The first issue for Stewardship Committee yesterday was a Resolution calling on all Episcopalians to contribute 80 cents per year to foreign missions. This would double the number of missionaries in the field. This is of special interest to Nevada as one of our young adults is a candidate for the Young Adult Service Corps. Our closing hymn in Eucharist today was “Publish Glad Tidings.” The resolution passed and will go on to the floor.
The House of Bishops (HOB) had passed and then rescinded the Resolution for Mission Funding. This is akin to a capital campaign. It is a 6-year drive to raise money for mission through large gifts. We all know it needs doing, but it has already begun and there is much dissatisfaction with the way it is being done. So Stewardship (mostly Bishop Mathes of San Diego) reworked the Resolution to call for backing up and getting it right before going forward. With those changes, the Resolution readily passed the Committee and then passed HOB with no opposition and only one abstention. This would fund things like new church plants in dioceses who don’t have the resources on their own. That would be us.
Yesterday’s HOB legislative session began with presentations from two youth delegates. They were an inspiration. The first thing that impressed me is that they did not repeat what we so often hear about youth representation on committees – valid but not exciting -- Instead it was a call for youth evangelism. They wanted to connect other youth to Jesus. One youth delegate said “we have gone from being fishers of men to keepers of the aquarium.” He wasn’t pushing for a place at the tables where not much happens anyway. He wanted billboards and signs in malls. They also pushed support by bishops and dioceses for Episcopal Youth Event, Provincial Youth Event (next year in Salt Lake), Happening, and New Beginnings.
HOB then moved on to deal with about 500,000 resolutions. High points: We endorsed the principles of the Earth Charter (broader principles but less specific action than Genesis Covenant) to be supported by Biblical and theological arguments. We called for major changes in immigration enforcement to respect human rights and treat people (especially children) decently. We called for a suspension of military aid to the Philippines if necessary to stop the extra-judicial killings and disappearances. And we addressed multiple social justice issues. This may sound like feel good resolutions that have little effect. However, the Episcopal Church acts on these resolutions through advocacy by the Office on Governmental Relations, Episcopal Public Policy Network, and Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. The actual influence of these representatives depends on active advocacy support from the grass roots. The key to that support is – in a word – deacons. We need more deacons actively organizing the laity to speak out for justice to make the work done here amount to something.
We had an awe-inspiring Eucharist this morning complete with a large group of children paying Polynesian drums and cymbals; liturgical dancers; a gospel choir, and a cast of hundreds. Bishop Katharine preached and celebrated, with Bishops Griswold and Browning concelebrating. While I march around in rochet and chimere, Linda is in the choir contributing to the spirit of worship.
Last night, we had dinner with the General Seminary folks. I sat next to some wonderful retired clergy and spouses who told me about chaplaincy to retired clergy. That’s an important ministry I knew nothing about. I hope we can work on that in Nevada.