A056 Communion Across Difference

The 79th General Convention directed the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies to appoint jointly a Task Force on Communion across Difference, consisting of not more than 14 people, who represented the diversity in this Church including members from countries other than the United States, half of whom held that marriage is a “covenant between a man and a woman” (BCP, 422), half of whom held that marriage is a “covenant between two people” (Resolution 2018-A085), in the presence of God, and all of whom sought a pathway toward mutual flourishing in The Episcopal Church. Our Task Force reported and made recommendations to the 80th General Convention, and our enabling resolution specified that our Task Force would continue only at the request of the next General Convention.

The Task Force did its best despite the limitations imposed by the Covid-19 epidemic to accomplish this work, the fruit of which is contained in its Blue Book Report to this Convention. Of particular note is the working definition of “mutual flourishing” developed by the Task Force and a “conversation tool” to assist members of this Church in engaging that definition and the conversation more broadly. The Task Force also articulated a helpful theological framework for engaging communion across difference, recognizing the many challenges and tensions present in that work. While we believe we have done significant theological and relational work on what it means to walk together as disciples of Jesus on the Way of Love, we have only begun a process that cries out for further exploration. We believe that reconciliation and “mutual flourishing” should continue to be our goal, by God’s grace, but that the truth-telling, transformation, and relationship building that are necessary on the way to that goal do not come quickly or easily.

Members of the current Task Force believe that building the kind of relationships needed to take this work further were severely hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic and our inability to meet face to face. We propose that to do this work well, funding for at least two face-to-face gatherings over the next triennium will be necessary, and ideally three. Our suggestion to appoint not more than 12 members is meant to make multiple face-to-face meetings financially possible, but a larger membership with a larger budget would also be welcome.