Category : General Convention

The Bishop of Central New York responds to the Bishop of Albany

All human love is a reflection of God’s love, and The Episcopal Church has resolved that the rite of marriage is open to all in our Church, regardless of sexuality or gender expression. The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York continues to uphold the policies of The Episcopal Church and is dedicated to Jesus Christ who commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Our dedication to our LBGTQ siblings was exemplified this past summer when priests and laypeople from across our Diocese marched in Pride parades and participated in Pride festivities in Syracuse, Binghamton and elsewhere. As the Diocesan Bishop, I am resolute in my affirmation of equality, dignity, and full inclusion for all people regardless of their political, social, or theological views. We are, first and foremost, people committed to the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus.

I recognize this is a challenging time and that some may have found the recent statement of Bishop Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany to be injurious. I want to be clear that God loves you and has created you as a blessing in our world. Each of us is called to be our authentic self, for only then can we truly be the beloved community God intends. I affirm marriage equality and stand as an ally for social justice for all persons. All of us—LGBTQ people, Bishop Love, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, and the people of this diocese—are beloved children of God….

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The President of the House of Deputies’ Responds to Bishop Love’s Letter

From there:

For more than 40 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed, studied and discerned and, in doing so, we have seen the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of LGBT people. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, our highest temporal authority, first acknowledged that God calls LGBT people to any ordained ministry in 2009. In 2012, the General Convention authorized a liturgical rite for the blessing of same sex unions, and in 2015, we authorized marriage equality in the church.

We recognize the Holy Spirit at work in the marriages of LGBTQ people and we know that there are Christians who have been drawn further into fidelity and service to the world by living in committed same-sex partnerships and marriages based on holy love and the gift of seeing Christ in one another. When we celebrate these marriages, the entire church is blessed by the love and fidelity of these faithful couples.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, House of Deputies President, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Presiding Bishop responds to the Bishop of Albany

We are committed to the principle of full and equal access to, and inclusion in, the sacraments for all of the baptized children of God, including our LGBTQ siblings. For as St. Paul reminds us in Galatians 3, “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

As members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12), we also are committed to respecting the conscience of those who hold opinions that differ from the official policy of The Episcopal Church regarding the sacrament of marriage. It should be noted that the canons of The Episcopal Church give authority to all members of the clergy to decline to officiate a marriage for reasons of conscience, and Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention does not change this fact.

In all matters, those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the Church.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Michael Curry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bp of Albany responds to the Actions of the recent TEC General Convention on Same-Sex Marriage Rites

As a lifelong Episcopalian and as a Bishop of this Church, I call upon my fellow bishops and the leadership of this Church to rethink the path we are currently on regarding same-sex
marriages. It is not out of mean-spiritedness, hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism, or homophobia that I say this – but rather out of love – love for God and His Word; love for The Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion; love for each of you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially love for those who are struggling with same-sex attractions.

In calling for The Episcopal Church to rethink and change its current teaching and practices regarding same-sex marriages, in NO way am I suggesting that we should return to the days of
old where our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ were despised and treated shamefully; when they were branded as being worse sinners than everyone else; and when they
were told or led to believe that God didn’t love them and that they were not welcome in the Church. Such behavior is not of God and needs to be repented of. While we need to resist the temptation to place ourselves in the judgement seat judging and condemning others, recognizing that we are all fallen sinners in need of God’s love, and mercy and redeeming grace, we must also resist the temptation to bless and give permission to sexual behaviors that are in opposition to God’s will and design as revealed through Holy Scripture as B012 would have us do. To do so, does an equal or greater injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ. When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, He didn’t condemn her, as all those with stones in their hands had done, but neither did he bless her inappropriate sexual behavior. Jesus said, “Woman…Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11 ESV)….

Therefore, for all the reasons mentioned in the above Pastoral Letter, in my capacity as Bishop Diocesan — pastor, teacher and overseer of the Clergy of the Diocese, and pursuant to
Canons III.9.6 and IV.7 of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, I hereby issue the following Pastoral Direction to all the clergy canonically resident, resident or licensed in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany:

Until further notice, the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

Gavin Dunbar’s report on The Episcopal Church(-TEC)’s General Convention of 2018

General Convention 2018 is now over, thank goodness. What it all means is far beyond human comprehension, and I make no attempt to comprehend it. But there are some matters worth reporting.

In a dog’s-breakfast compromise motion initiated in the House of Bishops, a proposal for comprehensive revision of the 1979 was scuppered. Sort of. In rather odd language the motion
“memorialize[s] the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as a Prayer Book of the church preserving the psalter, liturgies, The Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents, and Trinitarian formularies ensuring its continued use” (Resolution A068). Aside from the grammatical difficulties, I don’t understand how “memorializing” something “ensures it’s continued use”. Isn’t that something you do for the dead?

To put a positive spin on this resolution, it insulates the 1979 BCP – including the remnant Cranmerian texts of Rite I – from further revisions, which in the current climate could only have been disastrously bad. In particular it preserves the preface to the 1979 Marriage rite, and its teaching (in accord with the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10) that “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and the man enter into a life-long union” that is “intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another…; and, when it is God’s
will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” (pp. 861, 423).

Yet the very same motion authorizes “the ongoing work of liturgical and Prayer Book revision …upon [sic] the core theological work of loving, liberating, life-giving reconciliation and creation care”. In a remarkable move, it sidelined the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, and established a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision, with membership appointed jointly by the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies, “ensuring that diverse voices of our church are active participants in this liturgical revision by constituting a group of leaders who represent the expertise, gender, age, theology, regional, and ethnic diversity of the church” (sic). (There was a kafuffle about inadequate provision for participation by Spanish-speaking Episcopalians from the Central American dioceses – but based on prose like this, the English-speakers should have been complaining too.)

The inclusion of “theology” in the categories of diversity raises a hope that is quickly dashed by the requirement that such revisions “continue in faithful adherence to the historic rites of the Church Universal as they have been received and interpreted within the Anglican tradition of [sic] 1979 Book of Common Prayer” – wording which carefully excludes the actual historic
and pre-1979 Anglican tradition of Common Prayer. So much for theological diversity.

They are to be “mindful of our existing ecumenical commitments” -but not in accordance to them, language that was thought to be objectionably limiting – “while also providing space for, encouraging the submission of, and facilitating the perfection of rites that will arise from the continual movement of the Holy Spirit among us and the growing insights of our Church”. I quote this dreadful prose in full with the same horrified pleasure one has in pulling off a scab. Moreover, they are to “utilize the riches of Holy Scripture, and our Church’s liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, linguistic, gender, physical ability, class and ethnic diversity in order to share common worship [sic]”; all of which means the revisions must “utilize inclusive and expansive language and imagery for humanity and divinity” – i.e. not the language prioritized by Scripture and tradition.

To no one’s surprise, they “shall incorporate and express understanding, appreciation, and care of God’s creation”. There is more, but you get the picture. If the 1979 BCP has been
preserved in aspic, and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music deprived of control of liturgical revision, two very modest wins, the floodgates have been opened to liturgical and theological folly. The one hopeful note is that little or no funding has been provided for this untethered experimentation.

One other relevant decision: Resolution B012 makes same-sex marriage rites available for all congregations that wish to use them, subject to authorization by their rectors or priests-in-charge. While that opens every diocese to same-sex marriage, it also protects the conscience of every rector who can withstand the vilification that will fall on those who avail themselves of this right. So there you have it: “the future of God’s mission through the Episcopal Church of the Jesus movement” (sic).

–The Rev. Gavin Dunbar is rector of Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

(Wash Post) The Episcopal Church (TEC) will revise its beloved prayer book but doesn’t know when

The church has already authorized many alternate texts, which churches can use as supplements to the Book of Common Prayer, with gender-neutral language. To address the strong demand at the conference for the lessening of male imagery for God in Episcopal services, the conference authorized more of those texts and voted to make them more widely available.

In the past, priests needed the approval of their bishops to use the supplemental texts; now, any priest can choose to use them, [the Rev. Ruth] Meyers said.

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Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Bishops, Theology

(AS) Bill Murchison–Is Anti-Semitism Creeping Back Under Episcopal Church Auspices?

I return to the so-called Israeli question: the acid test of logic, saying nothing of decency and generosity. The infection of anti-Semitism appears to be spreading. As if “the Jews” somehow — as used to be asserted by the brain-deprived — league and conspire and plot and plan to take over the world. I think we must not tax my fellow Episcopalians — at this present time —with outright anti-Semitism; that is, with the desire to put the Jews in their place. At General Convention, they affirmed, formalistically, Israel’s right to exist within secure borders. Then, without a sideways glance at Palestinian vows to eradicate Israel, and at the street violence constantly to be feared, and often witnessed, the Episcopal resolutions slammed Israel for measures intended to keep the peace: measures sometimes violent, sometimes ham-handed but generally efficient.

The problem is not American in isolation. It is international. It is political. In the July/August issue of Commentary, Melanie Phillips, the British journalist, asks whether the Jews of Europe should ponder leaving — given the recrudescence in their homelands of squalid anti-Semitism, practiced by the left. The same left, more or less, that dominates the national hierarchy of the Episcopal Church. “The symbiosis,” she writes, “between hatred of the Jewish state and hatred of the Jews is now part of the DNA of the progressive world.” It arises “because the West is in trouble. And a society in trouble always turns on the Jews.”

The Phillips thesis delves deeply into the moral flabbiness that seems, in 2018, to characterize judgment of rights and wrongs in the relationships of nations and people jostling each other in the communist twilight, seeking to distinguish friend from adversary and competitor.

A certain clarity in foreign policy — so he claims — lights up the mind of Donald J. Trump. More than anything else, it underscores the unclarity, the confusion muddying up 21stcentury life.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, General Convention, Israel, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(ENS) TEC General Convention lets its ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ agreeing to give church full access to trial-use same-sex marriage rites

Read it all and you may find the full text of the key resolution here.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ENS) At TEC General Convention, the Marriage rites resolution is heading back to House of Deputies after a small amendment by the Bishops

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TLC) At the TEC General Convention In Austin, Many Bishops are Reticent on Prayer Book Revision

Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan was one of several who said a grand book revision might be dated even before its completed, especially in an era when advances in media technology are challenging the value of traditional books.

In a nod to the need for church growth, Bishop Rob Wright of Atlanta asked whether a carefully revised book will represent misplaced resources if it lands ultimately “in pews that are empty.”

“I wonder if this isn’t just classic work avoidance,” he said.

Some concerns raised on the floor brought theological issues to bear. Bishop Shannon Johnston of Virginia recalled how a theological imperative made the 1979 revision important and worth doing at the time.

“What drove it coming into being was deeply theological — primacy of baptism and centrality of Eucharist,” Johnston said. In 2018, “a lot of the language I hear driving this is demographics and sociology.”

The bishops’ prayer book debate contrasted sharply with the House of Deputies discussion on July 6.

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Bishops

(ENS) TEC General Convention Deputies Say Yes to Prayer Book Revision

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Book of Common Prayer, Atonement, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TLC) Same-Sex Marriage Resolution Ready for Houses of TEC General Convention 2018

After hours of sometimes wrenching testimony and debate, a General Convention committee has approved a revision of Resolution B012 that would ensure same-sex marriage rites are available throughout the Episcopal Church while postponing the emotional issue of adding the rites to the Book of Common Prayer.

The resolution revokes the authority of eight bishops to say whether same-sex marriage will be permitted in their dioceses.

It states: “Resolved, that all congregations and worshipping communities of the Church who desire to incorporate these liturgies into their common life … where permitted by civil law, shall have access to these liturgies, allowing all couples to be married in their home church.”

The resolution extends the trial use period that was mandated by the 2015 General Convention indefinitely, and specifies that the same-sex marriage rites should be considered as part of the comprehensive prayer book review that the same committee has also recommended.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) US TEC bishops seek to halt Prayer Book revision and deter more from departing

A compromise that would avoid making changes to the Prayer Book’s references to marriage has been proposed by bishops in the Episcopal Church of the United States, in an effort to avoid the departure of members who hold a traditional view, including immigrant and non-US Episcopalians.

The resolution, prepared for discussion at the 79th General Convention, due to begin in Austin, Texas, yesterday, seeks to widen access to marriage in the eight dioceses where gender-neutral rites approved for trial use in 2015 have not been authorised by the bishop. It proposes that these bishops provide “delegated episcopal pastoral oversight” to their congregations, on request.

Unlike the resolution put forward by the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, however, it does not propose any changes to the Prayer Book (News, 25 August 2017).

“While the great majority of Episcopalians celebrate the gains that have been made in our Church for LGBTQ+ persons, many of us also regret the schism, division, and departure of members who have faithfully served our Church for many years,” the proposing Bishops, of Long Island, Pittsburgh and Rhode Island (all of whom have authorised use of the rites), wrote.

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Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Wa Post) Is God male? The Episcopal Church (TEC) debates whether to change its Book of Common Prayer

The terms for God, in the poetic language of the prayers written for centuries, have almost always been male: Father. King. Lord.

And in the Episcopal Church, the language of prayer matters. The Book of Common Prayer, the text used in every Episcopal congregation, is cherished as a core element of Episcopal identity.

This week, the church is debating whether to overhaul that prayer book — in large part to make clear that God doesn’t have a gender.

“As long as ‘men’ and ‘God’ are in the same category, our work toward equity will not just be incomplete. I honestly think it won’t matter in some ways,” said the Rev. Wil Gafney, a professor of the Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Texas who is on the committee recommending a change to the gendered language in the prayer book.

Gafney says that when she preaches, she sometimes changes the words of the Book of Common Prayer, even though Episcopal priests aren’t formally allowed to do so. Sometime she switches a word like “King” to a gender-neutral term like “Ruler” or “Creator.” Sometimes she uses “She” instead of “He.” Sometimes, she sticks with the masculine tradition. ” ‘Our Father,’ I won’t fiddle with that,” she said, invoking the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to say in the book of Matthew.

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Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) [The Church of England Evangelical Council] CEEC–Why The Episcopal Church is on the brink

Three proposals before General Convention this year would significantly alter this situation and make it hard to see how there will be any ongoing place for this Communion witness within American Anglicanism. One would remove, with immediate effect, the diocesan bishop’s freedom to refuse trial use in their diocese (there is also a proposal to introduce a new transgender re-naming rite across all dioceses).

More serious still is a first reading to write the current trial same-sex marriage liturgies into the Prayer Book, which would require confirmation in 2021 before taking effect. Alongside this there would be a rewriting of the Church’s Prayer Book Catechism to state that “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which two (2) people [replacing “the woman and man”] enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows”. Given that all those ordained in TEC have to “solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church” and that doctrine and worship is expressed in the Catechism and Prayer Book these proposals, if accepted, will make it practically impossible for clergy holding an orthodox Christian doctrine of marriage to remain with integrity in The Episcopal Church.

Finally, it is also noteworthy that the proposals coming to General Convention extend further TEC’s revision of traditional sexual ethics. There has for some time been a liturgy for “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant”, which was produced for same-sex unions before there was a marriage liturgy.

It is now proposed to add to this a liturgy for “The Blessing of a Lifelong Relationship” in response to “study of contemporary trends and the expressed experiences of Episcopalians who desire to form and formalise a lifelong, monogamous and unconditional relationship, other than marriage, in particular circumstances”.

This would be the first authorised Anglican liturgy to bless non-marital heterosexual unions. It is these very significant proposed developments eliminating the Christian doctrine of marriage from TEC’s doctrine and liturgy and effectively excluding its adherents from their church – which led to William Nye’s letter and for many Anglicans it is these, rather than the letter, which should be the headline news and real cause of serious concern within the Church of England.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized