Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday Afternoon and Evening

Saturday, June 27 -- Afternoon and Evening

Our afternoon session started a bit late because of the earlier extension to confirm and introduce Bishop Michael Curry as the Presiding Bishop Elect. We passed a significant change in our funding structure, making 15% the norm (lowering from either 18% or 19%, I can't recall) with an expectation of more dioceses reaching that asking.

We passed a strong resolution for combating systematic racism.

We also debated a compelling resolution about study and advocacy to address the high rate of incarceration in the U.S., especially of men of color. In the resolution there are 14 constructive ideas about improving our prison systems. We ran out of time while debating that resolution. I'm in the queue. One of the ideas that is not in the list is something that has troubled me. In many states, when someone finishes serving their time, because they are a felon, they are disqualified from many social services benefits. Many businesses will not hire felons. They can't get jobs; they can't get benefits that help the very poor. No wonder they turn to the familiar quick dollar by an illegal route. You make a mistake, we keep punishing you to make it impossible for you to re-create your life. Our "punishment first" system is deathly to all. Through our prison ministry, I've come to know many of the people who get caught in this system. There's got to be a better way.


In the evening I went to the hearing for PB&F – Program, Budget, and Finance – our appropriations committee. Bishop Wayne Smith joined me to argue for funding for the work of the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music – important work that has been underfunded like many other programs. We had two minutes each to advocate for a remarkable range of work. The church doesn't have the resources to do all that we would want to do.

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