Author: Deputy Anne Brown with input from Diane Audrick-Smith, Leeann Culbreath, Linda Spiers, April French, and Janet Day-Strehlow.

Resolutions on Ukraine, migration, and the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine) provided a very full agenda for Legislative Committee #06, Social Justice and International Policy, as the group of seventeen deputies and five bishops prepared for key policy discussions and decisions at the 81st General Convention. Under the leadership of Deputy Janet Day-Strehlow (Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe) and Bishop Daniel Gutiérrez (Pennsylvania), the committee held six lively public hearings on Zoom in April and May, addressing 20 resolutions. Deputies from all over The Episcopal Church testified, as did a number of other interested individuals.

Of the twenty original resolutions considered, the committee voted to adopt thirteen and to take no further action on seven, all of which have had elements incorporated into others proposed for adoption. 

The Committee has received, up to this point in time, an additional 4 resolutions for which they will hold hearings in Louisville:  D056 Calling for a Ceasefire in Gaza, D058 Ceasefire in Israel–Hamas War, D060 Support For a Solution to the Crisis in Haiti, and D062 Support and Solidarity with Armenia and Preventing further Genocide.

The committee adopted, with minor amendments, Resolution D019, “Justice and Peace in Ukraine,” which condemns war crimes committed in the invasion of Ukraine and the deliberate targeting of civilians; urges religious organizations in Russia to join that condemnation and advocate for peace and accountability; builds on Resolution B008 from the 80th General Convention and MB014 from the Executive Council; supports increased humanitarian aid; and supports the work of the Office of Government Relations in their efforts on behalf of the people of Ukraine.

C031, “Migration with Dignity,” is a substitute resolution that includes elements of three others, all titled “Migration with Dignity.” C031 asks the Church to support and affirm the Migration with Dignity statement of principles about migration as a framework to guide ministry with migrants; to use the statement as a tool to guide advocacy; to authorize the establishment of a Migration with Dignity Task Force (with a budget of $54,000) that will report to Executive Council and to the next General Convention and asks that a churchwide Migration with Dignity formation program be developed.  This migration-related resolution aims to further broaden the Church’s migration ministry beyond its primary focus on refugee resettlement.

D037 (amended), “Encourage All Ministries of The Episcopal Church to Assess Intersections with Migration,” celebrates the presence of immigrants in communities and congregations; acknowledges the intersection of immigrants’ lives and concerns with a wide and diverse range of Episcopal Church ministries and organizations; encourages participation by those ministries and organizations in a survey by the Episcopal Migration Response Network; and asks that a report be made on the results to the 82nd General Convention. The explanation notes the need for a broad assessment of migration-related ministries, opportunities, and challenges within the church to facilitate those ministries.

The Holy Land
The majority of resolutions received by Legislative Committee #06, which also engendered the most testimony and debate, related to Israel and Palestine. Several of the issues have been debated, with resolutions both adopted and rejected at previous General Conventions, but the current situation has brought both different perspectives and new urgency. Most give direction and/or authorization to the Office of Government Relations to advocate positions on behalf of The Episcopal Church, as may be appropriate in the context of their work. The committee recommended adoption of the following nine:

A010, “Recognition of Apartheid in Israel/Palestine,” is a consolidated substitute for three resolutions forwarded to this General Convention by the 2022 GC and a fourth submitted this year. It recognizes that the Israeli government’s legal system and treatment of non-Jewish citizens correspond to definitions of apartheid in international law and that apartheid is antithetical to the Gospel message and Baptismal Covenant. It calls for a commitment to a practice and promotion of healing and reconciliation.

C002 (amended), “On Responsible Travel to the Holy Land,” recommends that itineraries for travelers include encounters with Palestinians who are experiencing the conditions of Occupation, that visits to sites of biblical stories be accompanied by Palestinian Christians, and acknowledges that Jesus’ ministry of love and justice can be witnessed in places of suffering and hardship.

D004 (amended), “Express Solidarity with Palestinians as an Indigenous People,” affirms that Palestinian Arabs are among the indigenous people of the lands of Palestine and Israel and thus considered among those indigenous peoples addressed in the 2012 Resolution A131. 

D005 (amended), “Solidarity with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement,” acknowledges that the demands of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement are consistent with established Episcopal Church policy and that diocesan investment policies using the human rights screen recommended by the 2018 Resolution B016 are an expression of such solidarity.

D006, “Rejecting the Theology and Politics of Christian Zionism,” condemns the practical and political effects of Christian Zionism, which it distinguishes from historical Jewish Zionism; affirms a commitment to stand in solidarity with Palestinian Christians whose communities are being undermined due in part to the support of Christian Zionism; and asks that the granting of tax-exempt status to organizations engaged in Christian Zionist activity be challenged.

D007 (substitute), “Peace Through Equal Rights in Israel/Palestine,” condemns and laments the attack and atrocities of October 7, 2023, as well as the excessive violence of the response; calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and release of hostages and prisoners, condemns seizure of land and settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank; and reaffirms calls for a lasting peace with equal rights, freedom, security, and self-determination for all. 

D009 (substitute), “Swords Into Plowshares: U.S. Accountability and Responsibility in Rebuilding Gaza,” calls upon the U.S. government, in acknowledgement of its role in providing military aid and diplomatic support to Israel in the current war in Gaza, to provide significant aid for the long-term rebuilding of Gaza.

D012 (substitute), “Conditioning U.S. Military Assistance to Israel on Human Rights and a Negotiated Peace,” reaffirms The Episcopal Church’s commitment to human rights and ensuring that U.S. military assistance, particularly to the State of Israel, is conditioned on adherence to both international humanitarian law and U.S. statutes, as well as on a series of concrete commitments leading to long-term peace.

D013 (substitute with amended title), “Affirm the Imperative of a Palestinian State,” offers an overall framework for both Episcopalians and the Office of Government Relations to address the current conflict in Israel/Palestine and to advocate for a ceasefire, humanitarian assistance in Gaza, and a long-term solution that leads to a Palestinian state, a just and lasting peace, and the rebuilding of Gaza.

In addition to adopting the above resolutions, the committee recommends that no further action be taken on four resolutions that have elements included in substitute resolutions: A011, A012, and D003 on apartheid (consolidated with A010), and C027 on conditioning military aid to Israel (consolidated with D012).

The committee proposes an amended version of A110, Clarify Distinction Between Biblical and Modern Israel.  If passed, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music would be requested to develop educational resources regarding problematic or potentially confusing hymns and liturgical texts.

Because the Holy Land resolutions will first be considered by the House of Bishops, the House of Deputies will not be able to act until the bishops adopt, adopt with amendment, or reject particular resolutions. The HoD Committee on Dispatch of Business has proposed a special order of business on the Holy Land for the fourth legislative day. Which resolutions are debated is yet to be determined.