By the Rev. Dr. James Simons
President, Diocesan Standing Committee
This following article was adapted from the June newsletter of St. Michael’s of the Valley, where Dr. Simons is Rector.
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be meeting in Anaheim, California from July 8 – 17. This will be my seventh Convention as a deputy and I again will serve as the [Diocesan] Deputation Chair. My other duties will include Chairing the Committee on Dispatch of Business. This committee is responsible for moving all of the resolutions through their various committees and seeing that they reach the House floor in a timely manner.
Most resolutions come from various interim bodies, which are appointed by the President of the House of Deputies and The Presiding Bishop. These are collected in a volume called “The Blue Book” (which this year is red). There are 188 resolutions in the 800 plus page volume.
While I have only had a chance to scan its contents, I have found several interesting and encouraging proposals in the Blue Book.
The largest report comes from the Standing Liturgical Commission. Contrary to the rumor which has been widely circulated, there is no revision of the Book of Common Prayer and there is no proposal to do so. The General Convention would have to authorize that work and there is no enabling resolution being proposed.
What is being put forth are two supplemental liturgical resources.
The first is called “Rachel’s Tears, Hannah’s Hopes” and is a collection of prayers and services (some public and others private) that have to do with having children. There are forms of prayer for miscarriage, giving a child up for adoption, and unplanned pregnancies among others. Perhaps most remarkable is a private service called “Rite of Repentance and Reconciliation for an Abortion” which seeks to bring healing to those women who have experienced trauma around this procedure.
The second resource is really a revision and expansion of an existing one. The book “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” is a collection of biographies of men and women who have been important in the history of the church and especially the Episcopal Church.
This book will now be called “Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints”. Over a hundred names have been added to the calendar, including Samuel Shoemaker (January 31) who was the rector at Pittsburgh’s Calvary Episcopal Church in the 1950’s.
Other resolutions deal with working with other mainline denominations on evangelism, helping seminarians retire school debt, and a consideration of a denomination-wide health care plan.
There is much good here. Although there will undoubtedly be some controversy, I want you to know that we will be dealing with a host of helpful, if less sensational, issues during those ten days.
Please pray for me and for the work of the Convention that we would know God’s will and have the courage to do the same.
Click here for more information about Deputies from the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the roles they will play at General Convention.