GENERAL CONVENTION 2015

The Task Force to Study Dual Call Couples has issued the following update on its progress including a video titled “Dual Call Couples: Gifts & Challenges for the Church.”

The Task Force to Study Dual Call Couples

The Task Force to Study Dual Call Couples, created by Resolution B022 at the 78th General Convention in 2015 has released a video titled, “Dual Call Couples: Gifts & Challenges for the Church,” available here. The members hope that this will be a useful tool for vestries, search committees and congregations.

The Task Force was appointed by Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings. They appointed Bishop Douglas Fisher to chair the group.

“This is an important time for clergy couples in the life of the church,” reported the Rev. Dr. Diane Vie of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, vice-chair of the Task Force. “The resolution raises the issue to a systemwide level of awareness and legitimizes the issue at a systematic level and promises some action moving forward.”

The Church Pension Group estimated in 2013 that the Episcopal Church is home to approximately 428 dual call couples. Approximately 14 percent of active priests are married to other Episcopal clergy.

As part of its work, the Task Force initiated a listening process. “A big part of what we do is getting the wider church talking about dual call—the challenges and the opportunities,” Fisher said. “We have not made definitive statements—we have invited dialog.”

The Task Force reached out to couples in the dioceses of its members and crafted questions for each couple to answer. In the video, couples discuss real-life challenges priests who are married to other priests face: a couple from the Diocese of East Tennessee talks about their joint discernment process and about sharing life together at Sewanee; another from the Diocese of San Diego address sharing a call as co-vicars.

The Task Force hopes these honest reflections from dual call couples will open conversation on the congregational level. The Task Force will make its full report to the 79th General Convention in 2018.

The members of the Task Force to Study Dual Call Couples and their dioceses are: Bishop Douglas Fisher, Western Massachusetts; the Rev. Canon Joseph Chambers, Missouri; Canon Catherine Massey, North Carolina; Canon Karen Olsen, Minnesota; Bishop Brian Seage, Mississippi; the Rev. Dr. Diane Vie, Southwestern Virginia; the Rev. Kammy Young, Florida; Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, ex officio; President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, ex officio.

The Task Force to Study Dual Call Couples has issued the following update on its progress including a video titled “Dual Call Couples: Gifts & Challenges for the Church.” The Task Force to Study Dual Call Couples The Task Force to Study Dual

The Committee to Study the Relationship of General Theological Seminary and General Convention has issued the following update:

General Convention 2015 Resolution D075  ("Reinvigorate the Accountability of General Theological seminary to General Convention") frames the work of the Committee to Study the Relationship of General Theological Seminary and General Convention. 

The Committee, chaired by the Rt. Rev. Arthur B. Williams, Bishop Suffragan retired, Diocese of Ohio, has four additional members: the Rev. Cathie Caimano, Diocese of North Carolina; William Cathcart, Esq., Diocese of Oklahoma; Dianne Audrick Smith, Diocese of Ohio; and the Rev. Sylvia Vasquez, Diocese of California.

The Committee has developed a survey and we encourage your participation. Narrative responses would be especially helpful to inform our work.  Feedback from various constituencies throughout the Church who are interested in this resolution will be incorporated into our deliberations. 

The survey is available here

To date, the survey has been sent to all Deputies and members of the House of Bishops. We want to have the widest number of people to have the opportunity to respond to the survey.

The Committee has received an invitation from General Theological Seminary to come to meet at the seminary in February for conversation with the "stakeholders" there.

 

The Rt. Rev. Arthur B. Williams, Jr.

Chair, Committee to Study the Relationship of General Theological Seminary
and General Convention 

The Committee to Study the Relationship of General Theological Seminary and General Convention has issued the following update: General Convention 2015 Resolution D075  ("Reinvigorate the Accountability of General Theological seminary to General

 

The General Convention Advisory Group on Church Planting has announced a series of initiatives designed to place church-planting efforts into motion for The Episcopal Church.

The Advisory Group was established through Resolution D005 of the 78th General Convention in July 2015 and called for the creation of “a church-wide network for planting congregations, training and recruiting planters; and establishing new congregations each triennium.” See full text here 

The Advisory Group is also working closely with Latino Ministries to support and develop new Spanish-speaking and bilingual congregations. Additionally the group has been charged with the distribution of further funding for Missional Enterprise Zones.  

“We are building a new community,” Advisory Group member the Rev. Zack Nyein, noted.  “We are developing a community of church planters and those interested in the work of church planting.”

Information on Church Planting initiative is here.  

Contest

To that end, the Advisory Group has announced a design contest for a new logo to depict church planting for The Episcopal Church.

“We invite artists and dreamers from throughout The Episcopal Church to participate in the visioning process,” Erendira Jimenez-Pike said.  “A $500 cash prize will be awarded to the most inspiring title and logo for a renewed church planting movement across the church.”

Submission instructions and image specifics are located here.  Deadline is May 1.

For information contact churchplanting@episcopalchurch.org 

Members

Members of the Advisory Group and their dioceses are:

The Rev. Jane Gerdsen, chairperson, Southern Ohio; the Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer, Newark; Erendira Jimenez-Pike, Kentucky; the Rev. Michael Michie, Dallas; the Rev. Alex Montes Vela, Texas; the Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers, Alabama; the Rev. Zachary Nyein, East Tennessee; the Rev. David Perkins, Lexington; the Rev. Canon Jesus Reyes, El Camino Real; Bishop George Sumner, Jr., Dallas; the Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner, Fort Worth. The Rev. Canon Frank Logue of Georgia and the Rev. Canon Tanya Wallace of Western Massachusetts are Liaisons from Executive Council.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings are Ex Officio members.  The Rev. Tom Brackett is the staff liaison.

 

In the photo:

Top (L to R):  The Rev. Tom Brackett, staff liaison; the Rev. Michael Michie, Dallas; the Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner, Fort Worth; the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, staff consultant; the Rev. Zack Nyein, East Tennessee; Bishop George Sumner, Jr., Dallas; the Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers, Alabama. Bottom (L to R): The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Georgia, Executive Council Liaison;  the Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer, Newark; the Rev. Jane Gerdsen, chairperson, Southern Ohio; Erendira Jimenez-Pike, Kentucky;  the Rev. Canon Jesus Reyes, El Camino Real; the Rev. Alex Montes Vela, Texas; the Rev. David Perkins, Lexington. Not pictured is the Rev. Canon Tanya Wallace of Western Massachusetts who serves as Executive Council Liaison.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings are Ex Officio members.

  The General Convention Advisory Group on Church Planting has announced a series of initiatives designed to place church-planting efforts into motion for The Episcopal Church. The Advisory Group was established through Resolution D005 of the 78th

The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of the General Convention, announces that the Constitution, Canons and Rules of Order of The Episcopal Church, reflecting all updates and amendments approved at the 78th General Convention, is now available in English. 

Check the General Convention website here to download a free digital version in pdf format, or to purchase a print copy for $35.  A Spanish translation of the digital file, now in progress, is expected to be available on the General Convention website by the end of March.

The Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention was held June 25 – July 3, 2015 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).  The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It is comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

Questions for the Office of the General Convention can be directed to gcoffice@episcopalchurch.org

The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of the General Convention, announces that the Constitution, Canons and Rules of Order of The Episcopal Church, reflecting all updates and amendments approved at the 78th General Convention, is now

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Secretary of General Convention, has announced the offerings received at the daily Eucharists during General Convention 2015, totaling $6,792.20,  have been given to Episcopal Relief & Development

The decision to designate the donations to Episcopal Relief & Development was made by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings as per Resolution D066 approved at the 78th General Convention: Resolved that these offerings be designated by the Presiding Officers of the General Convention toward the goals of the Five Marks of Mission, particularly to respond to human need by loving service.

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church was held June 25 – July 3, in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

 

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Secretary of General Convention, has announced the offerings received at the daily Eucharists during General Convention 2015, totaling $6,792.20,  have been given to Episcopal Relief & Development.  The

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Secretary of General Convention, has announced that A Summary of Actions of the 78th General Convention is now available online at the General Convention website here.

A Summary of Actions of the 78th General Convention presents the results of resolutions and other matters from the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, and is available for free download. Additionally, the Summary of Actions lists the membership of the Executive Council and other bodies elected and appointed at General Convention 2015. 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church was held June 25 – July 3, in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

A Summary of Actions of the 78th General Convention is the Secretary of General Convention’s fulfillment of his requirement under Joint Rule of Order 15 of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

The Journal of the 78th General Convention, which is the official record of the proceedings, will be available in 2016.

For more information on A Summary of Actions of the 78th General Convention, contact Twila Rios, Staff Assistant for Content Management and Digital Publishing, Office of the General Convention.

 

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Secretary of General Convention, has announced that A Summary of Actions of the 78th General Convention is now available online at the General Convention website here. A Summary of Actions of the 78th General

“Now I’ve got one word for you,” the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry of North Carolina, Presiding Bishop-Elect, told the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in his sermon on July 3. “If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s the first word in the Great Commission: GO!”

Presiding at the Eucharist was Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Following the sermon, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori read a letter of congratulations sent by President Barack Obama to Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry.  (video, text at end)

The sermon is available here: 

The following is the text of the sermon:

 

GO! We are the Jesus Movement

The 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church

The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry

Friday, July 3, 2015

 

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Before I say anything, I must again say thank you to you, Almighty God, for the privilege and the possibility of serving as Presiding Bishop-Elect. I love this Church, I love our Lord, and God is not finished with us yet.

To our Presiding Bishop, who has been an incredible leader—

We go back 15 years. We were ordained bishops in the same year, and this is a woman of God. She has led the people of God with courage, passion—

Now her passion is a little different than mine. I told the bishops, I want to get a little bit of cool from her.

She has been an incredible God-sent and God-inspired leader.

And I so look forward to working together with President Jennings. We’ve known each other off and on over the years and—

I’m older than she is, I’ll say it that way.

I’m probably not.

I really do look forward to working together with her. Leadership is not easy, and she has exercised it here at this convention with grace and clarity. I look forward to working with you, my sister.

And then lastly—I know they didn’t move the service up to 8:30 so I had more time to preach—but I must offer a word of disclaimer before getting into the sermon. I didn’t know what the text was going to be for today; I had no idea that it would be the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” And when I saw what the text was, all I could do was say, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place.”

Matthew ends his Gospel telling the story and compiling the teachings of Jesus with Jesus sending his disciples out into the world with these words: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have taught you.” And remember, I am with you in the first century and in the 21st. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

I am more and more convinced that God came among us in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth to show us the way to be reconciled with the God who deeply and passionately loves each and every one of us, to be reconciled and right with that God and to be reconciled and right with each other as the children of that one God who created us all. He came to show us how to get right and how to get reconciled. He came to show us therefore how to become more than simply the human race – that’s not good enough – came to show us how to be more than a collection of individualized self-interests, came to show us how to become more than a human race.

He came to show us how to become the human family of God. And in that, my friends, is our hope and our salvation, now and unto the day of eternity.

Or to say it another way.

Max Lucado who’s a Christian writer says “God loves you just the way you are, but he [doesn’t intend] to leave you that way.”

Jesus came to change the world and to change us from the nightmare that life can often be to the dream that God has intended from before the earth and world was ever made.

Julia Ward Howe said it this way, during America's Civil War, an apocalyptic moment in the history of this nation if ever there was one:

 

In the beauty of the lilies

Christ was born across the sea.

With a glory in his bosom

That transfigured you and me.

As he died to make [folk] holy

Let us live to set them free

While God is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah

God’s truth is marching on.

 

Now I’ve got one word for you. If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s the first word in the Great Commission: GO!

Don’t do it yet, but go!

And the reason I lift up that word “go” is because we are the Jesus Movement.

Go!

Let me tell you, I began to realize something—I stumbled into it a few months ago— while I was getting ready for Advent and I was reading the Gospel Advent messages for the three-year cycle.

I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.

I noticed that all four of the Gospels preface the ministry of Jesus not only by invoking John the Baptist, but they preface the ministry of Jesus by quoting Isaiah chapter 40: “Prepare the way of the Lord, / make straight [ ] a highway for our God”

And if you look back, go back to Isaiah 40, Isaiah says:

Prepare the way of the Lord,

For every valley shall be exalted,

Every mountain and hill made low,

The crooked straight and the rough places a plain,

And in this the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

And all flesh shall see it together.

 

The Bible’s trying to tell us something about Jesus. This brother didn’t come into the world to leave it the way he found it. He came to change it until valleys are lifted up and mountains are brought down, until the world is righted the way god dreamed it. The landscape of our reality and lives is changing.

The story behind Isaiah 40—and I won’t get into all the details—is that the people of God found themselves free one day and in slavery the next. This time it was not a slavery of Pharaoh’s Egypt; this time it was the slavery of exile in Babylon.

For indeed in the year 586 BCE, the armies of Babylon began a prodigious March of conquest throughout the Middle East. Eventually they came to Palestine. They razed the countryside, moved toward and fought their way to Jerusalem, breached the walls of the Holy City, entered the city and burned much of it, and killed people. They entered the Sacred Temple that Solomon had built and desecrated it. And then they took many of the leading citizens and they carted them off to Babylon where they made virtual slaves of them.

It was a nightmare.

In Babylon they sang, as old slaves used to sing, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long, long way from home.”

In Babylon one of their poets wrote:

 

By the waters of Babylon,

we sat down and wept,

When we remembered thee, O Zion.

 

When we remembered what it was like to be home.

 

How shall we sing the Lord’s song

In a strange land?

 

And then it happened, almost as swiftly as they had been enslaved by the nightmare of the world, they were set free by the treaty of God.

See the Babylonians who had conquered were conquered themselves. Have you ever played that game King of the Mountain? Somebody’s gonna knock you off.

Or as that great philosopher Frank Sinatra said, “You can be riding high in April and shot down in May.”

And so an emperor named Cyrus came to the throne in Persia. He conquered the Babylonians and as a kind of “in your face” to the Babylonians, everyone the Babylonians had enslaved, Cyrus set free. He issued an edict of religious toleration. We thought pluralism and multiculturalism was new. Cyrus did that a long time ago.

He issued an edict of religious toleration, the Jewish people were set free, they went home, and as they were on their way going home, one of their poets said: Prepare the way of the Lord, for everybody shall be exalted, every mountain made low, the crooked straight.

And we’re going home!

The nightmare has ended, and God has changed the landscape of reality, His dream has broken out!

My friends, all four Gospels preface the story of Jesus by pointing us back to that story in Isaiah. Jesus came to show us the way, to change the landscape of reality, from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends and we, my friends, are part of the Jesus movement.

So go!

Now if you still don’t believe me, go see the movie.

Now I’m not commending the movie I’m about to mention because I actually haven’t seen the movie itself, but it’s the movie Son of God. It came out about a year ago if I remember correctly, and it kind of got eclipsed because Noah with Russell Crowe came out at the same time.

Everybody knows that would certainly have told the story accurately.

Anyway, the movie Son of God—again I’m not commending it because I haven’t seen it.

But the trailer is really good.

And in the trailer there’s this one scene, where Hollywood conflated several biblical versions, of the story of Jesus calling Simon Peter.

And Peter is fishing in the Sea of Galilee and Jesus comes along. Peter’s not catching any fish—and you can see he’s frustrated—and Jesus comes along and says something like, “What’re you doing, brother?”

Sometimes when you read the Bible, you gotta read between the lines and imagine what the expressions were like.

When Jesus says, “Well, what are you doing?,” Simon Peter says, “I’m obviously fishing.” And then Jesus says, “Well why don’t you put your net on the other side of the boat?” And you know Peter’s been there all day, and you can assume he probably did know something about Jesus, and knew the brother was a carpenter, not a fisherman.

And therefore, he was probably thinking, you don’t know a thing about this, but what I’ve been doing all day isn’t working—

Which is a parable for the church today, but I’ll leave that alone.

Jesus said if it’s not working for you, put the net on the other side and go where the fish are, don’t wait for them to come to you—

That’s another message for the church.

So anyway, Peter takes the net and casts it on the other side of the boat and then the next scene—now this is in the trailer, I haven’t seen the movie—the next scene is under the water and the camera is looking up.

Now this is clearly Hollywood, and you can see Jesus’ image kind of refracted through the water. You can tell it’s Jesus because he has a beard.

And then he takes his finger, and he touches the water, and the water starts to quiver and shake like the old song, “Wade in the Water.”

“God’s gonna trouble the water.”

That’s Hollywood. That wasn’t in the Bible, but neither was Cecil B. DeMille, and I actually like his version of The Ten Commandments.

So anyway, the water is quivering. And then the next scene goes up on top, and you see Peter, and probably Andrew and John, they’re hauling all of the fish. They’ve got so many, the net is breaking.

Notice they listened to Jesus, and caught more fish than they did when they were doing it on their own.

That’s another lesson, but we’ll talk about that later.

Anyway they’re trying to pull up all these fish, and then Jesus comes along and says, “Peter, now come and follow me.”

Now again, imagine what was going through Peter’s mind: I’m finally catching some fish, and you want me to follow you?

And Jesus says, “Come on and follow me,” and Peter says “Where are we going ?!”

Jesus says, “To Change the world.”

God came among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to change the world, to change it from the nightmare it often can be into the dream that God intends. He came to change the world, and we have been baptized into the Triune God and summoned to be disciples and followers of this Jesus and to participate in God’s work, God’s mission of changing and transforming this world. We are the Jesus Movement now.

And his way can change the world. The Diocese of Ohio has popularized a way of capturing Jesus’ summary of the law: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets.

It’s all about that love.

Duke Ellington said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”

It’s all about that love!

The Diocese of Ohio says it this way:  “Love God, love your neighbor and change the world.”

With this I’ll sit down.

I will.

In May of 1961, now-Congressman John Lewis, one of the Freedom Riders, was a young man. He together with other young men and women, black and white, were Freedom Riders who dared to trust the recent Supreme Court decision with regard to interstate transportation, seeking to end and eradicate Jim Crow in our land. They were on a Greyhound bus, 13 of them, headed from Washington through Virginia and North Carolina, through South Carolina and heading onto New Orleans, Louisiana. When they stopped in Rock Hill, South Carolina, just to fill up the tank, go to the bathroom, get something to eat, they were met there by hooded night riders. They were met there by those who would burn a cross for hatred instead of the reason behind the cross: love.

And they were beaten, many of them nearly beaten to death.

John Lewis was beaten not only there but also on that Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. He bears on his body the marks of Jesus, and so do so many others.

Now fast forward, 48 years later. John Lewis is a Congressman from Georgia. One of his aides tells him there’s a man named Edwin Wilson, who wants to meet him.

Mr. Wilson came in, he met John Lewis, and he said “I’m one of the men who beat you and the other Freedom Riders in Rock Hill in 1961, and I’ve come to apologize and to ask you to forgive me.” Lewis forgave him. He said in the book where he told the story, “I accepted the apology of this man, who physically and verbally assaulted, but this is the testimony of the power of love, the power that can overcome hatred."

This is what Jesus taught us to do.

God came among us in the person of Jesus to reconcile us with each other and in so doing to change the world. We’ve got a day of crisis before us in this country.

We’ve got a day of crisis before us in this global community.

We have enormous challenges before us as Church and followers of Jesus.

But as St. Paul said in Romans, “With God before us, who can be against us?”

Or as Bishop Barbara Harris said—

How do you like that, Paul and Barbara Harris?

As Bishop Barbara Harris said, “The God who is behind us is greater than any problem that is ahead of us.”

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and that movement cannot be stopped because we follow a Lord who defeated death and follow a Lord who lives.

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and he has summoned us to make disciples and followers of all nations and transform this world by the power of the Good News, the gospel of Jesus.

And look at us: We’re incredible!

Have you seen all the babies crawling around this convention? They’re all over the place!

Some of us are babies!

Some of us are children. The children are right here. You can’t see them—

Hey, guys! Hey!—They’re waving—How are you?

Some of us are children!

Some of us are young people. They’ve been here.

Some of us are young adults, and they’ve been here, and they’re gonna change the world!

Some of us have got  AARP cards.

I do!

And some of us—help me, Jesus—some of us are Republicans. And some of us are Democrats.

But if you’ve been baptized into the Triune God, you are a disciple of Jesus, and we are all in the Jesus Movement.

What God has brought together, let no one tear asunder.

Some of us are labelled traditionalists—Help me, Jesus!

Ready? And some of us are labelled progressive.

I don’t care whether your label is traditionalist or progressive, if you’ve been baptized into the Triune God, you’re in the Jesus Movement.

See, we are all different. Some of us are black and some of us are white, some of us are brown.

But I like that old song that said:

 

Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow black and white,

They are precious in his sight.

Jesus love the little children of the world.

 

I don’t care who you are, how the Lord has made you, what the world has to say about you, if you’ve been baptized into Jesus you’re in the Jesus Movement and your God’s.

Therein may be the Gospel message of hope for the world. There’s plenty of good room.

Plenty good room.

Plenty good room for all God’s children.

For in the beauty of the lilies—Christ was the one who taught us this.

 

With a glory in his bosom

That transfigured you and me.

As he died to make [folk] holy

Let us live to set them free

While God is marching on.

 

Glory.

Glory, hallelujah.

God’s truth is marching on.

Now go.

 

 

Letter from President Obama

 

The following is the text of the letter sent from President Barack Obama to Presiding Bishop –Elect Curry.

Dear Bishop Curry,

As you prepare to begin serving as Presiding Bishop, i send warm congratulations.

Since our Nation's earliest days, faith communities across our country have shown us how a willingness to believe and a dedication to care for others can enrich our lives. Your leadership over the years has reflected your powerful vision for a more inclusive tomorrow.  Guided by your commitment to a future of greater compassion and opportunity, I trust you will continue to use your gifts to bring people of all faiths and backgrounds together to realize the America we know is possible.

Again congratulations.  I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

 

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.
 

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

 
“Now I’ve got one word for you,” the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry of North Carolina, Presiding Bishop-Elect, told the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in his sermon on July 3. “If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s

“There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious,” the Rev. Colin Mathewson said in his sermon July 2 to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. “Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the basis of a story that has changed each of us in this room.”

 

Presiding at the Eucharist was Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic 

Mathewson hails from St. Paul’s Cathedral,San Diego (Diocese of San Diego)

The following is the text of the sermon:

“For a Single, Beautiful Word”

“The general remembers the tiny green sprigs/ men of his village wore in their capes/ to celebrate the birth of a son. He will/ order many, this time, to be killed/ for a single, beautiful word.” Thus concludes the poem “Parsley” by Rita Dove, a piece remembering the so-called Parsley Massacre of 1937.

That was a year of economic struggle for the Dominican Republic as sugar prices plummeted.  Neighboring Haitians struggled too, and thousands crossed the porous border to work the cane fields for American conglomerates.  In response, the Dominican Republic’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo, instituted harsh deportation policies that didn’t seem to be working -- for the demand for cheap labor on the fields remained.  In the face of growing unrest, scapegoats were needed to maintain control.  In September of that year Trujillo welcomed a Nazi delegation and publicly accepted the gift of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  Trujillo’s dream of whitening the skin of Dominicans to bolster national pride at the expense of their darker-skinned Haitian neighbors had found its justification.

Just weeks later, while drunk at a party, Trujillo ordered the deaths of thousands of Haitian immigrants along the border.  When it wasn’t clear by skin color alone who was of Haitian descent and who was not, Trujillo’s men would ask the terrified detainee to pronounce the word “parsley” in Spanish: perejil.  Haitians could not roll their “r”s, and thus spoke “pelejil.” And so they were destroyed, their bodies dumped into the aptly-named Massacre River.  

To be killed for a single word: a shibboleth, a word designed to distinguish us from them, first employed by the Gileadites at the fords of the Jordan River to murder 42,000 Ephraimites in the Book of Judges.

To be killed -- and remembered -- for a single, beautiful word.

The Rev. Charles Barnes arrived in the Dominican Republic at the age of 42, five years into Trujillo’s reign.  Charles’ church in the capital, Santo Domingo, had been rebuilt in the poor part of town, and his congregation included many struggling West Indian immigrants.  As he came to know their plight, which was related to the blackness of their skin and the fact that many could only speak English, his eyes began to open to the racialized world in which he lived.  This realization enabled him to believe and investigate the rumors of the Parsley massacre, and make the decision to write to his American contacts about Trujillo’s crime.  

I wonder what making that terrible decision was like. How long after Charles had heard of the massacre did he write his first letter?  Did he know that he was scratching out his own death sentence?  Did he agonize over the sealing of the envelope?  It was a Gethsemane moment, I imagine, for Charles Barnes.  He had been invited into Christ’s sacrifice for us, and, picking up his cross, he gave himself up and into its deep love.

To be killed -- and remembered -- for a single, beautiful string of words, words that stood courageously in the face of the powers of this world.  These words were struck down, and the Church resurrects them.

There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious.  Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the basis of a story that has changed each of us in this room.  God is the author of this Christian story, and we are its bearers and its witnesses and its tellers.  We take up its well-worn pages in awe and gratitude as the saints and martyrs have for centuries before us.  Even as we tell this saving tale to the world we are shaped by its grammar of grace and its language of love.  And as its words settle into our bones we can inspire us to act, like Father Barnes, in quite beautiful ways.

During the announcements the Sunday before I left for Salt Lake, I asked the Latino congregation with whom I serve to bless my travels.  The guest preacher said a blessing after everyone gathered around me in the center of the sanctuary. Then he marked the sign of the cross on my forehead, and, surprisingly, asked everyone else to do the same.  One parishioner after another, beginning with the kids, came up to me as I knelt down and looked into my eyes and blessed me with their hands and with their words.  I have never felt so loved by a community.  There is no us and them in God’s gracious story.

I wonder how well Charles Barnes spoke Spanish. Though. I’m not sure it really matters.  His actions, as did the tender blessings offered by my congregation, drew from a deeper language at the heart of the great Christian story to which we owe our lives.  This is the heart of mission.

To be killed for a single, beautiful word, a string of words that comprise the story that has captivated us so -- reminds us that the powers of this world have little patience for truth and scarce use for history that cannot be molded to meet the immediate needs of kings on their thrones.  In the Dominican Republic, nearly 80 years after the Parsley Massacre, the government has begun a new program of Haitian deportations, including even those who have lived their entire lives on Dominican soil.  Once again, language is used to separate and destroy.  And the Dominican Episcopal Church, strong and growing stronger each year, stands as a truth teller in the gap between racial justice and political expediency.  Our memory of the saints and martyrs show us this way.  Indeed, every Sunday the congregants of the Episcopal Cathedral of the Epiphany in Santo Domingo take communion above the tomb of Charles Barnes.

In such moments of remembrance history cannot help but be pulled into the present, where God’s Spirit of truth and love can minister to the still-weeping wounds of violence, and send us out as bearers of the story to tell again and again and again the singular, beautiful, and loving words of God.

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

“There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious,” the Rev. Colin Mathewson said in his sermon July 2 to the 78th General

“I invite you to sing a song that resurrects hope within you,” the Rev. Kimberly Jackson, chaplain and vicar of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center, Emmaus House Chapel, Atlanta http://absalomjones.org/said in her June 30 sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Wendell Gibbs of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan presided at the Eucharist.  

The following is the text of the sermon:

The Rev. Kimberly Jackson

A few years ago, there was a man scheduled to be executed in the state of Georgia named Troy Davis. Many people across Georgia and indeed, the country, believed that Troy was innocent. And so, people organized to try to halt his execution. My students, young black men and women from Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, and Spelman colleges were among those who literally took to the streets in protest over the fact that our state was willing to kill a potentially innocent man.

My students skipped some classes, but they skipped classes to scale bridges to drop down banners, to sign thousands of petitions, and they chanted themselves hoarse. For many of them, this was the hardest that they’d ever worked, and the loudest that they’d ever protested on behalf of someone who they’d never even met.

Now, I don’t know how often you all get to spend time with college students like the ones we have right here, but if you have - you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say the energy that they brought to the space was electrifying. They believed that they could make a difference. They believed that they could save lives. Their energy was contagious and invigorating… their energy gave me hope.

Despite all of their efforts as many of you know, Troy Davis was executed.

The following day, we gathered at the Episcopal chapel to process and to plan next steps. In the midst of the conversations and the questions about the why and the how, this student, Kareem, a quiet young sophomore, in the midst of the chatter, he raised his hand and he said, “Y’all we need to sing.”

Now, admittedly, I had a nice agenda laid out, and it did not include singing. Like good Anglicans, though, we began with prayer.

But, thankfully, I listened to Kareem and I gave him the floor. He stood and with trembling voice he began singing James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Out of all of the songs that a nineteen-year-old boy from Baltimore could choose from, that young man picked that 100 year-old hymn — and as my southern grandmama used to say, “that chile sang dat song.” And as he sang — as he retold the story of a people who have tread a path through the blood of the slaughtered… as he sang a “song full of the hope that the dark past has taught us,” we all began to feel the hope, we all began to feel God’s spirit revive within us. We started to remember that yes, yes, another world is possible and just maybe, maybe with God’s help we can still make a difference.

——

Sisters and brothers in Christ, our gathering here — this 78th Convention of The Episcopal Church has been incredible! It has been amazing. We’ve seen history made in the Supreme Court’s decisions of last week. We’ve made history here in the election of our Church’s first Black Presiding Bishop! Friends, the energy in this place is exciting, invigorating and I have so much hope for us, for the Church, our nation and indeed world!

Friends, we serve a mighty God! And we, we are so blessed so abundantly blessed, to be a part of God’s Church!

In the midst of all of this excitement and good news, we have chanted and cheered, shed tears of joy, and some of us have sang ourselves hoarse. These feel like happy times in our Church. So in many ways, today’s readings just don’t seem to quite fit.

Remember the gospel reading? John is calling people snakes and warning about the wrath to come!  And then the Epistle has all of this militaristic language about putting on armor so that we can fight. Fight? We’ve been fighting in this Church for decades. We don’t want to fight. These are happy times. But in truth, if we’ve learned anything at all about last week, we know that while many of us were celebrating marriage equality, we were also grieving the racist murders of the Charleston 9.

Now, I know this may make me sound like I’m not an Episcopalian, but friends here’s the truth, “the spiritual forces of evil” that Paul talks about are real. We are wrestling against “rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers in this present darkness.” Those powers, those systems of oppression, and authorities - they have many names! They are named: white supremacy, sexism, trans* and homophobia and racism. We are called to find strength to shield ourselves and others from the fiery darts of classism, environmental injustices, and xenophobia…. We called to reject the notion that some people’s lives are of greater value than others.

So, yes we do celebrate, but we also must fight. For as the young people at Black Lives Matter rallies have reminded us, it is our duty to fight. And I know, I know that I’ve rattled off a long list of -isms and phobias that seem way too big for us to ever defeat. But my friends, I flew out here from Stone Mountain, Georgia with some good news. Friends, the good news is that we do not fight alone.  We fight against the forces of darkness with ourselves together. We fight as one. We fight with the power of the Holy Spirit providing us with strength and wisdom.

With the power of our Almighty God, we will tear down the sexism that plagues this very Church. With the strength that comes from standing in truth and righteousness, we will destroy patriarchy, white supremacy and racism.  We can and we will.

Beloved, I’ll admit this is hardwork. But most holy work is. Most holy work is hard. What I learned from that young man named Kareem, I learned that when doing hard-holy-work, it’s really important to stop to sing. Now, of course, I’m not inviting you to sing just any ole song… No… That young man from Baltimore taught me to sing the songs that remind of us that the Lord is our strength and our refuge - that the Lord is our Light and our Salvation.

So friends, as we prepare to continue in the struggle, I invite you to find your song. I invite you to sing that song that inspires, that enlivens, that gives you the courage to run on. And don’t just sing it in the shower! Sing in the car and hum it the grocery store. Share your song. Share it with friends and family in times of joy and in heartache. Sing the song that reminds you that we are all just leaning on the everlasting Arms.

My friends, I invite you to sing a song that resurrects hope within you.

Amen.

 

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

“I invite you to sing a song that resurrects hope within you,” the Rev. Kimberly Jackson, chaplain and vicar of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center, Emmaus House Chapel, Atlanta http://absalomjones.org/said in her June 30 sermon to the 78th General

“There are times when the weight of our historic experience seems like it is unbearable,” Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America said in his June 29 sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. “And yet, it is precisely at such moments that Christ can become most powerfully present to us.”

 

Presiding at the Eucharist was Bishop Mike Klusmeyer of West Virginia 

Preacher: Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America 

The following is the text of the sermon.

 

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian

Before beginning my formal remarks, I would like to say what a privilege it is to be among you today, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, for this Community Eucharist. I would especially like to thank Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, your Primate and Presiding Bishop, a great church leader, and my dear friend, for generously extending this invitation. 

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
 

The readings for today—from the Book of Ezekiel, the Psalms, Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, and the Gospel of John—seem on the surface to have very little in common.  But on reflection, there is a common thread weaving them together.  Each of the readings deals, in its own way, with the idea of “exile” or “displacement.”

The prophet Ezekiel offers an image—which our Lord Jesus would also later take up—of a shepherd gathering in his scattered, lost sheep: seeking them out in the distant countries, returning them to their own land:

“I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away,” Ezekiel says of his urgent mission.  “I will bind up that which was broken, and strengthen that which was sick” (Ez 34:16).

Psalm 87, on the other hand, is a hymn to a lost homeland, sung by those who remember, with pride and nostalgia, the now-distant land of their birth:

“Of Zion it shall be said, ‘This man and that one was born in her,’ …The Lord shall count in the records of the people, that there, this man was born” (Ps 87:5-6).

St. Paul, writing to Timothy, speaks of a different kind of displacement: the exile from human society that comes from his unjust imprisonment.  He knows he will never return to the world he knew; but in one of the most famous passages in all of Scripture, Paul confides to us his faith that his exile is ultimately the doorway to a greater reality:

“I am ready now;” he writes; “the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.  For the future, a crown of righteousness is waiting, which the Lord shall give me at that day.  And not only to me, but to all who love him” (2 Tm 4:6-8).

Thoughts about exile have held a special meaning for me this year, as a bishop of the Armenian Church.  For it was exactly one hundred years ago that my people became exiles from their historic homeland, in the cataclysm that would eventually be known as the Armenian Genocide.

 

* * *

The Ottoman Turks launched this deadly plan to transform their disintegrating, multi-ethnic empire into a homogeneous state.  Their vision of a new Turkish state covered territory which included the Armenian homeland, so the decision was made to annihilate every Armenian man, woman and child through deportation, starvation and wholesale murder.

The genocide of more than one and a half million Armenians began in 1915.  When it was over, two out of three Armenians living in that country had perished—the victims of a systematic extermination of Turkey’s Armenian population.

In this manner, our people were effectively eliminated from their homeland of nearly three thousand years.  Even the memory of the Armenian nation was intended for obliteration: churches and monasteries were desecrated, and small children—the seed of the future—were snatched from their parents, renamed, and farmed out to be raised as Turks. More than 2600 churches and monasteries were destroyed.  More than 4000 clergy were killed.

Sadly, such brutality set the tone for the 20th century: a tone which would be heard again in the Nazi death camps, in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Rwanda and Darfur.  And it echoes in our own days, in the Middle East, in Syria, in Iraq, in Africa, and other desperate places.

* * *

As you can imagine, these thoughts have weighed heavily on me throughout this year, both as a leader of the Armenian Church, and as one of many exiles from our lost homeland.  There are times when the weight of our historic experience seems like it is unbearable.
 

And yet, it is precisely at such moments that Christ can become most powerfully present to us.  For myself, during this Genocide Centennial year, I felt His presence in the incredible outpouring of support and encouragement Armenians have received, from friends, co-religionists, national governments, and even from people we had never met before.  All of them asserted their solidarity, their understanding, their recognition and appreciation of what the Armenian people endured.

Like you have done today, this outpouring of good will made us realize as never before that we are not alone.  That the burden of pain and exile was not something my people alone have experienced.  Others share that burden with us, in different ways.  And most of all, our Lord shares that burden with all His children.

That is the deep meaning today’s scriptures hold for us.  Through them, we are led to the realization that we are all exiles: scattered sheep, lost in a wilderness.  Displaced souls longing for our true home.  Prisoners awaiting release, knowing that we will be led where we do not want to go.

And yet we are also assured that a crown of glory is awaiting us.  For the truth is that wherever we may live, Christ’s faithful followers—just like their master—have no real home upon this earth.  “Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head,” said our Lord Jesus (Mt 8:20).  Our true homeland is God’s kingdom.  And human life is the exile’s journey of return.  Along that path we will experience all of life’s drama: its sorrow and pain, but also its joys and beauty.  And all the while, we await the sound of our shepherd’s voice—the Shepherd who has never ceased searching for us, to gather us in, and deliver us home.

I want to conclude by thanking you all for sharing in our journey this year.  Your generosity, your encouragement, and your abiding friendship are great blessings for myself, my church, and for my people.  May God bless you, and may He guide all His children to their true home in His eternal kingdom.  Amen.

 

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is meeting through July 3 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah). The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is held every three years, and is the bicameral governing body of the Church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 108 dioceses and three regional areas of the Church, at more than 800 members.

The video services of the daily Eucharist during General Convention 2015 have been produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

 

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

General Convention: http://www.generalconvention.org/

Diocese of Utah: http://www.episcopal-ut.org/

Salt Palace Convention Center: http://www.visitsaltlake.com/salt-palace-convention-center/

 

#‎GC78

“There are times when the weight of our historic experience seems like it is unbearable,” Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America said in his June 29 sermon to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal

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