The Five Marks of Mission, held in common with our sisters and brothers throughout the Anglican Communion, guided our actions at the Episcopal Church’s 77th General Convention, as we sought ways to fulfill Jesus’ Gospel imperatives. The Five Marks of Mission are:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
On this short page, It’s impossible to cover all of the actions of the convention, let alone its enthusiastic and Christ-centered spirit. So we’ll hit some of the highlights.
Almost one-quarter of resolutions submitted to convention addressed structural reform to make us better able to respond to those marks. C095, a distillation of a number of proposals, calls for a task force to begin re-imagining structure and governance of The Episcopal Church (TEC). Culminating at least 40 years of conversation, D016 affirms “the will of the convention” to move TEC’s headquarters from Manhattan to an alternative location more accessible to a broader spectrum of Episcopalians. These were two of several resolutions we considered that reflected Deputies’ interest in a less centralized, more flexible, and evolving structure—the 20th century’s “big business” model is not the one we want to bring into the heart of the 21st century. (Deputy Paul Lebens-Englund [firstname.lastname@example.org] served on the Structure committee.
The budget we adopted in A005 is based on a 19 percent asking from each Diocese (but recognizes that some Dioceses cannot or will not give the full amount. For the 2013-2015 triennium, the $111.5 million budget provides more than $57 million toward the church’s mission and ministries, much to be awarded as block grants to Dioceses, faith communities, and congregations enabling them to fulfill Gospel mandates at the most local level.
Both the push toward restructuring, and adoption of a more local-centric budget are expressive of the growing perception that one size does not fit all—we need to engage the ministries to which we are called in our own places: what works in New York may not work in Memphis. What works in Spokane may not work in Omak.
The majority of the Deputies and Bishops (usually no fewer than 70 or 75 percent) passed resolutions to give us direction in our ministries—local, continental, global—consistent with the Five Marks of Mission. They included resolutions that:
- Commit the church to “teaching, preaching, organizing, advocating, and building mutually transformative relationships” with those who are poor—and to “focus our hearts and the mission of our congregations and dioceses on reducing poverty and increasing economic and racial justice” (A135). It calls for every meeting in the church to include time for prayer and reflection on how the work we do engages these issues. This commitment reflects our continuing affirmation of the Millennium Development Goals;
- Call for the Church to make a moral commitment to health care for all by actively supporting health care reform in the U.S., and urges U.S. congregations to take a lead in educating members and the larger community in this issue (A040);
- Support the DREAM act (D067) and just enforcement of immigration laws (D059);
- Convene a task force to study the issues of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and for Episcopalians to become educated on the topic (A013);
- Affirm positive investment toward a sound economy in the Palestinian territories (B019), and call for support of the Diocese of Jerusalem’s Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza (B017).
We affirmed our commitment to continued participation in the Anglican Communion (D008), in part by demonstrating our desire to stay at the table in conversation re: the Anglican Covenant by neither affirming nor rejecting the Covenant outright (B005). (Deputy Pia Longinotti [email@example.com] served on the World Mission Committee.)
Continuing work begun in 1976, GC added gender expression and identity to canons that prevent discrimination: one affirms transgendered persons’ equal place in church life, worship and governance (D019), and the other makes clear that the discernment process toward ordination is open to transgendered persons (D002).
Continuing work begun more than 30 years ago, we authorized a provisional rite for blessing same-gender unions (A049). Clergy must have their bishop’s permission to use the rite. Because the rite is a work in progress, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) will continue its review. Clergy can decline to preside at a blessing liturgy, and there are no sanctions for lack of support of the Resolution. (Later in the year, Bishop Waggoner will describe how the Resolution will be implemented in our Diocese.) The SCLM’s work since 2009 made it clear that TEC needs to undertake an in-depth and prayerful study of its understanding of the theology of marriage—we resolved that a task force will be convened to this end (A050).
In other liturgical matters we:
- Authorized continued trial use of Holy Women, Holy Men (A051);
- Affirmed continuing development of rites in “Honoring God in Creation” (A053);
- Authorized “Rites and Prayers for the Care of Beloved Animals (to be available electronically), including material for Animal Blessing services (A054);
- Authorized continued use, with the bishop’s permission, of the Enriching Our Worship series of BCP supplemental material (A057);
- Affirmed the ecclesiology and theology of the 1979 BCP by describing Baptism as the “ancient and normative” rite that precedes admission to Holy Communion (C029).
In other resolutions we resolved:
- To give the church three more years to comply with lay-clergy health insurance parity (B026) (Bill Ellis [firstname.lastname@example.org] served on the Church Pension Fund committee);
- To amend the canons to provide a mechanism for addressing disagreement in the bishop-diocesan pastoral relationship (B021);
- To affirm the compatibility of Christian faith and science (A136).
For a full list of resolutions acted on at the 77th General Convention, click here. In addition to those named above the Diocese’s Deputation included lay members Ken Beck (who served on the Dispatch Committee), Colin Haffner, Mary Beth Jorgenson and Lena Lopez-Schindler (alt.); and clergy members Robin Biffle, Kristi Phillip (alt.), and Gretchen Rehberg.
Also meeting was the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) Triennial, including women from throughout TEC. Emphasizing prayer, mission, food, sustainability, and hospitality, the women acknowledged they are key in making mission happen in the church. Mary Kay Ferrell was named new Provincial chair for the Church Periodical Club. She and Evita Krislock look forward to the ECW Provincial meeting (2013) hosted by our Diocese. ECW’s work continues locally, beginning on October 19 at the Women In Ministry luncheon at St. Stephen’s in Spokane.
(The deputation is deeply grateful to Deputy Robin Biffle for compiling this summary.)