House of Deputies considers a flurry of resolutions on its final day

July 11, 2012

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] The House of Deputies worked at a feverish pace July 12 on its final day before adjournment, considering more than 80 resolutions out of the almost 400 that had been filed.

It was able to conclude its work in time to say a special good-bye to House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and witness the changing of the guard to her successor, the Rev. Gay Jennings.

Deputies adopted more than 20 new resolutions that quickly headed to the House of Bishops which adopted them later in the day. They included:

  • D018, which calls on Congress to repeal federal laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, that discriminate against same-gender couples who are legally married in the states where that is permitted;
  • D059, which urges a halt to the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s practice of detaining people suspected of being in the country illegally without filing any charges against them;
  • A030, which establishes how clergy who want to leave the Episcopal Church for another part of the Anglican Communion can do so without renouncing their Holy Orders;
  • A033 and C049, which enact a series of revisions to Title IV, the clergy discipline canons, to fix some errors while maintaining the underlying principles of the canons that were adopted in 2009; and
  • A102, the first reading of an amendment to the constitution that would help dioceses that want to merge with another diocese or divide itself into two dioceses to do so without requiring sitting bishops in all dioceses involved.

Deputies failed to adopt Resolution A043, which would have removed the requirement that deputies to General Convention be confirmed. They referred the resolution to the Standing Commission on Ministry Development. Deputies also rejected Resolution A041, calling for all church leaders to learn about the history, structure and governance of the church, was rejected.

They also rejected B027, which would have eliminated 10 of the 12 existing Standing Commissions, preferring to leave it to up the new structure task force authorized earlier in the convention to consider the number and type of committees and other bodies the church needs.

In the afternoon deputies sped through resolutions that had been approved by the House of Bishops and needed deputies’ concurrence to take effect. They included:

  • C029, acknowledging baptism as the normative entrance into Holy Communion (after bishops had removed a clause earlier passed  by deputies dealing pastoral responses in non-normative situations);
  • B021, which amends the canons to provide a mechanism for addressing disagreements in the pastoral relationship between a diocese and its bishop;
  • D022, creating a churchwide response to bullying;
  • D025, establishing a development 0ffice for the Episcopal Church to solicit major gifts and other resources;
  • A054, which provides rites and prayers to provide pastoral responses to people caring for animals, including at the time of the death of a beloved pet;
  • B009, allowing congregations with the bishop’s permission to use the lectionary of readings printed in the Book of Common Prayer rather than the Revised Common Lectionary authorized at a previous Convention; and
  • A variety of resolutions on social justice issues, including supporting for the labor movement, calling to clergy to action on economic and racial justice, reaching out to prisoners, establishing churches as gun-free zones, recommitting to anti-racism work, condemning threats against sexual minorities, and opposing the oil extraction practice of fracking.

They also adopted on final action two changes to the church’s constitution: A156, giving the new name of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe to its congregations there; and A158; clarifying the status in the Episcopal Church of pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who had been ordained by other pastors and not by bishops. The ELCA and the Episcopal Church are in full communion and can share clergy.

At the start of the afternoon session, the Rev. Neal Michell, deputy from Dallas, read the “Indianapolis Statement” from 12 bishops who had disassociated themselves from the actions of General Convention in approving trial rites for same-sex blessings and choosing not to endorse the Anglican Covenant. He then asked deputies who supported the statement to stand silently. Anderson thanked Michell and those from a handful of dioceses who stood for their witness.

— Melodie Woerman is a member of the Episcopal News Service team at General Convention.