Late last week Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and outgoing House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings issued a joint communique that “they would be accepting their design group’s recommendation of a June 6 deadline for submitting resolutions to the 80th General Convention,” in order to give the legislative committees time to complete their work online before the church gathers in person next month in Baltimore, Maryland.
“The final plan for mitigating the threat of COVID-19 transmission will be submitted for approval June 7 by the Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements and Executive Council. If the plan is backed by those two bodies, the 80th General Convention will be reduced from eight to four days, July 8 to 11.”
Legislative Committee 07, covering Social Justice and International Policy, continued to meet last week in anticipation that the 80th General Convention will find a way to include the resolutions which have come before their Committee for consideration, including several resolutions supported by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network.
One of the ways that the Committee plans to complete their work during the “shorter, smaller, safer” Convention is to place as many of the Resolutions as possible on the Consent Calendar.
The Consent Calendar acts as a sort of omnibus bill for Resolutions where there is general agreement among the Committee members to recommend approval (or non-approval) by the two Houses. Resolutions included in the Consent Calendar are then voted up or down together and not considered individually. This, obviously, is a much faster process, but means that Bishops and Deputies are voting on matters without much chance to educate themselves or have discussion on their House floor.
At last Thursday’s Committee 07 hearing, in addition to taking initial testimony on Resolution B002, which asks The Episcopal Church to underwrite the 3 year salary for an ophthalmologist at the Ras Morbat Eye Clinic in Aden, Yemen, the members heard additional testimony on Resolutions C001, C025, C031, C039, C042.
Several members of the Baltimore Jewish community gave testimony in favor of resolutions C001, which would reaffirm the Episcopal Church’s opposition to antisemitism but constrain future resolutions on Israel and Palestine unless they had the agreement of the Archbishop in Jerusalem. Earlier testimony by EPF PIN members and interfaith friends had argued that the Church’s 1991 Resolution opposing antisemitism had been stronger and included language that distinguished between legitimate criticism of Israeli laws or policies and antisemitism. We had also opposed this Resolution because while we may seek out and consider the advice of the Archbishop in Jerusalem, it should not be the Church’s practice to mute our concerns or voices to any person or institution inside or out of the Anglican community. The Committee apparently agreed with that reasoning and voted unanimously to place the Resolution on the Consent Calendar for no further action.
The Committee also voted to move Resolution C012, with some editorial changes, on to the Consent Calendar for approval. This resolution, along with Resolution C040, condemns the theology of Christian Zionism. The beliefs, while more popular and openly taught in fundamentalist and evangelical circles, can also be found in Episcopal and other mainline churches, especially among the laity. The particular emphasis on last days eschatology and a triumphalist return of Jesus to destroy His enemies is often coupled with the need to unquestioningly support the modern State of Israel regardless of the justness of its actions. [Because of the similar wording of the two resolutions, C040 will be forwarded with a recommendation of no further action being required.]
C013 and C041, the two similar resolutions concerning the Freedom of Speech and the Right of Americans to participate in Boycotts, both received strong support in the Committee’s deliberations and C013 will be placed on the Consent Calendar for approval. For anyone interested in learning more about this ongoing assault on our liberty, we recommend finding a screening of the engaging documentary Boycott from our friends at Just Vision. [As with previous similar resolutions, C041 will be forwarded with a recommendation of no further action required.]
The remaining resolutions concerning Palestine/Israel, Resolutions C025, C031, C039, C042, all dealt with the issue of the State if Israel’s ongoing and increasing discrimination against the Palestinian people both within its current borders and in the territories it continues to occupy in contravention to international law. All of the resolutions use the term Apartheid to describe the practices of Israel’s government, except for C039, which condemns the discrimination without using the “A-word”.
While we at EPF PIN have no problems agreeing with the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in saying that the State of Israel is practicing its own version of apartheid, some members of the Committee, especially if not exclusively among the House of Bishops, are still reluctant to move one of the three Apartheid resolutions on to the Consent Calendar. Some still question whether Israel meets to criteria for the crime of Apartheid, others are concerned at trying to pass a resolution using the A-word without a fulsome discussion on the floors of the two Houses which the shorter Convention format may not allow. The idea of referring these resolutions forward to the 81st General Convention planned for Louisville in 2024 was discussed, but no decision was taken.
There was strong support from both Deputies and Bishops on the Committee for Resolution C039 which came out of the Diocese Olympia, though there was some discussion about editing of the first part of the resolution for greater clarity.
The Committee will have at least one more session, scheduled for 5PM EDT on June 20th, to discuss these four resolutions prior to the start of General Convention. If you would like to register as an observer, you must do so at least two days beforehand by completing the online request form.
Thanks to EPF IN member Randy Heyn-Lamb for this update.