Events for December 2022

Diocese, Deputies Contribute to General Convention Agenda

Diocese, Deputies Contribute to General Convention Agenda 1931 1287 Episcopalians in Connection

At the unusual General Convention that begins Friday in Baltimore, none of the ten resolutions submitted by the Diocese of Southern Ohio or its deputies will come to the floor. But that does not mean that the diocese’s priorities will not be well represented in the convention’s agenda and the church’s work between now and the 81st General Convention in 2024.

Title IV Canon Revision
Among the diocese’s most significant contributions to the convention’s legislative process are seven resolutions that seek to revise the Episcopal Church’s Title IV disciplinary process for clergy. Three of the resolutions were proposed by Deputy Lynn Carter-Edmands, who served as canon to the ordinary on the bishop’s staff before her retirement;  three by Deputy Lissa Barker of St. Patrick’s, Dublin; and two by Deputy Jason Prati of All Saints, New Albany.

“As humans, we strive to live out our Baptismal Covenant and often fail to completely achieve this goal,” Carter-Edmands wrote in a preface to her resolutions. “Experience has shown that the Title IV procedures for dealing with the issue of clergy misconduct are not always followed and that there is a lack of wholeness even when the procedures are followed. The canons require greater clarity and direction in these matters.”

In particular, she writes, the Title IV canons assume guilt on the part of the respondent, which is the canonical term for the person being accused of misconduct, “and the proceedings themselves leave little room for considering consequences of false accusations.” The resolutions proposed by the deputies from Southern Ohio are intended to “amend the canons to assist us in providing guidelines that are consistent with the Way of Love, the guidance of scripture, and being a blessing to all involved in a Title IV misconduct matter,” she said.

All of the resolutions proposed by Carter-Edmands, Barker, and Prati have been referred to the Standing Committee on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons for its work in the next two years. Bishop Sean Rowe, the chair of the House of Bishops legislative committee on Title IV Disciplinary Canons, says this is because the committee knew that this shortened convention would not be the time to attempt wholesale revision of the Title IV canons.

“We have six people already working on Title IV, and we want to put these resolutions into the moving stream,” Rowe, who is also vice chair of the standing commission that will receive the resolutions, said. “We are taking them seriously and are grateful to Lynn and her colleagues for their informed perspective and work on Title IV.”

Beloved Community Funding
At diocesan convention in 2021, the diocese approved a resolution calling for the Episcopal Church to allocate $2 million in funding over three years for “the continued implementation of additional work of organizing our efforts to respond to social and racial injustice and grow a Beloved Community of healers, justice makers and reconcilers.” The resolution, filed as C046, was referred to the legislative committees on Racial Justice and Reconciliation, which elected not to move it out of committee.

Instead, as Deputy News reported in June, the legislative committees advanced a series of resolutions proposed by the Presiding Officers’ Working Group on Truth Telling, Reckoning, and Healing, including one that would create a new entity called the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice and fund it with “one-tenth of the trusts and endowment funds available for general use in the Episcopal Church’s budget.” In the narrative budget prepared by the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, the group is allocated $400,000 in start-up funds over the next two years, with more to be considered at the 81st General Convention in 2024.

“The proposed budget also includes $125,000 to study the church’s complicity in the federal Indigenous boarding school system, another recommendation of the presiding officers’ working group,” Episcopal News Service reported last week. “An additional $150,000 would be spent on an audit of the church’s financial assets to identify ways the early church benefited from slave labor and other systems of racial oppression.”

The audit, says Deputy Julia Ayala Harris of Oklahoma, a member of the working group, will help the church “tell our story honestly … in order to create a more authentic Christian community going forward, because that’s what young people want to see. They don’t want to see status quo, and they don’t want to continue seeing patriarchal white supremacist systems continue on. They want to be able to see that we are actually critically looking at who we are.”

Other reconciliation and justice budget items, according to the narrative budget, include grants and training; staff costs; and support of the church’s Sacred Ground program, the Absalom Jones Center, and Episcopal Church-affiliated HBCUs, among other expenses.

The detailed proposed budget for 2023 and 2024 is not yet publicly available, but is scheduled to be presented in a joint session of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies on July 10 at 2:30 pm. The session will be livestreamed on the General Convention Media Hub.

Commemoration of Bishop Barbara Harris
The diocese also proposed Resolution C050, asking that Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris be added to the church’s calendar of saints. It was one of 16 similar resolutions, all of which were referred to the legislative committees on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, on which Bishop Wayne Smith, bishop provisional of Southern Ohio, serves. Last week, Episcopal News Service reports, those committees passed a substitute resolution that directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to compile relevant historical and biographical materials and present them to the 81st General Convention in 2024.

Flexibility in Authorized Liturgies
Another resolution that will inform the work that will take place between now and the 81st General Convention in 2024 is Resolution D062, proposed by Deputy Scott Gunn. The resolution, which was referred to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, would permit congregations to use Rite One liturgical elements in “contemporary idiom.”

“Congregations may wish to savor the theological flavor of Rite One, Prayer I even in communities that primarily employ Rite Two,” Gunn wrote in the resolution’s explanation. “Or the congregation’s recitation of the Decalogue may be enriched by the use of the Rite One Decalogue rather than the Rite Two version, with its distinctly different phrasing and congregational response. Furthermore, with the current rubric, the opportunity to hear the ‘Comfortable Words’ or adopt certain other elements of the Rite One liturgies may enhance the congregation’s prayer.”

Coverage of the 80th General Convention will be available on Episcopal News Service and Deputy News, and legislative sessions of both the House of Bishops and House of Deputies will be livestreamed on the General Convention Media Hub.