexual Harassment
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church declares that sexual harassment of adults by clergy, church employees and church members are abuses of trust, a violation of the Baptismal Covenant, contrary to Christian Character, and are therefore wrong; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church establish a Task Force on Sexual Harassment to be appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to prepare a Model Policy for Sexual Harassment of Adults for Dioceses, including parishes, missions, schools, camps, conference centers and other diocesan institutions. It shall be the duty of the Task Force to study, educate, develop curriculum, and propose and promulgate model policy and standards of conduct on different forms of harassment, and to advise the Church as resource persons. The membership of the Task Force is to be representative as to gender, race and ethnic diversity and should include lawyers whose practice covers this area of law or who serve or have served as chancellors for a diocese or church, human resource professionals, educators for adults, and those experienced in the prevention of sexual harassment. Approximately one-third of the members of the Task Force shall be clergy. The
CommitteeTask Force will report to the 80th General Convention and include as part of its report a Model Policy for Sexual Harassment of Adults for Dioceses and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $50,000 for the work of the Task Force.
D031 Recognizing and Ending Domestic Violence in our Congregations
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church continue to speak out clearly against all forms of domestic violence as it has done in the past; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention encourages Episcopal clergy and congregations to educate themselves on the widespread problem that domestic violence is in their churches, neighborhoods and beyond; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention urge all Episcopal Bishops and other clergy and lay leadership to familiarize themselves with the international and multi-lingual resources provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, White Ribbon, and other local resources, as well as existing trainings developed for domestic violence prevention, and create procedures for supporting domestic violence survivors in their dioceses and congregations; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention urge the Church at every level to examine its response to domestic violence, especially its response to survivors of domestic violence.
Day 5 (no consent calendar)
A223 Family Leave Policies
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention acknowledges the need for a well-defined, comprehensive family leave policy, paid and/or unpaid; and be it further
Resolved, That the appropriate joint standing committee of the Executive Council be directed to study and distribute model policies for paid and unpaid family leave for dioceses and their congregations and institutions to consider, with such models to be distributed to the dioceses by June 30, 2019; and be it further
Resolved, That General Convention urge every diocese to review such model policies and to implement comprehensive policies on family leave that fit their respective needs; and be it further
Resolved, That in view of the time required for study and actions by diocesan conventions, dioceses report their specific policies to the Office of General Convention no later than December 31, 2020.
D061 Develop an Episcopal Gap Year Program
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church direct the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, especially the Office of Global Partnership and the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries, to conduct a pilot development of an Episcopal Gap Year Program in international mission for young adults, ages 18-23, who are between high school and other educational or vocational pursuits; and be it further
Resolved, That the program be guided by innovative models of such programs, including but not limited to the Young Adult Service Corps, and that it ensure accessibility to racial and ethnic minorities, to persons from non-U.S.-domestic dioceses, and to persons of limited financial means; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention encourage dioceses and congregations to recruit young adults to participate in the Gap Year Program and to support them with fund-raising assistance; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance consider a budget allocation of $90,000 for the 2019-2021 triennium in order to develop the Episcopal Gap Year Program.
A032 Congregational Redevelopment
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 79th General Convention requests that the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies in consultation with the Church Center staff create a church-wide Community of Practice that works with
up to one hundred (100)congregations and their bishops to help them redevelop to better engage the cultural realities of their communities for the sake of launching new ministries and multi-cultural missional initiatives; and be it further
Resolved, That the Communications Office be directed to make a priority of reporting on the stories of redeveloped congregations on an ongoing basis through news media, video, and other means and through developing
a websiteonline resources that provide sdetailed information about the redevelopment efforts happening throughout the church; and be it further
Resolved, That the cost of this initiative will be equally shared by the church-wide budget, participating dioceses and redeveloping congregations; and be it further
Resolved, That the presiding officers appoint a task force to coordinate this initiative in collaboration with Church Center staff. That task force may be combined with a task force on Church Planting and Missional Initiatives at the discretion of the presiding officers; and be it further
Resolved, That the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance consider a budget allocation of $725,000 during the triennium for the implementation of this resolution.
Some friends and colleagues of mine joined together to work on a memorial to the 79th General Convention. A memorial is like a petition or an important statement. It is not voted on at Convention, but is referred to the appropriate committee of Convention to guide their deliberations. I’m told a few bishops appreciated our work, so it may be referenced in their deliberations or conversations somehow.
General Convention can become overwhelming and confusing even to the most seasoned participant after few days. Even if bishops and deputies who have come many times are better able to find their way to the right committee, or to follow the flow of business in legislative sessions, after a while, new participants and old begin to show the same sort of stunned demeanor. One learns to treat convention as a sort of river that carries you along, while at the same time watching for those moments when you need to break out of the current in order to address something of significance to you or for which you have specific responsibility.
The progress of technology has in some ways lessened the complications of legislation, while simultaneously making it possible to take more actions on a piece of legislation in the time allotted. Another consequence of the advancement of technology is that General Convention has become less closed to the observations of those Episcopalians and other Christians who are not deputies, but who nonetheless wish to remain informed. Live streaming brings the deliberations of both the Houses of Convention to them, and Twitter and Facebook allow them to converse with one another and with deputies on the floor about what is happening. I believe this evolution is, when taken on the whole, a good thing, and it sometimes yields tangible results.
A recent result of such electronic collaboration is A Memorial to the 79th General Convention regarding liturgical language. This memorial began life as a proposed resolution written primarily by Father J. Wesley Evans, with significant input from the Rev. Dr. Kara Slade. Wesley, Kara, and I are involved in online forums together, and as they worked on their resolution, they sought out those of us who were deputies to determine what we thought of their proposal, and whether any would submit it.
In our discussions we determined that a resolution, given the timing and the other obligations those of us who are deputies had, would be a difficult sell to the House of Deputies. We were also aware that many of the premises in the memorial are considered so basic, and that any revisions to our liturgies, or crafting of new liturgies, would necessarily presuppose them.
I wrote this piece for “Deputy News” the in-house news publication at General Convention. Even though we’ve already voted on the President’s pay, I think the larger point still needs to be made.
The 79th General Convention will be my second as a deputy. My first foray into the inner workings of our denomination’s national structure was prompted by the calls to reimagine the church. I believed, and still believe, that the Episcopal Church is going to have to make some difficult and imaginative decisions if we are not only to survive as a body, but thrive.
While some steps at reform were taken, overall I felt disappointment at the way the effort was received by the deputies in Salt Lake City. Something that began with so much energy, but lacked clear direction, ended with a whimper when the convention decided not to recommission the Task Force, or call together a new one to continue the work of reimagining. There were bright spots—the efforts to fund church plants, parish revitalization, and evangelism stand out in my mind. But a particularly negative aspect of the process seemed to be an unwillingness to take a long hard look at the assumptions that underlie our structures and organization. At best, it seems as though we’ve stumbled into the configuration we now have. At worst, some aspects of our structure seem top heavy and dated.
There are tell-tale signs of we are willing to look:
Sermon for Proper 8
The 6th Sunday after Pentecost
Scriptures: Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24 • Psalm 30 • 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 • Mark 5:21-43
Remember that my sermons tend to vary somewhat between services, both because I try to keep the 8 AM sermon slightly shorter, and because I preach without a manuscript. Both of these recordings are slightly longer than I usually post because I’m experimenting with keeping the recording of all the readings, and not just the Gospel text, in the recording.
8 AM Service. To go directly to the sermon, start at 7:53.
10:30 AM service. To go directly to the sermon, start at 9:57.
Sermon for Proper 6, IV Pentecost 2018
Scriptures: Ezekiel 17. Mark 4:26-34.
The recording starts with the sequence hymn and gospel lesson. The sermon begins at 4:42.
Sermon for Lent I
Scriptures: Genesis 9:8-17 • Psalm 25:1-10 • 1 Peter 3:18-22 • Mark 1:9-15