“We are children of the one God who is the Creator of us all,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. “It is our sisters, our brothers, our siblings who are seeking protection and asylum, fleeing violence and danger to children, searching for a better life for themselves and their children. The crisis at the border is not simply a challenge of partisan politics but a test of our personal and public morality and human decency.”
On July 25th, the Attorney General announced the Trump Administration’s intention to begin carrying out federal executions for the first time since 2003. Since 1958, The Episcopal Church has taught that the sacredness of life requires that no individual or group of individuals have the right to unnecessarily take the life of another person. The taking of a human life can be necessary in self-defense and war, but as retribution for even the most heinous crimes it is not justified.
“Jesus told us that the greatest gift we could give is to lay down our own lives for another. Conversely, the taking of another life must be viewed as the greatest sacrilege.” The Most Reverend Edmond L. Browning, XXIV Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
“If it is not about love, it is not about God” The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, XXVII and Current Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
The premeditated and unnecessary killing of a person is unchristian and beyond the legitimate powers of the state. Therefore, The Episcopal Church condemns the decision by the Administration to execute prisoners. We call on the President to reverse this decision and utilize his Constitutional power to commute the sentences of all those condemned to death to life in prison without parole.
Past General Conventions of the Episcopal Church have passed resolutions supporting humane and just prison reform measures, lifting up restorative justice, and urging an end to mass incarceration practices.
In 1994, the federal government passed legislation so that incarcerated people lost access to Pell Grants to pay for post-secondary education while serving their sentence. In 2015, the Obama Administration started a pilot program to restore access to Pell Grants.
Congress is now considering legislation (the Restoring Education and Learning Act -- REAL) to help move our criminal justice system away from retribution and punishment and towards rehabilitation of individuals.
The Episcopal Public Policy Network is urging Episcopalians and people of faith to urge legislators to support the REAL Act.
The Episcopal Public Policy Network is urging Episcopalians to support the Equality Act, introduced in March by members of Congress.
Covenant 5, the peace and social justice advocacy committee of the diocese, urges each Episcopalian to re-affirm her or his commitment to our fifth baptismal pledge of “striving for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Renewal of our baptismal vows makes a positive and constructive statement during these tumultuous times when we are challenged with so many peace and social justice advocacy issues.
Talk to your clergy person about incorporating reaffirmation in worship as the Book of Common Prayer (p. 312, 4th paragraph) provides for Renewal of Baptismal Vows on designated holy days. The following peace and social justice issues dominating our current dialogue help make baptismal re-affirmation a positive way to express positive values. The following specific issues and concerns illustrate only some of the problems we face:
+ The lengthy, multi-faceted probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and, the political attacks on law enforcement agencies and their personnel
+ The continued consequences of the #MeToo/Time’sUp sexual harassment and abuse movement including all domestic violence issues and other attacks on the rights of women
+ The generations-long gun violence issues and concerns, including 17 school shootings, 34 mass shootings and over 2000 deaths from gun violence during the first 7 weeks of 2018 alone, and our leaders continuing indifference and inaction to promote public safety and security
+ The urgent need for a comprehensive review of police policies, procedures and accountability standards as well as long-delayed criminal justice and prison reforms
+ The long-standing, multi-dimensional problems with immigration, DACA reform, deportation and security concerns and policies
+ The decades-long epidemic of all types of bullying and harassment, including workplace bullying, and the terrible rise in suicides among young people, military veterans, and others
+ The increasing disparity and inequality of wages by income class, sex, race, etc. that was further exacerbated by tax “reform” legislation, which also added greatly to the national debt
+ The opioid addiction crises, the worst addiction epidemic in U.S. history, resulting in drug overdose deaths of nearly 64,000 per year
+ The steady erosion of moral values and democratic principles upon which our nation was built
+ The increasing need for essential environmental protections, including ‘climate change’ safeguards so that 2017’s many natural disasters do not become an annual occurrence
+ The on-going discrediting, “fake news” attacks on the press’s freedom of investigative powers
+ Free and fair elections, with no election map gerrymandering, preconditions or requirements
We have other concerns, too, (e.g. the despicable human trafficking practices and the need for real campaign finance reform), and, more will arise, but during these trying and difficult times, NOW is the time for each of us to renew her/his baptismal pledge “with God’s help.” You will also be pledging to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.”
The Rev. Charles (Chuck) Swinehart
Co-chair, Disability Awareness Committee
Member, Covenant 5
Resolutions to the 2017 and 2018 Diocesan Conventions can be downloaded by clicking on the button below.
Resources for learning more about the subjects of the Diocesan Convention resolutions can be found on the Resources page.
Welcome to Covenant5.org, the Web site of Covenant 5, a community of ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan educating and advocating for social justice. If you are concerned about peace, justice and dignity issues and want to do something positive about them, you are in the right place.
The origin of Covenant 5 of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan dates back to a meeting in 2002 in which Bishop Gibbs gathered those who were members of existing diocesan social justice ministries and others who had an interest in working for social justice. Bishop Gibbs envisioned a coalition of ministries who related to the fifth Baptismal promise -- "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?".
Covenant 5 ministries have long had an emphasis on advocacy as a way to fulfill the gospel imperative of seeking justice, peace and equality. The definition of advocacy ministry as we understand it focuses on striving to formulate and implement public policy, and supporting grass-roots efforts for social change and other justice concerns. Examples include organizing or joining legislative advocacy efforts in conjunction with the Episcopal Public Policy Network, sponsoring educational events, and letter-writing campaigns.
Diocesan ministry members of Covenant 5 include Disability Awareness, Economic Justice Commission, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Prison Ministry, and TBLG Concerns.
Every year, Covenant 5 awards Peace and Justice Advocacy Grants to local and national agencies and organizations. A list of the most recent grantees can be found HERE.
To contact Covenant 5, send email to Cov5@comcast.net, or click on the button below.
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