Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | June 21, 2024

Congregation Update: Divining our (Liturgical) Future

Blog|The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi

Dear Friends,

I write to you on the solstice, the day of sun-standing, an inflection point in the calendar and cosmos. The brilliance of the sun begins to diminish, at first imperceptibly, and if we’re not alert, it will be mid-September before we realize that the days are actually shorter.

On June 6, I joined two ecumenical colleagues on a Zoom forum of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, where we talked about post-COVID worship and community life. In preparation for that presentation, I charted how our weekday life had changed. Morning Prayer is no longer a cue to open the building, but its Zoom successor is much better attended. We no longer have a chaplaincy program attached to a weekday 12:10 Eucharist. Still, the midweek noon Eucharist has a stable community gathered around it and is a welcoming place for neighbors and visitors. That inflection point was somewhere in 2021 or 2022 when we knew that there was no mechanism to just return to pre-pandemic life.

That same inflection point set in motion many of the items to be considered as the church convenes in Louisville, KY, next week for the 81st General Convention. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is a primary organ of governance for the church, and consists of the House of Bishops, and the House of Deputies (half lay, half ordained), convened every 3 years. COVID caused the 2021 meeting to be deferred to 2022. Appropriately, resolution D036, if passed, will direct an interim body to research healing services in use, and cites as example contexts the opioid crisis, Blue Christmas, and creation care.

We know that COVID accelerated the rate of clergy retirement and ministry transition, especially in rural areas; it was also the context for some racial reckoning in the US. These crises, individually and collectively, are also opportunities for re-visioned ministry. This is expressed clearly in resolution A042, which would foster deeper relations between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and The Episcopal Church, including limited exchange of ministers. This momentum in the relationship with a body that does not have Episcopal oversight — there are no bishops in the Presbyterian church — is at once hopeful, and also presents notable challenges in ecclesiological vision.

The Convention will also deliberate aspects of our common life that are less connected to the pandemic and recovery. In that vein, I will pay particular attention to the resolutions about the development of alternative and expansive language hymn texts, the revision of our calendar to include fast days and guidance, and the revision of the Good Friday liturgy to address Christian anti-Semitism. 

Please pray for the church, especially for DioCal’s representatives to the convention (“the deputation”), as they work on our behalf, and participate in the election of the next Presiding Bishop. You can follow the proceedings at TEC’s Media Hub, at Episcopal News Service’s General Convention coverage, or with DioCal on Facebook.

With love,

Share to your favorite platform or Email to Family & Friends