This General Convention might end up being known as the #Metoo convention.
The worship set the tone early. The bishops held what they called a “listening session.” In it, bishops came forward and recited snippets of stories about the experience of abuse, harassment, misconduct, and further wounding that happened when these instances were reported. Then, they repented of the ways in which the church had injured God’s children. For many it was a powerful experience for bishops to stand up and take some level of responsibility.
This carried over into the rest of the convention. Many of the resolutions were the result of efforts begun by a special committee that worked on many of these issues from February right through convention. The #Metoo committee, as it became known, and members of that committee were the proposers of many of the actions that were approved by the Convention. There were also many who stood up and told their stories, such as the writers and signatories to Memorial to the General Convention from the Gathering of Gen X and Millennial Clergy (you can read the memorial).
This theme also carried over into the legislative committee that was tasked with working on Title IV of the canons (canons are the church equivalent of laws, and Title IV is the section of the canons that deal with clergy discipline), as well as Safeguarding (the training programs Safeguarding God’s People and Safeguarding God’s Children are mandatory for clergy and lay volunteers in charge of ministry). The committee dealt with over 50 resolutions, the vast majority of them dealing with sexual misconduct, harassment, abuse, and the church’s response to it.
Among the actions that taken by this committee were the following:
- The creation of a Taskforce for Women, Truth, and Reconciliation, which would address all levels of misconduct which have happened in the past.
- The creation of a Taskforce on Sexual Harassment, tasked with finding and beginning the process of dismantling the structures that allow misconduct and harassment to continue in the church.
- A suspension of the statute of limitations on sexual harassment beginning January 2019 and lasting until the end of 2021, allowing people to come forward, tell their stories, and hold the predatory or complicity clergy and church systems accountable for their actions.
This is just a small sample of the work that was begun during General Convention.
I spent much of my time early in this General Convention sitting in the Title IV committee’s hearing and deliberations. If you stopped to read the memorial that I linked to earlier you will see my name as a signatory to it. I was at that gathering. I heard every one of those stories, and I have heard more since. Once my eyes and ears were open, I had a choice: do I close them again, or use them to see, to listen to the pain that is all to prevalent in the church. I was present at almost every meeting of the Title IV and Safeguarding legislative committee, testified before it, and wrote a resolution that was considered by the committee.
I believe that this is an issue of liberation in the Episcopal church. If anyone in the church is injured, then I am because I am a part of that same body of Christ that is the church; more so if it is the body that does the harm to any member. Misconduct, misogyny, abuse, sexual or otherwise, and the predatory and/or complicit systems that enable them are abscesses, cancers with in the body of the church. I have hope that we have begun the process of excising this illness, and that, if the work can be completed, the church may heal and become whole.
Fr. Jed Fox
The Rev. Jedediah (Jed) Fox
The Rev. Jedediah (Jed) Fox has been the rector of Church of the Redeemer since January 2015. Prior to being called to Redeemer, Fr. Jed served as curate and assistant at The Church of St. Michael and St. George in St. Louis, Missouri, and was a seminarian at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin while attending the General Theological Seminary. Fr. Jed was raised at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Helena, Montana.
Church of the Redeemer
Church of the Redeemer: Worshiping God, living in community, and reaching out to the world around us. We are an Episcopal Church serving north King County and south Snohomish County. We welcome you be with us as we walk the way of Jesus.
Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. The campus is a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. And we managed to hide a large building on the side of a hill that is not easily seen from the street.
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