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LOS ANGELES: Convention repents discrimination, calls for environmental stewardship, full inclusion

By Pat McCaughan


[Episcopal News Service]  The 111th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, meeting December 1-2 in Riverside, adopted resolutions calling for a living wage, environmental stewardship and full inclusion for all people in the church.

The Convention also observed the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day; launched a ‘Lights in Hope' health-ministries initiative in support of the Diocese of Jerusalem; and heard presentations by well-known author Phyllis Tickle.

By an overwhelming majority, delegates dissented to General Convention Resolution B033, which called upon bishops and standing committees to exercise restraint when consenting to the consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.

The Los Angeles resolution also called upon the diocese to "repent of the continuing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people that B033 encourages, and authorizes and reaffirms the full inclusion of all sisters and brothers in Christ, regardless of sexual orientation, into all areas of the life of the Church." It urged its bishops and standing committee to uphold both the letter and spirit of canon law, which prohibits discrimination against all persons, when consenting to consecration of new bishops.

Convention approved a $5.8 million budget which represented an $800,000 increase over 2006; 14.7 percent of which was dedicated to world and national mission and another 11.3 percent was dedicated to mission and congregational development.

Delegates also authorized the diocese, on behalf of individuals, parishes and institutions, to monitor consumption of combustible fuels and to reduce their use in 2007 by 10 percent from current levels.

Convention agreed both to follow and to make a minimum standard for all parish lay employees of "125 percent of the most recent federal poverty guideline for a family of four adjusted and published annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."

Visitors were encouraged to attend to hear three addresses by Episcopal author and laywoman Phyllis Tickle about the emerging church, a conference theme. Tickle, a long-time contributing editor in religion for Publisher's Weekly, the international journal of the book industry, is frequently quoted as an authority on religion in the United States. Her current book "The Night Offices," was released November 6.

Tickle told the gathering that current tensions within the church are an expression of a pattern in which, approximately every 500 years, the church rethinks its understanding of the authority of the faith and of what it means to be a human being.

"There ought to be enormous freedom for the church to realize we did not make this mess any more than Martin Luther did during the Great Reformation," Tickle said amid laughter and applause. "He had to live through it and so that is our challenge, to live through it gracefully … and to be aware of it. This is the era of the Great Transformation and we are the first to be aware of it while we're living it."

She added: "It's time the church got on board with modern technology. The failure of the church to engage science has been its downfall."

After an evening vespers service, about 100 people attended a December 1 vigil to observe the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day, officiated by the Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, author of "Are You Running With Me Jesus?" and many other books.
Diocesan Bishop J. Jon Bruno launched a "Lights of Hope" Hands in Healing initiative, to support a Los Angeles partnership with the Diocese of Jerusalem, approved at the 2005 diocesan convention. The Jerusalem church supports 35 institutions including hospitals, clinics, kindergartens and schools, vocational training programs and institutions for the deaf, the disabled and the elderly.
With two AIDS quilts as a backdrop, Canon Jack Plimpton and Pam Payne, the chair of the diocesan Commission on HIV/AIDS, described the diocese as a "first responder in the Christian Church, responding with a sacramental focus, with education and AIDS prevention programs," creating the commission in 1984.
Plimpton said that diocesan initiative called Project New Hope offers 600 apartments in 11 residential dwellings, as well as education, training and placement programs, for those living with HIV/AIDS.

The Diocese of Los Angeles comprises about 68,850 Episcopalians worshipping in 147 congregations.