General Convention: A Look Back cont.
We Listened; We Heard; We Acted! So read the headlines when the 1967 General Convention in Seattle adjourned. Producing “a series of actions unparalleled in the history of the Church,” Convention ’67 was pivotal in moving The Episcopal Church to the forefront with regard to the social, political and economic issues of the day.
The Rt. Rev. John E. Hines was Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ivol I. Curtis was Bishop of Olympia, and the Very Rev. John B. Coburn was elected President of the House of Deputies. A special visitor to the convention was the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury (seen below with Mrs. Ramsey and Bishop and Mrs. Curtis).
Bishop Hines emphasized that he considered the convention’s prime issue to be “plotting the Church’s course of action toward racial equality, human freedom and the problems of the ghetto.” This, he said, “should have first call on the Church’s financial and human resources.”
So what did the General Convention do?
Ladies, Be Seated. Bishops, Deputies Say ‘Yes’ to Women
The House of Deputies, followed by the House of Bishops, passed resolutions to seat women as members of future General Conventions, paving the way for the seating of women as Deputies by 1973.
$3 million per year for 3 years was pledged to support community development; scholarship aid for minority groups, support of businesses with non-discriminatory policies and equal opportunity for black and white clergy, workers and communicants at all levels of the Church’s life was urged; full participation of the poor in planning community programs, support for the Federal government’s war on poverty, and the elimination of racial segregation was advocated.
Apartheid was condemned and all church officials were asked to review the Church’s economic involvement in banks and corporations with business interests in countries which support apartheid.
All Christians were urged to work for liberalized abortion laws and studies of moral issues raised by modern medical technology were launched. The Executive Council was directed to study and express Christian attitudes with respect to marriage, divorce and human sexuality. A position paper on youth was adopted by the House of Bishops asking that young people be included in the decision making life of the Church.
Ecumenism & Church Unity
Episcopal representatives were ordered to participate in the Consultation on Church Union (COCU) in developing a plan of union and continued explorations into relationships with Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran and others were endorsed. All baptized Christians were authorized to receive the Holy Communion at Episcopal altars and at ecumenical gatherings and Episcopal pulpits were opened to ministers of other churches for preaching and assisting in the Prayer Book Marriage and Burial Offices.
A plan was adopted for a revision of the Book of Common Prayer and trial use of the new Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper was authorized.
War & Peace
The Convention debated long and hard over the Church's position toward the war in Vietnam, eventually reaching a compromise resolution calling for U.S. "restraint" in the conduct of the conflict. Many, including twenty one bishops who signed a statement asking for an end to bombing and a general de-escalation of the war, were disappointed. During debate the attempt to gain approval for an anti-bombing resolution was soundly defeated, as was an attempt to win unqualified support for U.S. government military policies.
Presiding Bishop and Administrative Organization
The role of the Presiding Bishop was defined as chief pastor of the Church, charging him with initiating the policy and strategy of the Church; speaking for the Church; visiting every diocese; and other duties. His term of office was limited to 12 years. The role of the Executive Council was also clarified with its chief duty being to carry out the policies and programs of General Convention.
These are just a few of the issues that were addressed at General Convention 1967. Most are still very familiar to us today. We've seen great progress in some areas - not so much in others. However, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church continues to engage the questions of the day.
Diocese of Olympia Archives
Diane Wells, CA