Among the high profile deliberations of yesterday, July 5: The committee tasked with considering resolutions on prayer book revision voted yesterday to propose a plan for comprehensive revision (read coverage here); marriage equality resolutions got lengthy hearings (read coverage here); and the House of Deputies approved a plan for paying its presiding officer–a controversial topic that went unresolved at the 2015 General Convention. Massachusetts deputy Byron Rushing, who is vice president of the House of Deputies, chaired the session. The measure now goes to the House of Bishops for consideration (read more here).
Looking ahead to tomorrow, July 7: Joint Session on Evangelism at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and a revival-style worship service with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
Witness against gun violence: The Bishops United Against Gun Violence coalition, of which our Massachusetts bishops are members, is hosting daily pop-up prayer sessions for victims of gun violence, and is distributing 96 of these crosses every day in remembrance of the 96 people who die from gun violence every day in the U.S.
Here, Massachusetts deputy Betsy Ridge Madsen reflects on her Wednesday experiences at General Convention. She serves as a legislative aide to the Committee on Social Justice and U.S. Policy, which is working on resolutions having to do with immigration (find them here), among other concerns.
“So much has happened in the first two days in Austin. Sharing, reuniting with friends from other parts of the country, yea, even other parts of the world, challenging one another, coming together in what Presiding Bishop Michael Curry passionately calls ‘the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement.’
“From the first moment in the line to pick up certification badges, sharing began for me. The deputy just ahead of me told how excited she was with her assignment on the Congregational and Diocesan Vitality Committee. The person next in line told about her first meeting on her diocesan Standing Committee when she had to consider a church closing. She had gone to our Diocese of Massachusetts guidelines for our marks of congregational vibrancy and used them to support her work. In a short moment, three deputies from three different parts of the country had connected with networking, resource sharing and energetic problem solving. The Holy Spirit was amongst us in what Presiding Bishop Curry dubs a ‘holy convocation.’
“My committee is Social Justice and U.S. Policy. I am a legislative aide, the part of the leadership team who handles hearings and various aspects of filing legislation. Tuesday was the commissioning of officers and legislative aides. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, reminded us of the long legacy of our Episcopal polity, reading from the journal of the first convention in Philadelphia in 1785, and citing numerous examples of how General Convention can change lives. Presiding Bishop Curry once again reminded us of the need to ‘help the world learn to love again.’ How moving it was to hear our presiding bishop speaking to us in a small group echoing the words of his royal wedding sermon heard around the world.
“Committee work began with introductions, 31 of us from 29 different dioceses, including bishops and deputies. Half of our committee is working with the numerous resolutions on immigration issues and the other half is working on ‘everything else,’ which includes such issues as gun control, opioids, voting rights, economic justice, incarceration and women’s rights. Every resolution which has been submitted is subject to revision, and each one must have a public hearing before coming to the convention floor. Today we held a hearing on eight resolutions (C041, C047, D003, A057, B002, B005, C015, C013). After listening, committee members worked to perfect language for presentation to the convention. The hearing on immigration issues will be held by both the Social Justice and U.S. Policy and the Social Justice and International Policy committees on Saturday morning.
“The hours are long, but rewarding. At Wednesday night’s Union of Black Episcopalians 50th Anniversary Gala, our own Bishop Gayle Harris gave the opening prayer. It was a jubilant event, honoring leaders from the past 50 years, including, of course, many of our own Massachusetts heroes, Bishop John Burgess, Byron Rushing and Bishop Barbara Harris, and ending with a rousing ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’
“I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to serve as your deputy.”