Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ –
The letter below comes from our Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies. Your General Convention did significant work around issues relating to clergy sexual misconduct and abuse this summer, and that work continues in the wider Church. If you need to make a confidential report about abuse or harassment that has happened within the church, please email The Rev. Ruth Tomlinson, our intake officer for disciplinary matters.
+The Right Revered Joseph Scott Barker
Eleventh Bishop of Nebraska
Statue of Limitations Suspension for Clergy Sexual Misconduct Begins
January 1, 2019
Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church:
Nearly a year ago, we issued a call for the church to examine its history and come to a fuller understanding of how we have handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse through the years. In particular, we asked to hear voices from the wider church at General Convention so that deputies and bishops might consider both how to atone for the church’s past and shape a more just future. As followers of Jesus of Nazareth, as children of God with all people, we could do no less, and we must do more.
In July, General Convention considered 26 resolutions and one memorial addressing issues the #MeToo movement has brought to light, many of them developed by the House of Deputies Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation. One of these resolutions, Resolution D034, suspends for three years the canon (church law) that places a time limit on initiating proceedings in cases of clergy sexual misconduct against adults. There is no time limit on reporting clergy sexual misconduct against children and youth under age 21.
As a result of this resolution, from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2021, those who wish to bring a case of sexual misconduct against a member of the clergy will be able to do so, regardless of how long ago the alleged misconduct occurred. Allegations of misconduct can be made to the intake officer in the diocese where the alleged misconduct occurred, or, if the allegation is against a bishop, to the Office of Pastoral Development. You can learn how to reach the intake officer in a diocese by checking its website or calling the bishop’s office.
We hope that this temporary suspension of the statute of limitations will be one way for the church to come to terms with cases of sexual misconduct in our collective past. Between now and General Convention in 2021, laypeople, clergy and bishops appointed to several task forces created by the 2018 General Convention will be working on other ways of addressing these issues, including a process to help the church engage in truth-telling, confession, and reconciliation regarding our history of gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence.
We are grateful to the many deputies, bishops and other volunteers across the church whose careful
The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies
We need YOU to serve in the Ministries of DioNeb!
Nominations are now being accepted on behalf of (or from) persons who wish to serve on the commissions and committees of the Diocese of Nebraska, and would be willing to stand for election at Annual Council.
We are particularly in need of great leaders to serve on Executive Commission and Standing Committee. Please read the descriptions below, and think and pray about whether you know someone in the Diocese who might be especially equipped to serve in this way.
Executive Commission – Administers the program of the Diocese. With eighteen elected or appointed members and four ex-officio members, this is our largest diocesan body, outside of Annual Council. The Executive Commission coordinates program proposals and helps allocate diocesan funds for programs and areas of concern, subject to the budget and directives adopted by the Council. The Executive Commission meets four times each year, sometimes via conference call, and sometimes in person. We need two clergy-persons, and two laypersons to stand for election to the Executive Commission. Members of the Executive Committee serve for three-year terms, and can serve no more than two successive terms.
Standing Committee – A council of advice for the Bishop, and the Ecclesiastical authority in the Diocese when there is no bishop. The Standing Committee approves or disapproves the application of those seeking Candidacy to the priesthood or diaconate, as well as all parish applications to dispose of or acquire property. It also approves or disapproves of all episcopal elections (in this Diocese and others), and preserves the proceedings of ecclesiastical trials. We need two clergy-persons and two lay-persons to stand for election to the Standing Committee. Members of the Standing Committee serve for three-year terms, and can serve no more than two successive terms.
You must fill out and submit a simple nomination form to stand for election to one of these offices. Nomination forms can be found here.
The final deadline for nominations is August 17th. Please do not hesitate to be in contact with Canon Liz Easton (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions about committee service or this nomination process. Thank You!
Faithfully yours in Christ
This account of the actions of the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church was composed by Father Robert M. Lewis for the people of Saint Stephen’s in Grand Island. With his permission, the Nebraska Episcopalian is delighted to made this slightly edited version available to you!
My Brothers and Sisters Redeemed in the Lord Jesus,
Perhaps one of the most pivotal things to come out of this convention was the election of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry as Presiding Bishop-Elect. Bishop Curry was chosen from a slate of four nominees on the first ballot. He received 121 votes of a total 174 cast. Bishop Curry is the very first Presiding Bishop elected on the first ballot and the very first Presiding Bishop of African American heritage.
Practically anyone who turned on the news or picked up a paper on June 26th will know that the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of civil marriage of any two persons in the United States regardless of gender. That ruling ended a long held dispute in the public arena about the legality of marriages of same gender couples. Some 13 states still had laws prohibiting civil marriage of same-gendered couples, including the State of Nebraska.
On July 1, General Convention followed suit by authorizing two rites for the celebration of marriage with gender-neutral terminology. It was followed by a resolution eliminating the language defining marriage as between a man and a woman in the canons. As of November 1st, 2015, same gendered couples may be married in Episcopal Churches with the following exceptions: 1. Bishops may direct their dioceses not to conduct these services provided they refer interested couples elsewhere. 2. Rectors may refuse these services in their cures provided they refer them beyond their parish.
The budget approved by convention emphasizes racial reconciliation and evangelism. The General Convention adopted the 2016-2018 triennial budget July 2 after agreeing to add $2.8 million for evangelism work. The 2016-2018 triennial budget is based on $125,083,185 in revenue, compared to the forecasted $118,243,102 for the triennium that ends Dec. 31 of this year. The expenses are projected to be $125,057,351. The budget comes in with an expected surplus of $25,834. Its revenue projection is based in part on asking the church’s dioceses and regional mission areas to give 18 percent of their income to fund the 2016 budget, 16.5 percent for the 2017 budget and 15 percent in 2018. This budget also included a major new $2 million initiative on racial justice and reconciliation, even as it reduces the amount of money it asks dioceses to contribute to 15 percent by 2018.
This convention made giving to the national church mandatory and imposed penalties for non-compliance. Dioceses that do not pay their full assessment to the national church instead of to other mission initiatives will face penalties.
Convention voted to divest from fossil fuels, reinvest in renewables , and create a climate change advisory committee. One resolution called upon the Investment Committee of Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund and the Episcopal Church Foundation “to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in clean renewable energy in a fiscally responsible manner.”
Still another resolution called for the creation of a climate change advisory committee with one representative from each of The Episcopal Church’s nine provinces. The resolution also calls on each province to create a Regional Consultative Group composed “of no fewer than five experts in areas of environmental sustainability appropriate to the demographic, ecological, cultural and geographic specifics of each region.”
There were major structural changes to the way General Convention governs.
Resolution A004 slightly expanded Executive Council’s appointment power concerning three members of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s executive staff, including the chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief legal officer.
Convention reduced the number of the church’s standing commissions from 14 to two. The two would be the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons, and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. The presiding bishop and House of Deputies president would appoint study committees and task forces to complete the work called for by a meeting of General Convention, with council’s approval. All of those bodies would expire at the start of the next General Convention unless they are renewed.
Convention opposed divestment in Israel. The House of Bishops wrote on July 2 that divestment from companies and corporations engaged in business related to the State of Israel is not in the best interests of The Episcopal Church, its partners in the Holy Land, interreligious relations, and the lives of Palestinians.
General Convention also took steps for the eventual (2025 probably) replacement of the Book of Common Prayer 1979 and the Hymnal 1982. They directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to prepare plans for revising each and to present them to the next General Convention in Austin, Texas, in 2018.
This convention directed bishops to find ways for congregations without clergy to receive Communion. The House of Bishops defeated proposals to allow unbaptized people to receive Holy Communion or even to study the issue.
A new, unofficial calendar of saints called A Great Cloud of Witnesses was approved for trial use, replacing Holy Women, Holy Men (2012) The official saints calendar is still Lesser Feasts and Fasts.
Some of you know that Heather Cook, the former Suffragan bishop of Maryland was driving intoxicated shortly after Christmas and struck and killed a bicyclist, Thomas Palermo, and then fled the scene of the accident. Cook was deposed from Holy Orders and now awaits trial for vehicular homicide, DUI, and felony leaving the scene of an accident.
General Convention passed three resolutions on the issue of alcohol and drug abuse. One resolution recommended that ordinands should be questioned at the very beginning of the discernment process about addiction and substance use in their lives and family systems. Another resolution acknowledged the church’s role in the culture of alcohol and drug abuse. A final resolution created a task force to review and revise policy on substance abuse, addiction and recovery, passed with one amendment. St. Stephen’s current procedures are already in line with the new policies regarding alcohol and abuse.
The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Cuba met at General convention and discussed the decades long embargo against Cuba. Convention then passed a resolution calling for the U.S. government to lift its economic embargo.
Bishops led a march against gun violence on the morning of June 28. The parade included about 1500 General Convention attendees and was joined by anti-gun violence groups.
+ Bishop Barker
Dear Friend of the Episcopal Church,
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church will elect a new Presiding Bishop at our meeting in July, 2015. We are beginning our search and nominating process.
The Joint Nominating Committee wants your input. This survey instrument will be used to help the Nominating Committee write a document describing the priorities and hopes of the Church in our selection process. It will also inform our understanding of the qualities and skills we would like to see in our Presiding Bishop. We ask you to take a few minutes to complete this survey.
Here is a link to the survey:
Please know your responses will be kept confidential.