Resolution Condemning Domestic Violence Adopted By The Episcopal Church

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church is an elected body representing the whole church.  It has the duty to carry out programs and policies adopted by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The Executive Council met in Late February and adopted a resolution condemning Domestic Violence.  Please see below for the full text of the resolution.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 10.36.50 AMMarch 4, 2016

AN 006 CONDEMNATION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The following is a true copy of a Resolution adopted by the Executive Council at its meeting from February 26 – 28, 2016, at which a quorum was present and voting.

Resolved, That the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, from February 26-28, 2016, declare its condemnation of all manifestations and instances of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity of the victim, and whether the incidents are in the victim’s home, work place, on the streets, in war and war- like conflicts, or anywhere else; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church declare its commitment to support legislative, judicial, and other forms of government and official actions that protect the rights of victims and survivors of these violent acts, including, but not limited to:

• increased funding for victims for support services, for trauma informed care, for prevention, and for education on safe relationships geared toward teens;
• increased training for all professionals connected to the legal system, to assist them in understanding the needs and safety concerns of victims, and the dynamics of domestic and partner violence;

• effective and efficient processes for obtaining victim protective orders (VPO) for all victims, including funding and procedures for the appointment of attorneys to represent victims seeking protective orders; • consistent and firm implementation of legal penalties and enforcement of protective orders against the perpetrators of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence and stalking in order to hold perpetrators accountable and keep victims safe;

• prevention programs directed at perpetrators and prevention programs that educate victims and potential victims of their legal rights;
• changes in the way that family courts handle cases of domestic violence so that domestic violence issues are not shunted to a separate court and ignored in divorce and custody cases;
• increased training for police officers, to help them respond safely and effectively to the needs of survivors, and connect survivors to supportive resources;
• enabling off-site victim testimony in trials related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking so that victims are not traumatized by the presence of the perpetrator in the courtroom.
• helping victims become financially independent in instances where their dependence on their domestic partners or spouses force them to remain in dangerous homes; and

• speedy processing and protection from destruction of rape kits so that the rights of victims of sexual violence are protected until trial; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church urge all Episcopalians to strive for justice and healing for victims of any kind of violence through listening, believing, prayer, education, advocacy, trauma informed pastoral care, and action.

The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe
Secretary of Executive Council and
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society
of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America

A Letter from Bishop Sean: General Convention Concludes

July 3, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church has just concluded in Salt Lake City. It has been a momentous time, both in the church and in the world.

I am preparing to leave General Convention with great hope for the Episcopal Church. We have passed a budget with substantial investments in evangelism and church planting, we have made a major commitment to the work of racial reconciliation, and we have elected the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, a dynamic preacher and powerful evangelist, as our next presiding bishop. Bishop Curry will be the first African American person to lead the Episcopal Church, and the news of his election was reported and celebrated around the world. I am eager to work with him over the next nine years.

While we were gathered at General Convention, the Supreme Court of the United States made marriage equality the law of the land. While this does not change the law in Pennsylvania, where we have enjoyed marriage equality since last spring, it does bring about long-sought legal equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) sisters and brothers.

Just a few days later, both the House of Bishops and House of Deputies overwhelmingly approved two resolutions that bring liturgical marriage equality to all dioceses of the Episcopal Church beginning on the first Sunday in Advent. The canons of the church regarding marriage have been changed to be gender-neutral, and two trial liturgies have been approved. One is a gender-neutral version of the current marriage service in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and the other is a version of a liturgy called “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” that was first approved for blessing same-sex unions in 2012 and now can include vows of marriage. Bishops who object to same-sex marriage are not required to authorize these liturgies, but they are required to make provision with another bishop to do so for same-sex couples in their dioceses. As has always been the case, clergy will not be required to perform marriages that violate their consciences.

Our path toward marriage equality in the Episcopal Church has been long–some 40 years–and sometimes difficult, and I celebrate that we have finally arrived at a time when we can provide not only legal protection, but also full recognition of the sacred bond that unites both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples who marry in our church.

I have not always seen the issue of marriage equality the way I do now, and I understand that this decision of the General Convention may be difficult for some people to understand and accept. If you are struggling with this change, I hope that you can find ways to listen to the stories of our LGBT couples and families across the church and find, as I have found, the power of their witness and their love of Jesus. My relationships with LGBT Christians have brought me to a new understanding of scripture, fidelity, and marriage, and I am grateful to them for so generously sharing their lives with me.

When the House of Deputies was preparing to take the final vote on marriage equality, Jim Steadman of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania said, “For years we have concluded worship by asking that God grant us the strength and courage to do the work he has given us to do. This is the time. Use the courage you have prayed for all these years.”

May we go forward into this new world of greater justice and unity with just this kind of courage and an abundance of love.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe

Bishop Rowe Nov 2014-93wt

Saying Goodbye to General Convention

July 3, 2015 — Day 9 — the last day of the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City

Kaycee Reib (far left) with friends new and old

Kaycee Reib (far left) with friends new and old

The time has gone quickly because we have been so busy. Today brought a lot of emotions. It is sad to see it end and we are all a bit on the tired side. Up at 5:45 AM to get to a Certification of  Minutes Committee meeting at 7:15.
The committee has been a good one, being vice-chair has been fun, and 3 of us worked together before. We take notes through the legislative sessions and then meet the next AM early to go over the written minutes from the Secretariat (an awesome bunch, including our own Vanessa Butler). They do the work!!!! We worked quickly today because the Eucharist was at 8:30 AM and we didn’t want to miss it.

And what an exciting worship time it was! Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schorie was celebrant. President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Jennings, and Secretary of the HOD,  the Rev.Michael Barlowe participated as well. The Presiding Bishop Elect, the Right Rev. Michael Curry gave the sermon. WOW! We have certainly elected an evangelist to lead us during the next 9 years. He challenged us all to be active in The Jesus Movement, to remember that the first word in the Creat Commission is “Go”, and to get out of our churches and take Jesus into the world to bring healing and love into the hurting world we live in. I hope you will find a link to listen to Bishop Curry’s sermon if you missed it today! His inspiring sermon reminded us, “God loves you just the way you are… but He doesn’t intend to leave you that way.”

The legislative work was hectic. Work is much easier with our Virtual Binders, I-pads we were each given to use during convention, loaded with all we needed to know: seating charts and lists, worship services (different each day), the agendas, and all the legislative information… in English and in Spanish!!  By going paperless (almost) the convention saved over $100,000… and it worked close to perfectly.
With a 1 hr lunch break and a couple of short recesses, all of the work for convention was finished in the House of Deputies by shortly after 6 PM. We turned in our binders, electronic voting cards and chargers and said goodbye to old friends and new. The final Minutes meeting ended about 7:20.
Bishop Sean treated both the Dioceses of NWPA and Bethlehem to a lovely dinner….I believe Vanessa and Julien planned the menu choices. Yummy!… and now we are on our way home, some tonight, some tomorrow. We have lots to share and we are looking forward to being back with our home congregations.
Salt Lake City has been a beautiful, friendly, welcoming and gracious venue. Utah Night on Wednesday at the Mormon Tabernacle was quite a show….a variety of groups entertained with singing in Spanish and English, PowWow dances, Taiko drums, and then 220 members of the Tabernacle Choir accompanied by a great orchestra. The countryside looks beautiful although we haven’t had time to explore it. We even flew over snow capped mountains.
I had some new experiences at GC: I have been riding around on a scooter (what a blessing and a lot of fun too); and I had sushi for the fist time with Father Brian. I’m hooked!
I am truly grateful to represent our Diocese at GC. Thanks to all who made it possible. Bishop Sean was quoted yesterday by the President of the House yesterday. Can you guess? “It’s a great day in the Kingdom!” What more is there to say?

Kaycee Reib, Deputy  2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015

God Is Doing Something Now

imagejpeg_0Jim Steadman, Chancellor and Deputy from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania spoke in favor of same-sex marriage at General Convention.  Below he recreated what he said with the caveat that his notes from speaking had been prepared, deleted, scribbled on and had arrows drawn all over them….

[Previous commenters had repeatedly remarked that it had been 39 years since the Church said that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern of the church.]

39 years is a long time. It has been 39 years since we recognized the integrity of our gay brothers and sisters. That is two generations; my grandparents and parents have died in that time and my children and grandchildren have been born.

During the hearings on this matter the committee repeatedly heard that God is working his purpose out and will continue to do so with us or not. Interestingly, in today’s Center Aisle we have a similar comment from a priest in the Church of England, who said “Mission is finding out what God is doing and joining in.”

God is doing something now.

We – all of us in this room – have prayed weekly for strength and courage to do the work God has given us to do.

Now is the time. This is the work.

I urge the members of this house to take that strength and courage and vote for this Resolution.

James Steadman

A Reflection on General Convention by Deputy Anne Bardol

Deputation from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.  Anne is second from the left in the front row.

Deputation from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Anne is second from the left in the front row.

Day 7 of the General Convention seemed longer than most I have spent here in Salt Lake City, longer that is until this evening.  The Utah deputation hosted us at the Mormon Tabernacle, as many of us as could attend, to an amazing evening of song, dance and entertainment showing the diversity of cultures found right here – including Japanese, Native American, Spanish music, drums and dance to the finale of the evening featuring the American Festival Choir and Orchestra (the Tabernacle Choir was on assignment in NYC) and everyone was on their feet showing their appreciation with a standing ovation for this great evening. This was the Utah Showcase and what a showcase it was.  It was a wonderful way to catch one’s breath for the final stretch of this convention.

The work of convention is coming to end as is the work of the committee I’m assigned, Formation and Education for Ministry, serving as its secretary.  It’s been typing like I haven’t experienced for a long, long time.  The committee began with a substantial number of resolutions to consider even before we arrived and more have been added (63 in total).  Each meeting begins with prayer to set us to the tasks ahead.  And then we begin – subcommittees, plenary session, discussions, amendments, more discussion, more amendments and finally the vote.  And so it goes…

I am always amazed at what there is to learn, see and experience at the General Convention, this being my 7th consecutive one.  I received an email recently talking about seeing the Face of God.  I see the faces of God everywhere here from a young Native America man who bravely read one of the lessons at the daily Eucharist even with a some-time intruding studder and was applauded for his courage in doing so to the “sea of humanity” that has invaded Salt Lake City, namely we Episcopalians.  The work of General Convention is a process that requires much thought, a lot of work and compassion for one another to get the job done and the face of God is in each step.  This is why prayer is what begins everything we do here whether it’s in committee, daily Eucharist or legislative sessions.  Prayer is also often requested during legislative sessions when a particularly difficult resolution is coming up for a vote.  The Chaplain, Fr. Lester McKenzie, will be called upon to lead us in prayer.  From time to time, a little exercise and song may be called for and Fr. McKenzie is in charge. But more times than I can count, the Chaplain will end the prayer with “because God loves it when we pray.”

An Experience of Hope

11403393_854156641327925_1203294868460555483_nThere is always a danger when comparing events which span 27 years, but….. Having the privilege of being a deputy for 10 conventions, this is one of the best for me. I sense the presence of the Holy Spirit in a very strong way through the debate, in times on and off the floor, in the hallways in the hotel. A spirit of gentleness and peace, even in the heat of debate on controversial and important issues.   My experience has been one of increasing hope as each day passes.

On Sunday I participated in the Claim It: Finding Common Ground prayer/walk event. Walking about a mile with about 1500 bishops, deputies, folks from Salt Lake City and the surrounding area, Quakers Against Violence, and hearing several powerful presentations by persons with intimate knowledge of such violence was a profound and moving experience of hope that we as a nation can comeCIylHCiUEAERW-- together to find that common ground against gun violence.

Passage of Resolutions B-009, D-005 and D-009 in the House of Deputies gives me hope that we, as a church, can respond to Presiding Bishop Katharine’s call to the Church, echoing the invitation of Jesus: Talitha cumi – Get up, little girl. These resolutions will provide funding for essential ministry for evangelism, church planting, and church redevelopment and provide us with tools to GET UP! Pray for the House of Bishops as they consider these resolutions

Today (Wednesday) we have an extremely full agenda as we look at major resolutions on the restructuring of the church for more effective mission, marriage, and the budget for the next triennium. Pray for us as we debate these important, controversial resolutions.

I have seen other small witnesses to hope that are like beautiful flowers growing through cracks in a sidewalk…. the largest number of deputies who are here for the first time, the most deputies 30 and under, an almost 50-50 ratio between male and female. The legislative committee (Evangelism and Communication) that I had the privilege to co-chair was an example of how kingdom-work can be done. Seeing deputies pushing strollers, walking with toddlers and remembering the sound of a small child’s voice ringing out above all others at the end of the Lord’s prayer during Eucharist gives me great hope for the future.

As our diocesan mission statement reminds us …WE ARE ONE CHURCH. As Bishop Sean often reminds us…IT’S A GREAT DAY IN THE KINGDOM.   Please continue to pray for your deputies, Bishop, ECW delegates and all at Convention. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as a deputy for the 10th time.   Shalom!

The Rev. Canon Dennis Blauser, Deputy, Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Promoting Diocesan Collaboration

By our own Fr. Adam Trambley and reprinted from the ‘House of Deputies News.’

Image via EpiscopalChurch.org

Image via EpiscopalChurch.org

I believe that the most important “sleeper issue” coming before General Convention this year is diocesan collaboration. A number of resolutions could open important doors to allowing our struggling dioceses to gain more traction in their crucial work.

The various creative initiatives dioceses have attempted in recent years demonstrate the difficulties some dioceses face in developing a mission strategy and raising the money to pursue it. The election of Sean Rowe as Bishop Provisional of Bethlehem, even as he continues the bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania is but one example of the ways different dioceses are trying to adapt.  These ecclesiastical experiments to date can be considered the beginning of a coming wave of collaborations for three reasons: the financial situations of small dioceses are likely to get worse before they get better; nothing tried so far has proven to an unqualified success; and a number of canonical barriers remain to fuller collaboration.  Hopefully by the end of convention, we will have at least removed some of the canonical barriers.

I was part of a group that wrote two resolutions to facilitate diocesan collaboration: D007, which I proposed, and D003.  These resolutions would enable greater flexibility in diocesan collaboration without requiring anyone to do anything they do not want to do.  Another resolution, C031, would provide financial incentives for diocesan mergers.

D007 would accomplish two objectives.  First, this resolution would allow dioceses to share a commission on ministry.  Current canons provide that each diocese will have its own commission.  Allowing for collaboration in this area seems especially beneficial at a time when more and more dioceses are developing clergy formation programs that differ from a traditional three-year Master of Divinity, and are developing training and licensure for a variety of lay leadership offices.  Second, this resolution would allow bishops to serve in more than one diocese.  Current canons require a bishop to reside in his or her diocese. D007 would allow a Standing Committee to consent to a bishop residing in another diocese where that bishop is also serving.  This solution seems the most straightforward way to eliminate the only current barrier to bishops serving more than one diocese at a time.  This resolution would still require each diocese to have its own standing committees and finance committees, which seems necessary as long as the dioceses remain independent corporations.

D003 would amend the constitution to allow for diocesan mergers when a diocese does not have a bishop.  Article V of the church’s constitution currently requires that dioceses without a bishop wait until they elect one before moving ahead with a merger.  This requirement would seem counter-intuitive, however.  The time when a diocese is without a bishop may be the best moment to consider a merger with a neighboring diocese.  Consent of General Convention and approval by the Executive Council would still be required, however, so this change does not create an unduly hasty process.  Note that resolution A101 accomplishes as similar goal, but only when a Bishop Provisional is in place in a diocese.  D003 provides for the Ecclesiastical Authority, which may be a bishop or the Standing Committee, to allow a merger to move forward.

C031 is a resolution proposed by Province III that would reduce the General Convention Assessment by 50% for one year for dioceses that agree to merge.  This resolution will require some wordsmithing by the legislative Committee on Governance and Structure, but it provides an interesting carrot that might prompt some discussions about inter-diocesan mergers and collaborations.

I would also mention a number of resolutions that discuss the selection process of bishops.  Ensuring we get the best leaders at the diocesan level is extremely important.  The Task Force on Reimagining the Episcopal Church saw a need for the church to look seriously at the role of bishop and proposed A002.  A number of other resolutions deal with various aspects of the episcopacy, and how to ensure that recent selection problems aren’t repeated.  I believe D004, which was written by a group I was a part of, is perhaps the most comprehensive of these resolutions, but whatever comes out of committee should probably be approved.

Adam Trambley, a member of the legislative Committee on Structure, is a clergy deputy from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.