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SALT LAKE CITY, UT: Dismantling Racism, Green Principles of the Church, Key Issues for GC2015

SALT LAKE CITY, UT: Dismantling Racism, Green Principles of the Church, Key Issues for GC2015

By David W. Virtue & Michael Heidt in Salt Lake City
June 23, 2015

Episcopal Church leaders say that dismantling racism in light of recent shootings in America of young black men and church goers in Charleston SC, along with the greening of the church and the Presiding Bishop's inclusive vision for proclaiming the gospel, will be among key issues of the 78th General Convention being held this week in Salt Lake City.

At the first press conference today, outgoing Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies president Gay Jennings, and the Very Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, a gay man and executive officer of General Convention, outlined their guiding principles for the next 12 days in Salt Lake City.

When questioned by VOL about the first Mark of Mission, "To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom," the Presiding Bishop said it was about proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ, in partnership with "anyone who shares our vision."

She said increasingly the focus should be "outside of ourselves to complete a vision of wholeness." Jefferts Schori went on to state that Jewish and Muslim leaders would be present at the convention along with other denominational leaders who share this vision.

When asked about technological advances at general Convention, Canon Barlowe opined that this will be the most digitally oriented general convention ever -- more in keeping with the green principles of the Church. He stated that the 78th convention is the greenest convention ever. He added that 4500 people had pre-registered and that he is looking forward to twice that figure over the next 12 days.

When the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, was asked about the overall purpose of the convention, she explained it was to ensure that the mission of the Episcopal Church is "strong and vibrant." She then stated that, "I particularly want to note that we come together at a tense moment in our nation's history." After referencing recent shootings in Charleston, she noted that the church should be "servants of mission" and "I believe God is calling us to dismantle systems of racism and privilege."

Figures were cited saying that some 900 people had registered for the House of Deputies and 200 in the House of Bishops. Some believe that the unusually large turnout of bishops indicates a potential floor fight over gay marriage changes to the canons and constitutions of the church that amount to an end run around the Book of Common Prayer.

As a sign of racial reconciliation, a march against gun violence is scheduled for next week from the Salt Palace. Signs in the convention hall said that firearms are prohibited at the Salt Palace.


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