In February 2018, House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings appointed a Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation to draft legislation for the 79th General Convention. The 47-member committee submitted 24 resolutions and one memorial and endorsed two resolutions submitted by others. Its activities resulted in the following legislation being enacted.
Theology and Language
Legislation from the Theology and Language subcommittee calls for education about and use of bias-free, expansive and inclusive language in seminaries, congregations and other organizations within the church, as well as in future liturgical resources, including any revisions to the Book of Common Prayer.
- B011 — Inclusive Language Policies for Episcopal Seminaries and Formation Programs encourages Episcopal seminaries, training and formation programs to explore the theological foundations for the use of bias-free, inclusive language for God and humanity.
- D025 — Amend Canons III.6.5(g), III.7.5, III.8.5(b), III.9.1, III.10.1(c), III.12.1, III.12.2 calls for the creation of a Task Force on Clergy Formation and Continuing Education to study the subjects required to preparation for ordination, with special attention to the canonical changes proposed in the resolution as originally submitted, which would have required training in understandings of sexuality and gender identity and for those preparing for ordination to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopacy and required continuing education for all orders.
- D046 — Expansive-Language Liturgical Resources authorizes the continuing use of Enriching Our Worship; directs the SCLM to develop principles for the use of inclusive and expansive language in liturgical texts, to report these principles to the 80th General Convention, and to follow these principles in all revisions of liturgical resources and in the development of any new liturgical resources; encourages dioceses to develop liturgical texts to provide expansive language resources, and share these resources with the SCLM.
- D067 – Bias-Free and Expansive Language for God and Humanity affirms the use of bias-free language; urges Executive Council, the General Convention Office, DFMS and staff to use bias-free language; exhorts all Episcopal dioceses, congregations and organizations to use bias-free language in all published communications.
- The call for a thorough revision of the Book of Common Prayer, employing inclusive and expansive language for humanity and divinity in D036 – BCP Revision: Inclusive & Expansive Language was expressed in the adopted resolution A068 – Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer, which specifies “our liturgical revision utilize inclusive and expansive language and imagery for humanity and divinity.”
Legislation resulting from the work of the Structural Equity subcommittee establishes an Anti-Sexism Task Force to develop a churchwide training program, calls for all benefit-eligible positions for deacons and priests to be publicly posted, and authorizes the study of the status of female musicians in the church. It extends non-discrimination access policies to any church call or employment, removes the disclosure of sex and annual compensation in the OTM profile, and asks the Church Pension Fund to include more specific data on gender identity in its Clergy Compensation report and to study steps necessary to provide equity in pension plans.
- A284 — Amend Canon 1.17.5 and Canon III.1.2. (replacement for the originally-submitted D026) extends the church’s non-discrimination policies to cover access to the discernment process and any employment, licensing, calling, or deployment process for any ministry, lay or ordained.
- D021 — Revise OTM Information removes the requirement to disclose sex in the OTM profile and deletes current annual compensation on the Compensation & Housing portion of the Ministry Portfolio; requires congregations to include a specific amount or range of compensation on Community Ministry Portfolios.
- D023 — Amend Canons III.6.5(g)(4), III.8.5(h)(4), and III.10.1.(c)(4) and Establish Task Force establishes an Anti-Sexism Task Force to develop a training program — required for all elected or appointed leadership in the Episcopal Church, lay and clergy — to address systemic sexism within the church and the larger society with the goals of raising awareness of bias, eliminating sexist hiring practices and identifying intersectionalities of discrimination across multiple cultural identities.
- D037 — Expand Clergy Compensation Report calls on the Church Pension Fund to include greater specificity in the Clergy Compensation Report related to gender identity.
- D045 — Pension Equity for Lay Employees asks the Church Pension Fund to study the steps necessary to provide equity in the pension plans for lay and ordained church workers, and report results to Executive Council by July 1, 2020.
- D073 — Amend Canon III.7.4 and Canon III.9.3 calls for all benefit-eligible positions for deacons or priests to be publicly posted, including by the Office of Transition Ministries.
- The call to study the status of female musicians in the Episcopal Church as expressed in D099 — Women Musicians in the Church was duplicated by D040 – The Status of Women Church Musicians, which was adopted.
Title IV and Training
The work of the Subcommittee on Title IV and Training resulted in a three-year suspension of the statute of limitations for Title IV complaints (i. e. disciplinary complaints of sexual misconduct against clergy) and guaranteed confidentiality for whistleblowers. The possibility of expanding the church’s Title IV disciplinary canons to lay leaders and the addition of a Churchwide Intake Officer to the Title IV process were referred to interim bodies.
- D033 — Amend Canons IV.2 and IV..6 – Churchwide Intake Officer, which adds a Churchwide Intake Officer to the Title IV process, was referred to an interim body.
- D034 — Amend Canon IV.19.4 – Suspending Statute of Limitations suspends the statute of limitations on disciplinary complaints of sexual misconduct against clergy from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021.
- D076 — Confidentiality for Whistleblowers guarantees confidentiality, if desired, for those who report misconduct but are not filing a complaint.
- D100 – Amend Title IV.1, IV.3, and IV.6, which would expand Title IV to apply to lay leaders employed by the Church or a church-affiliated institution, or any person serving in a volunteer position of leadership within the Church, was referred to an interim body.
Truth and Reconciliation
The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Subcommittee resulted in the establishment of a Task Force for Women, Truth and Reconciliation.
- D016 — Seeking Truth, Reconciliation, and Restoration establishes a Task Force for Women, Truth, and Reconciliation “for the purpose helping the Church engage in truth-telling, confession, and reconciliation regarding gender-based discrimination, harassment, and violence against women and girls in all their forms by those in power in the Church, making an accounting of things done and left undone in thought, word, and deed, intending amendment of life, and seeking counsel, direction, and absolution as we are restored in love, grace, and trust with each other through Christ.”
Social Justice for Women
The work of the Social Justice for Women Subcommittee calls for domestic violence education for clergy and congregations, and the examination of the church’s response to domestic violence. It opposes inhumane immigration policies, regulations that limit safety net programs, sexual harassment, assault and exploitation in the workplace, and promotes gender equity in healthcare.
- A178 — Halt the Intensification and Implementation of Immigration Policies and Practices that are Harmful to Migrant Women and Children acknowledges the specific vulnerabilities and needs of immigrant women, parents and children in the current immigration crisis and opposed inhumane immigration policies; directs the Office of Government Relations to address the specific needs of women and children migrants and urges Episcopalians to support ministries in states that provide vulnerable migrants with basic needs, legal support, and advocacy.
- C041 — Repair America’s Safety Net, which was proposed by the Diocese of Southern Ohio and endorsed by the subcommittee, opposes regulations that limit safety net programs including health insurance, social security, SNAP and other public benefits.
- D017 — Reducing Sexual Harassment, Assault, and Exploitation in the Workplace supports enforcement of labor standards and elimination of the tipped wage, endorses policies strengthening rights of farm workers and unions.
- D031 — Recognizing and Ending Domestic Violence in Our Congregations calls for domestic violence education for clergy and congregations, and examination of the church’s response to domestic violence.
- D032 — Equal Access to Health Care Regardless of Gender acknowledges the need for equity in health care for men and women, including reproductive health.
The committee also endorsed D087, which amended the rules of order of the House of Deputies to permit nursing or bottle-feeding on the floor of the house.