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Jefferts Schori’s address at Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary celebration

ENS Headlines - Sunday, June 28, 2015

[Episcopal News Service — Salt Lake City] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori speaks at Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary celebration June 27 at General Convention in Salt Lake City.

Jennings’ address at Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary celebration

ENS Headlines - Sunday, June 28, 2015

[Episcopal News Service — Salt Lake City] President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings speaks at Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary celebration June 27 at General Convention.

Curry’s address at Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary celebration

ENS Headlines - Sunday, June 28, 2015

[Episcopal News Service — Salt Lake City] Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry speaks at Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary celebration at General Convention. Curry serves as chair of the board of directors for Episcopal Relief & Development.

‘Thankful, honored and blessed’ Presiding Bishop-elect Curry addresses the media

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry makes a point at his first news conference a few hours after his historic election as the 27th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. Photo: Janet Kawamoto / For Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Several hours after being elected as the Episcopal Church’s 27th – and first African-American – presiding bishop-elect, Michael Curry fielded a range of media questions with characteristic humility and humor June 27 and said he intends to build on the good work of his predecessor “because that’s the way the Spirit works.”

Current Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori introduced Curry at a crowded press conference at the Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City, saying the House of Bishops handed him “a major mandate” with the historic landslide victory.

Curry jokingly agreed that he thought both bishops and deputies “were happy houses today.”

Jefferts Schori and Curry became diocesan bishops the same year and “it’s the first time presiding bishops from the same class have been elected” successively,” she said. It is also the first time that a presiding bishop has been elected on the first ballot.

Curry, whose term will begin Nov. 1, was accompanied at the news conference by his wife Sharon, a daughter, Elizabeth, and other family members and friends. Included among his guests was “Josie Robbins who, when I was a young boy and my mother died, … was one of the women in our church community along with my grandmother and others who came in and raised me.”

“I believe in the community of church because I’ve been raised by it,” he said.

He shared some thoughts about a range of issues:

Among his priorities – the Jesus movement

“I am looking forward to serving and working for the cause of the Jesus movement in world … to help this become a transformed world that looks more like God’s dream and less like our nightmare. That’s what energizes me and what I believe in and we can really continue and build on the good work that’s been done in Bishop Katharine’s years.”

Evangelism vs. evangelical

“Everybody knows I really do take evangelism seriously and discipleship and witness and service and social advocacy, the gospel principles that we hold. Those three things are critical and needed in this time. I think The Episcopal Church has something to offer in the public square. We have a way of looking at the Gospel that makes known the love of God in Jesus.”

But is he evangelical? “I think it’s fair to say that I am a follower of Jesus.”

How will he address societal issues?

“Some of this will evolve over time,” Curry told the gathering, adding that there are good public initiatives already going on, with the church’s Office of Governmental Relations and other efforts, to address issues of racism and poverty.

Noting the specter of the recent killings of nine people at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, he added: “it was the voice of the Christian community that really did change the narrative from one that could have degenerated into a negative and hurtful to one that was a narrative of forgiveness. That’s one of the roles religious communities and in particular the Christian community can offer, is a positive way forward.”

Becoming the beloved community:

“I believe profoundly that Dr. King was right. We were put here to create the beloved community; God is the same God and creator of all of us. If we all come from the same source, I’m not a scientist … I’m just a preacher, but if we’ve got the same parental source then you’re related to everybody. We are brothers and sisters of each other. The hard work is to figure out how we live as beloved community, as the human family of God and do that in practical and tangible ways.”

Involving more Latinos in leadership roles

“This will be critical. It’s one of the things we’ve worked on in North Carolina. It has taken time. I’ve been bishop there for 15 years and people from the Latino community are now taking leadership in the life of the diocese. It’s happened over time in communities of faith.”

On preaching

“I do love to preach. The preaching and teaching of God’s word does make a difference and can lift us up. You know the story in Ezekiel 37? That’s pretty much about preaching. We’re a valley of dry bones; God said preach to them and the bones started to shake, rattle, and roll … that is what preaching does. I hope to continue the preaching ministry as well, as a way of moving the church forward.”

On being elected the African-American leader of a largely white denomination
“It’ll be interesting to see what terms get used about me. Let’s wait and see.”

He said the election of Jefferts Schori as the first woman presiding bishop paved the way for him. “I was there when it happened and I remember just realizing it was an experience of the Holy Spirit for real. And today I had that same feeling,” he said, his voice growing softer.

“I think that’s a sign of our church growing more deeply in the spirit of God and the movement of God in our world. It was like the day of Pentecost, when the spirit came down, people living in the spirit of God’s love, of God’s embrace, and we find ourselves growing more in the direction of God’s dream.” 

On growing churches

“The gospel hasn’t changed. Jesus is still the same. We need to learn and discover new ways of carrying out and sharing that good news of Jesus. In this day, in this time, the church can no longer wait for its congregation to come to it. That change of directionality on the part of the church, church-wide, will have impact for reaching people who are not automatically coming to our doors.”

What he wants people to know about him?

“That Michael Curry is a follower of Jesus. Not a perfect one. I want to be one of his disciples. I believe that the way of Jesus, the way of God’s love that we see in Jesus, is the way of life, life that sets us free, that moves us.

“I just want people to know that Michael Curry does strive to follow in the way of Jesus and reflect his love and compassion in his life and in the life of the church.”

About reconciliation
“If you follow Jesus, you’re good with me … let’s go together. Ultimately, that’s the thing that matters. We deal with each other in love and charity. We’ll find a way forward. We will create space. Better yet, the spirit of God will create space for all of us.”

About the Supreme Court’s decision and what General Convention will do about same gender marriage
“The Supreme Court affirmed the authenticity of love. We’re in the business of love. There’s a hymn, ‘where true love is found, God himself is there.’ We’re in the process of working that out, what form that will take we’ll know at the end of this convention. The reality is the issues are about marriage. How do we make it fulsome and wholesome for all? How do we make marriage a context where life is ennobled and lifted up? Those are critical pastoral concerns.”

About healing the breach with the global south

“As a bishop, I am supportive of our current presiding bishop and our leadership and the work we’ve done. I am committed to the work of reconciliation. It is part of our gospel mandate. I have friends in the global south and many of my ancestors are from the global south. I will be an instrument of God’s reconciliation any way I can that will lead to true reconciliation. I’ll do my best.”

About living into his new ministry
“I am very thankful for the presiding bishop’s long, sustained, courageous, wise and faithful stewardship. Thank God for you,” he told Jefferts Schori. “I am very thankful, honored and blessed. I’ve been blessed to be bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina for 15 years. I love that diocese and our people and I’m blessed to be the presiding bishop-elect.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for Episcopal News Service.

House of Deputies celebrates 230th anniversary

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] With noisemakers and applause, party hat-wearing General Convention deputies celebrated the 230th birthday of their house on June 27. While members of the House of Bishops met in sequestration at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral a few blocks away to elect the next Episcopal Church presiding bishop, members of the first house of General Convention took time out from legislative debate to celebrate its history and honor several of its former leaders.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, house president, provided historical context for the celebration.

“The first session of the General Convention held in 1785 consisted only of the House of Deputies,” she said. “It adopted a constitutional provision establishing a separate House of Bishops, which joined the convention at its second session in 1789. So the House of Deputies is the older of General Convention’s two houses by four years.

“It’s hard to express how revolutionary the first General Convention, held in the wake of the American Revolution, really was,” she said. “It’s in that spirit, the spirit of innovation, shared responsibility and decision making, and celebration of our history, that I’ve invited our distinguished former leaders to join us this morning for our party.”

Jennings presented House of Deputies medals to several former house leaders in person and in absentia. Celebrants watched two videos, one featuring House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing, deputy of Massachusetts, interviewing Charles Willie, former house vice president. Deputies responded with a standing ovation, and Jennings presented Willie with the first medal.

“Dr. Willie is a groundbreaking African-American educator, the first African-American professor at Syracuse University, a distinguished public servant who worked with President John F. Kennedy and President Jimmy Carter, and a leader of desegregation,” Jennings said. As vice president of the House of Deputies he preached at the 1974 ordination of the “Philadelphia 11,” the first women ordained priests in The Episcopal Church. “When the bishops failed to uphold that ordination and give equal rights to women, he resigned his position in protest. Dr. Willie, we have not forgotten.”

Jennings also honored former House of Deputies presidents Bonnie Anderson, the Rev. George Werner, the Very Rev. David Collins and Bishop Brian Prior, and former vice presidents the Very Rev. Scott Kirby and Vincent Curry.

After the award presentations, deputies had the opportunity to pose with cardboard likenesses of the faces of famous house leaders of the past: Bishop William White; former house President Pamela Chinnis; Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; and Charlie Crump, who served 17 terms as a deputy from the Diocese of West Tennessee.

“Seventeen General Conventions. Just think about that,” said his former chancellor, deputy C. Bradford Foster III. Foster said he used to tell people: “What do I do for Charlie Crump? I carry his briefcase; that’s all.”

— Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.

Episcopalians react to historic election of Michael Curry as presiding bishop

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Deputies stand on their chairs, holding aloft their phones, tablets and cameras to capture the historic moment of Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry entrance into the House of Deputies, including Deputies Dunstanette Macauley-Dukuly (Newark), the Rev. Sandye Wilson (Newark), Norberto (Bert) Jones (Newark), Delma Maduro (Virgin Islands), Wesley S. Williams, Jr. (Virgin Islands) and Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine (Virgin Islands) Photo: Cynthia L. Black/For Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Reaction to North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry’s election June 27 as the 27th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church – the first African American to hold that post — was swift and joyous.

Here is a sampling.

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Diocese of Chicago director of networking

“… tears, prayers of gratitude and for his soul as he steps into this space. Also, I’m feeling that truly the Spirit is moving in a way that many have been longing for. This is only part about his race – it is also about someone who will bring a word of hope to places and people who long have been on the margins – he will give voice to the oppressed as one who knows it firsthand. I am rejoicing.”

Retired Central Pennsylvania Bishop Nathan Baxter

“I’m a Trinitarian at heart. And to see this week what the Supreme Court has done about universal health care, equality in marriage and now the church being bold to embrace not only a black man as our presiding bishop but a vision for evangelism that is so engrained in his character that we are going to be ready to step forward. I praise God for this week and what God has been doing.”

Three-time Liberian deputy Sheba Brown

“I’m excited because he’s a good man of God. We are happy that our church is united. We have peace. It doesn’t matter who is bishop. We are all God’s people.”

Union of Black Episcopalians President Annette Buchanan

“We are overwhelmed, excited – and I had one colleague say that we never thought in our lifetime that we’d live to see a black president of the United States and a black presiding bishop. Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry is a longtime UBE member. He believes in the church being inclusive for all, especially African-Americans and Africans of the diaspora, and we are confident that his ministry will expand to all in the church based on the experience that we’ve had with him to date. He’s in our prayers.”

As has happened with President Barack Obama, the first U.S. president of African descent, “the expectation levels are very high.”

“He will be expected to right all the wrongs of the church … move more quickly than others can in being prepared for the church of the future. We hope people understand the church moves according to God’s plan. It’s not just what Michael and we want. It’s in His time.”

 Jane Cosby, Executive Council member from Philadelphia, longtime anti-racism advocate

“I wanted him to get it. I prayed for him to get it. I prayed that it would be God’s will that he would get it. The fact that he got it on the first ballot and the fact that I’ve lived long enough to see a black president of the United States and now a black presiding bishop in The Episcopal Church, I’ve got nothing else to wish for. If I die to tonight it will be OK.

“Whatever heart and humanity this church has, black folk have helped it happen. And the description that I hear of the manner in which his diocese operates makes me know that if he can be allowed to function and help these things to happen, we can begin to be a church not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. My sense is the reason it’s so difficult to get young people – other people – to come to us is that they see the difference between what we say and what we do. And in his diocese, they do.

“I am just hoping that that can happen in the same manner so that it will benefit The Episcopal Church and the United States of America.”

The Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, vicar, Episcopal Church of the Advocate, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

“It is a bittersweet day for those of us in North Carolina. We are excited that the whole church will now experience the passion, commitment and leadership of Bishop Curry as we have known it for the past 15 years. But we certainly feel a sadness, too. Personally, I will really miss him as my bishop, but I am really excited that he will be our presiding bishop, especially at this time in the history of our church and the world.”

Retired Southeast Florida Bishop Leo Frade

“This is something wonderful. This is my fourth election for a presiding bishop and I’m elated. Bishop Curry is a friend. He started as bishop when I was transferred to the United States as a bishop. We’ve been close these past 15 years. What he says about Jesus is true. He is a true believer in our Lord Jesus Christ. It excites me; the church needs that kind of evangelism today, telling the world that Jesus Christ is alive and well.”

Massachusetts Bishop Alan M. Gates

“I think it’s a great day for the church. In a year when we’ve been so discouraged by signs of continuing brokenness in our church and in our society, it’s a sign of hope and unity. Thanks be to God.”

Characterizing atmosphere at St. Mark’s Cathedral during the election, he said, “It was extraordinarily spiritual. I’m not sure people realize – I certainly didn’t before being a part of it – the extent to which the bishops really do understand balloting in the context of prayer. We gathered, we had protracted times of silence, of prayer, a lot of singing. We pretty much sang every Holy Spirit hymn in the hymnal. After the election, we sang Lift Every Voice and Sing and we sang it with gusto.”

Retired Mississippi Bishop Duncan Gray III hugs an emotional Anita George, Mississippi deputy and Executive Council member, in the House of Deputies after the election of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry as the next presiding bishop. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

Mississippi Deputy Anita George, member of Executive Council, long involved in antiracism work

“At this moment, all I can do is grin and blabber. I am filled with joy, renewed hope and pride in my church and full of expectations for the dynamics that will happen with Michael Curry and good Episcopalians. It’s going to be unbelievable.”

Retired Mississippi Bishop Duncan Gray III, whose father also was Mississippi’s bishop, came over and hugged Anita George, and they began reminiscing about how far the civil rights movement had come, leading to this moment.

George: “His daddy was a pioneer … work that led up to this day.”

Gray: “It was when the crosses were being burned and people were being lynched. Clergy were losing their jobs.”

George: “His dad tried to corral the crowd” when James Meredith tried to enter the University of Mississippi. “For us, it’s our connected history.”

Gray: “It’s part of a narrative. When we sing Lift Every Voice and Sing, the faces just pass by: Medgar Evers and James Meredith.”

George: “I’m very excited about looking forward with Michael. Also we have to look back and we have to remember those who sacrificed, seriously sacrificed, to get us to this point. I give thanks for each generation.”

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool

“What can I say? I’m just overjoyed on behalf of the whole church. Right person, right place at the right time. Michael is a person of profound faith, and the joy of Jesus Christ … he’s been gifted with an infectious joy and spirit and that gift will serve him well.”

Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi

“This is a very, very, very, very, very good day for us in The Episcopal Church. We have a presiding bishop-elect who can excite the church, inspire all the people and be a witness to this whole world. I believe we are so very blessed to have Michael Curry as our presiding bishop-elect. I found myself tearful at the House of Bishops, not my usual way of being.”

Retired Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara C. Harris (the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion)

“This is a historic day for The Episcopal Church, and I think we can move forward with our mission and ministry under this new dynamic leadership. I never thought I’d live to see the day that Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop, and I never thought I’d live to see the election that this day brought, and on the first ballot at that.”

Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr.

“The definitive nature of this election is a reflection both of Bishop Curry’s readiness to serve as our presiding bishop, and the readiness of the church and the world in this moment for his companionship and leadership.”

Western Michigan Bishop Whayne Hougland

“My heart is so full. This is such an amazing day, to cap off a historic week like this with the election of Michael. He is the man of this time for this church. There’s going to be good stuff coming. We’re going to change the world.”

Michael Moore, deputy from East Tennessee
“As cliché as it sounds it’s just monumental with two enormous things happening this week. First, the Supreme Court decision on marriage and now, electing the first African-American presiding bishop in the history of the church. But his election has nothing to do with his race. He got elected because he is an evangelist, because of his sincerity, his spirituality and bringing people together.

“I’m a cradle Episcopalian, fourth generation Episcopalian, and I think he will do a lot to bring people back together again. Through him we can send a message to the world and to my daughter, who’s become cynical about the church. He can bring us all together, not just black people who’ve left, but he can also give white people hope.

“His election will send a message that we’re alive and well and we believe in Jesus Christ and we love everybody. Bishop Curry is the person to do that, that’s what we need. There’s so much divide in the world, we need someone like him to bring us together.”

Bill Nance, Asheville, North Carolina, volunteering at convention

“I’ve met Bishop Curry a few times, I’ve heard him preach and it’s the same way, every time. He’s full of energy and inspiration. He’s going to be good for the church. He will bring some new excitement to it, some new insights. I’m hoping he will bring some surprises. Just like today, they said he was coming in the House of Deputies by one door and he came in a different door. That’s the kind of surprise I hope he brings.”

Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel

“It’s a great day for the church. Bishop Curry is a true man of God. He will lead us greatly. I was so happy to be part of this moment, it was a wonderful moment, and I think we’ve got many, many great moments to come in The Episcopal Church with his leadership, and he’s a great collaborator so he’ll pull us all together in a very great way. Presiding Bishop Katharine has been fantastic. Things happen at the right time, at the right place, and that’s what happened today. The Holy Spirit was doing great work.”

Byron Rushing, vice president of the House of Deputies:

“This is quite a remarkable election. I’m – first – just so moved to have The Episcopal Church choose the best candidate regardless of race, and I think they did that. The other thing you see right now, and I just hope we can preserve it, is an incredible unity in both houses, incredible unity in the House of Bishops in this election, and you knew the House of Deputies wanted this after all the nominees came before us and spoke to us in that joint session. You could feel it in this house, and you saw it in our confirmation vote.

“I think the church needs to take a deep breath and figure out how remarkable this is, what God and the Holy Spirit have given us. This is a huge gift, and we have to say, what will we do with this incredible gift?  It’s the opportunity both of Michael and the opportunity of the unity he has been able to demonstrate.”

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, chaplain to the House of Bishops

I can’t stop crying. This is not even about Michael Curry. … This is a victory for Jesus. … I could just feel the Spirit just pouring out, and it’s not going to be ever the same again.”

— Episcopal News Service reporters Tracy Sukraw, Pat McCaughan, Mary Frances Schjonberg and Sharon Sheridan contributed to this story.

Cathlena A. Plummer of Navajoland preaches at General Convention

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release]  “This is my story, this is who I am,” the Rev. Cathlena A. Plummer of Navajoland shared in her sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church on June 27.

Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota presided at the Eucharist.

The following is the text of the sermon:

A Very Good Shepherd

The Rev. Cathlena A. Plummer

Let Us Pray…God, today, we ask you to give us clear minds, open spirits and loving hearts. Amen.

Can I just say what a relief it is for me to finally sit down to reflect on our gospel today? How appropriate for a former shepherd from the Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, Arizona to reflect on our very own Good Shepherd, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As a young Navajo girl in the southeastern part of Utah, I grew up helping my mother and father with a herd of sheep that have been our sustenance as well as our extended family members.

Sheep do not have a complicated life but they are creatures of habit.  Within their own flock they have leaders who they follow as they feed and there is a hierarchy that they follow and one of their number cannot usurp that position.

Likewise the sheep know who their master is, their shepherd.  They will in fact come at their master’s voice and anyone else who tries is just wasting their time.

If a stranger attempted to enter their pen the nervousness they would feel would be evident but when the shepherd appeared he could move through their midst as if he were one of them.

I think that this comparison of us to sheep and Christ as the great shepherd is an apt one.  Those who are His spend time in His word and recognize His voice.  His flock wants to follow where He leads them, He can impart comfort and confidence.  Just as a ewe in difficult labor must rely on her shepherd, so must we rely upon Him for help through our travails.  Just as the master over a flock knows what is best for a flock because of the mind that God has given man, so is God’s knowledge of what is best for us.  And just as a predator stalks a flock so are we stalked “as our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Those are just some of the parallels that can be drawn but there are also places that they cannot.  Unlike the sheep in a flock we have a complicated life.  We have other leaders that we follow. Unlike the sheep we have people who have gone against the natural leadership that should be followed.

In the case of the Jews that is what happened with the Pharisees and the high priests.  Those leaders had become thieves and robbers who destroyed by their lack of godly leadership and like the hired hand who doesn’t own the sheep.  No one cared for the people as a true shepherd would his flock.

Fortunately for us Christ is the shepherd.  Though we were sheep that were not of the original sheep pen we have heard and listened to His voice. But…the Bible tells us that there will be another.

I want to share with you my sheep story.

As a Native American growing up in the Episcopal tradition it has always been a challenge to connect two very opposite views of spirituality, that of Navajo and of Christianity.

In the summer of the year 2008 I believe I was called upon, by the Great Holy Spirit to do the work of an Episcopal priest. My father, the late Rt. Rev. Steven T. Plummer, Sr., had already been gone from our world for three years.

On a particular warm and sunny summer afternoon I was asked by my mother to fetch the herd of sheep that we have been raising for many years. This day they had retreated to the high cliffs thanks to the neighbor’s dogs that have always enjoyed chasing them. Two lambs, only days old, were my deepest worry for retrieving the herd before nightfall.

In the middle of my search I came across a steep bend on the edge of a steep 400 foot drop at the mouth of a canyon ridge. A concave space in the cliff wall I was pressing up against was the only net of safety to keep me from falling over the edge. I drew up my strength to press on so I continued climbing. Just as I was about to turn the corner, a loud voice spoke to me in the air, I could not tell if it was inside my head, or if I was actually hearing it out in the open.  This voice sounded a lot like my father’s voice but it could not have been because my father was gone. The voice continued to speak. This time it was calling me in my Navajo name. This drew my attention. I did not know if I was hallucinating or imagining the whole incident, but I very quietly whispered, “yes?”

Then the voice continued to speak to me in Navajo telling me, “as my child I am very pleased with you and I need your help with my people for they are in trouble.” Without really analyzing the situation, I pictured in my head a meeting that had happened the week before where everyone was bickering at each other about whether or not they should have more meetings because the Bishop was to visit the following month to go over financial documents in the parish. In my memory it was clear that there were voices that were not being heard, which at this meeting, included the presence of the Navajo laity. As soon as the thought disappeared from my mind the voice spoke again and said in Navajo, “you know what I speak of.”

I immediately knelt down and wept. I had not heard my father’s voice in so long, so I wondered whether or not I was going insane or not. I finally stood up to continue on.  Just as I stepped forward a rush of little hooves ran passed me very quickly, and the rest of the herd followed. I was grateful I did not have to go any further up the canyon, and I waited ten paces back from the herd to make sure everyone had been accounted for.

Navajo spirituality, as known to a medicine man in our tribe, is described as a soft gentle breeze. This is exactly what I felt when I was hearing the voice. Later on, when I would tell this story to my Commission On Ministry members, everyone agreed that the voice was probably my father and that it was God’s disguise to get me to listen to him in a way that I could.

I remember that day vividly, almost as vividly as I remember the day my father died, so it was truly a better memory to have. From that day forward whenever I am in doubt of the presence of my father or of God, a gentle voice saying my Navajo name will come and appear and I realize then that I am right where I am supposed to be.

I desire to help my people understand that Christianity and Navajo traditions are hand in hand and connect in so many ways than one. Our church has an understanding of this harmony and we call it “Hooghan Learning Circle.”

Hooghan Learning Circle first of all represents the shared walk along the Sacred Way, in which we as a people are to learn to relate to the wisdom and traditions of our own Holy People and Jesus in harmony and beauty. It is an on-going development of ministry formation process that encourages and supports the emergence and carrying of the wisdom of the two spiritual traditions, Diné and Christianity for all who seek this common faith. My father implemented this ministry development process and I intend to honor his work with Hooghan Learning Circle with the help of my own theological education formation.

This is my story, this is who I am, I believe in both faith traditions.  AMEN

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

Watch the Eucharist on the Media Hub here. https://livestream.com/accounts/12656718/events/3897940/videos/91209128

Jennings reelecta sin oposición presidente de la Cámara de Diputados

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

La Rda Gay Clark Jennings fue reelecta sin oposición presidente de la Cámara de Diputados durante una sesión legislativa del 26 de junio. Foto de Janet Kawamoto/Diócesis de Los Ángeles.

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Con aclamaciones, gritos y una ovación de pie de los diputados, la Rda Gay Clark Jennings fue reelecta presidente de la Cámara de Diputados el 26 de junio,.

“Ha sido uno de los más grandes privilegios de mi vida servir a la Cámara de Diputados y a la Iglesia Episcopal a la que tanto amo”, dijo Jennings, la primera mujer ordenada que ocupa ese puesto.

Atenta a una una formalidad de procedimiento. porque ella no tuvo opositores en la votación, Jennings le cedió la presidencia al vicepresidente Byron Rushing en la segunda jornada legislativa de la 78ª. Convención General, que sesiona del 25 de junio al 3 de julio en Salt Lake City.

Ella dijo que el Comité Conjunto de Nominaciones había presentado sus nominaciones y el pleno estaba abierto para otros nombres para toda una serie de cargos en la Iglesia, según las reglas de orden. Los diputados concurrirán a la elección el domingo 28 de junio, explicó Jennings.

El Rdo. Ernesto Medina, diputado de Nebraska, dijo que Jennings “de un modo en verdad elegante, le cedió el puesto a Byron Rushing, el vicepresidente, y nos pidió que lo llamáramos “Sr. Presidente”. Él ocupó la silla y ella desapareció. Luego él comenzó el proceso de nominaciones para presidente de la Cámara de Diputados”, dijo Medina a Episcopal News Service.

El Rdo. Jim Simons, diputado por Pittsburgh, que es el Secretario de la Cámara, presentó una moción para suspender las reglas y celebrar la elección (de Presidente) de inmediato. Jennings fue abrumadoramente electa por aclamación.

“Todos aplaudimos y le brindamos una ovación de pie”, dijo la canóniga Janet Wylie, diputada por Los Ángeles. “No resultó una sorpresa porque ella se presentó sin oposición, pero necesitó serenarse antes de volver a ocupar nuevamente su puesto”.

Jennings dijo que espera trabajar con el nuevo obispo primado, que será electo el sábado 27 de junio. “Es un gran privilegio ser electa por mis amigos y colegas, por mis compañeros dela Cámara de Diputados”, expresó.

“Hay un gran entusiasmo en la Cámara ahora mismo”, dijo Jennings. “Están abiertos al cambio, a ensayar nuevas cosas. Casi la mitad son diputados por primera vez, hay muchos diputados jóvenes. Tenemos incluso una página de Twitter para personas en el pleno de la Cámara de Diputados”.

Entre sus futuras tareas, cree ella, será la “de evaluar los muchos cambios que hemos instituido en la Cámara de Diputados y luego edificar sobre esos cambios y ver como funcionan en esta convención. Hemos hecho muchísimas cosas nuevas, desde nuevas reglas de orden, los iPads, las carpetas virtuales, de manera que tendremos muchísimo que evaluar al final de la convención y edificar a partir de eso”.

Añadió que “el objetivo de todos los cambios es mejorar la eficiencia legislativa, y darle a la Cámara más tiempo para sostener más conversaciones y debates acerca de lo más importante”.

Afirmó que las tres sesiones conjuntas con la Cámara de Obispos son sólo unas de las muchas cosas estupendas que tienen lugar en la 78ª. Convención General.

El segundo período de Jennings comienza el 3 de julio, al término de la Convención. Ella puede servir durante tres períodos consecutivos o un total de nueve años, según dijo.

Medina agregó que se siente emocionado de que Jennings “siga siendo presidente de la Cámara de Diputados. Ella ha mostrado un liderazgo firme y coherente. Ama la Iglesia y eso es bastante obvio, y realmente se ocupa de nosotros en la Cámara de Diputados y se ocupa de la misión y de lograr que se lleve a cabo el trabajo para [el servicio de] Jesús”.

— La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Abordan en audiencias legislativas los problemas de Israel y Palestina

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] El conflicto israelí-palestino fue el foco de tres audiencias legislativas el 25 de junio al tiempo que el Comité de Justicia Social y Política Internacional abría el pleno para el testimonio público en la 78ª. Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Unas 50 personas se levantaron para testificar sobre las siete resoluciones relacionadas con Israel y Palestina, que van desde las que piden que inversiones más a fondo en asociaciones del Oriente Medio a las que llaman a la Iglesia a boicotear —y desinvertir en— las compañías y corporaciones que participan en ciertos negocios relacionados con el Estado de Israel.

Varios ponentes afirmaron la necesidad de que termine la ocupación israelí del territorio palestino mediante presiones económicas, diciendo que la actual política de la Iglesia de inversión positiva ha demostrado inoperante. Otros subrayaron el imperativo cristiano del compromiso y el diálogo, citando su preocupación por cualquier medida que pudiera aumentar las dificultades para el pueblo palestino y para la Diócesis Episcopal de Jerusalén.

Durante una audiencia nocturna, el obispo Nick Knisely, de la Diócesis de Rhode Island, presentó sus dos resoluciones (B012 y B013), secundadas por otros 10 obispos, en la que insta a la Iglesia Episcopal a respaldar un modelo de justicia restauradora en busca de “formas nuevas, creativas y efectivas en su labor hacia la paz y la justicia en el conflicto israelí-palestino”, y llama a los líderes políticos a una negociación concluyente de un acuerdo de paz de dos estados.

Knisely dijo que sus resoluciones tienen que ver con la reconciliación, con intentar encontrar un proceso dentro de la Iglesia Episcopal donde han tenido lugar las conversaciones y “donde podamos vernos mutuamente no como la persona que ha causado el sufrimiento, sino como la persona que también sufre… No soy ingenuo respecto a cuánto tiempo tomará esto, pero no conozco ninguna forma más efectiva.

“Me doy cuenta de que existe una disparidad de puntos de vista”, afirmó, “pero debemos encontrar medios para invertir en empresas palestinas de manera que ellos [los palestinos] puedan levantar su economía y con optimismo convertirse en socios iguales”.

Paul Schumacher de Hawái dijo que dos resoluciones complementaban y extendían las políticas existentes y ofreció algunas sugerencias sobre la manera de avanzar a partir de la Resolución B019 de la Convención General de 2012, la cual afirma la inversión positiva “como un medio necesario para crear una economía sólida y una infraestructura sostenible” en los Territorios Palestinos.

Lynn Gottlieb, rabina estadounidense del movimiento Renovación Judía, no está tan convencida. “Mientras los palestinos estén empujados a una situación semejante al apartheid… es casi imposible para ellos exportar nada” , dijo. “Yo los insto a invertir, pero sepan que hasta que la ocupación termine, los palestinos siempre serán vulnerables a que sus exportaciones sean destruidas. Los empresarios palestinos siempre me dicen, ‘sí inviertan y desinviertan’. No son cosas en conflicto. Se trata de una justicia restauradora”.

Con anterioridad en la misma jornada, se oyeron testimonios sobre otras cinco resoluciones, tres de las cuales piden desinversión.

La Rda. Vicki Gray, diputada de la Diócesis de California, que habló en apoyo de la Resolución C012, dijo que “la desinversión no tiene que ver con el antisemitismo; tiene que ver con la justicia… El pueblo de Palestina quiere acciones, no más conversaciones… Debería estar claro que después de 20 años de conversaciones en el interminable proceso de paz, nuestra política de inversión positiva no ha funcionado… No hacer nada también tendría un impacto: nos pondría del lado de la opresión”.

Clark Downs de la Diócesis de Washington, al hablar a favor de la Resolución C018, dijo que durante varias décadas la Iglesia Episcopal “ha estado consciente del conflicto en Tierra Santa y ha esperado en vano que la gente allí haría algo al respecto. El liderazgo israelí se ha hecho de la vista gorda ante la injusticia y sigue manteniendo la ocupación ilegal. La Iglesia Episcopal debe responder con mayor audacia a esta tragedia de lo que ha hecho en los últimos años”.

  1. Dennis Sullivan, presidente del Comité de Inversiones del Consejo Ejecutivo, dijo que el comité había discutido estos problemas y había pedido por unanimidad que cualquier resolución que demandara desinversión debería ser rechazada “hasta que se evaluaran completamente las consecuencias económicas y sociales de esa desinversión”.

Un enlace del personal de la Obispa Primada con el comité confirmó que la carpeta de inversiones de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS) no tiene ninguna participación en ninguna de las corporaciones consideradas problemáticas, tales como Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, G4S, y Motorola Solutions.

Sin embargo, la DFMS sí invirtió $500.000 en el Banco de Palestina en 2013 con el fin de promover el desarrollo económico en los Territorios Palestinos.

El Fondo de Pensiones de la Iglesia (CPF), cuyas políticas de inversión no se exige que reflejen las de la DFMS, tiene participación actualmente en Caterpillar y Hewlett Packard, según Roger Sayler, director de inversiones del Grupo de Pensiones de la Iglesia.

El CPF “está comprometido con su responsabilidad fiduciaria de proteger las pensiones y los beneficios afines” de unos 15.000 clérigos y empleados laicos de la Iglesia Episcopal, dijo Sayler durante la audiencia. “Debemos participar positivamente en la situación en lugar de usar la desinversión como una herramienta”.

El Fondo de Pensiones de la Iglesia y sus compañías afiliadas integran colectivamente el Grupo de Pensiones de la Iglesia.

El Rdo. José Luis Mendoza-Barahona, miembro del comité proveniente de la Diócesis de Honduras, retó al Grupo de Pensiones de la Iglesia a que revisara sus métodos.

“Aproximadamente 15.000 personas están siendo protegidas por este fondo de pensiones. Pero yo sí creo que una vida es más importante y tiene más valor que cualquier cosa que podamos hacer”, dijo él a través de un intérprete. “Querría invitarles a que regeneraran el proceso de inversión de manera que les permitiera a esas 15.000 personas mantener su estabilidad, pero que también nos permitiera ayudar a esas personas en Israel y Palestina a quienes están privando de sus derechos. Espero que ustedes encuentren un modo de situar el dinero donde pueda hacer algún bien y quitárselo a las compañías que le hacen daño al pobre pueblo de Palestina”.

El Rdo. canónigo John E. Kitagawa, es un diputado de la Diócesis de Arizona que ha prestado servicios de la Comisión Permanente sobre Paz Anglicana e Internacional con Intereses en la Justicia, uno de los organismos interinos de la Iglesia que presentan la Resolución A052 a la consideración de la Convención General.

La A052 pide un “proceso deliberado de Ubuntu” y un “discernimiento mutuo pacífico” respecto a las políticas de la Iglesia Episcopal “hacia la defensa social, la inversión o desinversión económicas, la misión humanitaria y la pacificación en Palestina e Israel”.

Ubuntu es una palabra zulú/xhosa que describe la identidad humana como formada a través de una comunidad y que conlleva la idea de cuidar, compartir y estar en armonía con toda la creación.

La resolución sugiere que una agrupación colaboradora debería mediar en el proceso, recoger y diseminar materiales educativos y consultar con una amplia gama de expertos en políticas, organizaciones de ayuda humanitaria y agrupaciones ecuménicas e interreligiosas “para conformar y animar un proceso de diálogo entre aquellos de diferentes convicciones… de manera que la Iglesia Episcopal en sus deliberaciones y en sus empeños de defensa social pueda representar el amor de Dios y la posibilidad de un diálogo civilizado que se sobreponga a los problemas frustrantes y controvertidos de un conflicto global”.

Kitagawa, vicepresidente del comité de política legislativa de la Convención General, cree que la Resolución A052 es el mejor enfoque en este momento de parte de la Iglesia Episcopal sobre el proceso de paz en Israel y Palestina.

La Rda. Susan Snook, diputada de la Diócesis de Arizona y miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo, también apoya la Resolución A052. Dijo que luego de una visita a Tierra Santa el año pasado y de hablar con personas de todas las partes, “he aprendido que no hay soluciones simples [que] resuelvan todos los problemas” y que la mejor manera de avanzar como cristianos “es seguir comprometidos en relaciones… Debemos usar esas relaciones para ayudar a cambiar mentes y corazones.

Snook dijo que ella habló con la obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori y otras personas que viajaron a Tierra Santa en enero como parte de una peregrinación interreligiosa recomendada por la Resolución B019 de la Convención General 2012. “Ellos les oyeron decir a personas de todas las partes que los cristianos… pueden mostrarle a la gente como discrepar respetuosamente y mantenerse en relación. Yo apoyo la resolución Ubuntu. Es lo que las personas en tierra Santa nos han pedido. Las instituciones y ministerios diocesanos son posible porque hemos permanecido relacionados aunque deploremos la violencia. La desinversión afecta la economía y afecta a los palestinos”.

Newland Smith, diputado de la Diócesis de Chicago, habló a favor de la Resolución D016, que fue redactada por el recién creado Comité Episcopal pro Justicia en Israel y Palestina, que llama a la Iglesia Episcopal a iniciar un proceso de desinversión en las compañías que siguen lucrando de la ocupación israelí en territorio palestino.

“Las compañías de EE.UU. que contribuyen a la infraestructura que sostiene la ocupación deben considerarse responsables”, dijo Smith, miembro del comité de política internacional. “Esta resolución ofrece un camino razonable y prudente para que la Iglesia sea fiel a la causa de la justicia en este largo y doloroso conflicto”.

Walid Issa, de 26 años, palestino de Belén, dijo que él se sentía “triste… de que las personas que importan más en estas discusiones no estén representadas aquí. La importancia de ayudar y de invertir en los palestinos es más urgentes que la de castigar al gobierno israelí. El problema consiste en dónde invertir. Debemos cambiar y encontrar formas nuevas, innovadoras y creativas para que las voces de los jóvenes palestinos estén representadas. El cambio es posible y el temor puede ser derrotado”.

Issa, junto con el israelí Lior Frankiensztajn, dirige el Programa de Negociación Shades, que crea oportunidades para que políticos, educadores y otros líderes palestinos e israelíes conozcan y entablen un diálogo con sus homólogos. El programa está auspiciado por la Universidad de Harvard y en parte financiado por el Departamento de Estado de EE.UU.

Durante la audiencia del comité, Frankiensztajn, de 29 años, dijo que después de servir en el Ejército israelí durante cinco años, “se dio cuenta de que no hay ninguna solución militar a este problema —que tiene que ser una solución social”.

El mundo de Frankiensztajn cambió hace unos pocos años después que él vivió con un palestino durante dos meses. Logró aprender muchas cosas de sí mismo y de sus raíces, pero lo más importante, vio “cómo se aprecia la realidad desde una perspectiva diferente”, les dijo a los peregrinos interreligiosos luego de un almuerzo en un restaurante de Tel Aviv. Desafortunadamente, “los políticos manejan las relaciones, lo cual limita la oportunidad para el progreso… Tiene que haber una manera diferente de acercarse a los diseños de política, a la educación”.

Reconociendo que resulta fácil predicarle al converso, Frankiensztajn dijo que Shades está tratando de identificar los obstáculos, las áreas que necesitan más atención en ayudar a las personas “a convertirse en mejores negociadores, en mejores comunicadores a través de esta experiencia [y] a llegar a entender realmente los matices y la cultura de la otra parte”. Crear confianza, añadió, es una parte fundamental del proceso de paz.

Kim Byham, diputado suplente de la Diócesis de Nueva Jersey, habló en apoyo de Resolución C018, presentada por la Diócesis de Washington, con la excepción del quinto párrafo, que pide un informe completo y público “en que se documenten todas las decisiones, incluidos los diálogos corporativos y las resoluciones de accionistas… respecto a las compañías que contribuyen a la infraestructura de la constante ocupación por parte de Israel de Cisjordania y Gaza y de las compañías que tienen conexiones con organizaciones responsables de la violencia contra Israel.

El resto de la Resolución C018 pide el continuo apoyo de la Diócesis de Jerusalén y sus instituciones y llama a “las parroquias individuales a tomar medidas inmediatas para aumentar su comprensión de los problemas de manera que puedan comprometerse activamente ha este fin, especialmente respecto a considerar los enfoques y las acciones no violentas para ponerle fin a la ocupación a la luz del fracaso de las conversaciones de paz y de la continua expansión de los asentamientos [israelíes]”.

Byham ha sido presidente del Comité sobre Responsabilidad Corporativa de la Iglesia Episcopal durante los últimos seis años; y, anteriormente, de Responsabilidad Social en el Comité de Inversiones de la Iglesia, el cual, en 2005, afirmó la “inversión positiva” y la “participación corporativa” para alentar el cambio positivo en el conflicto entre israelíes y palestinos.

“La desinversión es algo del que nuestro comité se ha mostrado escéptico”, dijo Byham, aunque dijo también de que pese al diálogo corporativo con Caterpillar durante los últimos 15 años, “ellos siguen asumiendo la misma posición de que no le venden directamente al ejército israelí, y eso es cierto, le venden al Ejército de EE.UU. y EE.UU. se lo da a Israel”.

Sin embargo, dijo, “la desinversión es en realidad una herramienta limitada [y] tiene relativamente pocos ‘resultados] positivos”.

El Rdo. Gary Commins, diputado de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles, no está de acuerdo.

“Tenemos una oportunidad de avanzar en la desinversión, de hacer algo honorable y memorable”, dijo Commins, miembro del comité de política internacional. “Continuar con nuestra política actual es hacer algo olvidable y lamentable”.

Muchas diócesis e individuos de la Iglesia Episcopal Episcopal tienen asociaciones de larga data con la diócesis [episcopal] de Jerusalén y apoyan el ministerio de sus más de 30 instituciones de servicios sociales en Israel, Jordania, Líbano, Siria y los Territorios Palestinos. Las instituciones incluyen escuelas, hospitales, clínicas y centros para personas con discapacidades.

La diócesis y las instituciones también reciben apoyo de los Amigos Americanos de la Diócesis de Jerusalén, una organización no política sin fines de lucro fundada en 1985.

Anne Lynn, directora de los Amigos Americanos de la Diócesis Episcopal de Jerusalén, habló en apoyo de la misión en Tierra Santa y de la Resolución C018. “Muchos ven el lugar donde Jesús caminó y habló sólo a través de la lente política”, dijo ella. “Las familias necesitan poner alimentos en la mesa y los niños deben ir a la escuela mañana. Debemos sentirnos muy orgullosos de la labor que está haciendo la Diócesis Episcopal de Jerusalén. Sus escuelas están educando a 7.000 niños de todas las fes. Los hospitales diocesanos atienden a los pobres y salvaron a miles de vidas en Gaza. Podemos cambiar el futuro de nuestra Tierra Santa levantando la paz desde el terreno”.

El arzobispo Suheil Dawani, de la Diócesis Episcopal de Jerusalén, le ha dicho anteriormente a Episcopal News Service que él prefiere oír hablar de inversiones en lugar de desinversiones.

Graham Smith, decano de St. George’s College, en Jerusalén, habló durante la audiencia y confirmó que Dawani no ha cambiado de opinión sobre el asunto. “Espero que esta convención no adopte ninguna resolución acerca del conflicto sin verificarla con el arzobispo”, señaló. Tal decisión “no le cuesta nada a los diputados pero le hacen más difícil al arzobispo manejar sus instituciones. Debemos apoyar las instituciones tanto como sea posible”.

Cynthia Schumacher, visitante de la Diócesis de Hawái, también habló en contra de la C012. “Israel es la única nación libre del Oriente Medio, pero sus instituciones están constantemente sometidas a un asalto ideológico. Esta resolución se olvida de que muchos palestinos apoyan las actividades terroristas contra los judíos en Israel y en el resto del mundo. Israel es una democracia abierta, multiétnica y multirracial. No carece de faltas, pero aún le ofrece a los cristianos y musulmanes protección de los estados totalitarios de la región. Esta es la realidad que el BDS [boicot, desinversión y sanciones] le pasa por encima o elige ignorar”.

Varios partidarios y miembros de la organización norteamericana Voz Judía por la Paz hablaron a favor de la desinversión.

Jade Brooks dijo que los palestinos han estado sufriendo durante demasiado tiempo bajo la ocupación. “Ustedes tienen la oportunidad de ser líderes en el movimiento por la justicia” le dijo ella a los miembros del comité.

Otros ponentes dijeron que la Iglesia debía hacer más en interesar a diócesis y congregaciones y en educar a las personas respecto a los problemas.

John Chane, obispo jubilado de Washington, dijo que había luchado contra la desinversión durante muchos años, “pero los tiempos han cambiado… Este es un asunto de derechos humanos. Al mismo tiempo, la desinversión es un tema que tiene muchísimos matices”. Sin embargo, él dijo que espera que la Convención General pudiera aprobar una resolución que le permitiera al Consejo Ejecutivo “hacer realmente una declaración diáfana sobre la desinversión”.

El Rdo. Scott Gunn, diputado de la Diócesis de Ohio Sur, dijo que a partir de sus dos viajes a Tierra Santa él se ha dado cuenta de que “las relaciones y el encuentro positivo son el camino a seguir. ¿Por qué no tomamos una decisión positiva de reinvertir? Podría ser que un cambio en la política de desinversión resultara bueno en alguna medida, pero no debemos hacerlo irracionalmente. Lo que debemos hacer es orar por la paz de Jerusalén”.

El comité de política internacional discutirá las resoluciones y hará sus recomendaciones a la cámara que ha de tomar la decisión inicial, que será la Cámara de Obispos.

Si los obispos aprueban una resolución, tendría que contar con la aprobación de la Cámara de Diputados antes de que pudiera convertirse en un mandato de la Convención General.

— Matthew Davies es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry elected as 27th Presiding Bishop

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry, bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, speaks to a packed House of Deputies hall after deputies confirmed his election as the 27th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. Curry’s family and others joined him on the dais. Photo: Cynthia L. Black/For ENS

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:55 p.m. MDT to note historic nature of first-ballot election. 

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City, Utah] The Episcopal Church’s General Convention made history June 27 when it chose Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry to be its 27th presiding bishop.

Curry, 62, was elected by the House of Bishops from a slate of four nominees on the first ballot. He received 121 votes of a total 174 cast. Diocese of Southwest Florida Bishop Dabney Smith recieved 21, Diocese of Southern Ohio Bishop Thomas Breidenthal, 19, and Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, 13. The number of votes needed for election was 89.

Curry’s election was confirmed an hour later by the House of Deputies, as outlined in the church’s canons, by a vote of 800 to 12.

He will serve a nine-year term that officially begins Nov. 1. On that date, Curry will succeed current Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and he will become the first person of color to hold that position.

A liturgy marking the beginning of Curry’s ministry as presiding bishop and primate will be celebrated Nov. 1, All Saints Day at Washington National Cathedral.

The House of Deputies, which was filled with visitors and bishops awaiting Curry, erupted into sustained applause when Jefferts Schori and Curry entered at about 2:30 p.m. His entrance came about 30 minutes after the House of Deputies confirmed his election. Deputies stood on their chairs, holding aloft their phones, tablets and cameras to capture the historic moment.

“Oh, God love ya,” Curry said when he got to the microphone on the dais. “I know you haven’t had lunch so, no sermons now.”

The deputies worked past their scheduled 1 p.m. recess to vote on Curry’s election and hear him speak.

“It really is a blessing and privilege to serve our church and to serve our Lord in this way,” he said. “I treasure this church, this house, the House of Bishops, all of us. We are God’s children.”

Curry said The Episcopal Church is “the church where I learned about Jesus.”

“This is a good and wonderful church and we are good and wonderful people and I thank God to be one of the baptized among you,” Curry said, adding, “My heart is really full.”

“We’ve got a society where there are challenges before us and there are crises all around us. And the church has challenges before it,” he said. “We got a God and there really is a Jesus, and we are part of the Jesus Movement. Nothing can stop the movement of God’s love in this world”

As Curry left the dais, people in the house sang the Doxology.

Curry has been North Carolina’s 11th diocesan bishop since he was ordained and consecrated on June 17, 2000. He was the rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland, when he was elected to the see on Feb. 11, 2000. He is also the current chair of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Board of Directors.

This makes the second time in a row that the General Convention made history with its election of a presiding bishop. In 2006, Jefferts Schori became the first woman ever elected presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. She was also the first female among the primates, or ordained leaders, of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces, a distinction she still holds.

Curry’s election also made history by being the first time a presiding bishop was chosen on the first ballot.

Echoing an old spiritual, Curry said during a video interview after his nomination was announced on May 1 that “our hand must be on the Gospel plow.”

“We are followers of Jesus – Jesus of Nazareth – and the truth is we’ve got a message to proclaim, a life to live and something to share and offer the world,” he said. “There’s a lot of suffering in this world. There’s a lot of heartache, there’s a lot of nightmare. We are people who believe that God has a dream and a vision for this world, and that Jesus has shown us how to follow him in the direction of that and how to help this world live into God’s dream and vision for us now.

“Our work is actually the work of participating in the Jesus movement, which seeks to realize God’s dream and seeks to accomplish God’s mission in this world,” Curry said.

The church must help form disciples who will live like Jesus, Curry said. Such formation must become a priority so that the church is not just creating members, but disciples of Jesus “who actually live out and struggle to live out the teachings of Jesus in their lives, and make a tangible difference” in the world. If such churchwide formation combined with Episcopalians’ individual commitments to imitate Jesus, “we would transform this world,” Curry said.

“After formation, there’s evangelism and I know sometimes folks are afraid of that word, but I’m not talking about evangelism like other folk do it,” he said. “I am talking about the kind of evangelism that is as much listening as it is sharing.” Being present with another person and listening to that person is a “transforming possibility” of invitation and welcome.

Episcopalians must also be willing to “witness in the social sphere, witness in the public sphere, through personal service that helps somebody along the way … prophesying deliverance … [and] being a voice for those who have no voice,” Curry said.

To do this, Episcopalians need to partner with Anglicans around the world along with people of other faith traditions, according to Curry.

And “we need to create organizational structures that serve the mission, that help the institution and the church become a vessel of the Jesus movement,” he concluded.

The election process

The names of all four bishops were formally submitted to the General Convention by the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop during a joint session on June 26, the day before the election. There were no additional nominees from the floor during that session.

Anyone intending to make such a nomination had to inform the nominating committee of that intention by May 12 so that additional nominees could undergo the same background screening process that the committee completed for all of its nominees. The committee announced on May 12 that no additional bishops were nominated.

The four nominees spoke to convention participants during a three-hour session on June 24, the afternoon before the General Convention formally convened.

Bishops gathered at the Convention Eucharist at 9:30 a.m. on June 27 in the Salt Palace Convention Center. Following that, the bishops with seat, voice and vote traveled to St. Mark’s Cathedral, where the election session was closed and took place in the context of prayer and reflection.

After Curry was elected but before his name was announced, Jefferts Schori sent a delegation to House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings informing her of the result. Jennings referred Curry’s name to the House of Deputies legislative committee on the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop without announcing the news to the full House. The legislative committee was charged with recommending to the House of Deputies whether to confirm the election or not confirm. The deputies heard the recommendation at 1:48 p.m. local time, and began to debate the confirmation request.

The House of Bishops remained in session at the cathedral until a delegation of deputies, appointed by Jennings notified the House of Bishops of the action taken. No communication was permitted from the House of Bishops during the election and until confirmation was received.

Shortly after receiving word of the confirmation of his election, Curry came to the House of Deputies.

Presiding Bishop-elect Curry will preach at the convention’s closing Eucharist on July 3, and Jefferts Schori will preside.

The roles of the presiding bishop
The presiding bishop is primate and chief pastor of the church, chair of the Executive Council, and president of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The canonical outline of the presiding bishop’s election and term can be found in Title I Section 2 of the church’s Canons.

(The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the legal and canonical name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.)

Curry’s election comes near the start of a meeting of General Convention that is considering a number of proposals to change some aspects of the governance and management of the church-wide structure and, hence, the roles and responsibilities of the presiding bishop.

According to Title I Section 2 in its current form, the presiding bishop is “charged with responsibility for leadership in initiating and developing the policy and strategy in the church and speaking for the Church as to the policies, strategies and programs authorized by the General Convention.”

The presiding bishop also “speaks God’s word to the church and world as the representative of this Church and its episcopate in its corporate capacity,” represents The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion, serves as chief consecrator of bishops, and leads the House of Bishops. He or she also holds a significant role in the discipline and changes in status of bishops.

Also, the presiding bishop exercises a significant role in the governance of the church by making appointments to various governing bodies, making decisions with the president of the House of Deputies, serving as a member of every churchwide committee and commission, and serving as chair and president of key church governing boards. He or she is the chief executive officer of the Executive Council, which carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a). Therefore, the presiding bishop is responsible for staff and operations of the Episcopal Church Center, with the exception of the executive office of the General Convention.

In its “Call to Discernment and Profile”, the joint nominating committee said the 27th presiding bishop would need to be “comfortable in the midst of ambiguity and able to lead the church in the rich, temporal space between the ‘now,’ and the ‘yet to come.’” The person discerned and elected by the church would need to “delight” in the diversity of a “multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational church.” And, because “our polity has many components and complexities,” the 27th presiding bishop will need the “skills and wisdom for leading complex and democratic systems through a time of significant change.”

Historically, the office of presiding bishop was filled automatically by the most senior bishop in the House of Bishops, measured by date of consecration, beginning with the presidency of William White at the first session of the 1789 General Convention. That process changed in 1925 when the church elected the Rt. Rev. John Gardner Murray as the 16th presiding bishop.

Presiding Bishop-elect Curry’s past ministry
Born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 13, 1953, Curry attended public schools in Buffalo, New York, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in Geneva, New York, and a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He has also studied at the College of Preachers, Princeton Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University, the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary, and the Institute of Christian Jewish Studies.

He was ordained to the diaconate in June 1978 at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, and to the priesthood in December 1978, at St. Stephen’s, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He began his ministry as deacon-in-charge at St. Stephen’s, and was rector there 1979-1982. He next accepted a call to serve as the rector of St. Simon of Cyrene, Lincoln Heights, Ohio, where he served 1982-1988. In 1988, he became rector of St. James’, Baltimore, Maryland, where he served until his election as bishop.     

In his three parish ministries, Curry was active in the founding of ecumenical summer day camps for children, the creation of networks of family day care providers and educational centers, and the brokering of millions of dollars of investment in inner city neighborhoods. He also sat on the commission on ministry in each of the three dioceses in which he has served.

During his time as bishop of North Carolina, Curry instituted a network of canons, deacons and youth ministry professionals dedicated to supporting the ministry that already happens in local congregations and refocused the diocese on The Episcopal Church’s dedication to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals through a $400,000 campaign to buy malaria nets that saved thousands of lives.

Throughout his ministry, Curry has also been active in issues of social justice, speaking out on immigration policy and marriage equality.

He serves on the boards of a large number of organizations and has a national preaching and teaching ministry. He has been featured on The Protestant Hour and North Carolina Public Radio’s The State of Things, as well as on The Huffington Post. In addition, Curry is a frequent speaker at conferences around the country. He has received honorary degrees from Sewanee, Virginia Theological Seminary, Yale, and, most recently, Episcopal Divinity School. He served on the Taskforce for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church and recently was named chair of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Board of Directors.

His book of sermons, Crazy Christians, came out in August 2013.

Curry and his wife, Sharon, have two adult daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

27th Presiding Bishop elected by House of Bishops

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry preaching during the 77th General Convention Eucharist in 2012. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry has been elected June 27 by the House of Bishops as the 27th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. The House of Deputies is discussing a resolution to confirm the election, as is required by church canons. ENS will post more information after that vote.

Funding requests exceed $120 million triennial budget

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance will present their proposed budget to the full General Convention on July 1. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Members of The Episcopal Church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) heard a strong call June 26 for reducing the amount of money it asks from dioceses and regional mission areas, knowing that they face an approximately $12 million gap between the funding already included in Executive Council’s draft 2016-2018 triennium budget and additional funding resolutions that have come to convention.

Council’s balanced $120 million budget was passed in January after the church’s committees, commissions, agencies and boards filed their reports to convention containing funding resolutions. Some of those requests have been amended here at convention. Plus, many new resolutions filed since council passed its budget also ask for money to be included in the 2016-2018 budget. They are the ones that account for the $12 million gap.

“I want to make people understand that even a request for funding passed by both houses is not a binding mandate on PB&F,” the Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd of Massachusetts, PB&F chair, told Episcopal News Service after an early morning committee meeting June 27. “It carries great weight with PB&F, probably the greatest weight of any of the input we get, but it’s still PB&F’s job to discern how things get funded.”

The new or amended requests “will far exceed any reasonable way for us to handle that, so our challenge is going to be to see what we can do with this, and most of them will not be able to be funded,” Diocese of San Diego Bishop Jim Mathes, a PB&F member, told ENS after the June 26 revenue hearing.

While such a gap is not unusual, the logistics of attempting to reduce the shortfall are different at this convention than in the previous two.

“This is not an unusual position for budget-makers to be in at this point in the budget process,” Lloyd told ENS, “but we’re just urging people to be realistic about what is possible.”

“Three years ago, we were pulling together alternative budgets and we were trying to create a budget structure and that process actually gave us some wiggle room,” Diocese of Maine Bishop Stephen Lane, PB&F vice chair, told ENS on June 27. “This time we have a balanced budget with considerable internal integrity so for every dollar in, dollars have to come out. That’s a different process than the last time.”

When asked if this process was harder or easier, Lane said “it’s different hard.”

PB&F collaborated with the Executive Council on the draft 2016-2018 budget from the beginning of the 2013-2015 triennium.

The Episcopal Church’s three-year budget is funded primarily by pledges from the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas. Those entities are currently asked, but are not required, to annually contribute 19 percent of their income from two years earlier, minus $120,000.

Council’s draft budget increases that exemption to $175,000. Its revenue projection is based on asking the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas to give 18 percent of their income to fund the 2016 budget, 16.5 percent for the 2017 budget and 15 percent in 2018.

The three-year movement to reduce the asking to 15 percent results in $74,931,206 in revenue, according to Kurt Barnes, treasurer for The Episcopal Church. This total assumes a $175,000 diocesan exemption and assumes that each diocese not paying the full asking will increase its percentage contribution by 10 percent above the rate it is contributing in 2014. Full participation in a mandatory 15 percent assessment for all three years of the 2016-2018 triennium, with the same diocesan exemption and growth-in-giving assumptions, would result in $80,236,645 in revenue, he said.

Out of 109 dioceses and three regional areas, 49 dioceses paid the full asking or more in 2014. A list of 2013 diocesan commitments and payments made, and 2014 commitments, is here. Barnes has said that if all dioceses participated fully in the asking adopted by General Convention for 2014, nearly $7.4 million more would have been available for church-wide ministry. Payment of the full asking is not canonically required and there are no penalties for not paying the full percentage.

“I didn’t hear any advocacy for keeping the asking at 19 percent,” Lloyd said reflecting on the revenue hearing during an early morning committee meeting June 27. “So I think we can take away from that hearing support for some kind of reduction in the asking.”

She later told ENS “there’s still come decisions to be made about how far and how soon.”

Lane told the committee June 27 “My own sense is that (council’s) step-down is actually the framework for the step-up and that across the church there’s a commitment to do that.”

“The other piece that is critical for the life of this church is full participation and that’s not happening,” he said. “The set-up, the three years, is time for diocese large and small to become full participants.”

Nebraska Bishop J. Scott Barker cautioned that three years may be time enough for dioceses to increase their contributions to the 15 percent level, but “it is way too long” for dioceses such as his to get relief from meeting the full 19 percent asking.

Convention faces proposals to reduce the assessment to less than 15 percent and to make the assessment mandatory. The resolutions to date on those issues are here. The question of changing the asking from a voluntary response to a mandated payment is not within PB&F’s purview.

The total income in council’s draft budget is $120,470,577 and the total projected expenses are $120,468,248. In addition to diocesan payments, the revenue side includes income from other sources such as $28.2 million from a 5 percent draw on the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s unrestricted assets, nearly $10 million in rental income from The Episcopal Church Center, $2.1 million from Episcopal Migration Ministries’ refugee loan collection program, $2 million to be raised by the development office and $1.2 million in General Convention income, along with other smaller sources.

PB&F will hold its spending hearing at 7:30 p.m. MDT July 27 in Grand Ballroom A,B,C of the Hilton Salt Lake City Center.

PB&F will use the comments it receives, council’s draft budget and any legislation passed by or being considered by General Convention to create a final budget proposal. That budget must be presented to a joint session of the Houses of Bishops and Deputies no later than the third day before convention’s scheduled adjournment. According to the draft convention schedule, that presentation is set to take place at 2:15 p.m. MDT on July 1.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Lent Madness fever infects Forward Movement booth

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Edwin Johnson of the Diocese of Massachusetts casts his first-ever Lent Madness ballot during “Lent Madness Day” at General Convention on June 25. Photo: Sharon Sheridan / Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Heard of Christmas in July? At General Convention, it was Lent in Pentecost in the Exhibit Hall.

Lent Madness is the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck, a sports-loving Massachusetts priest who reasoned that basketball fans shouldn’t have all the fun and that the penitential season of Lent needed livening up. Inspired by the annual March Madness college basketball tournament, in 2010 he created a bracket of saints who square off against each other in rounds of competition for the “Golden Halo” award. Each day of the competition during Lent, participants can read about two saints from The Episcopal Church calendar of commemorations and vote for their favorite to advance to the next round.

Lent Madness extended its growing reach in 2012 when it partnered with Forward Movement under the auspices of its executive director – and Schenck’s good friend or “archnemesis,” depending on what mood they’re in when you ask them – the Rev. Scott Gunn. Together, they form the Executive Committee for the Lent Madness phenomenon, which has garnered attention across the country and beyond.

For the second General Convention in a row, the Forward Movement booth has hosted a Lent Madness Day, allowing enthusiasts to vote onsite or at the website (www.lentmadness.org) for a saint to be the first to join the next Lent Madness bracket.

June 25’s competitors, Chad of Litchfield and Clare of Assisi, were chosen with “as much thought as goes into any one of our matchups,” Schenck said. “Of course the reason that it’s Chad vs. Clare is because there’s so much voting going on at General Convention that we want to acknowledge the possibility of hanging chads. Also, as the bishops and deputies are here, we’re praying for Clare-ity as they discern the issues of the day.”

The Rev. Scott Gunn, left, and the Rev. Tim Schenck – the dynamic duo behind Lent Madness – strike a saintly pose with the winner of the 2015 Golden Halo, St. Francis of Assisi, in the Exhibit Hall at General Convention in Salt Lake City. Photo: Sharon Sheridan / Episcopal News Service

The display included a life-size cardboard likeness of the 2015 Golden Halo winner, St. Francis of Assisi, and some of his animal pals. These provided ample opportunity for saintly selfies – often posed with Lent Madness fans wearing their own Frisbee-esque halos.

While Clare was influenced by Francis, they were not related, so Schenck said he doubted association with last Lent’s winner would give her an edge in voting.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of nepotism at work here,” he said, “but the Assisi lobby is pretty powerful.”

Not everyone caught the day’s bracket fever. Schenck tried to explain the competition to Karen Ford of Tempe, Arizona, but she declined to vote.

“I’m not a sports person,” she said. “I don’t understand sports terminology.”

Edwin Johnson of the Diocese of Massachusetts admitted he’d always been a Madness observer. “I comment on other people’s brackets.”

But for Lent Madness Day, he took the plunge and cast his first ballot. “This is easy,” he said. “Clare of Assisi all the way. Otherwise my wife would kill me.”

Heather and Matt Stone of Longmont, Colorado, first caught the madness at their home parish of St. Stephen’s, where the annual bracket is posted in the narthex and voting recommendations make their way into the Sunday announcements.

“We were a little upset when Charles Wesley won [the Golden Halo] two years back, but it all was rectified with St. Francis,” Matt Stone said. “He was our favorite from the beginning.”

As relatively new Episcopalians, they’ve enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Episcopal saints as well as experience the Lent Madness humor, he added. “It really just makes Lent a special time.”

The Rev. Jean Collins said her small Montana congregation similarly enjoyed the annual competition. “You learn about saints you never knew about.”

Schenck’s creation is an ingenious combination of Lenten discipline, competition, fun and Christian formation – “not necessarily in that order,” Gunn said. Teaming up with him for Lent Madness “was an opportunity for Forward Movement to have more fun.”

“Forward Day by Day readers are sometimes very serious,” he said. The Lent Madness connection has “changed our perception in the church in a good way.”

“I like it because sometimes Episcopalians take ourselves too seriously, and we don’t take Jesus seriously enough,” Gunn said. “This flips it around. This helps us take Jesus seriously and lighten up.”

— Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.

El dictamen del Tribunal Supremo sobre el matrimonio provoca aplausos en Salt Lake City

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Casey Kend, de Nueva York, defensor del matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo, sostiene un cartel frente al Tribunal Supremo en Washington D.C. el 26 de junio de 2015.
Foto de Joshua Roberts/Reuters

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Estallaron aplausos en las reuniones de comités legislativos en el Centro de Convenciones Salt Palace de este ciudad cuando los participantes en la Convención General se enteraron del histórico dictamen del Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. el 26 de junio, por el cual las parejas del mismo sexo tienen derecho constitucional a casarse.

El fallo del tribunal se produjo al tiempo que los episcopales comenzaban a debatir la interpretación de la Iglesia del matrimonio sacramental y la definición canónica del matrimonio que la acompaña, y si debe extenderse esa definición para incluir a parejas del mismo sexo.

El dictamen del tribunal con 5 votos a favor y 4 en contra estableció el asunto del acceso al matrimonio civil y cumplió con una de las posiciones de política pública que la Iglesia Episcopal ha sostenido durante mucho tiempo. La Iglesia Episcopal ha abogado oficialmente, durante años, a favor de que se trate por igual a homosexuales, bisexuales y transexuales tanto en el terreno civil como en el eclesiástico.

La defensa de la Iglesia de la igualdad civil de personas LGBT comenzó en 1976 con la Resolución A071 en la cual se dice que “las personas homosexuales tienen derecho a igual protección de las leyes que todos los otros ciudadanos, y llama a nuestra sociedad a cuidar de que tal protección se brinde realmente”.

Esa misma convención dijo (en la Resolución A069) que “las personas homosexuales son hijos de Dios que tienen pleno e igual derecho, con todas las otras personas, al amor, la aceptación y el interés y cuidado pastoral de la Iglesia”.

(Una lista completa con enlaces a todas las resoluciones de la Convención General de 1976 a 2012 sobre la liturgia, el matrimonio y la ordenación además de las resoluciones sobre los derechos civiles de los LGBT se encuentran aquí).

Sin embargo, no fue hasta 2012 que la Convención General aprobó considerar de nuevo la teología del matrimonio con vistas al acceso de episcopales homosexuales, bisexuales y transexuales al rito sacramental. Esas son las cuestiones que enfrenta esta reunión de la Convención.

La obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori citó el pasaje de 1 Corintios 13:4-8 sobre el amor al reaccionar sobre el dictamen.

“Me regocija que el Tribunal Supremo haya abierto el camino para que el amor de dos personas sea reconocido por todos los estados de esta Unión, y que el tribunal haya reconocido que este amor duradero y sencillo que perdura más allá de la tumba debe ser atesorado por la sociedad dondequiera que exista”, dijo ella. “Nuestra sociedad se enriquecerá por el reconocimiento público de ese amor fiel y perdurable en familias encabezadas por dos hombres o por dos mujeres, así como por un mujer y un hombre. Los hijos de esta tierra serán más fuertes cuando crezcan en familias que no puedan ser deshechas por el prejuicio y la discriminación. Que el amor perdure y florezca dondequiera que se encuentre”.

La presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, emitió una declaración en la que decía: “Tal como nosotros los cristianos se sabe que decimos de vez en cuando: ‘aleluya’”.

“Me siento eufórica de que el Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. haya fallado que las parejas del mismo sexo tienen derecho a casarse en los 50 estados. En marzo tuve el gran privilegio de firmar un amicus curiae en el que se instaba a los magistrados a tomar la decisión que han dado a conocer en el día de hoy, y estoy profundamente agradecida de que ellos hayan concedido un derecho humano fundamental a personas a quienes se les había negado durante tanto tiempo”.

Jennings dijo que ella apoya la igualdad matrimonial “no a pesar de mi fe, sino por causa de ella”.

“En más de 35 años de ministerio ordenado, he conocido a muchas parejas del mismo sexo, fieles y comprometidas, cuyo amor me dio una comprensión más profunda del amor de Dios y cuya mutua alegría daba testimonio de la bondad de la creación de Dios”, afirmó. “He aprendido a través de la experiencia sencilla y cotidiana que las parejas del mismo sexo hacen contribuciones fundamentales a nuestra vida común, y me regocijo de la seguridad que el dictamen de hoy les otorga”.

Los casos sobre los que el Tribunal Supremo se pronunció atrajeron mucha atención y al menos se presentaron 145 declaraciones de amicus curiae, o “amigos del tribunal”. Cerca de 2.000 individuos líderes religiosos laicos y ordenados encabezados por Jennings y obispos episcopales en Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio y Tennessee (los estados incluidos en el Tribunal de Apelaciones del Sexto Distrito), presentaron una de esas declaraciones.

Esos obispos incluían a Terry Allen White, obispo de Kentucky

Douglas Hahn, obispo de Lexington; Wendell N. Gibbs Jr., obispo de Michigan; Whayne M. Hougland Jr, Obispo de Michigan Occidental; Rayford J. Ray, obispo de Michigan Norte; Todd Ousley, obispo de Michigan Oriental; Mark Hollingsworth Jr., obispo de Ohio; David C. Bowman, William D. Persell y Arthur B. Williams Jr., obispos auxiliares de Ohio; Thomas E. Breidenthal. Obispo de Ohio Sur; Kenneth L. Price Jr., obispo sufragáneo jubilado de Ohio Sur; Bavi Edna Rivera, obispa auxiliar de Ohio Sur; Don E. Johnson, obispo de Tennessee Occidental y George D. Young III, obispo de Tennessee Oriental. Todos estos obispos han autorizado la bendición de parejas del mismo sexo en sus diócesis, incluidas parejas que ya habían contraído matrimonio civil en otras jurisdicciones.

Los obispos Tom Ely, de la Diócesis de Vermont; Robert Fitzpatrick, de la Diócesis de Hawái; Leo Frade, de la Diócesis del Sudeste de la Florida, Steve Lane, de la Diócesis de Maine, Keith Whitmore, obispo auxiliar de la Diócesis de Atlanta y casi 200 clérigos y laicos episcopales también firmaron la declaración.

El dictamen del tribunal esclarece la labor a que se enfrenta el Comité Legislativo Especial sobre el Matrimonio, según Ely, miembro de ese comité, que también ha formado parte del Equipo de Trabajo sobre el Matrimonio.

La Rda. Ruth Meyers, presidente de la Comisión Permanente sobre Liturgia y Música en los últimos dos trienios, y el obispo de Vermont Tom Ely, miembro de esa comisión, discuten el dictamen del Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. sobre la igualdad matrimonial antes de la eucaristía del 26 de junio en el salón de cultos de la Convención General. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

La Rda. Ruth Meyers, que ha presidido la Comisión Permanente sobre Liturgia y Música en los últimos dos trienios y es consultora del comité legislativo del Libro de Oración, Liturgia y Música en esta Convención, dijo que el dictamen “cambia el contexto” del trabajo del comité especial porque el fallo cambia la ley de los Estados Unidos.

El comité, que maneja todas las resoluciones relacionadas con el matrimonio que se presentan en esta reunión de la Convención, estaba reunido cuando se dio a conocer el dictamen. Ely dijo que los miembros aplaudieron y que también habían reflexionado respecto cómo las noticias serían portadoras de alegría para algunos y de inconveniencia para otros.

Meyers y Ely presidieron el subcomité de bendiciones del comité legislativo en la convención de 2012, cuando ésta aprobó los Recursos Litúrgicos I: Te bendeciré y serás una bendición, la liturgia para bendiciones de relaciones de parejas del mismo sexo y materiales acompañantes cuyo uso provisional se autorizó en 2012.

Reacciones de episcopales al dictamen del tribunal

“Creo que Dios obra día y noche a favor de la justicia, y cuando la Iglesia no sigue la dirección de Dios, Dios a veces obra en la cultura. Y en consecuencia, ésta es una victoria de Dios. Ahora, la Iglesia Episcopal debe decidir si quiere unirse a Dios en ese [acto de] justicia”, dijo a Episcopal News Service Gene Robinson, obispo jubilado de Nuevo Hampshire, un momento antes de comenzar la eucaristía diaria de la Convención.

El preludio de la eucaristía fue una entusiasta interpretación de “Marchamos en la luz de Dios [We are Marching in the Light of God] que incluyó una fila de conga y numerosos participantes se abrazaron.

“Estoy tan emocionada, me siento tan pero tan orgullosa de ser parte de la Iglesia Episcopal, que ha estado lidiando con la igualdad matrimonial en una variedad de formas diferentes durante un largo número de años”, dijo Mary D. Glasspool, obispa sufragánea de Los Ángeles.

“Por supuesto mi emoción se ve limitada por otras áreas de nuestra vida común donde no hay tal igualdad, pero cada detallito ayuda. Intentamos decir que todos realmente significa todos, la Constitución (de EE.UU.) se aplica a todo el mundo. Cuando la Iglesia Episcopal dice que estamos abiertos para todo el mundo, y que todos los sacramentos están al alcance de todas las personas, eso es lo que queremos decir, de manera que estamos viviendo en eso”.

Glasspool dijo que el dictamen “cambiará y en verdad influirá en la conversación que estamos teniendo en la Iglesia porque en verdad debemos mirar y tal vez separar lo que es el aspecto civil de nuestro actuar, el aspecto que tiene la unión civil, cuál es la adecuada responsabilidad del Estado al garantizar los derechos civiles y lo que la Iglesia quiere decir sacramentalmente al pueblo de Dios, dónde estamos indicando la presencia de Dios y la santidad de Dios y el amor de Dios y la justicia de Dios, y cómo eso se manifiesta en nuestras vidas”.

La Rda. Susan Russell, quien durante mucho tiempo ha abogado por la plena inclusión de los homosexuales en la Iglesia, ex presidente de Integrity y primera asociada de [la iglesia] de la iglesia de Todos los Santos en Pasadena, California, y el Rdo. Michael Sniffen, rector de la iglesia de San Lucas y San Mateo en Brooklyn, Nueva York, capellán de Integrity y quien se define a sí mismo como un “aliado heterosexual”, celebran el dictamen del Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. el 26 de junio en el salón de cultos de la Convención General antes de la eucaristía diaria. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

La Rda. Susan Russell, que ha abogado durante mucho tiempo por la plena inclusión de los homosexuales en la Iglesia, definió el dictamen como “un triunfo importante de la libertad, la igualdad, la inclusión y, sobre todo, del amor”.

“Es un día para celebrar con profunda alegría que nuestro país está un paso más cerca de cumplir la promesa de la búsqueda de la felicidad y la justicia para todos. El histórico dictamen de hoy significa que las parejas del mismo sexo pronto tendrán la libertad de casarse y de que sus matrimonios merezcan el mismo respeto en todo el país: es un triunfo de la justicia sobre el prejuicio”.

La última reunión de la Convención General en 2012 aprobó la Resolución D018, que Russell propuso. La resolución hacía notar que la Iglesia Episcopal “estaba en un período de discernimiento acerca del significado del matrimonio cristiano, con personas fieles que sostenían puntos de vista divergentes” e instaba al Congreso a derogar las leyes federales que discriminaban negativamente a parejas del mismo sexo casadas por lo civil y a aprobar una legislación que permitiera al gobierno federal proporcionales beneficios.

Russell dijo “tan importante como es el dictamen histórico de hoy, debemos aprovechar ahora el impulso del diálogo sobre el matrimonio en el empeño de garantizar avances adicionales hacia la igualdad, especialmente las protecciones no discriminatorias de los estadounidenses LGBT. Es absolutamente inaceptable que a los LGBT aún los puedan despedir de sus empleos, desahuciarlos de sus casas y negarles servicio en restaurantes y tiendas simplemente por ser quienes son”.

Advirtiendo el actual debate sobre el matrimonio en la Convención, Russell dijo que ora “porque la justicia corra como las aguas en Salt Lake City para la Iglesia Episcopal, así como la justicia prevaleció hoy en nuestro Tribunal Supremo” y le dé a parejas del mismo sexo acceso al sacramento del matrimonio.

El Rdo. Jon M. Richardson, vicepresidente de Integrity (http://www.integrityusa.org/) para asuntos nacionales, dijo en la declaración oficial del grupo que los miembros y líderes de Integrity “apenas podemos contener nuestra emoción en este día de jubileo a través de la nación”.

“Nos entusiasma que los episcopales LGBT puedan encontrar en todas partes plena igualdad en el matrimonio civil y mantenemos nuestra ferviente esperanza de que la Iglesia responderá al llamado a la igualdad con el mismo testimonio profético que ha dado el Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU.”, dijo.

Russell, Richardson y otros también expresaron su reacción en el contexto de la discriminación que las personas seguirán enfrentando debido a su color y a su orientación sexual.

“Personalmente, estoy supercontenta, ha tardado mucho en llegar”, dijo Lizzie Anderson, diputada de la Diócesis de Michigan y ministra de la juventud en la iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s Episcopal Church] en Royal Oak. “Para la Iglesia episcopal resulta conveniente mientras discutimos qué cambios hacer en nuestro libro de oración y en nuestros cánones para incluir a todos nuestros hermanos y hermanas en el derecho al matrimonio”.

“Al mismo tiempo, reconozco la diversidad de la Iglesia Episcopal y que hay personas en nuestra Iglesia y en nuestro país que se sienten lastimadas debido a este dictamen. Como miembros de la Iglesia, espero que podamos mantenerlos en nuestras oraciones y ser compasivos hacia ellos en este momento difícil al que se enfrentan”, dijo Anderson.

Emily Wogaman, diputada de la Diócesis de Michigan y estudiante de secundaria, dijo “es hora”, refiriéndose al fallo del tribunal a favor del matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo.

La Rda. Altagracia Pérez-Bullard, canóniga para la vitalidad congregacional de la Diócesis de Nueva York, dijo que ella “se sentía muy orgullosa de nuestra nación. El dictamen fue una firme defensa de la Constitución. No espero que todo el mundo esté de acuerdo, pero esta era una lucha por derechos humanos fundamentales”.

Y, con lágrimas en sus ojos, añadió: No pensaba que lo vería en el curso de mi vida, pero creía que debía aprobarse porque es un asunto constitucional básico. Renovó mi fe en esa rama del gobierno”.

Anne Brown, de la Diócesis de Vermont, dijo que el dictamen “me permite celebrar nuestro matrimonio más abiertamente”, refiriéndose a su matrimonio de 25 años con la Rda. Lee Crawford.

Crawford dijo que el fallo [del tribunal] es “como el derribo del Muro de Berlín”.

“No puedo dejar de pensar cómo ello afectará nuestra conversación en la Convención General acerca de la igualdad matrimonial”, añadió.

“Mi corazón sí siente por aquellos para quienes no es una noticia celebratoria. He estado en convenciones como esa. Sé lo que se siente estando en ese lugar”, dijo ella. “Pero creo que ha llegado el momento y el momento es ahora. Me siento muy feliz de ofrecer esto en la eucaristía”.

El obispo Raúl Tobías de la Iglesia Independiente de Filipinas, con la cual la Iglesia Episcopal está en plena comunión, dijo que si bien él “se alegra en la medida en que para muchos es una respuesta a sus oraciones, no ha llegado el momento para nosotros”, en la Iglesia Independiente de Filipinas, el entrar a considerar estas discusiones.

Él dijo que el dictamen “creó una apertura para el júbilo. Me alegro por su júbilo.

El que nosotros no estemos listos no significa que estemos en contra. Sencillamente no estamos listos para eso”.

Varias propuestas de matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo se presentan ante la Convención

La Convención General está considerando un número de resoluciones que la instan a plantear con mayor claridad su interpretación de la disponibilidad del rito sacramental del matrimonio tanto para parejas de distinto sexo como del mismo sexo.

La Comisión Permanente sobre Liturgia y Música pide en su informe ( a partir de la página 3 aquí) que la Convención autorice una versión extendida de Recursos Litúrgicos I: Te bendeciré y serás una bendición, la liturgia para bendecir relaciones del mismo sexo y otros materiales que la acompañan y cuyo uso fue autorizado en 2012. La nueva versión (de la página 2 a la 151 aquí) incluye tres liturgias adicionales: “El testimonio y la bendición de un matrimonio”, “La celebración y bendición de un matrimonio 2” and “La forma de solemnización del matrimonio” Esos ritos ofrecen la opción de usar “mujer” “marido”, “persona” o “cónyuge”, haciéndoles de este modo aplicable tanto para parejas heterosexuales como del mismo sexo.

La Resolución A054 propuesta por la comisión dice que los obispos diocesanos deben aprobar el uso de los ritos. Dice también que los obispos dentro de las jurisdicciones civiles donde sean legales los matrimonios de personas del mismo sexo, las uniones civiles o las asociaciones domésticas pueden continuar proporcionando una “generosa respuesta pastoral” a las necesidades de los miembros de la Iglesia (un eco de la Resolución 2009-C056).

Y la resolución propuesta repite la cláusula de la Resolución 2012-A049 de que “ningún obispo, presbítero, diácono o laico debe ser obligado o sancionado en modo alguno, ni sufrir ninguna incapacidad canónica” como resultado de su objeción teológica o de su apoyo a la resolución. La resolución también extendería a estos nuevos ritos la estipulación del Canon I.18.4 de la Iglesia que dice que un clérigo puede rehusar solemnizar cualquier matrimonio.

El Equipo de Trabajo para el Estudio del Matrimonio pide que la Iglesia Episcopal vaya más lejos al proponer en su Resolución A036 revisar el Canon I.18 titulado “De la solemnización del santo matrimonio” (página 58 de los Cánones de la Iglesia Episcopal aquí).

Entre muchos cambios, la revisión elimina las referencias al matrimonio como siendo entre un hombre y una mujer.

La revisión reestructuraría el requisito en la primera sección del canon de que el clero, tocante al matrimonio, se atenga tanto a “las leyes del Estado” como a “las leyes de esta Iglesia”. La porción rescrita exigiría que el clero se atenga a “las leyes del Estado que rigen la creación del estado civil del matrimonio y también a estos cánones en lo concerniente a la solemnización del matrimonio”.

Y la propuesta preserva la estipulación del canon de que el clérigo puede rehusar solemnizar cualquier matrimonio y extiende que esa discreción incluye la opción de rehusar bendecir un matrimonio.

Entre las iniciativas propuestas por las seis diócesis, la Resolución C017 de la Diócesis de Chicago y la Resolución C0022 de la Diócesis de California, ambas piden a la Convención que autorice el uso de los ritos del matrimonio que aparecen en el Libro de Oración Común de 1979 y en los Recursos Litúrgicos I “para todos los matrimonios legales en la jurisdicción civil en la cual la liturgia tiene lugar”. En jurisdicciones civiles que contemplan matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo, el lenguaje de los ritos se interpretaría como genéricamente neutro. La C022 también propone una reescritura del canon de la solemnización, tal como hace la Resolución C024, también propuesta por Chicago, y la Resolución C026 de California Norte.

La Diócesis de Rochester, en la Resolución C007, y la Diócesis de Los Ángeles en la C009 simplemente piden que la Convención “tome todas y cada una de las medidas que sean necesarias para hacer accesible inmediatamente el Rito del Santo Matrimonio a parejas del mismo sexo a través de la Iglesia Episcopal”.

El Rdo. John Dwyer, diputado de la Diócesis de Minnesota, ha propuesto la Resolución D026, según la cual la Convención General declararía que los términos “hombre y mujer” y “esposo y esposa” en los oficios del Libro de Oración Común son igualmente aplicables a dos personas del mismo sexo.

Todas estas resoluciones, y otras relacionadas [a este tema] que pudieran surgir, han sido asignadas al Comité Legislativo Especial sobre el Matrimonio, formalmente un comité de obispos que se reúne junto con un comité de diputados, pero que votan por separado. Las resoluciones asignadas a ese comité pueden encontrarse aquí.

La noche antes de que el Tribunal Supremo anunciara su fallo, el comité del matrimonio celebró su segunda audiencia de resoluciones, esta última sobre cinco resoluciones que sugieren cambios en el canon de la Iglesia sobre el matrimonio.

Las propuestas eliminarían del canon el lenguaje específico de género, y lo reestructurarían y reordenarían, según el Rdo. Brian Taylor, presidente del equipo de trabajo sobre el matrimonio.

“Lo que hace el uso de un lenguaje genéricamente neutro es abrir la puerta, de manera que si autorizamos nuevos ritos o continuamos con la opción de la generosa respuesta pastoral, su uso estaría respaldado canónicamente”, dijo Taylor en la audiencia.

Más de 300 personas llenaban el salón del Hotel Radisson para la audiencia. Veintidós personas testificaron, 16 a favor de las diversas propuestas y seis en contra.

El Rdo. Jim Papile, diputado suplente de la Diócesis de Virginia, también instó el apoyo. “Por todas nuestras dificultades, creo que somos hoy una Iglesia más fuerte que antes. Podemos lidiar con esos desafíos si hacemos lo que es justo. Estamos muy cerca. Es hora para nosotros de terminar con esto y seguir adelante en la edificación del cuerpo de Cristo, todos nosotros juntos”.

El Ven. David Collum, diputado de la Diócesis de Albany, habló en contra de las medidas, pidiendo que la unidad de la Iglesia y el margen de discreción diocesana sean tenidos en cuenta.

Refiriéndose al rito para bendiciones de uniones del mismo sexo que la Convención General aprobó en 2012, para uso discrecional de los obispos locales, Collum dijo, “es difícil ser gay o lesbiana en la Diócesis de Albany porque nosotros no estamos usando ese rito. Es difícil para personas que están en el otro lado del problema porque aún estamos hablando sobre eso. Es difícil, pero estamos hablando”, dijo Collum. “Yo sencillamente pediría que cualquier Resolución que ustedes propusieran para promover esta agenda, pensara en la unidad de la Iglesia además de lo importante que es este asunto específico”.

Su colega, el Rdo. Robert Haskell, canónigo del Ordinario de la Diócesis de Albany, dijo que los cambios equivaldrían a que la Iglesia Episcopal “le diera la espalda a 2.000 años de interpretación del matrimonio en la Escritura, la historia y la historia de la Iglesia”.

“Me rompe el corazón ver que esta Iglesia, la maravillosa Iglesia Episcopal que yo amo, se aparta de esto”, dijo Haskell.

Shannon Johnston, obispo de la Diócesis de Virginia, habló en contra de los cambios canónicos e instó en su lugar a una revisión del Libro de Oración Común y de la Constitución como un medio más sólido y mejor de alcanzar los objetivos del grupo de trabajo. “Quiero decir ante todo que estoy total y absolutamente comprometido con la plena igualdad matrimonial en la vida y el testimonio de la Iglesia Episcopal, punto”, dijo él. “Aspiro al testimonio más sólido posible que esta Iglesia pueda hacer en pro de la igualdad matrimonial, y hacerlo simplemente por medios canónicos, creo yo, es la forma más débil”.

El comité celebrará su tercera y última audiencia en el Hotel Marriott Downtown en City Creek a las 7:30 P.M., hora local, el 26 de junio.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Los también reporteros y corresponsales de ENS Lynette Wilson, Pat McCaughan, Sharon Sheridan y Tracy Sukraw colaboraron en este artículo. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Video: UNHCR tent offers virtual experience of refugee dwelling

ENS Headlines - Saturday, June 27, 2015

[Episcopal News Service] A tent from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) fills the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society exhibit space at the 78th General Convention June 26-27, providing a virtual encounter of a refugee dwelling and as an expression of solidarity with the plight of the world’s refugees.

The initiative was first envisioned during a #ShareTheJourney pilgrimage, when eight Episcopalians traveled to Kenya and Rwanda to learn about refugee resettlement through the lens of Congolese refugees. The #ShareTheJourney pilgrimage was organized by Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s refugee resettlement service.

Jennings re-elected President of the House of Deputies unopposed

ENS Headlines - Friday, June 26, 2015

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings was re-elected president of the House of Deputies unopposed during a legislative session June 26. Photo: Janet Kawamoto/Diocese of Los Angeles

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] With cheers, shouts and a standing ovation from deputies June 26, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings was re-elected president of the House of Deputies.

“It’s been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve the House of Deputies and The Episcopal Church I love so much,” said Jennings, the first ordained woman to hold the position.

In a procedural move because she was unopposed for the office, Jennings yielded the chair to deputies’ vice president Byron Rushing on the second legislative day of the 78th General Convention, meeting June 25-July 3 in Salt Lake City.

She said the Joint Committee on Nominations had presented their nominations and the floor was open for additional names for a variety of church offices, according to the rules of order. Deputies will stand for election Sunday, June 28, Jennings said.

The Rev. Ernesto Medina, deputy from Nebraska, said Jennings “in a really graceful way, turned the chair over to Byron Rushing the vice president and asked us to refer to him as ‘Mr. President.’ He took the chair and she disappeared. Then he started through the process of nomination for the president of the House of Deputies,” Medina told Episcopal News Service.

The chair of Dispatch of Business, the Rev. Jim Simons, deputy from Pittsburgh, offered a motion to suspend the rules and to hold the election immediately. Jennings was overwhelmingly elected by voice vote.

“We all applauded and offered a standing ovation,” said Canon Janet Wylie, deputy from Los Angeles. “It was not a surprise because she was unopposed, but she needed to compose herself before taking the chair again.”

Jennings said she looks forward to working with the new presiding bishop, who will be elected Saturday, June 27. “It’s a great privilege to be elected by my friends and colleagues, by my fellow deputies in the House of Deputies,” she said.

“There’s a great spirit in the House right now,” said Jennings. “They’re open to change, to trying new things. Nearly half are first-time deputies; there are many younger deputies. We even have a Twitter page for people on the floor of the House of Deputies.”

Among her future tasks, she believes, will be “to evaluate the many changes that we’ve instituted in the House of Deputies and then to build on those changes and to see how these work out at this convention. We’re doing a lot of new things, from new rules of order, the iPads, the virtual binders, so we’ll have a lot to evaluate at the end of convention and to build on that.”

She added that, “the whole point of all the changes is to improve legislative efficiency, and to give the house more time to have conversation and debate about what’s most important.”

She said the three joint sessions with the House of Bishops is just one of many great things happening at the 78th General Convention.

Jennings’s second term begins July 3, at the conclusion of convention. She can serve three consecutive terms or a total of nine years, she said.

Medina said he is thrilled that Jennings “continues to be president of the House of Deputies. She has shown consistent, strong leadership. She loves the church, and that’s just very apparent, and she really cares about us in the House of Deputies, and she cares about mission and getting the work done for Jesus.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

United Thank Offering awards $1.5 million in grants

ENS Headlines - Friday, June 26, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The United Thank Offering of The Episcopal Church awarded 55 grants for a total of $1,558,006.85 for the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The announcement was made by Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, during the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, meeting June 25- July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).

The United Thank Offering is a ministry to promote thankfulness and mission in the whole Church. Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church.

The 2015 grants were awarded to projects in
46 dioceses, which included 34 dioceses located in the United States, five non-domestic dioceses, five companion dioceses, and two grants to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: one each for missionaries serving internationally and Young Adult Service Corps (YASC).

Also, in honor of the 125th Anniversary of the United Thank Offering, nine special grants were awarded to young adults (ages 21-30), one in each Episcopal Church Province. (see info here)

“In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the United Thank Offering, the annual grants and the young adult grants are sound steps in striving for God’s vision and are seeking to change lives in a new way by a variety of actions,” commented Peg Cooper of Missouri, United Thank Offering board member. 

Recently, the Rev. Heather Melton, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s United Thank Offering Missioner, reported that the United Thank Offering experienced a record year of generosity, marking a 2.14% increase for 2014-2015 over the previous year. She noted that the United Thank Offering was able to fund 35% of requests in 2014;  38 dioceses of The Episcopal Church increased their Ingathering amounts in the past year; six of the nine Provinces increased their overall Ingathering amounts; and Anglican Communion donations also increased over last year.

The focus for the 2015 grants was the Fourth Anglican Mark of Mission—to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation. The focus of the young adult grant was to provide seed money for a new project that was based on any of the Five Marks of Mission.

Recipients

• Diocese of Alabama – Christ Church Cafe, Christ Episcopal Church, Fairfield, AL:  $36,687.46
• Diocese of Alaska – Good Grief – Working Together to Overcome Grief, Formalized relationship with Diocese of Navajoland:  $29,750.00
• Diocese of Albany – Support Group Beginnings and One in 4 Awareness Healing a Woman’s Soul, Inc., Capital District Area, Albany, NY:  $13,650.00
• Diocese of Atlanta – Early Childhood Program at Rainbow Village Rainbow Village, Inc., Diocesan Program:  $75,000.00
• Diocese of California – Stairway to Greater Learning, Holy Trinity/La Santisima Trinidad Episcopal Church, Richmond, CA:  $54,398.00
• Diocese of Central Florida – Itolwa Water Well Project, Companion Diocese of Kondoa, Itolwa, Tanzania:  $46,464.00
• Diocese of Chicago – Workforce Development Program, Lawrence Hall Youth Services; Joint Venture with Episcopal Charities, Chicago, IL:  $ 9,820.00
• Diocese of Delhi – Province Haryana, Nurses Hostel, Philadelphia Hospital, Ambula City, North India:  $30,000.00
• Diocese of East Tennessee – Interfaith Congregation Organizing, FISH Hospitality Pantries; Episcopal Led Interfaith Community Organization, Knoxville, TN:  $20,000,00
• Diocese of Ecuador – Litoral – Reconstruction of housing for the missionary and his family in the Episcopal Church of San Pablo Quevedo, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Canton Quevedo, Los Rios Province, Ecuador:  $62,000.00
• Diocese of El Camino Real – Expansion of Los Puentecitos/Little Bridges Bilingual Preschool, St. Lukes’s Episcopal Church, Hollister, CA:  $75,000.00
• The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe – Navigating New Life, a project of the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC), St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church, Rome, Italy:  $22,800.00
• Diocese of Fond du Lac – Organizing for Justice in North Central Wisconsin, John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Wausau, WI:  $34,000.00
• Diocese of Georgia – The Community of St. Joseph, The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, Savannah, GA:  $19,660.00
• Diocese of Idaho – The House Next Door: Mentor, Grace Episcopal Church, Nampa, ID:  $20,000.00
• Diocese of Indianapolis – Swords to Plow Shares Community Farm, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, IN:  $16,151,77
• Diocese of Iowa – Luyengo Farm for Food Equity and Self-Determination, Companion Diocese of Swaziland, Luyengo, Kingdom of Swaziland:  $40,000.00
• Diocese of Jerusalem – Renovating and Equipping St. Luke’s Hospital Intensive Therapy Units for Improved Quality Services, The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Nablus, Palestine:  $136,750.00
• Diocese of Lexington – Hazard Episcopal Ministries, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Hazard, KY:  $24,000.00
• Diocese of Liberia – Portable Science Laboratory Project, Monrovia, Liberia:  $40,040.00
• Diocese of Louisiana – A Safe Place: Ensuring Fire Safety for Our Children, St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans, LA:  $16,260.00
• Diocese of Michigan – Kids in the Kitchen, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pontiac, MI:  $32,430.00
• Diocese of Missouri – St. Stephen’s Industrial Kitchen – St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Ferguson, MO:  $31, 804.00
• Diocese of Montana – “Keeping the Feast:”  A Nutrition Education Program, Camp Marshall, Polson, MT:  $8,000.00
• Navajoland Area Mission – Blue Corn Meal Project, St. Christopher’s Mission and Good Shepherd Mission Bluff, UT and Fort Defiance, AZ:  $97,400.00
• Diocese of Nebraska – Friends of Tamar: A Ministry of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Omaha, NE:  $33,300.00
• Diocese of Nevada – Community Immigrant Legal Services Project, Christ Church Episcopal, Las Vegas, NV:  $25,000.00
• Diocese of Newark – Vehicle Replacement for Bishop of Liberia, Companion Diocese of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia:  $48,000.00
• Diocese of North Carolina – St. Cyprian’s Afterschool Literacy Center, St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, Oxford, NC:  $ 5,000.00
• Diocese of North Dakota – Tiny Houses Building Life Capacity, St. James’ Episcopal Church, Cannon Ball, ND:  $43,500.00
• Diocese of Northern Indiana – Camp New Happenings, Camp Alexander Mack, Milford, IN:  $ 5,360.00
• Diocese of Olympia – Sports for Peace, Companion Diocese of Aweil, South Sudan:  $15,000.00
• Diocese of Oregon – St. Michael/ San Miguel Playground Equipment, St. Michael/San Miguel Episcopal Church, Newberg, OR:  $27,813.46
• Diocese of Pennsylvania – The Darby Project: Collaboration between the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Episcopal Community Services and the leadership of Darby Borough, Darby Borough, PA:  $12,050.00
• Diocese of Rorya, Province of Tanzania – Community Vehicle, Rorya District, Tanzania:  $28,200.00
• Diocese of South Dakota – The Dakota Territory Human Trafficking Project, Formalized relationship with Diocese of North Dakota:  $54,800.00
• Diocese of Southwest Virginia – New Music Program at St. Paul’s, Martinsville, VA, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Martinsville, VA:  $3,795.00
• Diocese of Spain, Extra-provincial jurisdiction – Pilgrim Center for the Anglican Communion in Pontevedra, Spain, Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church/ Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal, Pontevedra, Spain:  $60,000.00
• Diocese of Utah – Ministry through Journey of Hope, Journey of Hope, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT:  $25,000.00
• Diocese of Virginia – St .Peter’s Episcopal Church Community Kitchen Upgrade, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Port Royal, VA:  $14,996.16
• Diocese of Virginia – Vehicle for the Rt. Rev. Wilson Kamani, Diocese of lbba, South Sudan, Companion Diocese of  Ibbba, Ibba, South Sudan:  $46,290.00
• Diocese of West Tennessee – Friends of Thistle Farms, Calvary Episcopal Church and Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, Memphis, TN and Cordova, TN:  $22,591.00
• Diocese of Western Massachusetts – Mission de Gracia /Mission of Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Holyoke, MA:  $30,000.00
• Diocese of Western Michigan – Durable Medical Goods Lending Pantry, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Cadillac, MI:  $35,800.00
• Episcopal Church Department of Mission, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society – To provide monetary gifts for discretionary use of women and men who serve overseas (outside the United States) as Episcopal Missionary Personnel; this also includes individuals in religious orders outside the United States; these gifts are to be sent to the recipients at the same time as all other United Thank Offering grant awards:  $40,000.00
• Episcopal Church Department of Mission, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society – To provide for the continuation of the Julia Chester Emery, Young Adult Service Corps/United Thank Offering intern:  $35,000.00

The United Thank Offering award funds are derived from the Ingatherings/funds/contributions received through offerings from the well-known and easily recognizable UTO Blue Box.

78th General Convention digest June 26

ENS Headlines - Friday, June 26, 2015

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Much happens each day during General Convention. In addition to Episcopal News Service’s other coverage, here are some additional news items from June 26, the second day of the June 25-July 3 gathering.

Persecuted Pakistani Christians need church’s solidarity, says Bishop Azariah

Bishop Samuel Azariah of the Church of Pakistan addressed General Convention’s Legislative Committee on World Mission June 26. He spoke about the persecuted Christian population in Pakistan, one of the world’s epicenters for terrorism where minorities are targeted by religious extremists for having different beliefs or affiliations.

He also spoke about the draconian Pakistani blasphemy law that identifies it as a crime to defile the Holy Quran, with a possible sentence of life imprisonment, while offenses against the Prophet Muhammad may be punishable by death.

Yet the Pakistani Christian community – 1.5 percent of 180 million people – remains steadfast in faith despite the daily persecution they face, he said.

Azariah commended proposed Resolution D035 urging continued solidarity with the Christian community in Pakistan and calling on the Government of Pakistan to ensure adequate protections for all religious minorities, “specifically with respect to the prevention of the abduction, forced conversion to Islam and forced marriage of young women from minority religious communities.”

Azariah told the world mission committee that prayer and advocacy are important, but he said that the partnerships with the Episcopal Church are “very loose and not well organized,” calling on Episcopalians to arrange mission trips and visit the Church of Pakistan. That sort of action, he said, is the kind of solidarity Pakistani Christians need during this difficult time.

Nominations made official
The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop formally nominated four bishops as candidates to become the 27th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church during a joint session of the houses of Deputies and Bishops at General Convention here on June 26. The nominations were accepted without comment from the floor.

On June 27, the House of Bishops will gather at St. Mark’s Cathedral here to elect the next presiding bishop. The candidates are Diocese of Southern Ohio Bishop Thomas Breidenthal, Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry, Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas and Diocese of Southwest Florida Bishop Dabney Smith.

After the election Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will send a delegation to House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings to inform her.

Jennings will refer the bishop’s name to the House of Deputies legislative committee on the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop without announcing the name to the full house. That committee will recommend to the House of Deputies whether or not to confirm the election, and the deputies immediately will vote on the recommendation. Jennings then will appoint a delegation of deputies to notify the House of Bishops of the action taken, and the presiding bishop-elect will come to the House of Deputies.

Prayer Book revision planning proposed
The Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music Committee has filed a resolution (A169) asking General Convention to “Direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision of the current Book of Common Prayer” and present it to the next convention. The committee asks for a $30,000 allocation to fund this work.

“We are aware that [at] every convention we have attempts to revise the prayer book piecemeal, and we feel that it is time, as we say, ‘Surf’s up!’ It is time to begin the process of prayer book revision,” said the Rev. Scott Allen, deputy from the Diocese of Bethlehem, as he presented the draft resolution from the prayer book subcommittee to the full committee June 26.

The resolution directs that the plan to “utilize the riches of our church’s liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, linguistic, gender and ethnic diversity in order to share common worship.” The funding would allow consultation on the plan for revision with members of various cultural and ethnic groups across the church, said the Rev. Devon Anderson, deputies committee chair. “It’s about bringing those communities in very early on.”

Several committee members questioned whether the process might proceed too slowly, while others expressed concern that initiating a plan leading to revision might be premature.

The Rev. Gary Meade, Diocese of West Tennessee deputy, noted that it was interesting to hear “on one hand urgency” and on the other a “sense of understandable reticence.”

“I think what we’re proposing offers up really a middle way,” he said. Having heard many people talk about the revision process leading to the 1979 prayer book as being “too drawn out and in some ways too chaotic,” he said, “if we could … encourage the commission to formulate a more orderly plan to move forward, maybe it wouldn’t be as urgent as some would like but perhaps it would avoid throwing out the baby with the baptismal water.”

Added the Rev. Jeremiah Williamson of the Diocese of Ohio, “My sense is that a lot of people in the church would prefer we do this really, really well as opposed to really, really fast.”

Talking about the structure of the church
Deputies and bishops met in a special joint session on June 26 for an hour-long conversation about The Episcopal Church’s structure and governance and how it can best support and enable mission at all levels.

“Structure, governance, polity, canons, rules of order – most people’s eyes glaze over when they hear these words,” Diocese of Minnesota Deputy Sally Johnson said in her opening remarks, made with Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Clifton Daniel.

They are deputy and bishop chairs of the Legislative Committee on Governance and Structure, which is in the process of hearing testimony on numerous restructuring proposals.

“What do rules and structure have to do with what God is doing in the world, and our place in it as individual followers of Jesus, or as The Episcopal Church, this particular incarnation of the body of Christ?” Johnson asked.

She and Daniel gave a brief historical overview of how The Episcopal Church’s polity and governance came into being, noting that the way the church organizes itself for mission has been evolving since the adoption in 1789 of its original constitution and canons.

“The great thing about The Episcopal Church is that we decide all these things for ourselves. And if we don’t like our previous choices, or they don’t serve us anymore, we can change them,” Johnson said. “It has never been static, it has continuously changed and evolved and so too, today, the goal of our considerations is how we might best change our structures and governance to give greater viability to our congregations and ministries.”

“Governance is about our identity and our mission,” Daniel said. “Who are we? What do we care about? What are we going to spend our time, talent and treasures on? Who decides and how will we decide?”

They asked diocesan deputations to split up into small groups with deputations seated nearby and discuss the structures, programs and activities of the church at all levels that support or enable their congregations and dioceses to more fully participate in God’s mission. The groups also discussed what changes in those same structures, programs and activities would better serve congregations and dioceses in mission.

They were invited to tweet their responses using the hashtag #gcgas.

— Episcopal News Service members Matthew Davies, Sharon Sheridan and Tracy Sukraw contributed to this digest.

Supreme Court marriage ruling draws applause in Salt Lake City

ENS Headlines - Friday, June 26, 2015

Casey Kend of New York, a supporter of same-sex marriage, holds a sign in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on June 26, 2015. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] Applause broke out in legislative committee meetings around the Salt Palace Convention Center here when General Convention participants received word about the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling June 26 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to be married.

The ruling came just as Episcopalians began debating the church’s understanding of sacramental marriage and the accompanying canonical definition of marriage, and whether to extend that definition to include same-sex couples.

The court’s 5-4 ruling settled the issue of access to civil marriage and fulfilled one of The Episcopal Church’s long-held public-policy stances. The Episcopal Church officially has advocated for equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in both the civil and ecclesial arenas for years.

The church’s advocacy for civil equality for LGBT persons began in 1976 with Resolution A071 in which it said “homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens, and calls upon our society to see that such protection is provided in actuality.”

That same convention said (in Resolution A069) that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.”

(A complete list with links to all related General Convention resolutions from 1976 to 2012 on liturgy, marriage and ordination in addition to resolutions on LGBT civil rights is here).

However, it was not until 2012 that the General Convention voted to consider anew the church’s theology of marriage, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians’ access to the sacramental rite. Those are the questions facing this meeting of convention.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori cited 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 about love in reacting to the decision.

“I rejoice that the Supreme Court has opened the way for the love of two people to be recognized by all the states of this union, and that the court has recognized that it is this enduring, humble love that extends beyond the grave that is to be treasured by society wherever it exists,” she said. “Our society will be enriched by the public recognition of such enduring faithful love in families headed by two men or two women as well as by a woman and a man. The children of this land will be stronger when they grow up in families that cannot be unmade by prejudice or discrimination. May love endure and flourish wherever it is to be found.”

House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings issued a statement saying “As we Christians are known to say from time to time: ‘Alleluia’.”

“I am elated that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. In March I had the great privilege of signing on to an amicus brief urging the justices to make the decision they announced today, and I am deeply grateful that they have granted a fundamental human right to people whom had been denied it for so long.”

Jennings said she supports marriage equality “not in spite of my faith but because of it.”

“In more than 35 years of ordained ministry, I have known many faithful, committed same-sex couples whose love gave me a deeper understanding of God’s love and whose joy in one another testified to the goodness of God’s creation,” she said. “I have also learned through simple, everyday experience that same-sex couples make vital contributions to our common life, and I rejoice at the security today’s ruling affords them.”

The Supreme Court cases that the justices ruled on attracted much attention and at least 145 amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” briefs were filed. Nearly 2,000 individual lay and ordained religious leaders, led by Jennings and Episcopal Church bishops in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee (the states included in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals), filed one of those briefs.

Those bishops included Kentucky Bishop Terry Allen White; Lexington Bishop Douglas Hahn; Michigan Bishop Wendell N. Gibbs Jr.; Western Michigan Bishop Whayne M. Hougland Jr.; Northern Michigan Bishop Rayford J. Ray; Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley; Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr.; Ohio Assisting Bishops David C. Bowman, William D. Persell and Arthur B. Williams Jr.; Southern Ohio Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal; retired Southern Ohio Bishop Suffragan Kenneth L. Price Jr.; Southern Ohio Assisting Bishop Bavi Edna Rivera; West Tennessee Bishop Don E. Johnson; and East Tennessee Bishop George D. Young III. All of the bishops have authorized the blessing of same-sex couples in their dioceses, including for couples who have already entered into civil marriages in other jurisdictions.

Diocese of Vermont Bishop Tom Ely, Diocese of Hawaii Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick, Diocese of Southeast Florida Bishop Leo Frade, Diocese of Maine Bishop Steve Lane, Diocese of Atlanta Assistant Bishop Keith Whitmore and nearly 200 ordained and lay Episcopalians also signed onto the brief.

The court’s ruling clarifies the work facing the General Convention’s Special Legislative Committee on Marriage, according to Ely, a member of that committee who also served on convention’s Task Force on Marriage.

The Rev. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music in the last two triennia, and  Diocese of Vermont Bishop Tom Ely, a member of that committee, discuss the U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality ruling before the June 26 Eucharist in the General Convention worship hall. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Ruth Meyers, who chaired the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music in the last two triennia and is a consultant to the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music legislative committee this convention, said the decision “changes the context” of the special committee’s work because the ruling changes the law of the United States.

The committee, which is handling all of the marriage-related resolutions coming to this meeting of convention, was meeting when the ruling was announced. Ely said the members applauded and also reflected on how the news would bring joy to some and difficulty to others.

Meyers and Ely chaired the blessings subcommittee of the legislative committee at the 2012 convention, when convention approved Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing, the liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships and accompanying resources whose provisional use was authorized in 2012.

Episcopalians react to the court’s decision

“I believe that God works for justice night and day, and when the church doesn’t follow God’s lead, God sometimes works in the culture. And so, this is a victory for God. Now, The Episcopal Church gets to decide if it wants to join God in that justice,” retired Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson told Episcopal News Service just before convention’s daily Eucharist began.

The Eucharist’s prelude was a rousing rendition of “We are Marching in the Light of God” complete with a conga line, and numerous participants hugging each other.

“I am so excited, I’m very, very proud to be a part of The Episcopal Church, which has been dealing with marriage equality in a variety of different forms for a long number of years,” said Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles Mary D. Glasspool.

“Of course my excitement is couched by other areas of our life together where there isn’t such equality, but every bit helps. We’ve been moving toward trying to say all really means all, the (U.S.) Constitution applies to everybody. When The Episcopal Church says we are open to everybody, and all of the sacraments are available to all of the people, that’s what we mean, so we are living into that.”

Glasspool said the decision will “change, and really call attention, to the conversation we are having in the church because we need to really look at, and perhaps, tease apart what is the civil aspect of our lives doing, what does civil union look like, what is the appropriate responsibility of the state to guarantee civil rights and what does the church want to say sacramentally to the people of God, where are we pointing to God’s presence and God’s holiness and God’s love and God’s justice, and how that gets manifested in our lives.”

The Rev. Susan Russell, a longtime advocate for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church, Integrity past president and senior associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, and the Rev. Michael Sniffen, rector of the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in  Brooklyn, New York, Integrity chaplain and a self-described “straight ally,” celebrate the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the General Convention worship hall before the daily Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Susan Russell, a longtime advocate for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church, called the ruling “a momentous win for freedom, for equality, for inclusion and, most of all, for love.”

“It is a day to celebrate with deep joy that our country is one step closer to keeping the promise of the pursuit of liberty and justice for all. Today’s historic ruling means same sex couples will soon have both the freedom to marry and equal respect for their marriages across the country – it is a triumph of justice over bigotry.”

The last meeting of General Convention in 2012 passed Resolution D018, which Russell sponsored. The resolution noted that The Episcopal Church “is a period of discernment about the meaning of Christian marriage, with faithful people holding divergent views,” and urged Congress to repeal federal laws that discriminate against same-sex civilly married couples; and pass legislation allowing the federal government to provide benefits to them.

Russell said “as momentous as today’s historic decision is, we must now harness the momentum from marriage conversation to the work of securing additional advances towards equality especially nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans. It is absolutely unacceptable that LGBT people can still be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes and denied service in restaurants and shops simply for being who they are.”

Noting the convention’s on-going marriage debate, Russell said she prays “for justice to roll down like waters in Salt Lake City for The Episcopal Church just as justice prevailed today in our Supreme Court” and give same-sex couples access to the sacrament of marriage.

The Rev. Jon M. Richardson, Integrity (http://www.integrityusa.org/) vice president for national affairs, said in the group’s official statement that Integrity members and leaders “can hardly contain our emotion on this day of jubilee throughout the nation.”

“We are thrilled that LGBT Episcopalians can know full civil marriage equality everywhere, and we continue in our fervent hope that the church will answer the call to equality with the same prophetic witness as the U.S. Supreme Court has,” he said.

Russell, Richardson and others also couched their reaction in the context of the discrimination people will continue to face because of their color and sexual orientation.

“Personally, I’m overjoyed; it’s a long time coming,” said Lizzie Anderson, a deputy from the Diocese of Michigan, a youth minister at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak. “For The Episcopal Church, it’s fitting as we are discussing what changes to make to our prayer book and canons to include all of our brothers and sisters in the right to marry.”

“At the same time, I recognize the diversity of The Episcopal Church and that there are people in our church and our country who are hurting because of this decision. As members of the church, I hope we can hold them in our prayers and be compassionate toward them in this difficult time they’re facing,” Anderson said.

Diocese of Michigan Deputy Emily Wogaman, a high school student, said “it’s about time” the court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

The Rev. Altagracia Perez-Bullard, canon for congregational vitality for the Diocese of New York said she is “so proud of our nation. The decision was a strong defense of the constitution. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but this was a fight for basic human rights.”

And, with tears in her eyes, she added: “I didn’t think I would see it in my lifetime, but I thought it should pass because it is a basic constitutional issue. It renewed my faith in that branch of government.”

Anne Brown, Diocese of Vermont, said the decision “allows me to celebrate our marriage more openly,” she said of her 25-year marriage to the Rev. Lee Crawford.

Crawford said the decision is “like the Berlin Wall coming down.”

“I can’t help but think about how it will affect our conversations at General Convention about marriage equality,” she added.

“My heart does go out for those for whom it is not celebratory news. I’ve been at conventions like that. I know what it feels like to stand in that place,” she said. “But, I think the time has come and the time is now. I’m so glad to be able to offer this up at the Eucharist.”

Bishop Raul Tobias of the Philippine Independent Church, with whom The Episcopal Church is in full communion, said that while he “rejoices in as much as it is an answer to prayers for many, it is not yet time for us” in the Philippine Independent Church to consider these discussions.

He said the decision “created an opening for joy. I rejoice for their joy. Because we’re not ready doesn’t mean we’re against it. We’re just not ready for it.”

Convention faces various same-sex marriage proposals

The General Convention is considering a number of resolutions urging it to move toward greater clarity in its understanding of the availability of the sacramental rite of marriage to both different- and same-sex couples.

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music asks in its report (beginning on page 3 here) that convention authorize an expanded version of Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing, the liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships and accompanying resources whose use was authorized in 2012. The new version (on pages 2-151 here) includes three additional liturgies: “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage”; “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2”; and “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.” Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person,” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.

The commission’s proposed Resolution A054 says diocesan bishops must approve use of the rites. It also says that bishops within civil jurisdictions where same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal may continue to provide “generous pastoral response” to meet the needs of church members (an echo of Resolution 2009-C056).

And the proposed resolution repeats the provision in Resolution 2012-A049 that “no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities” as a result of his or her theological objection to or support of the resolution. The resolution also would extend to these new rites the provision in the church’s Canon I.18.4, which says that clergy may decline to solemnize any marriage.

The Task Force for the Study of Marriage asks that The Episcopal Church go further, proposing in its Resolution A036 to revise Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here).

Among many edits, the revision removes references to marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The revision would recast the requirement in the canon’s first section that clergy conform to both “the laws of the state” and “the laws of this Church” about marriage. The rewritten portion would require that clergy conform to “the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also to these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage.”

And the proposal preserves the canon’s provision that clergy may decline to solemnize any given marriage and extends that discretion to include the choice to decline to bless a marriage.

Among the six diocese-proposed actions, Resolution C017 from the Diocese of Chicago and Resolution C0022 from the Diocese of California both ask the convention to authorize the use of the marriage rites in The Book of Common Prayer 1979  and in Liturgical Resources I “for all marriages legal in the civil jurisdiction in which the liturgy takes place.” In civil jurisdictions with same-sex marriage, the rites’ language would be interpreted as gender-neutral. C022 also proposes a rewrite of the solemnization canon, as does Resolution C024, also proposed by Chicago, and Resolution C026 from Northern California.

The Diocese of Rochester, in Resolution C007, and the Diocese of Los Angeles in C009 simply ask that convention “take any and all steps necessary to make the Rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples throughout The Episcopal Church immediately.”

The Rev. John Dwyer, deputy from the Diocese of Minnesota, has proposed Resolution D026 that would have General Convention declare that the terms “man and woman” and “husband and wife” in the services of The Book of Common Prayer are equally applicable to two persons of the same gender.

All of these resolutions, and other related ones that might arise, have been assigned to Special Legislative Committee on Marriage, formally a bishop committee meeting alongside a deputy committee but voting separately. The resolutions assigned to that committee are here.

The night before the Supreme Court announcement, the marriage committee held its second resolutions hearing, this one on five resolutions suggesting changes to the church’s marriage canon.

The proposals would remove gender-specific language from the canon, and would streamline and reorder it, according to the Rev. Brian Taylor, chair of the marriage task force.

“What it does by using gender-neutral language is open the door, so that should we authorize new rites or should continue with the generous pastoral response option, their use would be supported canonically,” Taylor said at the hearing.

More than 300 people filled the Radisson Hotel ballroom for the hearing. Twenty-two people offered testimony, 16 in support of the various proposals and six against.

The Rev. Jim Papile, Diocese of Virginia alternate deputy, also urged support. “For all our trials, I believe we are a stronger church today than before. We can deal with the challenges if we will do what is right. We are so close. It’s time for us to finish this thing and get on with building the body of Christ, all of us together,” he said.

Diocese of Albany Deputy the Ven. David Collum spoke against the measures, asking that the church’s unity and allowance for diocesan discretion be taken into account.

Referencing the rite for blessing same-sex unions that the General Convention approved in 2012, for use at the discretion of local bishops, Collum said, “It’s hard to be a gay or lesbian person in the Diocese of Albany because we’re not using that rite. It’s hard for people who are on the other side of the issue because we’re still talking about it. It’s tough, but we’re talking,” Collum said.  “I would just ask that any resolution you put forward to advance this agenda, think about the unity of the church in addition to how important this specific issue is.”

His colleague, the Rev. Canon Robert Haskell, the Diocese of Albany canon to the ordinary, said the changes would amount to The Episcopal Church “turning its back on 2,000 years of Scripture, history, the history of the church’s interpretation of marriage.”

“It breaks my heart to see this church, the wonderful Episcopal Church that I love, departing from this,” Haskell said.

Diocese of Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnston spoke against canonical changes and urged instead revision of the Prayer Book and Constitution as a stronger and better means for accomplishing the task force’s goals. “I want to say first of all that I am absolutely and utterly committed to full marriage equality in the life and witness of The Episcopal Church, full stop,” he said. “I want the strongest possible witness this church can make for marriage equality, and doing it simply by canonical means, I think, is the weaker case.”

The committee holds its third and final hearing in the Marriott Hotel Downtown at City Creek at 7:30 p.m. MDT on June 26.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service. ENS reporters and correspondents Lynette Wilson, Pat McCaughan, Sharon Sheridan and Tracy Sukraw contributed to this story.