Convention Notebook: Anglican covenant study, Altar Guild Art Show, open Communion

July 13, 2009

Much happens each day at General Convention. In addition to Episcopal Life Media's other coverage, here's some of what else happened on July 14.



World Mission committee recommends dioceses study Anglican covenant
The World Mission legislative committee has recommended for adoption an amended version of Resolution D020, which commends the current text of the proposed Anglican covenant and any successive drafts "to the dioceses for study and comment during the coming triennium."

The amended legislation also asks the Executive Council to prepare a report to the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, in Indianapolis in 2012, that includes draft legislation concerning the church's response to an Anglican covenant.

During committee conversation, some members compared the amended legislation, as an invitation to dioceses to live into covenant, to taking measurements to see if clothes fit.

The committee also discharged about a dozen B033-related resolutions (C007; C010; C015; C024; C033; C036; C039; C045; C054; D015; D021; and D022) (legislation may be viewed here).

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council has asked General Convention deputations and their bishops to study and comment on the latest draft of a proposed Anglican covenant.

In May, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) postponed an expected request that the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces consider adopting the Ridley Cambridge draft. The council said instead that it wanted the draft's Section 4, which contains a dispute-resolution process, to get more scrutiny and possibly be revised.

A small working group appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury has solicited provincial responses by November 13. The working group will meet Nov. 20-21 in London and report to the Standing Committee meeting December 15-18. The Standing Committee is a group of elected representatives of the ACC and the Primates Meeting.

In response to that request, President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Rosalie Ballentine, the Executive Council member who chairs the council's task force on the Anglican covenant, wrote to General Convention deputations and bishops June 29 asking for their thoughts on the draft by September 1. The task force and the council will use the comments to formulate a response during its October meeting.

"We believe that this work will best be accomplished in light of work and resolutions passed at the 2009 General Convention, so we are asking that deputations make their responses following convention," the women wrote in the letter.

To assist with the requested diocesan study, the council's task force has developed a four-question study guide.

It is available in English here and in Spanish here.

Artists display works at National Altar Guild show
The National Altar Guild Art Show, a General Convention tradition, features more than 100 pieces of art in Room 201A of the Anaheim Convention Center. The exhibit is open through July 15. Docents are available to guide visitors through the show and a handbook describes the collection. Hours are 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Ginger Leachman, parishioner at St. Wilfrid of York Church, Huntington Beach, California (Diocese of Los Angeles), and member of the National Altar Guild Association (NAGA), organized this convention's art show. She requested donations from several local artists, chose pieces from her own collection and that of her church, and in one case made a special request of Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno to share the Hands in Healing quilt that was made by members of St. John’s Church, La Verne, California, to symbolize his commitment to reconciliation. Artists from across the country also offered works for display.

An image gallery is available here.

Clarifications on open Communion urged
A resolution before the liturgy committee seeks to help resolve the question of whether Holy Communion should be restricted to the baptized.

Resolution D089 asks convention to direct the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons "to review and provide a recommendation to resolve the conflict between Article X of the Constitution, specifically, the invitation offered in the Book of Common Prayer 'The Gifts of God for the People of God' and Canon I.17.7, restricting Communion to only the baptized."

The resolution arose out of an informal conversation about open Communion among about 10 clergy following a conference in his diocese, proposer the Very Rev. Ernesto R. Medina (Nebraska), a member of the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music committee, said during hearings before the committee. "What was striking was the sense of conflict that each of us pretty unanimously felt every time we said, 'The gifts of God for the people of God.'"

The resolution aims to resolve that conflict.

"I firmly agree that baptism should be normative for … Communion, but is it up to us to police the table?" asked the Rev. Eliot Moss (Western Massachusetts), speaking in favor of the resolution. "I support this study and the conversation so that we can perhaps advance in bringing this clash of law and words into better resolution."

The Rev. Dorothee Hahn (Churches in Europe), however, spoke against the proposed resolution. "In Europe, everything is slightly different. Anything going in this direction of opening Communion will put us outside of the historic churches."

Already, the Episcopal Church's invitation to all the baptized for Communion is "absolutely" the most inclusive among Europe's churches, she said.

Any change will contradict the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral, she added.

In other business, the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music Committee recommended adoption of a resolution to add the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to the church calendar and of a resolution adding new commons to Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints, which is a revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

The new collects include prayers: for artists and writers; for Blessed Mary the God-Bearer; for the Blessed Virgin Mary; for the care of God’s creation; for the goodness of God's creation; for the occasion of a disaster; for the anniversary of a disaster; for prophetic witness in the church; for prophetic witness in society; for reconciliation and forgiveness; and for scientists and environmentalists.

The committee spent considerable time perfecting the collects, each presented in both Rite 1 and Rite 2 language. On June 14, members enthusiastically approved a substitute collect and preface for reconciliation and forgiveness proposed by Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley.

The collect reads: "God of compassion, you have reconciled us in Jesus Christ, who is our peace. Enable us to live as Jesus lived, breaking down walls of hostility and healing enmity. Give us the grace to make peace with those from whom we are divided, that forgiven and forgiving we may ever be one in Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns forever, one holy and undivided Trinity."

And finally ... It could be a picture-perfect fundraiser.
General Convention Executive Officer and Secretary Gregory Straub announced at the end of the House of Deputies afternoon session July 14 that the Very Rev. Samuel Candler (Atlanta) and the Rev. Ruth Meyers (Chicago) had offered to autograph copies of their photograph in the day's Episcopal Life General Convention Daily in exchange for contributions of 50 cents or more to the United Thank Offering boxes on deputies' tables.

"How thankful are you?" queried Straub, adding, "I have to think that vanity in a good cause is excusable."