Wasn’t it nice to see the sun last week?! I do hope that all of you have been safe and warm with the winter weather conditions we’ve had recently. Since it’s still very wintery out there, let’s grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and check out this week’s highlighted resolution.
This week’s blog comes from the Rev. Anthony Estes, a member of the Resolution Review Committee of Diocesan Council:
D050: Encourage Advocacy and Prayer for Victims of Religious Persecution
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church reaffirm its commitment to the freedom of all people in all places to profess and practice their religious beliefs as a universal human right; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention express its concern that adherents of religious minorities in many nations and cultures are persecuted by religious majorities and by governments hostile to religion through gratuitous criticism, legal strictures, social exclusion, economic discrimination, sanctuary desecration, and physical violence; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations and mission organizations to include outreach to persecuted religious minorities in their international mission work; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations and mission organizations to establish in their international mission work relationships of solidarity with Christians experiencing persecution by reason of their faith in Jesus Christ; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request congregations to include in the Prayers of the People intercessions for persecuted Christians and other persecuted religious minorities on the second Sunday of each of the following seasons of the Church Year: Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention encourage congregations and dioceses to support reputable organizations that help those who are victims of religious persecution; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Episcopal Church’s Office of Governmental Relations to advocate on behalf of legislation and international appeals to protect religious freedom; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention Office communicate this resolution to the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and to the bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The Rev. Dr. Titus Pressler is the author of record for Resolution D050, presented in the House of Bishops at the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Pressler’s curriculum vitae reveals a heart for mission and spreading the Gospel throughout the world. The resolution makes the case that Christians, living in a part of the world where religious freedom is taken for granted and where Christianity commands a considerable amount of power, must use that power to form an alliance with those who face religious persecution. The resolution recommends action particularly for Christians living in places where they are the minority and are persecuted. It also recognizes that religious freedom is a universal human right, and actions that suppress and persecute the exercise of religious belief is inhumane.
Christians in the Middle East are under extreme pressure due to religious and political unrest in the region. Not only there, but in almost all places except in the West, people are seeking refuge from religious prejudice and persecution.
The rationale provided for D050 adds, “It is incumbent on all Episcopalians involved in global mission to enact solidarity with Christians experiencing persecution in various parts of the Anglican Communion. Equally, Episcopal mission work must cultivate sensitivity to threats to religious freedom and reach out with compassion, relief and advocacy for all persecuted religious groups, whether they are victimized by religious majorities or by governments hostile to all religion.”
The House of Bishops Committee on World Missions presented this resolution as part of its report, where it passed with an amendment. The House of Deputies committee on World Mission presented it as part of its report where it was concurred.
What can we do as a diocese?
As we do mission work in our local communities and internationally, we are encouraged to have the hard conversations about persecution of religious minorities, and particularly work to support those experiencing persecution and suppression because of the faith in Jesus Christ we hold with them. Additionally, we can identify and support reputable organizations that help victims of religious persecution. Supporting reputable organizations doing this work was one of the amendments made to the original text of D050.
What can we do this week?
The Act of Convention encourages congregations to include intercession for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities on the Second Sunday of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. This liturgical component is another amendment made to the original resolution. You have just enough time to work with your worship committee to add intercessions for The Second Sunday in Lent, March 8, 2020.
Here are some resources that will help us live into this important resolution:
Original Version of resolution with rationale (Remember that, while the rationale is very helpful for understanding the background of the resolution, it is not part of the final wording)
Let us pray –
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, 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.