My dear brothers and sisters,
God’s blessings and greetings post General Convention, Austin, Texas. As we are aware, the 79th Triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church, July 4-13 is now concluded. The Diocese of Easton was represented by deputies and bishop. All of our representatives labored very hard, diligently and conscientiously to serve the diocese with efficiency and grace.
Convention started with many long hours spent in legislative committee meetings. Our process requires that every resolution be given a hearing. Legislative committees heard testimony from those who agreed or disagreed and from those who wanted to reshape resolutions before they came before convention for debate and eventual vote. I spent long hours serving on the legislative committee on World Mission; and deputies from our diocese were on other committees including Ecumenical Relations, Care of Creation and Diocesan and Congregational Vitality. Those not on committees attended and testified at these legislative sessions. Everyone was hard at work hoping to help strengthen our church for the work of the Gospel and shaping God’s mission for the church and world. The perfecting and passing of resolutions set our Church’s priorities for the next three years.
Legislative sessions were punctuated by worship each evening. Convention will be remembered for the enlivening worship and challenging sermons provided by seasoned church leaders as well as from younger leaders of our Church. These worship services inspired and moved those in attendance.
I wish to remind everyone, as our Presiding Bishop did, of where our efforts must primarily be focused. Bishop Curry preached a rousing sermon at our opening Eucharist encouraging the whole church to realize, “We don’t need a new program! We already have everything we need.” He called each of us to a way of life he calls “The Way of Love”, the basic discipleship every Christian aspires to when we make our baptismal covenant. That is precisely the path we are following in the Diocese of Easton; and we pray that God will strengthen us as we work to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and welcome all and serve the world”.
As we seek to bring others to know and love Jesus, and as we work to increase evangelism and discipleship, all we do must be informed by, and for the purpose of, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I found this a helpful reminder as we continue our work. None of our work is yet completed, in truth, our work has now begun.
Here are some of the legislative highlights from General Convention:
The House of Deputies worked on this resolution for nearly two hours. The resolution that was passed by the Deputies would have begun the revision process immediately. The House of Bishops also had a long debate on the matter and sent an entirely different resolution back to the House of Deputies. This resolution, which did pass both houses, leaves our current Book of Common Prayer intact, and provides for a much more gradual approach to the revision process.
This resolution seeks to continue the authorization for same-sex marriage liturgies in the church. This resolution also sets new conditions concerning the oversight church leadership may exercise over the use of these liturgies. It also seeks to make trial use of these liturgies permanent until a revision of the Book of Common Prayer is completed.
This resolution seeks to create a task force that would give women, who have experienced harassment or abuse in the life of the church, an opportunity to be heard. This resolution also provides a process for us to take a serious look at ways in which we can make our church a safer place for women and girls of all ages and in all orders of ministry. These are important topics that will shape our church for the future and can only be done well if they answer the question of how we more boldly proclaim the Gospel.
I ask for your prayers as we continue to work on these and other priorities and find a way forward that keeps us together, holding onto those things Jesus makes essential while still searching for the way he leads, The Way of Love.
The Deputies and Bishop will report on these, and many other interesting topics, to the diocese on General Convention at two pre-arranged post-convention gatherings. These gathering will take place on:
September 11th at 7pm – St. Paul’s, Hebron
September 13th at 7pm – Emmanuel, Chestertown
Opportunities for asking questions will be made available at those forums. A reminder will be sent out as the dates draw nearer in September.