Category Archives: Politics

Interfaith Panel on Religion and Environment

Today, the Islamic Networks Group (ING) presented an interfaith panel discussion on Religion and the Environment at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Saratoga, California (the Silicon Valley).  I was honored to be the panelist representing Christianity, joined by other certified interfaith speakers who are Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim.  Some of the questions we answered, in addition to those from the audience:

  • What texts or traditions in your religion speak to the relationship of humanity to the natural world and the importance of caring for the environment?
  • Stewardship can be interpreted as living in harmony with the earth: careful and responsible management of shared resources; or dominance and making the most out of an owned resource. How does your faith tradition interpret stewardship of the earth? Does your religion have a formal position on this?
  • What personal or community practices have you observed in your faith group with regard to these teachings?
  • How do adherents of your faith consider climate change? Do people in your religious tradition feel a responsibility to respond to climate change? What have you observed in this area in your faith community?
  • St. Andrew’s holds an annual Faith and Innovation Conference. Technology and innovation have had both positive and negative effects on the environment, for example: reducing transport emissions on the one side, and on the other side using developing countries as a dumping ground for e-waste. Does your religious tradition have a point of view on this? What have you observed in this area?
  • How can religious traditions and groups work together for the good of the planet?

Each of us researched and brought notes to the panel.  Part of what I said was about Christianity and Environmentalism in the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox branches, and part about the ongoing tension between Stewardship and Dominion. My materials included:

  • From St. Andrew’s Prayers of the People
    • (2 Sep 2018) “Creative God, we pray for the earth. Keep watch over those who rescue endangered species and repair scorched landscapes. Make us good stewards of creation.”
    • (16 Sep 2018) “Creative God, quarks and galaxies bear witness to your imagination.  Inspire scientists, naturalists, and conservationists who work to conserve precious natural resources. Grant us the wisdom to be good keepers of the earth.”
  • From 1982 Episcopal Hymnal – 14,161 hymns include “earth” – 5,274 include “sky” – and 5,254 include “stars”
    • “For the beauty of the earth” – “For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies. Christ, our Lord, to you we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise…”
    • “The Holy Trinity” Verse 4 – “Holy! holy! holy! Lord God Almighty! All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth and sky, and sea…”
    • “Earth and all stars” – “Earth and all stars, Loud rushing planets, Sing to the Lord a new song! Hail, wind, and rain, Loud blowing snow storm, Sing to the Lord a new song! God has done marvelous things. I too sing praises with a new song!”
  • Book of Common Prayer: Prayers and Thanksgivings, Prayers for the Natural Order pp.827-828
    • 40. For Knowledge of God’s Creation
    • 41. For the Conservation of Natural Resources
    • 42. For the Harvest of Lands and Waters
    • 43. For Rain
    • 44. For the Future of the Human Race
  • “Steward” in the Bible, 20 mentions in NSRV. The steward’s job: Manager of house and lands and workers – Master of the Household (Isaiah 22:15)
    • “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Corinthians 4:2
    • “For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain” Titus 1:7
  • “Dominion” in the Bible, 50 mentions in NSRV – Ruler, owner, in control over
    • “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”” Genesis 1:26
    • “God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Genesis 1:28
    • “Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Psalm 103:22
    • “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” Romans 6:9

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Photos Copyright 2018 by John Plocher

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Summary: General Convention GC79

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry with Episcopal General Convention at Hutto Detention Center outside Austin TX 8 July 2018

Written after the final legislative day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I was with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).  In my first GC79 blog, I gave a list of the big topics for discussion at this General Convention.  Here is that same list, linked to an Episcopal News Service article about what happened:

  1. Marriage Equality: approved a historic resolution giving all Episcopalians the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches
  2. Revising the Book of Common Prayer: adopted a resolution that allows all congregations in the Episcopal Church to use optional, expansive-language versions of three Rite II Eucharistic prayers in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer
  3. The Episcopal Church and the #MeToo movement: voices and stories of women played a significant role, from a liturgy where bishops offered laments and confession for the church’s role in sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, to passing a resolution so that deputies can to bring babies on the floor of the House of Deputies to feed them
  4. A salary for the president of the House of Deputies: agreed to a plan to pay the president of the House of Deputies for the work of the office
  5. Following up on the church’s three priorities: evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice and care of creation
  6. Formulating the 2019-2021 triennial budget: accepted $134 million three-year spending plan
  7. Middle East peace: of 15 resolutions on Israel-Palestine, only six passed both houses, on topics including Palestinian children, the status of Jerusalem, the disproportionate use of lethal force on both sides, and ways the Episcopal Church can press for peace through its investment decisions

Other GC79 big topics and actions of interest:

Part of General Convention is spending casual time with the remarkable people who attend – and visiting Exhibit Hall booths of programs and institutions and vendors. I bought so many books I had to ship them home in a separate box – which has not yet arrived. Pictures below are of some of the other giveaways and publications I collected. On my flight home from Texas to California, I spotted Dr. Catherine Meeks of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing who gave a remarkable talk at GC79. The Rev. Rob Fisher of our Deputation reported that he spent his flight home reading The Agile Church, which he bought at the GC79 Exhibit Hall.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are on the Diocese of El Camino Real website. Here is my complete set from GC79 as the official diocesan  blogger:

On 16 July 2018, Episcopal News Service published a summary of GC79.

Note that the GC79 Virtual Binder will only be available online through Labor Day (3 September 2018).

El Camino Real Deputation dinner GC79, Rob Keim picture 13 July 2018

GC79 stuff to bring home 13 July 2018

GC79 stuff to bring home 13 July 2018

Dr. Catherine Meeks flight home from GC79, 13 July 2018

The Agile Church book by Dwight Zscheile, Rob Fisher picture 14 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention 4 July 2018

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Images Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Day 9, General Convention

Alternates and Deputies in GC79 House of Deputies at border wall between house floor and side gallery on 12 July 2018

This was the eighth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

Today was a hard march through dozens of complex resolutions.  Everyone is very tired.  Some of the major resolutions passed today include:

Sometimes the House of Deputies took refuge in silly songs and pigeon jokes but mostly we stuck seriously to business.  The House of Bishops ended today’s session early because the Deputies had not finished enough to pass along.  Both houses meet again starting at 8 am tomorrow for the final legislative day.

Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows (of Indianapolis) gave an inspiring sermon at the closing worship service, ending with “You know what to do.  You have got this.  Now go!”  The El Camino Real Deputation met after the service to eat a pecan pie given to Bishop Mary by the Bishop of Texas.  It was delicious! Bishop DeeDee Duncan-Probe (of Central New York) stopped by to greet Bishop Mary, as well as El Camino Real former-Chancellor Nancy Cohen, and me – she knows Nancy and me from when we were at All Saints’ – Palo Alto together.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Pigeon comedy GC79 on 12 July 2018

House of Bishops GC79 on 12 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation GC79 worshiping on 12 2018

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry ending worship service GC79 on 12 July 2018

Bishops Mary Gray-Reeves ⁦of El Camino Real and DeeDee Duncan-Probe of Central New York GC79 on 12 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation GC79 with pie on 12 2018

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Day 8, General Convention

Cuba Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio welcomed to House of Deputies, GC79, on 11 July 2018

This was the seventh legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

Today, the GC79 legislative calendar was so full that we had to add an after-dinner session.  Very long day!  Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio was welcomed with a sustained standing ovation and joyous singing to the House of Deputies after the enthusiastic passage of a historic resolution welcoming the church of Cuba as a diocese of the Episcopal Church.  We considered the budget for the first time in a joint session of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops.  The House of Bishops rejected the Isreal-Palestine resolution but passed a “Marriage Rites for the Whole Church” resolution with a small amendment.

Marriage Rites now return to the House of Deputies for a final vote.  The House of Deputies today agreed on a plan for liturgical and Prayer Book revision plus a great many less-controversial resolutions (including one welcoming nursing mother Deputies).  We are proud of El Camino Real Deputy Jeff Diehl who appeared briefly on the House of Deputies big platform as Co-Chair of the Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation committee today.

Deputies in wheelchairs and Deputies who find it hard to hear spoke passionately in support of a resolution to “Establish an Advisory Council on Disability and Deaf Access” – which was passed.  Deputy Sarah Watkins of Texas said “nothing about us without us.”  She and Deputy Charis and others made the point that there had been nine such resolutions passed in General Convention since 1985 but little effective change has been made – perhaps because few who are themselves impaired have been represented in the groups making the decisions.  There have been signers for the deaf at House of Deputy and House of Bishop sessions and worship services but not at most other meetings.  There was an interesting moment during Tuesday evening’s worship service when flute player Dakota Wind from Standing Rock spoke silently in Lakota signs with the GC79 deaf interpreter on the stage.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Tim Gee, Katy Dickinson, gc79 on 11 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves GC79 on 11 July 2018

Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio and colleagues from the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba GC79 on 12 July 2018

GC79 House of Deputies and House of Bishops consider budget on 11 July 2018

GC79 House of Bishops on 11 July 2018

Jeff Diehl on House of Deputies podium GC79 on 11 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves GC79 on 11 July 2018

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Day 7, General Convention

GC79 House of Deputies sign 10 July 2018

This was the sixth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

Today very early, I switched badges back with Celeste Ventura (so I became an Alternate again and she has her Delegate badge) and then in the afternoon switched badges with Tim Gee (so he became an Alternate and I became a Delegate).  Tim and I will switch back early tomorrow. There are only two short windows of time each day when such switches can be made.

The morning joint session between the House of Deputies and House of Bishops was a TEConversation on the care of creation, with interesting speakers and music and discussion. The El Camino Real Deputation met again on the Alternates side of the curtain so that all could participate. Particularly notable among the presenters was Bernadette Demientieff of the Gwich’in Nation, Fort Yukon, Alaska, who said: “Our children deserve to see creation as it was in the beginning, not just when we are done with it.”

After several failed attempts to make progress, a whole set of elections had to be postponed to tomorrow so that the Virtual Binder could be updated.  This was apparently not because of iPad software or hardware problems (of which there have been few) but because the candidate biographies were not submitted in time.  The Virtual Binder system has drastically reduced the amount of paper used by GC79 – a very welcome change!

While the House of Deputies was passing important resolutions on inclusive language and support for transgender/non-binary church members, the House of Bishops made history by approving reunification with the Church of Cuba and seating Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio of Cuba.  She was welcomed by our Bishop Mary (and became the 8th diocesan female Bishop).

For dinner, I attended the University of the South barbecue and had a very interesting discussion with the most senior Education for Ministry online mentor.   She and I plan to keep in touch about our work with EfM!

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves GC79 on 10 July 2018

GC79 coffee line in Austin 10 July 2018

Bernadette Demientieff of Gwich’in Nation, Fort Yukon, Alaska, GC79 on 10 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese El Camino Real House of Deputies GC79 on 10 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese El Camino Real House of Deputies GC79 on 10 July 2018

Fredrica Harris Thompsett GC79 on 10 July 2018

GC79 iPad Virtual Binder with Flat Jesus 11 July 2018

Bishop Marc Andrus Evening worship service GC79, on 10 July 2018

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Day 6, General Convention

Worship with House of Deputies Chaplain, Father Mackenzie, GC79 on 9 July 2018

This was the fifth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).  Pigeon jokes continued (Twitter @gc79pigeon) and most of the House of Deputies wore purple scarves to honor Women Bishops.

Among many smaller decisions, two of the big GC79 topics were discussed today: B012 – “Marriage Rites for the Whole Church”  and D019 – “Ending Church Complicity in the Occupation”. The Rev. Lester V. Mackenzie, House of Deputies Chaplain, opened the afternoon legislative session with a shoulder-to-shoulder prayer. The discussion process is complex and time consuming and requires much checking of parliamentary procedure. The capable President of the House of DeputiesRev. Gay Clark Jennings, keeps us to time and in order with humor and charm.

Deputy Celeste Ventura allowed me to substitute for her in the House of Deputies in the afternoon.  Since I have lived and worked in Israel, and because of my many years of work with the TechWomen of the Middle East, I have been particularly interested in the many resolutions on Israel and Palestine and was glad to be able to testify and vote.  Both the Marriage Rites and Israel-Palestine resolutions were approved – and will move to the House of Bishops next.

Our Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves presided in English and Spanish over the evening worship service which, as usual, offered excellent music and a peaceful interlude in a busy day.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Purple scarf to support Women Bishops at General Convention GC79 on 9 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention pigeon under table GC79 on 9 July 2018

Katy Dickinson and Celeste Ventura, General Convention gc79 on 9 July 2018

Kathryn Nishibayashi and Katy Dickinson at General Convention gc79 on 9 July 2018

Rev. Rob Keim and Katy Dickinson, House of Deputies, General Convention, GC79 on 9 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation in House of Deputies GC79 on 9 July 2018

Katy Dickinson speaking on Israel-Palestine resolution GC79 on 9 July 2018

General Convention voting device GC79 on 9 July 2018

Charis Hill light up wheels Episcopal General Convention GC97 on 9 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation in worship GC79 on 9 July 2018

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves presiding over Episcopal General Convention GC79 worship 9 July 2018

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Day 5, General Convention

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry with Episcopal General Convention at ICE Hutto Detention Center outside Austin Texas, 8 July 2018

This was the fourth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

This morning started with witness and protest against gun violence (at Brush Square Park in downtown Austin) and for immigration reform (outside the Hutto Detention Facility in rural Texas). More than 1,000 Episcopalians were transported for 40 minutes in 19 buses to the town of Taylor outside of Austin.  We stood in the hot sun to sing to and pray for hundreds of detained women immigrants.  We sang “Here I am, Lord” and “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace” and other hymns in English and Spanish, followed by inspiring preaching and prayers.  Most of the Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation participated.

Some in the crowd could hear the women inside the detention center pounding the walls to communicate.  After we returned to Austin, a Tweet was posted by @Grassroots_News:

“A woman called from Hutto after today’s prayer and told us they were glued to the windows until the last bus left the detention center. Women inside were crying, saying they knew they weren’t alone after seeing so many people there. Thank you”

In the afternoon GC79 legislative session of the House of Deputies, we voted for candidates for a variety of GC offices, then started the discussion of B012 – Marriage Rites for the Whole Church. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings (who was re-elected today as President of the House of Deputies for the third and final time) told the clergy and lay Deputies from 110 diocese that although there were 443 resolutions, 417 of them are incomplete. So, the work load ahead is not as dire as we feared.  A regular source of comments and entertainment has been provided by the House of Deputies pigeons who have their own Twitter site: @gc79pigeon

We ended a long day with dinner for the Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation and friends at the Moonshine Grill.  The GC79 discussion on Marriage Rites continues tomorrow morning.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.
Episcopal General Convention at Hutto Detention Center outside Austin TX 8 July 2018

Dr. Joshua D. Booher, Katy Dickinson, Karen Meridith of Education for Ministry EfM at GC79 on 8 July 2018

Katy Dickinson GC79 badge 8 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention House of Deputies pigeon 8 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Delegation GC79 Dinner 8 July 2018

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