GC79: Issues We’ll Be Watching

By the Center Aisle Editorial Staff

The hallways, meeting rooms and dining spots of Austin, Texas could heat up July 3-11, as thousands of Episcopalians gather to talk about issues ranging from the Middle East to the health of our marriages.

We can’t focus our lens of “radical centrism” on every issue, but here are some we expect to address in the days ahead:

Faith in the Public Square

We live in a divided world – politically, economically, racially. That’s why witnessing to our Gospel truths in the public square is more important than ever.

We’ll be following closely the various proposals and discussions on  such matters as racial reconciliation, gun violence, and economic justice.

Bp Curry_Emancipation Park_2

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visiting Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, VA.

How Do We Lead Together?

The relationship between bishops, laypeople, priests and deacons is key to our identity as Episcopalians. Those ties are being examined anew as we continue to encourage collaborative leadership in a hierarchical Church.

One key proposal in this category is Resolution A028, the seemingly bland proposal to create a salary for the President of the House of Deputies (PoHD). Those in favor reason that the PoHD is a full-time, volunteer position and “the laborers should be paid.” But there are concerns that the proposed $300k per year for the position will mean that the PoHD effectively functions as a leader on equal footing with the Presiding Bishop.

Who speaks for The Episcopal Church – the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, both together, either alone?

Strengthening the Episcopacy

Following the tragic death of Tom Palermo by then-bishop Heather Cook in a drunk driving accident in 2014, the Task Force on the Episcopacy was asked to improve the process of how we select bishops, how to help bishops be more effective, and how to increase racial and gender diversity in the House of Bishops. Strong ministry and leadership go hand and hand, so we’ll be monitoring these conversations closely, especially as the Diocese of Virginia moves towards electing a new diocesan bishop.

The Book of Common Prayer

We’re not talking about a new Prayer Book at this Convention, but we may be moving towards that.

Why change the BCP at all? Because how we pray shapes who we are. A new BCP that spoke to the “riches of our Church’s liturgical, cultural, racial, generational, linguistic, gender and ethnic diversity” would help speak in to existence a more diverse, welcoming Church. But creating a new Prayer Book would be a massive undertaking, and many believe we still haven’t embraced everything the ’79 Prayer Book has to offer.

So, General Convention will be presented with two options:

  1. Path towards a new Prayer Book: ‘Option One’ would begin with three years of study and exploration, drafting a new BCP after GC80 (2021), and approving it at GC81 (2024).
  2. Going deeper with the ’79 BCP: ‘Option Two’ would invite the whole church to clarify the role of supplemental liturgies (e.g., Enriching Our Worship) and to broaden its familiarity with our current Prayer Book.

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) believes there are merits to both proposals, so they will ask GC79 to discern with them. The SCLM wrote, “Our report is intended to move our church toward unity through a process of collective discernment rather than to cause divisiveness by attempting to assert personal piety and liturgical preferences over that of others.” A commission after Center Aisle’s own heart!

The Jesus Movement

A powerful preacher of the Word suddenly gained an even higher-profile pulpit in the city of Windsor, England this May. Yes, we are talking about our very own Presiding Bishop, and the “wow factor” he brought to a princely wedding.

Bishop Michael Curry has taken advantage of the opportunity to become a leading spokesman for inclusive, inspiring Christianity that’s all about love.

How can we, at this Convention, help him send that message?

There undoubtedly will be more issues that emerge from the sidelines during our time together. But this is where we start. Let the discussions begin!

3 replies »

  1. I hope GC doesn’t spend much time on A028. With declining membership and ASA, A028 is inside baseball, on steroids. I expect the people in the pews and the delegates to diocesan conventions could care less about it. Church membership is burning, Nero.

    Bradfute W. Davenport, Jr.
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