The 77th General Convention has now concluded and those who attended this “family reunion” and “legislative mega-meeting” are home still catching up on sleep and resting weary feet. Although with the gavel concluding the last session of the House of Deputies with sine die, we know the work is never truly completed, but to simply be continued on another day.
The Education Committee (a cognate group of 28 individuals from the House of Bishops and House of Deputies) met almost daily to deliberate on numerous resolutions that came before them. Under the leadership of Porter Taylor (Bishop, Western North Carolina) and Debbie Stokes (Deputy, Southern Ohio), each member of the committee engaged in conversation as well as questioning the numerous of individuals (many from Forma) who testified to various resolutions, including many that have been brought forward on Building the Continuum.
A re-cap of resolutions regarding Christian Formation that have been discussed on this site:
Equipping the Baptized Five resolutions (A041, A042, A043, A044, A045) were related to bringing the Constitution or Canons into conformity with the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer, which teaches that “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church” (BCP p. 299). These resolutions, discussed as a whole, received passionate testimony from those “pro” and those “con.” Many who were against these resolutions felt it they would remove the Rite of Confirmation from our churches. Those who spoke for the resolutions were articulate about our understanding of Baptism as full membership in the church. In committee, deputies were much more open to making changes in the canons, while bishops were not. It became quite apparent that The Episcopal Church needs to further explore and delve into what Confirmation means on all levels of the church. It was also apparent that the practice of preparation for Confirmation differs widely in the church and the preparation used for leaders (such as Vestry) into the history, doctrine and polity of The Episcopal Church is just as nebulous. Despite these resolutions not passing (being rejected in Committee) they were discussed in both Houses, allowing for the first of what will be hopefully many conversations to continue in the next triennium about what the role of Confirmation is in the life of our church. A042, A043 and A044 were sent back for further study to the Standing Commission on Ministry Development. A041 was rejected.
Commend Continued Development of Lifelong Christian Formation (A046) included recognition for Forma (language was changed to reflect the name change of NAECED). It was adopted by the House of Deputies and concurred by the House of Bishops. Another words, General Convention commends the continuing development of lifelong Christian formation and supports those in leadership positions to continue their learning! It was
Develop An Electronic Community (A047) passed the Education Committee easily after discussion and learning of several other similar resolutions – one that was being discussed in Ministry Development and another in Communications. This particular resolution called for an impartial Christian FORMATION hub linking the many resources that are available all in one location. However, when it arrived at the House of Deputies, a deputy of the Structure Committee immediately called that it be tabled as it had funding implications (and a budget had yet to be produced) as well as the undercurrent themes of desiring structural changes in the church throughout convention. This resolution seems to have been left on the table with no action taken.
A Response to the Call of The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation: A Call to Action (A151) regarding Older Adult ministries was approved in the Education Committee but failed in the House of Deputies.
The Budget!!!! This was perhaps the highest area of energy folks had going in to General Convention (besides changing the structure of the church). We entered into General Convention with two proposed budgets – one from Executive Council which had almost eliminated the Office of Christian Formation and Vocations line items. A new proposal from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was offered (an unheard of occurrence) that was based on the Five Marks of Mission. Numerous Christian formation leaders attended the three hearings scheduled by Program, Budget & Finance; many spoke (Barbara Ross, Vicki Garvey and Wendy Barrie notably) about the importance of lifelong Christian formation. Many youth and young adults also spoke to the importance of EYE, campus ministries and chaplaincies.
A new resolution came before the Education Committee (D037) which called for some funding to be added back into the budget. In its wisdom, the committee rewrote the resolution, adding enough monies to completely fund the Office of Formation and Vocation as it had been in the past triennium. When it came to the floor of the House of Deputies (House of initial action), members of the Education Committee were lined up at the podiums ready to speak. Debbi Rodahafer (Diocese of Kentucky) called the question and it was overwhelmingly approved. The House of Bishops concurred. All was left in the hands of Program, Budget & Finance . . . who brought forth a budget grounded in the Five Marks of Mission, including block grants for eradicating poverty, mission enterprise zones, planting new churches and projects that are collaborative in nature. Specifically for the issues addressed on this website:
Mark #2: Teach, baptize and nurture new believers
Goal: To strengthen Province IX for sustainability in Latin America – $1,000,000
The Office of Lifelong Christian Formation & Vocations – Total $2,875,394 (slightly less than the 2010-2012 budget).
- Bridging the Gap – funds for lifelong Christian formation to include evangelism & formation as vocation and faith formation resource development – $250,767
- Formation & Vocation – for networks – building the capacity by affirming and assisting emerging networks and increasing connectivity – $310,447
- Campus Ministry grants – $300,000
- Events & gatherings – including EYE, Young Adult Festival and student gatherings – $609,167
- Other department costs – including travel for staff – $176,400
- Staff costs – salaries and benefits – $1,247,764
Other funding in this area included the College of Bishops which provides formation to those newly elected to the Episcopate. View the entire 2013-2015 budget here. View a posting of the importance of educators begin advocates at Rows of Sharon.
General Convention is over – but the ministry continues!