Expansive Embrace in the Episcopal Church

The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church took place in Austin, TX, July 5-13, 2018. TransEpiscopal co-founder, the Rev Dr Cameron Partridge wrote on July 13 on the TransEpiscopal blog,

Everything we came to this convention supporting has passed, and more. We had many connecting conversations with people from across the church, and we also felt the support of the wider church in various ways even when we didn’t have direct conversations. It really felt like the church had our back. We felt it at the Revival on Saturday when the Presiding Bishop said “my brothers, my sisters, my siblings.” We felt it in testimony, especially on the floor of the House of Deputies. We felt it in resolutions where trans and nonbinary concerns got added to resolutions in committee, at times when we weren’t even aware of it.

Nondiscrimination Canons Augmented and Extended to Employment

Resolution A284 came to the floor of the Convention on the last day after being moved from the consent agenda. This resolution explicitly extends nondiscrimination principles to employment, licensing, calling, ordination, and deployment (compared to more limited previous language); and adds "family status (including pregnancy or child care plans)" to the list of protected categories.

Studies of Employment, Compensation, and Career Development

Resolutions D069, D005, and A143 call for studies to be made of  employment and compensation with regard to women, LGBTQ clergy, transgender, nonbinary, and racial/ethnic minority clergy. This study is expected to include statistical data as well as stories of those impacted in a report, analysis, and recommendations for the 80th General Convention in 2021.

Name Changes, Liturgy, Access and Advocacy

A variety of resolutions (C022, C054, A088, A064, A068) call for guidelines, resources, and revisions. Resolution B012 also addressed the need for ways to access inclusive marriage liturgy in areas where Bishops are not supportive.

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The New Episcopal Rainbow

In addition to legislative victories, it was announced that the Rev Gwen Fry, a trans woman and member of TransEpiscopal, has been elected as the first President of Episcopal Rainbow -- the renamed LGBT advocacy group formerly called Integrity.

While the Episcopal Church passed nondiscrimination legislation in 2012, Gwen's story shows that policy is not enough as social and cultural forces can still derail things in a variety of ways. The General Convention specifically named TransEpiscopal and Episcopal Rainbow/Integrity as collaborators in plans for implementation.

Seeing a transgender woman at the helm of Episcopal Rainbow is both a historic and political win, as the dismissal of Vivian Taylor as Integrity's previous Executive Director had left a shadow over the organization.

Read Gwen's story and thoughts on the future of the organization at An Interview with Rev Gwen Fry

One of the things that is important for the Episcopal Rainbow movement going forward is seeing things from an intersectional perspective. I think that’s something that the wider church has missed or hasn’t focused on as much. And that is so important because there are so many minority voices out there. The church needs to hear more about that. Race. Gender. Language. Economic disparity. They are all at play in groups of people who are minorities and are discriminated against.

And one of the things that I think the church needs to hear is that acceptance varies widely across the church. Places that are not accepting really need our help to get to where the rest of the church is. We can’t lose those folks or leave them behind. We need to keep them in the mix because as MLK Jr reminded us; “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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