[Episcopal News Service — Indianapolis] The House of Deputies took another step toward changing the church’s status quo when it adopted a resolution that permits the next presiding bishop, who will be elected in 2015, to remain a diocesan bishop. Canons currently require the presiding bishop to resign her or his seat upon election.
Debate on resolution B013 centered on whether this action should take place now or wait for a larger discussion about restructuring that is being dealt with by the Committee on Structure.
The Very Rev. Bill Ellis, deputy from Spokane, likened this action to “getting the cart well in front of the horse.” He said, “We have no idea what we’re getting into. We have not even begun to talk about re-understanding the office of the presiding bishop and whether or not a move of this sort is appropriate.”
Dr. Fredrica Thompsett, deputy from Massachusetts, argued for taking this action now. She said that she and other members of the Structure Committee “are aware that we have to look at the whole piece, but we also have to start. This gives us a creative and permissive possibility to allow wise decision making and options in a period in which we are considering and will be considering the nomination of a next presiding bishop.”
Other speakers questioned whether it was feasible for someone to serve as both diocesan bishop and presiding bishop, given the demands of both jobs. Ultimately the deputies voted to adopt the resolution and send it to the House of Bishops for its consideration.
It also adopted resolution D037, which asks the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider restoring nearly $3 million in funding for Christian formation and youth ministry, which had been cut in draft versions of the budget.
Deputies also elected 12 people as trustees of the Church Pension Fund:
- Diane B. Pollard
- Barbara B. Creed
- George L.W. Werner
- Diane M. Jardine Bruce
- Rosalie Simmonds Ballentime
- Gordon Fowler
- Vincent C. Currie
- Ryan K. Kusumoto
- Kathryn Weathersby McCormick
- Delbert C. Glover
- Sleiman (Soloman) Owayda
- Cecil Wray
The deputies also heard from Marcia Hines, president of the Episcopal Church Women, who are meeting for their Triennial Meeting, and the Very Rev. George Werner, who served as president of the House of Deputies from 2000 to 2006.
It also adopted other resolutions on a variety of topics:
- D042 — recommiting the church to protecting victims of human trafficking;
- A114 — a call for increased funding for world missions;
- A107 — designating the secretary of General Convention as the Convention’s official registrar;
- A026 — directs the church’s chief operating officer to develop an information technology strategic plan for the staff of the Episcopal Church Center
- A035 — reaffirming the church’s commitment to interreligious engagement at all levels;
- B017 — calling on the church to support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza with fundraising and advocacy after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency cut its financial aid, slashing the hospital’s budget nearly in half.
— Melodie Woerman is a member of the Episcopal News Service team at General Convention.