Category Archives: General Convention

Looking Toward General Convention

Every three years The Episcopal Church gathers in what is known as General Convention to consider a wide range of important matters facing the Church ranging from liturgical revision to social justice initiatives, budgetary matters to theological discussions, and so much more. Some call it a grand family reunion that brings representatives (lay, clergy, and bishops) from all the 110 dioceses of The Episcopal Church together for ten days (more like two weeks). Officially, General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church; it is a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, composed of deputies and bishops from each diocese. In July 2018, the 79th General Convention will be held in Austin, Texas hosted by the Diocese of Texas.

Leading up to this  triennial meeting, various committees, commissions, agencies, boards, and task forces created by the 78th General Convention meet to study and propose legislation to be discussed and voted upon in Austin. While most Episcopalians are oblivious to the machinations of General Convention, the decisions that are made at this gathering has an impact on what can (and should) be happening in local congregations as each of us are members of this church body. For example, decisions that effect every church goers that was approved at previous conventions include: the use of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the election of our current Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the ordination of women, the inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in all aspects of church life, and full-communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). Continue reading Looking Toward General Convention

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Christian Education in The Episcopal Church: A Brief History

EpiscopalSSPinThe following is an entry I contributed to “The Encyclopedia of Christian Education” ed. George Thomas Kurian and Mark A. Lamport (Rowman & LIttlefield) that was published in 2015. This three volume set is a comprehensive resource of 1,200 entries by 400 contributors that most likely can be found in a theological library or institution. I also wrote entries for “Fund for Theological Education,” “Denominational Publishing,” “Ecumenical Publishing,” and “Division of Christian Education for the National Council of Churches.” My hope is that this gives those of you who work in Christian educational ministries in the Episcopal Church some context into the roots and history of education from our denomination.

The Episcopal Church is rooted in a history of preparing individuals for proclaiming the gospel locally and internationally since it was established in 1789 as an American denomination. The creation of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society in 1835 had led to the establishment of a Board of Missions and then, later in the century, A General Board of Religious Education and a Joint Commission on Social Service. In 1919, the General Convention directed the Presiding Bishop and Council to administer and carry on the missionary, education, and social work of the Church, building upon the corporate model of business that much of America was following. Continue reading Christian Education in The Episcopal Church: A Brief History

All Our Children

AllOurChildrenLogoMy children, now grown, attended public schools before heading off to college. However, my son did attend private school for four years as we sought to provide him the accelerated education he needed at the time. We were fortunate to have the resources to give him that experience for his fourth thru seventh grade years. Not all children have those choices. As parents, we volunteered in and outside the classroom (in our local public schools) knowing how our help supported the teachers and enhanced our own understanding of the issues facing children in our community. Continue reading All Our Children

Bread for Life

The Tenth Sunday of Pentecost: Proper 18 —John 6:24-35

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, center, celebrated the opening Eucharist of General Convention. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/ Episcopal News Service
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, center, celebrated the opening Eucharist of General Convention. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/ Episcopal News Service

For the next few weeks, our Gospel readings will be focused on bread. Last week we heard the story of the feeding of the five thousand, miraculously accomplished through the division of five loaves and two fish from someone who was willing to share their food.

No matter how we might explain that miracle, it is a story of abundance. Every Sunday we celebrate that abundance of God’s love here and in churches all around the world. Some gatherings are small, some large. My job takes me to many places around the country in which I have had the opportunity to worship in many settings. From a large, ornate cathedral brimming with people to a few people gathered in a circle under a large tree, the eating of bread and drinking of wine – from one loaf and from one cup – symbolize our unity through time and space.

I got to experience a daily Eucharist along with an average of 3,500 people in July at General Convention. Each worship service involved 36 to 40 deacons, two to six vergers and a dozen altar guild members. They used one-and-a-half cases of Taylor Tawny Port and 96 loaves of bread from a local bakery. The elements were distributed by 144 Eucharistic ministers at 12 stations.[1] Not quite one loaf and one cup – but we were one in Christ. Fed with the bread that lasts forever.

There’s another particular church I have visited in San Francisco that many of you may have heard about. St. Gregory’s of Nyssa was built in 1995 in a not-so-great neighborhood of Portero Hill across from a brewery. Their mission statement is “to see God’s image in all humankind, to sing and dance to Jesus’s lead, and to become God’s friends.” Their liturgy is fully participatory and all are welcome–especially strangers—to communion. The sanctuary is incredible: the saints dance high above, depicted by Mark Dukes, a local IMG_3571African-American iconographer, who painted the entire rotunda with a mural of ninety larger-than-life figures, ranging from Teresa of Avila to Malcolm X and King David, dancing in a circle led by a dark-skinned, risen Christ. And as they move in their space, singing and dancing, they move from an area where the Word is shared to the table, where the gather around, centered below the dancing saints. Continue reading Bread for Life

Resources for Discussing Racism

circle-312343_640I have written about the VUCA World since attending a conference many years ago (Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes) that featured Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future. His research and predictions struck a chord with me and I continue to be reminded of his predictions as they are being lived out today – even though he spoke of these issues emerging in the future. The future is just as much a part of our past and present as they will be fifty or one hundred years from now.

Redding Voice offers a good overview at New Leadership Skills:

Bob also spoke about his earlier book Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present – look for what you have in common, not what you are polarized about. The Book of Provocation, written for the Episcopal Church, is a product of IFTF and CEEP. Bob said “Faith will live in the space between judging too soon and deciding too late.” The Book of Provocation highlights 15 sources of provocation for the Episcopal Church from the custom ten year forecast map. For each provocation the author suggests dilemmas that are likely to be raised for Episcopal churches if this forecast comes to pass, as well as discerning questions for church members to consider.

This VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) can also lead to opportunities (vision, understanding, clarity, and agility) in the present moment. Several polarities are being lived out in our country today that he names: the Rich/Poor Gap, Polarizing Extremes, and Urban Wilderness.

As we have watched young black men die and our cities have been filled with events of violence, hatred, and polarity the Church has again named the sin of racism that is alive and well in our society. At the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, three resolutions were put forth regarding resources for discussing racism and anti-racism training. And funding was provided for the creation of new resources in the triennial budget.

But what about now? What is available for our congregations to delve into this fall as a new program year arrives? Here are a few that are available to begin the conversation, according to each resolution: Continue reading Resources for Discussing Racism