Bishop's Writing / Enews August
Despite the difficulties presented by the Covid pandemic, our General Convention met this summer in Baltimore, followed by the Lambeth Conference in London. Both of these gatherings made decisions that will impact our common life.
The decisions of the General Convention will roll out over time, and we will deal with several matters at our upcoming Diocesan Convention. Two decisions of the General Convention seem likely to impact us in important ways.
The first was the decision to consider all the authorized liturgies of the church to be part of The Book of Common Prayer. That means that services like those in Enriching our Worship and the new inclusive marriage service are now considered prayer book services. A website will soon be the repository for all these services. The same resolution also provided for monitoring of these services and, for the first time, set out an actual timeframe for any future revision. It is clear that updates to various services will come in time. None of this is likely to mean immediate changes to our Sunday worship, but it does make all our various services fully available to the church. If you haven’t been using Enriching our Worship, now is a good time to begin.
The second decision was to create a voluntary association of dioceses and parishes for Racial Justice and Reconciliation, funded by The Episcopal Church. The funds set aside for this work are very substantial, 10% of the resources available for such use, and a task force will use the next two years to propose specific work and specific ways that dioceses can participate. I anticipate that the Diocese of Rochester will want to be part of this effort.
The Lambeth Conference, the every-ten-year meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, was anticipated to be a significant, and perhaps divisive, clash of cultures and values. While there were passionate discussions and disagreements, what’s notable about Lambeth was the ability of the 650 bishops gathered at Kent University to engage each other across these differences. There were very significant conversations about racism, colonialism, environmental stewardship, technology, care for women and children, and peace-making.
Also significant was what did not happen. Many people feared that our LGBTQ members would be thrown under the bus or that the provinces that support gay and lesbian people would be condemned or punished, and this did not happen. Instead, the bishops agreed to continue in relationship, and to work together despite very different understandings of human sexuality. Our Presiding Bishop and many diocesan bishops pledged passionately to continue our work of fully including our LGBTQ members. I enthusiastically join in that pledge. There’s much work to do, and perhaps, in this time of great division, we Episcopalians can model a way to seek justice, to live with differences, and to affirm the dignity of every human being. It’s what our PB calls the Way of Love.