Digest of Legislative Actions of General Convention
By Meredith Sanderson | Diocese of Central New York
Here’s a summary of some of the major legislative actions of the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. All told, General Convention reviewed over 500 resolutions by the time it adjourned on Friday, July 13. Is there something you’re curious about and don’t see it here? Need clarification on a resolution? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the Diocesan Ministry Support Team will do their best to provide an update.
General Convention has passed Resolution B012 Marriage Rites for the Whole Church, ensuring that same-sex couples can be married in their home church or diocese, even in dioceses where bishops have not authorized same-sex marriage liturgies. Where the bishop of a diocese does not embrace same-sex marriage, the resolution provides for that bishop to appoint another bishop to oversee the marriage. The resolution also specifies that no priest will be required to perform same-sex marriage liturgies, and authorizes same-sex marriage liturgies for continued trial use until such time as the Book of Common Prayer may be revised. More details from Episcopal News Service here.
Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision
General Convention has passed Resolution A068 Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer. The resolution takes a cautious approach to liturgical revision, asking bishops to engage worshiping communities in their diocese in creating alternative liturgies, and creating a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision (TFLPBR) tasked with lifting up these liturgies and sharing them in the wider church. Rather than proposing a plan for prayer book revision, the resolution “memorializes” the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (there has been debate on the meaning of this verb) and sets guidelines for future liturgical revision; such revision ought to include inclusive/expansive language for God and humanity, reflect the diversity of our Church and its common worship, and take into account new technology in considering how to disseminate revisions throughout the Church. The newly-created TFLPBR will report to the 80th General Convention with a proposal for an ongoing process of liturgical and prayer book revision.
While full prayer-book revision will not commence immediately, General Convention has passed Resolution D078 Authorize Holy Eucharist, Rite II (Expansive Language) for Trial Use, which authorizes trial use of inclusive-language versions of Holy Eucharist, Rite II. And Resolution D046 Expansive-Language Liturgical Resources, also passed, calls for the development of principles to guide the creation of inclusive and expansive-language liturgies. More details from Episcopal News Service here.
Inclusion of Transgender & Non-binary Individuals
General Convention has passed several resolutions to support transgender and non-binary people in the Church and in our communities. Resolution C054 Inclusion of Transgender People affirms guiding principles for the inclusion of transgender and non-binary people and urging dioceses to adopt and implement these principles in their parishes, missions, schools and camps. The principles focus on respectful listening to the movement of the Holy Spirit and to stories and experiences of transgender and non-binary individuals, and encourage institutions and communities to be attentive, creative and flexible in meeting the needs of these individuals.
Resolution C022 Supporting Transgender Access confirms The Episcopal Church’s support for secular laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, including restriction of access to public restrooms, locker rooms and bathing facilities. And Resolution A088 Proposed Guidelines for Amending Church Records is consistent with these principles of inclusion, directing the Archives of The Episcopal Church to develop guidelines for amending names and gender in church records. Such guidelines would provide transgender and non-binary individuals the dignity of church documents, such as baptismal records, that reflect their identities.
Sexism, Harassment & Exploitation
General Convention has passed a number of resolutions aimed at addressing gender-based discrimination, harassment and exploitation. Resolution D016 Seeking Truth, Reconciliation and Restoration acknowledges the Church’s failures and complicity in gender-based discrimination and violence, naming these as sins, and establishes a Task Force for Women, Truth and Reconciliation to help the church engage in truth-telling, confession and reconciliation around these sins. Resolution C060 Breaking the Episcopal Stained Glass Ceiling creates a task force to research sexism, pay equity, and gender-based harassment in The Episcopal Church.
General Convention has passed a number of resolutions aimed at U.S. immigration reform and Church support of migrants and refugees. Resolution A178 Halt the Intensification and Implementation of Immigration Policies and Practices that are Harmful to Migrant Women, Parents and Children condemns the treatment of migrant women and children by U.S. immigration policies and practices, calling especially for an end to the separation of children from their families. Resolution C009 Becoming A Sanctuary Church would encourage Episcopal churches and institutions to become “places of welcome, refuge, healing, and other forms of material and pastoral support for those targeted for deportation due to immigration status or some perceived status of difference.” Resolution C033 Respecting the Dignity of Immigrants calls for a number of U.S. immigration reforms, including: the provision of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are currently resident in the U.S.; the continuation of Temporary Protected Status for refugees resident in the U.S.
In Resolution A238 Admit Episcopal Diocese of Cuba as a Diocese of The Episcopal Church, General Convention has restored Cuba as a Diocese of The Episcopal Church in our Province II. The Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, Bishop Of Cuba, becomes the seventh sitting female diocesan bishop in our church. Full reporting available from Episcopal News Service.
Israel and Palestine
While investment-policy-related Resolution D019 Ending Church Complicity in the Occupation failed to pass General Convention, The Episcopal Church will follow the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in developing an investment policy designed to promote human rights in Israel/Palestine, per Resolution B016 Adopt ELCA Action on Israel/Palestine.
General Convention also passed Resolution B003 reaffirming the church’s support of a two-state solution as well as and lifting up Jerusalem as a Holy City for Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The resolution criticizes the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as an obstacle to peace, and encourages continued prayers and advocacy for peace in Jerusalem. Resolution D018 Negotiating the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict also affirms the Church’s hope for peace by a two-state solution.
Resolution B021 Support Aid to Palestinian Refugees and C038 Safeguard the Rights of Palestinian Children provides for the church’s continuing aid and advocacy for Palestinians and refugees gives a special focus on Palestinian children. D027 Pursuing Justice in Gaza calls for U.S. investigation of human rights violations in Gaza.
Supporting the Church in Sudan and South Sudan
The Episcopal Church recognizes and supports the Episcopalians of South Sudan, Sudan and the Sudanese diaspora with two resolutions, D024 Support for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan and Their Efforts to Foster Peace and D062 Companionship with Sudanese Christians.
Compensation for the House of Deputies President
General Convention has passed Resolution B014 Director’s Fees for the President of the House of Deputies, providing for compensation of the person in that role (more details from Episcopal News Service). General Convention also re-elected the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings to her third and final three-year term as HoD President.
In the featured photo, Vermont Deputy Titus Presler testifies for Resolution B012. Photo credit: Kathleen Moore.