Ronnie writes: I serve as a member of the General Convention’s Committee on Canons. This committee has the responsibility for approving not only the resolutions that have initially been assigned to it, but also those resolutions that have been considered by other committees that involve amendments to the Canons of the Episcopal Church.
Many of the resolutions reviewed by the Committee on Canons related to Title IV of the Canons. Title IV sets forth the procedures for the discipline of bishops, priests and deacons. This title was the subject of a major revision by the General Convention in 2009 to convert ecclesiastical discipline from an adversarial procedure to one promoting healing and reconciliation. Because the revised Title IV has only been in effect for a short period of time, the Committee on Canons has recommended that most of the resolutions seeking changes in Title IV be referred to the Standing Committee on Constitution and Canons (which will meet periodically during the next three years) for further study. This Commission will report to the General Convention at the Convention’s next meeting in Salt Lake City in 2015.
David reports: I have been privileged to be a member of Committee # 9, National and International Affairs. As part of that work, I chaired the sub-committee which dealt with all International Resolutions except those dealing specifically with the Middle East. We worked on issues pertaining to Cuba, Sudan, Haiti, Korea and others.
The whole committee also heard testimony on domestic subjects that some would say should NOT be the focus of the Episcopal Church. Here is part of the list—fair trade agreements, fair wages, immigration policies and laws, people trafficking, tourism for sex, fair treatment for prisoners…the list goes on!
When I read some of these topics at home in Maryland to prepare for my responsibilities as a sub-committee chair, I thought some were really “out in left field” for our legislative agenda at Convention. I have changed my mind. Many of these societal problems were new to me. But they are real and innocent people are being used/abused in many areas of our country. Some would say “leave it to the state or federal bodies to rule and adjudicate on these situations.” Well, it has not worked that way. Our homilist at Eucharist today referred to those who are “impoverished in our society.” So, who is there to be at least a voice of advocacy to try to address the needs of these people?
It is primarily the Episcopal Church working through our Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C. Their representatives were with us daily, helping us craft strong but meaningful language which hopefully will be approved in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops and will turn into something actionable to attempt to make our country and world a better place. My team has worked long hours (we have not seen anything of Indianapolis) but I feel our labors on behalf of the Episcopal Church will result in a strong opportunity to improve the lives of so many.