House of Bishops approves first set of legislation

July 31, 2003

With little dissent, the House of Bishops approved Wednesday afternoon more than a dozen pieces of primarily housekeeping legislation. They also applauded reports from Episcopal Relief and Development and a youth representative.

Flanked by other members of the official youth presence, Erin Ferguson of the Diocese of Southeast Florida urged the bishops to engage in ministry with young people.

“We must include youth as an integral part of the leadership on the national, provincial, diocesan and parish level,” Ferguson said. Altar guilds and diocesan councils, vestries and General Convention deputations all should have youth representation, he said.

“We want to work along with you to achieve these goals. We are willing to stand by you and work for the accomplishment of these goals. We want to be a partner in these changes,” Ferguson said. “Together we can preserve the future and the betterment of this church we serve today.”

As a token of membership in Episcopal Youth, Ferguson also presented Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold with a backpack.

Sandra Swan, executive director of Episcopal Relief and Development, shared with the bishops the work of the international agency since the last triennium. The agency’s successes have been great and small, from rebuilding homes ravaged by hurricanes or earthquakes to helping a group of impoverished women in South Africa learn how to quilt – and ultimately, how to earn a living for their families.

Episcopal Relief and Development received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status last summer, an effort the agency hopes will expand its ministry and enable it to tap into more foundations and grant programs. The agency will focus its future ministry and outreach in two areas, hunger and health, said Swan.

The development aspect of the agency works to “give people the tools to control their own lives, to make their own choices and live into the fullness of life,’’ Swan said. It helps complete “our transformation from a reactive charity to a proactive agent of change.”

After a 30-minute private time of reflection and meditation, the House of Bishops considered and approved several pieces of legislation, ranging from the agenda for the 74th General Convention to clarifications about planning for future conventions.

Following the Constitution committee’s recommendation, the bishops agreed to reject resolution A108, which would have allowed for the development of alternative liturgies outside the bishop’s authority or the review process provided in the Constitution. They also concurred with the committee’s recommendation to reject A112, which would have allowed nonconfirmed adult communicants to serve as lay deputies.

In addition, the bishops rejected resolution A114, meaning that chancellors to the presiding bishop will continue to be “confirmed” adult communicants.

Resolution A045 restated the definition of a communicant as “All members of this Church who have received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year.” The bishops unanimously approved the resolution.