Convention is rapidly winding down. As of press time, there are about 138 resolutions left to go! In the end, there were just over 500 resolutions brought to General Convention 79, so while a great many have been worked through, there are still quite a few to go, and not a lot of time left to do the work in. What happens when the clock runs out? Well, resolutions die and that’s the end of it.
Many of the resolutions I’ve been following since July 4th (the first day of hearings, which feels like it was so, so long ago) have had favorable outcomes. Marriage for the whole church has finally passed both houses without further amendments as of this morning, there are some trial use expansive language edits of Rite II Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, and support for transgender people in the church has been overwhelming. We are making strong moves when it comes to protecting women, assigned female at birth non-binary people, and others who disproportionately experience sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. This morning, more resolutions seeking to dismantle white supremacy have passed the House of Deputies.
One of the criticisms I’ve seen of General Convention is that too many people come for social justice and not enough for Jesus. I’d argue that social justice vs. Jesus is a false dichotomy, that Jesus was the first social justice activist. He spoke for the disabled, the poor, women, and other marginalized groups. As victim of the criminal justice system of a corrupt empire, Jesus welcomed another criminal to enter Paradise with him before anyone else. God has lifted up the lowly, indeed. It is because of my commitment to Jesus, to the life of speaking truth to power he led, that I felt moved to come speak my own truth to power at Convention. I am beyond grateful for the support of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and everyone who donated to my fundraising campaign to get me here. I have had an incredible experience that I will be processing for quite some time.
I hope to be writing to y’all again next time we convene, in 2021 in Baltimore.
I am getting ready to board a plane that takes me back to Virginia. The time spent working with EPF over the past few weeks has been life changing. I walked into this experience with very little knowledge of General Convention and I leave with hope that the church will continue to do good work. Last night we attended the final service and had the opportunity to meet PB Curry. Afterwards we all celebrated the end of our time with drinks and desserts. I believe the group of people formed for EPF’s Delegation was a special one, with each of us bringing something very different to the table yet able to bond over fighting the good fight. I look forward to continuing my work with Episcopal Peace Fellowship and am thankful for the opportunity they have given me.
July 10, 2018
One of the main issues I’ve been tracking at General Convention is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I testified at the hearing on Israel-Palestine issues and have attended both informal talks and the formal debates on the floor. However, I didn’t expect to find myself as emotional as I was during the debate on the floor at the House of Deputies yesterday afternoon.
I studied abroad in Israel for a year, and experienced up close the conflict that so many people view as the most intractable conflict in the world. I also saw the oppression that the Palestinians live under on a daily basis, and it pained me constantly to not be able to do anything about it. Perhaps the starkest moment was May 15, the day after one of the days the IDF soldiers opened fire on protesters in Gaza, killing 59 or 60 Palestinians near the border. While there were Palestinians dying for daring to protest against Israel, everyone in Tel Aviv was at the beach. The contrast in these moments was almost enough to overwhelm me.
So when the House of Deputies started debating whether or not the Episcopal Church should continue to be complicit in the occupation of Palestinian territories by investing in companies that profit off of the occupation, despite my lack of direct connection to either the Israelis or the Palestinians, I felt it hard to listen to some of the discussion. I had not known how affected I was by my time in Israel until that moment. While I’m still working through my thoughts and feelings about my year abroad, I am grateful to the convention for allowing me to confront these feelings in a way where I am able to testify to them in an effort to support these resolutions.
– Katrina Dubee
Now the whole group of those who believe were of one heart and soul…With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32-33, NRSV)
The Deputies and Bishops gathered together in Austin, TX for the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church will have the unique and holy opportunity to engage the difficult process of reconciling Episcopalian with Episcopalian in the reunion of the Diocese of Cuba with the larger Episcopal Church. While this process has been ongoing for several years, we sit poised in 2018 to take the final and definitive step in the direction of healing, justice, and reconciliation.
In 1871 the Rt. Rev’d Henry Benjamin Whipple, first Bishop of Minnesota, landed in Havana and began a long and eventually tragic relationship with the people of God in Cuba. This relationship became severed on October 27, 1966 when the House of Bishops voted to expel the Diocese of Cuba from the Episcopal Church in response to the Cuban Revolution.
The General Convention Committee on the Episcopal Church in Cuba has faithfully responded to the Holy Spirit and started the process of reconciliation by preparing A238: Admit Episcopal Diocese of Cuba as a Diocese of the Episcopal Church. The resolution acknowledges the painful history of forced isolation and calls us all together to move toward communion.
Our canon lawyers have argued that the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church do not permit the incorporation of an entire extra-provincial church into the life, mission, and ministry of the Episcopal Church. It is the expert opinion of our canon lawyers that “¡Cuba Si!; Cuba, yes!” is well and good, but that it must properly be “¡Cuba luego!; Cuba later!”
Introduction is possible, they opine, but only after General Convention has gone through the necessary steps to make a clear constitutional and canonical entrypoint, maintaining the decency and order which are beautiful hallmarks of our Anglican heritage.
In the midst of testimony and deliberation, however, the Committee on the Episcopal Church in Cuba has prayerfully committed itself to “¡Cuba Si!” and, more importantly, to “¡Cuba ahora!; Cuba now!”
The Episcopal Church is at a crossroads presently. We worry about the future of the institution that has been given to us, an institution which blesses us and, sometimes, an institution which binds us. This is the case with Cuba. The Constitution and Canons of this church provide us with a container for our life together as Episcopalians. They set the parameters of our identity and work in the world. Our call is to use the Constitution and Canons for the direct purpose of God’s mission, namely “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ” (BCP, 855).
As the Acts of the Apostles show us, the first Christians were “one in mind and spirit.” There was surely differences of opinion among them: whose interpretation of Jesus’ words was more accurate, who amongst them should be in leadership, where was the most need? And yet, our ancestors in faith were able to set aside their differences for the glory of Christ, the one whose life, death, resurrection, and ascension reconciles all people with one another.
Important as it truly is, we cannot rely solely on the opinion of canon lawyers. Reconciliation requires a commitment to truth, no matter how much pain it brings. History is clear: the Episcopal Church in Cuba is a diocese of this church which, through the manifold sins of imperialism, classism, and racism, has been expelled from this church.
The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church will not vote this week to admit an entire extra-provincial church into this church. It will vote on whether or not to receive back into its fold a diocese which, through no fault of its own, has been isolated and subjected to second-class status among the people of God. History is clear: what was once one has been turned into two. Reconciliation – the process of sewing back together a frayed church ripped at the seems – cannot begin until the wounds of yesterday are treated with urgency, care, and an abiding commitment God’s vision of justice.
With the help of God, we, together, can begin the good, holy, and difficult work of bringing back into the fold the beloved people of God in Cuba…¡ahora! now!
Cody Maynus is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN and is in formation for priesthood in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. He is a Delegate of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
The Rev. Rena Turnham is the Deacon for Community Engagement at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN and is a member of the Cuban Ministry Commission of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. She is a Clergy Deputy from Minnesota.
July 10, 2018
Within the past few days here a lot has happened. On Saturday morning I testified three times on policy regarding migrant children and their families. These issues are the primary reason I am here. Later in the day a few of us attended the Revival Worship. It was a great service and those of who attended agreed that the translator at that service deserved a medal for keeping up with PB Curry. Afterwards, the group of us bonded over tacos and promptly went to bed.
Monday the delegation assisted with the Bishops Against Gun Violence rally before going to the T. Don Hutto Detention Center. The event brought out many mixed emotions for us. For me, it felt like a call to action and a reminder to continue working with the many students within my classroom who may be facing deportation. Later in the evening, a few of us went to the Integrity Eucharist where we had the honor of meeting Presiding Bishop Michael Curry before the service.
Yesterday, I spent a significant portion of the day at the EPF booth. There were several interesting speakers.
July 8, 2018
Or at least I think it’s day four. It’s hard to tell. While I have in fact been outside (between the Austin Theological Seminary, where we’re staying and the Convention Center and two hotels committees are meeting in) and seen the sun, time has started to behave oddly. I’ve had to ask someone what day it was twice today alone. Everyone, and I mean everyone here (even the pigeon standing in for the Holy Spirit in the House of Deputies) is exhausted. Personally, I think it’s the good kind.
I have spent the last four days testifying up and down different committees on a number of different resolutions. I’ve spent the most time with Committee 13, the special committee to hear resolutions about BCP revision related issues, where I have been speaking to the need for inclusive/expansive language in our Common Prayer. When I think about a prayerbook revision that includes that kind of language, I am not thinking about removal of everything we have now (what many of those whom are against A068 fear), throwing our rich and beautiful tradition out the window, but of adding more of the richness of our Scriptural tradition as it speaks about God and humanity to our prayed theology. I have testified at a number of hearings on issues relating to transgender people and their welcome in the Church, queer/same-sex marriage rites, and disability issues. Speaking from my own experiences, I have also been a vocal presence in hearings on issues of the systemic gender-based violence perpetuated against women, trans women, and assigned female at birth non-binary people.
While prayerbook revision seems to be the only issues people are talking about today (it passed the House of Deputies, we shall see what happens next in the House of Bishops), I hope that the many other resolutions and issues I testified about do not get lost in the shuffle. I’m looking forward to continuing to track the resolutions I have personally spoken to, as well resolutions related to other peace and justice issues my amazing colleagues have spoken to as well.
July 5, 2018
Today was the first “official” day of Convention, despite the fact that we’ve been here three days now. I’m still learning my way around how Convention works — namely, how to pace my activities so I don’t find myself exhausted at four pm with things left to do.
Still, it’s an amazing experience so far. I’ve testified on gun violence as a public health issue, heard testimonies on support for the Iran nuclear deal and the Episcopal presence at the UN, and attended a panel on race in the communion. The sheer volume of things to do and issues to discuss can get overwhelming at times, but they can also be extremely fulfilling, so it’s difficult to not want to go to all of them. It’s easy to overreach, and more difficult to hold back knowing that it’s also important to take time for yourself to just process and to be. I’m looking forward to testifying tomorrow on Israel-Palestine resolutions, and to the rest of Convention — more updates to come soon!
July 6, 2018
It’s hard to believe we are already at the end of day three here at General Convention. Many of my peers within the Young Adult Delegation have been testifying and preparing testimony on a wide variety of issues from prayer book revisions to immigration policy reform.
Tonight at the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Gala, we heard the stories and honored peace and justice warriors within the organization and it was truly exciting to hear. There is a joint committee hearing tomorrow morning on immigration reform, where several of the Young Adult Delegates are testifying and observing.
July 5, 2018
This is my 3rd General Convention. I feel like I’m almost an old pro. But this convention feels different than others. Perhaps its the fact that it is held in a town I know very well. But perhaps there is also something different in the air. This year, we are not totally torn asunder by the question of marriage equality. Although I listened to many people tonight testifying about why we should be “inclusive” of conservative Episcopalians, the vitriol and sheer hatred that has been present in the past two conventions is gone. Instead I see more people who are my age. Perhaps it’s that I’m older, but it seems like this convention has more people who weren’t alive during the Vietnam Protests than before. It is a strange realization to see this here.
All that said, As a Shepherd of the EPF Delegation who will be posting over the next 8 days, I am proud of what they have already accomplished and excited to see where they will go, well beyond this convention. But each one of us is here because we love the Episcopal Church. We want to be able to share that love far and wide by making this world, and the Episcopal Church, a place that addresses real issues of injustice and suffering. Until we acknowledge the pain and tragedy in this world we cannot begin to heal it. The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is waging the gospel of peace to continue pushing Episcopalians and the Episcopal Church to fully live in to the baptismal covenant “to strive for justice and peace.”
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship has a long and rich history of helping Episcopalians and all Christians live into our baptismal identity as people of peace and justice.
Part of that work during the ten or eleven days of General Convention is enabling the leadership of young adults to take their (our!) place in the councils of the Church. The EPF Young Adult Delegation brings together a group of young adults to work, live, and worship together while the General Convention is in session.
Eight young adults (18-30) from more than five dioceses have descended upon Austin, Texas to represent the Episcopal Peace Fellowship at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Our work while here in Austin is to offer and empower prophetic voices in the Church. In particular, our work is to help Bishops and Deputies as they sit in committees and task forces; write, propose, and discuss legislation; and eventually vote on resolutions which will influence our collective life together as Christians.
Each of the eight of us are tracking various justice-related issues: racial reconciliation and healing, gun violence, immigration rights, divestments and ethical spending, human trafficking, sexism and sexual assault, prayer book revision, and international policy.
Look to this space for updates throughout the next several days from each of us. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter (@epfnational) as we each take over the feed for a day.
In the meantime, hold us and the whole General Convention in your prayers. We’ll do the same!
Peace to you and those you love,
Cody Maynus is a member of the 2018 Episcopal Peace Fellowship Young Adult Delegation. He is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis, MN; a postulant for priesthood in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota; and a member of the Benedictine Way, a Benedictine monastic community in the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.