CDSP to Host Event Revisiting 2022 Communion Controversy

On October 9, 2023, CDSP will partner with the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California to host an event revisiting recent controversy about the role and relationship of sacraments in the Episcopal Church.

In the lead up to the the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the legislative committees of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies considered a resolution put forward by the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California. Titled “All Are Welcome at the Table,” this resolution (C028) petitioned the General Convention to “repeal CANON I.17.7 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church …, which states: ‘No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.’”

While the proposal never made it out of committee for the consideration of either of the convention’s houses, its appearance on the legislative docket created a firestorm of controversy in print and social media in the period leading up to the meeting. Proponents of the measure framed repeal of the canon as a matter of justice and hospitality. Opponents worried that repealing the canon would imperil the theological, liturgical, and formational connection between the rites of baptism and eucharist.

What too often seemed to be missing from the contest between these competing goods was a spirit of charity. Those on one side of the debate frequently failed to inquire into what was felt to be at stake by those on the other, and vice versa. Little attempt was made to identify areas of possible convergence, where sincerely held commitments could be maintained while taking action that addressed the concerns of others. In the rush to take sides, many seemed to forget that we are all actually on the same side, as loyal members of the Episcopal Church and disciples of Jesus Christ.

The four participants in this panel discussion are convinced there is a lesson to be learned from this. All are prominent members of the diocese that put the initial resolution forward. The Rt. Rev. Megan Traquair is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California. The Rev. Br. Simeon (Lewis) Powell, CG, is deacon in residence at St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Rocklin and was chair of the Northern California deputation to the 80th General Convention. The Rev. James Richardson previously served as interim dean at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Sacramento, and was the first clergy alternate of the Northern California deputation to the 80th General Convention. And the Rev. Stephen R. Shaver, PhD, is rector of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Santa Rosa, and a liturgical theologian. Each one has their own perspective on the resolution. At the same time, each is able to appreciate the commitments of the others and believes there is common ground they share and might act upon together. 

After introductory remarks from Mr. Martin Heatlie, who proposed the resolution to the Northern California diocesan convention, the panelists will make brief presentations of their perspectives on the controversy over this important issue, the principles at stake in it, and what the church can learn from it about how to disagree charitably, productively, and lovingly. After interacting with one another, the floor will be opened for an extended period of conversation, as they respond to questions posed by those in the room and those attending by livestream.

The event will begin at 4 PM Pacific Time and is open to the public both onsite at CDSP and online. Use this link to register to attend in person, attend online, or receive a recording after the event.

Contact Dr. Scott MacDougall with inquiries about this event.