Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches often and powerfully on love. “If it is not about love…it is not about God.” At the General Convention Revival in Austin, Texas, he preached about love for an hour. In that hour he articulated a theology, spirituality and praxis of love that was as tightly reasoned as it was inspirational.
The life and teaching of Jesus certainly centered on love. But in the gospels, Jesus used the words “see”, “look”, “wake up”, “be aware” more often than the word “love.” Somehow “awareness” is essential to a life of love.
General Convention 2018 was all about awareness. Here are just a few examples.
On the Fourth of July we all participated in a “Liturgy of Listening.” This liturgy was a response to the #MeToo movement. It began with the whole House of Bishops expressing in prayer our repentance for “sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse within our Church.” Twelve stories were read from victims of sexual misconduct perpetuated by someone in the Church.
Later in Convention, the House of Bishops adopted “A Working Covenant for the Practice of Equity and Justice for All in The Episcopal Church.” In this Covenant we commit ourselves to seek changes in our dioceses to combat abuse, harassment and exploitation.
“Seeing” continued as we went to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center – an ICE detention site. There we “looked” at the place where women seeking asylum are imprisoned, separated from their children. Many allegations of sexual abuse have been made against the officers who run the Hutto site.
We prayed and sang and they waved at us through the barred windows.
Bishops United Against Gun Violence invited us all to “wake up” to the public health crisis of gun violence by a prayer service in which the family of Carmen Schentrup, a Parkland victim, told her story and theirs, bringing many in the crowd to tears.
Every day we had a brief prayer service in which we handed out 96 crosses for the 96 people who would die that day in gun violence. By the end of the ten day Convention, 960 people were walking around with crosses around our necks, “waking up” to the 960 deaths by gun in our country in that time.
Later in Convention we “woke up” to the silence of our Congress on gun safety and to the silence of Smith and Wesson to the request of our young people for a discussion. As a result we decided to get engaged with gun manufacturers through “ethical investing”, followed by shareholder activism.
My Committee “Socially Responsible Investing” brought Resolution #B007 to the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, and it passed.
We also were made aware of the suffering of the Palestinian people through a hearing which packed the meeting hall. We were made aware of tremendous injustice by the stories of 75 who testified. Later, our resolution that called for impact investing in Palestine and a “human rights screen” for investing in Israeli companies, passed.
There are many other moments when we saw with new eyes. I will end this overly long blog with just one more. Going into this convention, there were many calling for revision of the Book of Common Prayer. This was because we are aware that we need inclusive language for God and more references to the beauty of creation and commitment to preserving it as a religious imperative. We came out of it with more than a deadline for developing another book. Through much honest dialogue and listening to the Spirit, what emerged was a promise of liturgical renewal in our Church which will include creating new liturgical expressions deeply grounded in our theology and the continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit leading us deeper into the vastness of our God.
I look forward to implementing the “awareness” of the 79th General Convention of our Church with you.
Learn more about BUAGV.
Follow the witness of Episcopalians Against Gun Violence.
Grassroots Leadership petition to release asylum-seekers at the Hutto detention Center and reunite them with their children.