Last week, The Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) sent out a very helpful email that addresses many of our resolutions from last year’s General Convention. Rather than reinvent the wheel, so to speak, I thought I would share some of their information over the next few weeks. The email began –
One year ago, thousands of Episcopalians gathered in Austin, Texas for the 79th General Convention. Since that time, the Office of Government Relations (OGR) has continued its work representing The Episcopal Church’s official policies to Congress and the Administration. We are eager to share a few updates on this work to give members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network a sense of how we are going about representing these policies.
Emerging from General Convention, OGR was given a mandate to expand our advocacy work into areas where new resolutions passed. Read below to learn how we have been working on several of these resolutions!
Just this last May, I wrote about resolution B009 – Civil Discourse which reads:
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention calls on all Episcopalians to practice civil discourse in our political life, while not making peace with evil and injustice; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention urge individual Episcopalians, parishes, dioceses and seminaries to use the Civil Discourse Curriculum developed by The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations as a resource to guide discussions about politics, policy, and legislation, while strengthening our relationships with one another; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention direct The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations to work with bipartisan efforts in Congress, when possible, and intentionally engage with elected and career government officials from all political parties.
EPPN’s email reports:
Building the Foundation
Last July, General Convention passed a Civil Discourse resolution, which reaffirmed the foundation and intention for our work. Resolution B009 directed OGR to work with bipartisan efforts in Congress, when possible, and intentionally engage with elected and career government officials from all political parties. In the past year, we have met or arranged meetings with Congressional offices in a near-even distribution of Democrats and Republicans. OGR maintains the same standard in our liturgical outreach as well. OGR hosts Morning Prayers on Capitol Hill, where Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other Church leadership, Republican, Democrat, and Independent members of Congress join for worship and fellowship together. We’re continuing to work with the Formation Department and other partners (to be announced!) on additional civil discourse material to release this fall.
Another update from EPPN refers to our efforts in the on-going refugee crisis in Resolution D009 Christian Principles for Responding to Human Migration:
Using the holistic approach outlined in resolution D009: Christian Principles for Responding to Human Migration, OGR has been working on issues related to addressing root causes, advocating for robust refugee resettlement and appropriations, and fostering a culture of hospitality and welcome. Through a series of Congressional meetings, action alerts, sign-on letters, and advocacy days with coalition partners and with Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), OGR is committed more than ever to advancing policies that welcome refugees. Last week, EMM and OGR organized Love God, Love Neighbor: Advocacy in Action training and advocacy day in Washington, DC for 30 Episcopalians interested and involved in advocating for the ministry of refugee resettlement and care of asylum seekers. Earlier this year, EMM launched Partners in Welcome, an online learning community and ministry network dedicated to welcoming newcomers, empowering advocates, and supporting local ministries. Partners in Welcome offers an e-newsletter, weekly news digest, webinars, digital workshops, learning modules, a book club, and an online forum.
You can go back to the Nuts and Bolts Blog on March 4, 2019, to read my thoughts on this resolution. As a reminder, here is the wording of the original resolution:
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church recognize that human migration has always been part of the human condition, and that human migration will continue in future, and will likely increase due to any number of variables including the effects of climate change on human habitat, economic instability, or ongoing war and conflict, and remembering the call in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures to welcome the stranger, building stronger and more diverse community: “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19) and “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me; …. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 35, 40); and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention set forth these principles to guide our church’s response to human migration, including internal migration, in the future:
- We recognize the fundamental human rights of all people as expressed in our Baptismal Covenant and we reaffirm that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to all refugees and both regular and irregular migrants;
- We remember that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were refugees, as they were forced to flee into a foreign land to escape violence;
- We call on all governments to keep their commitments and legal obligations to respect the rights and dignity of all people, including access to justice and social services, while recognizing the complexity of developing just immigration policies in any country, and the legitimate need to protect borders and address security threats to sovereign nations;
- We commit the church to learning and engaging migration issues as part of the Jesus Movement, sacredly holding the voices and leadership of migrants themselves and honoring their leadership in this process;
- We will endeavor to learn and address root causes of migration and advocate for just solutions with Anglican/Episcopal, ecumenical, and interfaith partners;
- We acknowledge the connection between U.S. policies, and the policies of other states, and the root drivers of migration, including climate change, armed conflict, and disruption of local economies through global trade policies;
- We stress the importance of demonstrating hospitality and welcome as Christian values at the local level, preaching hospitality and positive storytelling to overcome xenophobia;
- We insist that the United States of America and other powerful, wealthy nations, and all nations to the best of their ability, contribute to resettlement, establish and maintain safe and orderly humanitarian protection for refugees, internally displaced persons, and other migrants seeking long-term solutions and safety;
- We call on all nations to maintain family unity and safety during migration;
- We insist that economic and foreign relationships among governments should not increase the need of migration due to economic hardships, persecution, and violence;
- We insist that governments strive to maintain conditions which are conducive to internal stability and employment opportunity;
- In the event that people are forced to migrate, we insist that our governments address the drivers holistically, without racial, ethnic, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental ability, health status, or religious prejudice;
- We insist that our governments adhere to the internationally accepted principle known as non-refoulement, that stipulates that countries should not return migrants and refugees to unsafe conditions in their home countries or other countries;
- We recognize the links between migrants in vulnerable transit situations and human trafficking and other dangers, and will seek to establish and maintain robust, safe, and orderly routes for refugees;
- We urge governments to expand refugee resettlement as a humanitarian response that offers individuals safety and opportunity;
- We recognize that displacement due to climate change already happens and will increase, and we insist that our governments and the international community must commit to development of long-term protection solutions for persons displaced by climate change; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention recognize the process underway at the United Nations to establish a Global Compact on Refugees and a Global Compact on Migration, processes that have included advocacy by The Episcopal Church Representative to the UN and by the Office of Government Relations Refugee and Immigration Policy Advisor and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention urge the Office of the Presiding Bishop to ensure continued representation of The Episcopal Church at the United Nations and other multinational consultations with faith communities on refugee and migrant issues, alongside the Anglican Communion Office, Lutheran World Federation, and other ecumenical and interfaith partners in responding to the global refugee crisis; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention encourage all congregations and dioceses to learn about the intricacies of migration, including root causes through the resources provided by Episcopal Migration Ministries and its Partners in Welcome network and engage in aiding migrants to the best of their ability.
See the UNHCR website for information on the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migration.
In the weeks to come, I will continue to share the updates from EPPN. It’s great that we’re all working together to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel in actions that can make a difference in the lives of all people!
Let us pray –
Grant, O God, that your holy and life‑giving Spirit may so
move every human heart and especially the hearts of the
people of this land, that barriers which divide us may
crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our
divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council