[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.