On Prayer Book Revision
One question before General Convention this summer was whether it is time to revise our Book of Common Prayer. The bigger question was, if we revised it, how extensive or comprehensive should revision be? The answer coming out of convention was a cautious “yes” to a process for some revision, but “no” to comprehensive or substantive revision. Since there seems to be some confusion, I offer a few thoughts about what this means.
Prayer book revision is not unusual. The Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer, first ratified in 1789, has been revised may times – in 1892, 1928, and 1979. The 1892 and 1928 revisions were relatively minor. The 1979 revision was quite comprehensive and substantive. Each generation, it seems, takes a fresh look at whether the current version conveys the eternal truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and enables the church to articulate its worship of the one, holy, and undivided Trinity, as clearly and fully as possible in contemporary language.
The resolution passed at General Convention (A068 Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer) “memorialized” the current 1979 Book of Common Prayer which I take to mean that it is the standard prayer book going forward and we will not be replacing it soon. If at some point we produce a new prayer book, it will look and feel very much like the one we are using.
Even so, there is need to find ways in our common worship to be more inclusive. That means avoiding using “man” and masculine pronouns when we are referring to people - men and women. Though many of us grew up with this literary convention, that understanding is increasingly not the case. For many, the language has become jarring and distracting to worship.
What is theologically trickier is determining more “expansive” language for our common worship. That means finding ways to speak of and to God in language that does not always imply God is somehow “male”. “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” is a fundamental Christian name for God we will continue to use, and we will not do away with all masculine language for God we have received from the Bible. But both the Bible and the Christian tradition provides a rich variety of names and images for God - some inanimate, some feminine. There are theologically responsible ways to incorporate some of these names and images to enrich our common worship. We have already experienced this inclusivity in recent years without revising the prayer book. General Convention authorized resources like Enriching Our Worship, containing inclusive and expansive Eucharistic liturgies, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. Some diocesan congregations have been using these liturgies on occasion.
I share the sentiment of the first Bishop of Fond du Lac, John Henry Hobart Brown, who said this about revision of the Book of Common Prayer:
What General Convention proposed is neither a “stiff conservatism” nor radical revision leading to a “rude shock”. So with my approval, some of our diocesan congregations will be using some new liturgies over the next months and years as we enter into this process of discerning what kind of revisions are helpful. If yours is a congregation using these liturgies, your input about your experience will be a valuable contribution to the church’s discernment as we adapt our worship to the requirements of the present age.
Under the Mercy,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
Bishop of Fond du Lac
Prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of the Rev. Marcus Cunningham who died August 25, 2018. He was 55.
Marcus received a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and an M.Div. from The University of the South (Sewanee) School of Theology. After being ordained priest in 2006 he served congregations in Ohio and Kansas. He was Rector of Trinity, Oshkosh and then Rector of St. Peter, Ripon and St. Mary Chapel, Wautoma. He served as Chaplain for various police forces.
Marcus had a passion for woodworking, traveling, watching movies, grilling out, and had a gift of talking to people, including strangers, and making people laugh.
His funeral will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, September 1, 2018, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 217 Houston St., Ripon, WI, 54971. Bishop Matthew Gunter, assisted by Reverend Dr. Nicholas Myers, will preside. In lieu of flowers a memorial is being established in Father Marcus' name. Obituary here.
Give rest , O Christ, to your servant with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
Violence: Prepare, Respond, and Regroup for Faith Communities
Thursday, September 20
The Wisconsin Faith Community Nurse Coalition is offering a one-day event to enhance knowledge and resources regarding violence both in the community and in the congregation. The conference will be held at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee. The morning will focus on bullying, domestic violence and physical violence including gun violence. The afternoon will concentrate on healing after events within the congregation. All will receive a certificate of participation and resources on these topics. Nurses will receive continuing nursing education credits. Multiple registrations from the same congregation will receive a $10 Visa card (per participant) after the conference.
Additional scholarships are available through Episcopal Health Ministries of $25 per participant for Episcopalians and those serving Episcopal congregations. Please contact Maryfran Crist FCN at firstname.lastname@example.org. Register here.
The St. John, New London's Order of St. Luke healing ministry is hosting a healing conference, "How to Live in the Power of Christ," September 22, 2018 from 8:30-3:00. Subtitles include: Praying in the Power of Christ's Faith; Living in the Power of Christ's Life; Healing in the Power of Christ's Love. Opportunity for healing prayer will also be offered.
The guest speaker is the Rev. Josh Acton, North American Director for the Order of St. Luke International Healing Ministry. He has been a pastor for 27 years at Anglican, Episcopal and Vineyard churches and is the spiritual leader for OSL.
Cost for attendance is $30, includes presentation, lunch and breaks. For more information about the healing ministry or to register, contact Jan Peskie 920-716-5757 or email@example.com. Register here.
Book Study Times
The Cathedral of St. Paul, Fond du Lac will host the Celebration of New Ministry with its new Dean, the Very Rev. Patrick Perkins on Saturday, September 29 (change from an earlier August date). The Rev. Ezgi Saribay Perkins will be installed as Canon Precentor. All are welcome and invited to attend. The service marks the transition of ministry for the congregation and the priest as they live into a new relationship in serving the Gospel.
The Lake Winnebago parishes (Trinity, Oshkosh; St. Thomas, Menasha; All Saints, Appleton; Cathedral of St. Paul, Fond du Lac) are coming together for an evening of food, fellowship and worship at Praise in the Park. Anyone is welcome to join in! Gather Shelter #1 in Rainbow Park (on the Fox River), Oshkosh on Sunday, August 12 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will include testimonials about the recent mission trip to Puerto Rico.
Julie Hendrix, a member of St. Thomas, Menasha, will attend Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin. She is discerning a call to the priesthood. The Diocese of Fond du Lac provides $7,500 for each of her three years of study primarily from the budget of the diocese with some support from other endowments restricted for seminarian support. Your prayers for her and her husband, Steve, and their three children, Daniel, Susana, and John, are encouraged. Here are some comments from Julie as she begins this journey.
I am thrilled to announce that I will be attending Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin beginning in late August. I will be living there for 3 years while I complete my Masters of Divinity program.
When I first visited Nashotah in November 2017, I felt a call to attend there – the classes, the worship, everything about it spoke to me. As many know, Nashotah House was founded in 1841 and is Wisconsin’s oldest school of higher learning. I will be one of 14 new residential students this year. Nashotah House currently has about 90 students total, both residential and online.
I am extremely grateful for my extensive church family – they have guided and supported me every step along this journey – I am beyond grateful for their continuous love: St. Thomas parish, my Bible study, Double Portion, my Circles of Light (both 1st and 2nd!), my wonderful friends from church camp (a long time ago!), Happening, and Cursillo. Each and every person has been a guidepost for me.
After graduation, God willing, I plan to return to the Diocese of Fond du Lac where I will continue this journey with this wonderful church community we have in our diocese. I ask for your continued prayers both for me and my family as we begin this new adventure.
The Diocese of Fond du Lac is seeking an experienced Administrative Assistant to complete an assortment of administrative tasks including processing financial transactions. Successful candidates will have excellent service skills and must be efficient while working with minimal supervision. The ability to multi-task with attention to detail is essential. The ideal candidate is resourceful, is an organized problem solver and who has a working knowledge of the church. This is a part-time, salaried paid diocesan staff position eligible for benefits.
The Administrative Assistant will perform administrative procedures, manage information flow, process financial transactions and other occasional duties. A complete position description is available here.
Screening is performed by Qualified Staffing in Appleton. Cover letters and resumes may be sent to Jeani Reiter (firstname.lastname@example.org) for review. Interviews for the position begin August 6 and continue until the position is filled. Additional questions may be directed to Matthew P. Payne, Lay Canon for Administration at (920) 830-8866.
It’s Wednesday, July 11, 2018, the 7th day of the General Convention. It’s hot outside (95º and getting hotter) and cold inside (the AC is cranking). Meanwhile, on the convention floor, there are moments of deep inspiration and times of stress. Of course, there is some boredom mixed with technical troubles as well. Some deputations (not us of course) are having trouble with the voting devices. Did I mention that this is the 7th day?
Today started with the deep inspiration. 52 years ago, the Episcopal Church expelled the Diocese of Cuba from our Church. We are acknowledging our mistake and (at their request) bringing them back. The Bishop of Cuba was welcomed back by the House of Bishops yesterday, and our House of Deputies followed suit today. Both decisions were loudly unanimous. I’m including a picture of the Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio of Cuba and several of her people as they came into the House of Deputies and were seated.
Another moment that brought some tears to some eyes was the presentation by the Reverend John Floberg, one of our clergy who stood with the “Water Protectors” at Standing Rock. He brought the Episcopal Church flag that had flown with so many others at the camp. It was so saturated with the smoke from their campfires that is was almost like incense. As soon as he finished his remarks, President Gay Jennings had Father Floberg escorted to the dais so that she could present him with the House of Deputies medal.
In business, the House approved a resolution to keep a high level of funding in place for our ongoing work in racial reconciliation. We also got our first look at the three year budget. We will have a lot of work ahead of us to make those two things work together.
As for the plans for a new revision of the Book of Common Prayer, everyone got something to be happy about and more to be disappointed in. That’s just how a community makes the big decisions, I guess. There will be a task force to work on this, but it will definitely not have a million-dollar budget.
It’s been a lot of work and a lot of reward. We will have a lot to talk about when we get home. Plan to be a one of the listening sessions we have planned in the diocese.
David Annis is a member of St. Anne, De Pere. To learn more about our General Convention Deputies, visit diofdl.org/gc.
My morning began with no light in the shower. I’m a bit slow of mind and body in the morning, but immediately I switched to what I call “1972 Kenya mode” no time for complaining, just get going!
I did an abbreviated Morning Prayer, then met my sister, Chris, for breakfast at 7:30. She lives in San Antonio, but works in Austin. We ate, laughed, cried and prayed together for almost 2 hours. I’m fortunate to not be on a committee!
I arrived at the convention center in time to attend the Bishops Against Gun Violence gathering. Today we prayed for Children shooting children. The Bishops have been giving out 96 crosses each day, the number of people killed on an average day in our country.
On to the third joint session of House of Bishops and Deputies as we focused on the Care of Creation.
Archbishop Thabo Makgabo from South Africa spoke of Seeing and Feeling and the need to educate, advocate and change our thinking about climate change.- to See it, Feel it and Do something!
Sr. Helena from the Community of the Holy Spirit in New York led us in a spirited exercise to to the music of a Cameroon tune with the lyrics, Love, love, love our planet; Love God’s holy earth, Alleluia!
Then we heard an emotional sharing by Bernadette Demientieff, who is a Gwich’in from Ft Yukon, Alaska. Her story of what has happened to her homeland, animals and land was heartbreaking. There is only 5% left of their land not subject to oil. I was left with how serious their issues are. Indigenous Rights Are Human Rights and let us not get weary because our labors are not in vain!
Our third speaker was Rev. Stephanie Johnson, who combines her passion as a former environmental consultant with her ministry as a priest in Connecticut to advocate for environmental laws, being a prophetic witness for those who will come after.
The highlights of our legislative session this afternoon were passage of resolutions to support Trans and non binary individuals and for individuals to be able to change their names in church records.
Worship today was also centered on the Care of Creation. Each day’s worship has been a highlight of my day.
I am Blessed.
The Rev. Sandy Muinde is Deacon assigned to Trinity, Oshkosh. To learn more about our General Convention Deputies, visit diofdl.org/gc.
Beloved: today was very, very full with legislation, but also with taking the temperature of the Church and determining where the Holy Spirit is leading us. Of course, part of the trick of this is that when you get some Christians (over 800!) in a room, they will not all agree about what direction the Spirit is blowing. This means there is disagreement. But there need not be disunity. Grace is called upon to fill in the gaps so that we can continue to make room for one another.
Today we talked about the approved Marriage Rites for all people (including same-sex couples) which were approved at the 2015 Convention. In the Episcopal Church, marriage is a sacrament for which the Rector or priest-in-charge of a parish has authority to celebrate or not (except in the case of remarriage in which the Bishop is to be consulted). However, with the resolution passed in 2015, right now a priest who desires to celebrate the marriage ceremony of a same-sex couple must have permission from the Bishop. So the resolution proposed for this General Convention is seeking to place same-sex marriage rites on the same playing field as heterosexual marriage rites, while also insuring that the liturgies themselves end up in any Revised Book of Common Prayer in the future, and not in a supplemental book of liturgies. Since this issue is still tender for many folks, there was much debate. The resolution was overwhelmingly approved in the House of Deputies, but the resolution also needs to pass in the House of Bishops.
We also listened to quite a bit of discussion and debate concerning the desire that the Episcopal Church "continues its firm support for the right of Israel to exist in secure borders as established and recognized by the United Nations, but also continues its strong opposition to Israel’s occupation in perpetuity of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip which is now recognized by the United Nations as the sovereign state of Palestine." The resolution is asking for the Church "to develop a human rights social criteria investment screen based on the social teachings of this Church and 70 years of Church policy on Israel/Palestine ." This is not easy stuff. The Church wants to make clear that this is not an anti-semitism statement, but a statement of recognizing the rights of both Palestine and Israel and to make sure that our investments line up with our social teaching of the Gospel. You know, living out what is preached. It's complex and complicated business. (as it is for all of us on a day to day basis). This resolution passed the House of Deputies.
And then, as if that were not enough, today we also considered a resolution about Seeking Truth, Reconciliation and Healing regarding sexual harassment and abuse within the Church. There was quite a bit of testimony given, allowing people to bring their voice to the conversation---voices that have often been silenced when the Church has been complicit in the harassment and the abuse. This resolution passed the House of Deputies.
And beloved, it warms my heart to say that when we are coming up to a vote that we know will cause pain to folks within the House due to the strong feelings about the issue, we stop and pray---collectively---and we remind ourselves of two truths: We are one together, and All manner of things shall be well.
As part of taking care of many resolutions (over 450 have been presented to the General Convention), many resolutions end up on the Consent Calendar. This is a list of resolutions that the committee dealing with the resolution feels will not need debate or resolutions that are not being moved forward for action or that have been rejected by the committee. A resolution can be taken off the consent calendar in many ways, including at the request of any three deputies. For example, yesterday on the consent calendar was a resolution to continue developing "a church-wide network for planting congregations, training and recruiting planters and mission developers." (This is the source of the Mission Enterprise Zone grant Intercession Episcopal received in June of 2017). Since a similar resolution has passed in the past two conventions, it was placed on the consent calendar. The resolution asks for almost 6 million to be provided for this effort because there has been a lot of success from this endeavor in the past 6 years. Now it moves to the Bishops' calendar....as do all the other approved resolutions.
Beloved, it seems to me that we are at a time of great discernment, a time of taking the "temperature" of the Church and trying to adjust the sails to move with the Holy Spirit. Some of the Beloved agree with my take on the direction, and some do not. No matter where I might personally wish the Church to go, the Gospel calls me to make room for the One(s) who does not agree with me and my understanding. The Gospel calls me to recognize that, ultimately, God has the ship in hand and to trust that God's will shall prevail---even in the storm or the wind or the waves----and to recognize that if a sibling in Christ seems to be standing on the other side of the shore, I cannot just abandon my sibling. I must find my way toward my sibling, repairing the breach, seeking common ground and refuge for all. Pray for us all as we listen to stories and desires and people's very real woundedness. Pray for us to listen well to our siblings, members of this Body of the Risen Christ. Pray that we all might know that this work of discernment isn't about "winning." Pray, Beloved, pray that we keep our hearts leaning in toward God's justice and dream---leaning in toward one another so that Jesus can continue to bind us together. We are one together. Gospel Truth.
The Rev. Jane Johnson is Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Intercession, Stevens Point. To learn more about our General Convention Deputies, visit diofdl.org/gc.
Wishing you all many blessings on this day that God has made. We here at General Convention are certainly receiving the Spirit’s outpouring in work, in our growing relationships with the wider church, and in the spirit led worship that is an integral part of General Convention. I have yet to be in any session that has not started with prayer, ended with prayer and, on many occasions, paused for prayer during moments when the participants were at a point of exhaustion or in need of it. I truly feel that God is invited into every space being shared here.
Today our morning and early afternoon was devoted to worship. There were opportunities at area churches as well as the Convention Center. In the morning, many representatives participated in the Bishops Against Gun Violence, witness and prayer service. At this service the Schentrup family, whose daughter Carmen, who was one of 17 students and educators who was killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, High School on Ash Wednesday this year. The Schentrups belong to St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, Florida. Speaking with them was ninth grade student, Abigail Zimmerman (St. Alban’s, Waco, TX) who was eight years old when the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting took place and only 14 at this year’s shooting. She spoke about the 239 shootings that have taken place between Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman Douglas; shootings that have shaped the childhood experience of what school is for her and her contemporaries. For more information, you can read the Episcopal News Service coverage here.
Following the service in the park, more than 1000 Bishops and Deputies “at least two for every one female incarcerated at the Hutto Detention Center stood under the blistering sun July 8 in public witness to the actions of the U.S. government in its enforcement of immigration policies that have separated families over the last couple of months.” (ENS 7-8-2018). We sang and prayed. We were assured they could hear us by the Vicar of the Episcopal Church in Taylor, TX, and many walked (respectfully) to the front where the women could look out of tall narrow windows and see us. We were there to let them know in this time of despair that they are not alone. One deputy from Washington state noticed that some women were able to be at the windows, they were waving to us and one held up a small sign that she moved on the window so that we would see. I am saddened that our distance prevented us from seeing what she wrote, thinking that this was, perhaps, a message to her family, or a request for help. Read the full coverage here.
As the prayer service ended, it was time to return to the Convention Center for our 3pm-7pm legislative session during which, in the HoD, was dedicated to in large part to elections - the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings was re-elected to a third and final term as President of the House of Deputies. We then began the initial work of looking at resolution B012, and how we will moving forward into the next triennium for continued trial use, in accordance with Article X of the Constitution and Canon II.3.6, for “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and the “Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2”. Questions and debate had just begun when our evening session ended. We will continue with discussion and voting on this amendment Monday morning.
On a lighter note, there has been a pigeon in the House of Deputies this past week. It choses interesting moments make its presence known and has developed quite a following. Yesterday during the tedium of multiple ballot elections, facilitated by technological glitches, the young adult presence garnered quite a bit of applause by creating a digital version of the pigeon which was projected on the monitors in the house for all to see. You can read more about our delightful pigeon experiences here.
The Rev. Dr. Erin Kirby is Rector of St. Matthias, Minocqua. To learn more about our General Convention Deputies, visit diofdl.org/gc.