Another Convention is in the books – and what a great Convention it was! If you were looking forward to a day-and-a-half of business meetings with contentious discussions and debate, you might have been disappointed because we had a day-and-a-half of engaging conversations, enlightening presentations and productive work together as a Household of people eager to go deeper into what it means to be followers of Jesus. For me, getting together with a couple hundred of my closest friends is one of the highlights of my year and even better when we can sit down over a common mission and learn together.
As you all likely know, our theme continues to be “Waters of Reconciliation” with this year’s focus on “Who is my neighbor?” from Jesus’ encounter with the lawyer who asked: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25 – 37). Jesus illustrates his answer with the parable of the “Good Samaritan.” Our presentations and group discussions began by looking at our global neighbors in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Next we learned about neighbors in our diocese by learning about the work of various local social service agencies. You can see some of the videos of these presentations here –
Our last presentation asked us to look within our own communities to see where and how we each can become good neighbors. The work is not finished! Stay-tuned for some exciting conversations and training sessions that will happen in February 2017!
Of course, we did address some action items brought to our Household in the form of resolutions. The Committee on Constitutions and Canons presented some changes to the wording of Canons governing Deans and Deaneries to make provision for deans to serve two consecutive three-year terms allowing for greater continuity and to reduce the required number of deaneries in the diocese from ten to eight as a reflection of the changing needs of our congregations. The Committee on Reference presented two resolutions:
Resolution 1: Enactment of General Convention 2015 Resolutions
Resolved, That the 182nd Convention of the Diocese of Michigan encourages every congregation to advance one or more of the following resolutions adopted by General Convention 2015:
A011 Recommit to Criminal Justice Reform Study and Advocacy
A029 Protect Human Trafficking Victims on Indian Reservations in Montana and North Dakota
A049 Make Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women a Focus of Foreign and Church Aid
A051 Support LGBT African Advocacy
A091 Affirm Work for Food Ministries and Food Security
A092 Affirm Support for Government Entitlements
A093 Evaluate Defense Spending
A094 Support Income Tax Parity
A096 Affirm Relationship-Based Social Justice
A170 Develop and Continue Food System Advocacy
A182 Using Education, Community Dialogue and Internal Audit to Respond to All Forms of Racial Injustice
A183 Recommended Book Study of the Triennium: “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander (2010/2012)
B005 Quality Public Education for All
B008 Support Handgun Purchaser Licensing
B013 Peacemaking Through Political Action
B018 Support for Sudan and South Sudan
C005 Decreasing Gun Violence
C013 Facilitate Dialogue on Climate Change and Divestment Strategy
C014 Commend Charter for Compassion
C018 Pursue Justice, Peace and Security in the Holy Land
C020 Ministry to People with Mental Illness and Their Families
C045 Environmentally Responsible Investing
C048 Increase the Minimum Wage
D015 Encouraging Advocacy for Hunger Relief
D028 Oppose Conversion Therapy
D030 Establish Parental Leave Policy
D032 Disability Advocacy in Criminal Justice Work of The Episcopal Church
D034 Affirmation and Support of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990
D041 Advocacy and Prayer for Syria
D057 Re-Commitment to the Spirit of Sanctuary
D068 Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline
D069 Birthright Citizenship
D073 Supporting Home and Community Based Services
D074 Temporary Protective Status for Immigrants at Risk
D077 Uniting Families
D079 Education for Undocumented Families
the texts of which may be found at https://extranet.generalconvention.org/staff/files/download/15664; and be it further
Resolved, That each congregation communicate to Covenant 5 through the Covenant 5 website (www.covenant5.org) or email address (Cov5@comcast.net) on or before May 1, 2017, of its choice(s) of (a) General Convention resolution(s) that it will pursue or, if a congregation determines not to choose a resolution, it communicate to Covenant 5 that decision on or before said date; and be it further
Resolved, That congregations which engage in this endeavor are invited to report their work by June 30, 2017, to Covenant 5 (Cov5@comcast.net); and be it further
Resolved, That Covenant 5 will compile for diocesan distribution the parish action reports that it receives and that congregations which advance one or more General Convention 2015 resolutions will receive diocesan-wide recognition.
In the upcoming weeks, I will be sharing some details about the above named resolutions so that you and your congregation can find the ones that speak to your passions. In the meantime, head on over to Covenant 5’s website for more information – www.covenant5.org
Resolution 2: God is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat.
Resolved, That the 182nd Convention of the Diocese of Michigan, in this Presidential year, joins our Presiding Bishop and Primate in urging our brothers and sisters of faith to vote on November 8; and be it further
Resolved, That we encourage those brothers and sisters to keep in mind the full scope of our duty and obligation as people of God:
- Casting one’s ballot is not a one-issue decision; life is complicated, citizenship is complicated, and our faith enters our decisions in all fields;
- Jesus calls us, and, through Jesus, God calls us, to be peacemakers;
- Through the charge to Adam, God has made us the stewards of God’s environment; eventually, we will be judged on how we carried out that stewardship;
- The entirety of the Scriptures emphasize caring for the poor, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized; that emphasis constitutes an important responsibility, to which we attach great weight;
and be it further
Resolved, That as we discern how to vote, we reject the American Triumphalist attitude that God is on the side of the United States; that particular response answers the wrong question; the question is not, “Is God on our side?” The question is, “Are we on God’s side?”
This resolution reflects the message of our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry –
Speaking of the upcoming election, there are many resources available for spending time in prayer for our country and the election process. Forward Movement is calling all Episcopalians to a 30-day prayer journey for this election – A Season of Prayer: for an Election .
Each day offers a special intention and a collect. There are also bulletin inserts for your congregation to use on their site. St Andrews in Ann Arbor is hosting an Election Eve Prayer Vigil from 7 pm to 7 am beginning on November 7th and continuing through the night until Election Day morning, November 8th. The Church will remain open all night and there will be hourly offerings for group prayer as well as time for silent reflection. For more information, call the church at (734) 663-0518.
We also passed the budget for 2017 and the draft budget for 2018. You can find details of the budget here – http://www.edomi.org/edomi/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2017-budget-packet-30-day-mailing.pdf
Mark October 27 and 28, 2017, on your calendars for next year’s 183rd Convention which will be held at the Suburban Collection Diamond Center and Hyatt Place Hotel in Novi.
Let us pray –
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our
heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove
ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and
pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend
our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue
with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer, Prayer for our Country, p 820)
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee