A flurry of legislation cleared the House of Deputies in the waning hours of the 75th General Convention June 21, including a resolution that begins interim Eucharistic sharing with the United Methodist Church (UMC), and other resolutions that reaffirm church support for gays and lesbians.
The relationship with the United Methodist Church includes recognition of the UMC as "a member of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church in which the Gospel is rightly preached and taught" and encourages the development of a common Christian life between the two bodies. The agreement permits common, joint celebrations of the Eucharist (Holy Communion) between the two churches.
Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops in opposing the criminalization of homosexuality, opposing state or federal constitutional amendments that prohibits same-gender civil marriage or civil unions and affirming the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
Another resolution reiterates Episcopal Church support of gay and lesbian people as "children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."
Deputies also concurred with bishops in adopting a resolution calling for equal representation of women and men on all decision-making bodies within the church at local, diocesan and national levels. This recommendation originated with the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.
The deputies also concurred with the House of Bishops in a mission initiative resolution for the New Orleans area that will gather data that can be used to advance evangelism elsewhere in the church.
Additional resolutions were passed that came from the special committee that considered resolutions in response to the Windsor Report. They reiterated the historic separate and independent status of the churches of the Anglican Communion and affirmed the "Windsor process" to discern the nature and unity of the church and the report's call for a listening process.
Deputies also concurred in creating a new task force to study aspects of church disciplinary canons. Proposed changes to Title IV would have replaced the current court-oriented system with a multi-layered approach intended to focus on mediation and reconciliation which included a controversial provision that would subject certain lay leaders to the new canons. After hearing significant concern about the proposal, particularly about subjecting laity to ecclesiastical discipline, the legislative committee attempted to rewrite the 30-page resolution to clarify issues. However, it quickly became apparent to committee members the revision could not be accomplished in time for this convention to act, prompting a referral to the task force for continued revisions in the next three years.
Deputies also approved a pilot project to provide summer camps for children whose parents are in prison. A line item in the budget already approved by General Convention included $65,000 for the new program.
In other final day action, the House of Deputies also took action on the following legislation that had already passed the House of Bishops: