The Reverend Jerome F. Politzer, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Chapel, Del Monte, California, andCHRISTIANITY TODAYnews editor Russell Chandler attended the sixty-third General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Houston, October 11–22. Here is their report:
Episcopalians watched the erosion of their church.
Or they saw new relevance—daring concepts of stewardship, mission, and social justice for the oppressed and dispossessed in action.
Which happened depends on the interpretation of events at General Convention—and how the church responds. Some of the more important actions:
• Minority-group funding—The General Convention’s Special Program (GCSP), which gives church money without strings to empowerment organizations—many militant and a few violent—was continued and expanded with significant new guidelines on violence and veto power.
• Women—Women deputies were seated for the first time in the 181-year history of the 3.5-million-member church, but women were refused eligibility for ordination as priests or bishops by a narrow vote swayed by clerical deputies.
• Missions—Overseas missionaries were reported down 100 since 1966 to 164; further cutbacks in personnel and dollars are anticipated.
• Centralization—More power was concentrated in headquarters staff, standardization proposed for seminary exams and clergy deployment.
• Executive Council—A conservative drive eliminated a specific provision for women, youth, and racial minority persons on the denomination’s most important board. The council was reduced from fifty-one to forty-one members.
• Consultation on Church Union—Lethargic approval for a two-year study “without implying approval of the plan in its present form” rolled through both houses with minimal debate (none ...1
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