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Growing diversity, seminary education cost, ecumenism grab deputies action

By Sarah T. Moore
[Episcopal News Service]  The House of Deputies overwhelmingly voted to fully recognize and welcome Native Peoples into congregational life with special effort to reach out among urban Native Peoples, reaffirming the 72nd General Convention designation of 1997-2007 as the “Decade of Remembrance, Recognition, and Reconciliation” (C008).

By voting thus, the resolution asks for a budget allocation consideration of $1.5 million for the triennium to provide grants for projects that seek to welcome Native Peoples into church life, provide leadership training, evangelism and mission works among urban and rural Native Peoples for young and report back to the 75th General Convention.

Supporting this resolution, Deputy the Rev. Anthony Guillen of Los Angeles called to the microphone all people of color who are deputies as a witness of the growing diversity of the church.

Deputy the Rev. John Floberg of North Dakota, who works with Native Peoples said, “Many of us are committed to a ministry of presence and compassion. But that is not enough. The ministry of presence must become a ministry of present.”

Hawaii Deputy the Rev. Darrow Aiona said, “I speak in support of the native indigenous Hawaiians. Since the beginning of the Episcopal Church in Hawaii, we only have had active, retired and dead Hawaiian clergy totaling seven. We claim to be 'kanakamaoli' – indigenous people of the land. We need help in raising up kanakamaoli clergy.”

Deputies also adopted another resolution reaching out to the “new majority” – defined as persons who have felt unwelcome or alienated, particularly those characterized by race, ethnicity, language, disability and sexual orientation. The Congregational Development unit of the Episcopal Church Center was urged to continue to expand its resources in these areas, in keeping with the enthusiastic move to strengthen evangelism of 20/20 movement.

Educational support addressed

High debt for seminary students was the concern of resolution A064 on which deputies concurred with the House of Bishops. This directs the Standing Commission on Ministry Development to convene a partnership with the Church Pension Fund, the Episcopal Church Foundation, the Society for the Increase of the Ministry, the Episcopal Evangelical Education Society, the council of Seminary Deans and any other appropriate group to address debt and report back to the 75th General Convention.

Among numerous debt-reduction suggestions in the resolution include encouraging dioceses and congregations to play a greater role in supporting people preparing for ordination and lay professions. Another targeted financial support for those working in underserved areas (A064).

The Education Committee presented resolutions on the church’s role in counseling and education on biomedical ethics (A013); use of survey data to develop resources on the church’s response to violence, poverty, injustice and exclusion, particularly as these relate to women (A030); assessment of ministry with the aging population (A007); and commendation to Episcopal colleges and schools to include peace and justice studies, education and training for service and careers in nongovernmental organizations and civil society (A038).

War and peace issues

Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops on resolutions proposed through the Ecumenical Committee. These include recommending that the church speak out to end religious persecution on war and encourage the church to observe, support and institute interfaith worship services in all communities across the country and world (C031).

The house concurred with bishops that the church continue substantive Christian-Muslim dialogue and to cooperate in such dialogue with other Christian bodies and support efforts to strengthen peaceful and secure religious wtiness of other Christians around the world in ministry among Muslim neighbors (A090).

Genetic guidelines endorsed

The house also adopted with amendment a statement on ethical guidelines for genetic research and intervention.

“People are looking to the church for guidelines,” said Deputy Randy Dales. The resolution states it is morally acceptable in principle to engage in experimental somatic cell human gene transfer for therapeutic purposes in an effort to treat or prevent disease, and experimental genetic intervention in human beings must meet ethical standards of research and not consider the use of germline procedures (A011).

Responding to a resolution on caring for children in the face of the new genetics, the house approved that genetic testing can be an important part of parental responsibility and may be carried out if it is clearly in the best interest of the child to be tested. Treatments for genetic diseases may be used if they are proven safe and effective, and new genetic techniques may be used in some cases. The resolution stated it is not morally acceptable to use reproductive cloning (A012).

Other actions

Deputies also acted on the following resolutions:

  • Adopted procedures for special order for election of members of the Joint Nominating Committee for Election of the Presiding Bishop (X026).
  • Adopted procedures for special order for election of trustees of General Theological Seminary (X027).
  • Adopted rules of order clarification for elections (D044).
  • Referred to committee for more work on clarifying phrasing regarding bishops’ election and the timing before General Convention (D072).
  • Passed a resolution from Committee on Structure that legislative committee membership is helped when membership includes deputies and bishops, and members of appropriate commissions and committees (A147).
  • Discharged a resolution relating to parochial reports as it was already acted on in another resolution (A043).
  • Approved a resolution from Church in Small Communities addressing resources and leadership programs for musicians to promote their use in congregations working with the staff at the Episcopal Church Center (B010).
  • Rejected a resolution recommending that the Executive Council realign leadership accountability to an executive director for administration rather than the presiding bishop in some areas of business (D005).
  • Adopted with amendment a statement regarding the protection of animals from cruel treatment, including advocating legislation to protect animals (D016).
  • Approved a resolution that directs the Standing Committee on Domestic Mission and Evangelism to develop strategic plans to accomplish measurable goals of the 20/20 vision and urge all to accomplish those goals and that the committee report to Executive Council and the church at large on progress of the nine areas in which 20/20 is impacting the church: leadership, spirituality, prayer and worship, research, new congregation development, vital congregations, next generations, communication, and funding and reporting (A084).
  • Concurred with the House of Bishops to include Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman priest in the Anglican Communion, to be in the calendar of the church year for Jan. 24, and authorized for trial use 2003-2006 (A098). Also concurred with the words in the propers to be used in trial use (A099).
  • Concurred with bishops on a resolution on continuing education for clergy and lay professionals to encourage dioceses to to make plans and provisions for all clergy and lay professionals in its jurisdiction. It also urged dioceses not having any such program in place to develop such with resources available from the the church.