From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Deputies endorse research on human stem cells, set budget

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Sun, 03 Aug 2003 15:25:33 -0700


August 2, 2003

Deputies endorse research on human stem cells, set budget priorities

By James Thrall and Sarah T. Moore

[ENS] Despite objections, deputies voted Friday afternoon to endorse the
continuation of stem cell research and to call for making embryonic stem
cells more widely available to researchers.

Randolph Dales of New Hampshire, chair of the Social and Urban Affairs
committee, said that the resolution (A014), which combines two resolutions
on new genetics (C020 and C021), supports stem cell research with very
specific provisos.

In addition to urging Congress to support medical research on embryonic
stem cells with federal funding and supporting the choice of those who wish
to donate embryos unused after in vitro fertilization, the resolution calls
on the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a national
interdisciplinary body to oversee all research in both public and private
sectors. A provision urging that adult stem cell research continue was
amended with the removal of the word adult to refer to stem cell research
in general.

The resolution stipulates that research be supported only if the donated
embryos are no longer required for procreation and would otherwise be
discarded; are donated with signed informed consent that they may be used
for research; were not created for research purposes; and are not sold or

John Vanderstar of Washington said that his twin granddaughters are among
the hundreds of thousands of babies born through the successful technology
of in vitro fertilization, a technology endorsed by the 1982 General
Convention and reaffirmed by the convention of 1991. The process has
created a stockpile of more than 400,000 frozen embryos that will only be
discarded or destroyed if they are not used, he said. The embryos, which
contain undifferentiated stem cells, are extremely useful for research
into possible treatments or cures for Parkinsons disease, Alzheimers,
diabetes and other illnesses, he said.

Vanderstar argued that the research was not a pro-life, pro-choice issue,
noting that even conservative Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is a strong
supporter of putting the embryos to life-giving use.

The Rev. David A. Elliott III of Mississippi said that embryonic stem cells
are considered more promising than adult stem cells for producing a cure
for such diseases as the spinal muscular atrophy, the number one killer of
children under two in America, which affects his granddaughter. Research
using the frozen embryos that will be discarded anyway, he said, is in its
own way pro-life because this will give others a chance for a cure.

But Andrew E. Figueroa of Southern Ohio said, I am increasingly clear in
my own mind that creating these embryos, knowing that they will eventually
be discarded or sacrificed for research is morally wrong. Even though my
own mother is in the final stages of Alzheimers, I would encourage the
house to defeat this resolution.

And the Rev. Jennie C. Olbrych of South Carolina argued that a central
principle of the Judeo-Christian ethic is that the end never justifies the
means. Endorsing research using the embryos would place the good of
research above the good of life and would encourage the view that an
embryo with all of its potentials is only a thing of utilitarian value.

She urged the deputies instead to endorse adoption of embryos, an avenue
she said she and her husband would have loved to have had when they
discovered they were infertile. Why not encourage movement in the other
directions from life to life? she asked.

The Rev. Donald Curran of Central Florida said the promise of stem cell
research has been exaggerated by those wanting access to the embryos. The
Episcopal Church should not compromise our baptismal covenant that respects
the dignity of every human life based on the promises of some whose only
interest is the advancement of science regardless of the cost, he said.
No human life, not the embryo, not the elderly, the disabled, or death-row
prisoners should be destroyed for the potential benefit of others.

The resolution was adopted by a margin of 590 to 212. It now goes to the
House of Bishops for consideration.

Budget priorities

In other business, deputies approved  (and the House of Bishops concurred
on) a set of five budget priorities identified by the Executive Council
that are being used by the Standing Commission on Program, Budget and
Finance (PB&F) to guide allocations in the triennium budget (D039).

This creates a priorities-based budget, said Richard Miller from
Southeast Florida.

The priorities enable Program, Budget and Finance to best decide how to
allocate the budget and better enable commissions, and agency boards to
assess and report their work, said Donald Bushyager of Pittsburgh.

The priorities for the mission of the church, identified by the Executive
Council, embrace diversity and seek to promote inclusion and power sharing
which underlies and informs decision-making, said Bonnie Anderson of
Michigan, chair of  PB&F.

The budget priorities are:

Young adults and youth: Reaching out to young adults and youth through
intentional inclusion and full inclusion in the thinking, work, worship and
structure of the Church.

Reconciliation and evangelism: Reconciling and engaging those who do not
know Christ by participating in Gods mission of reconciling all things to
Christ and proclaiming the Gospel to those who are not yet members of the

Congregational transformation: Revitalizing and transforming
congregations through commitment to leadership development, spiritual
growth, dynamic and inclusive worship, greater diversity, and mission.

Justice and peace: Promoting justice and peace for all of Gods creation
and reaching out to the dispossessed, imprisoned and otherwise voiceless

Partnerships: Reaffirming the importance of our partnerships with
provinces of the Anglican Communion and beyond and our relationships with
ecumenical and interfaith partners.


Deputies also endorsed a campaign of television and radio advertising that
would be developed by the national Office of Communication and include
advertisements already designed through Grace Cathedral in San Francisco
(A081). The resolution as amended by the Communications Committee requests
an allocation of $1.5 million for the campaign, twice the amount originally
requested, in order to extend the length of the campaign. The resolution
was amended by the deputies to direct that the advertisements reflect the
multicultural and multilingual nature of the church.

The Rev. W. Lee Shaw of Utah said he recently baptized two young men who
came to our church to check us out because they had seen these ads, and
James Bradberry of Southern Virginia said he and other Executive Council
members had been impressed when they saw a preview. I cannot begin to tell
you how effective and good the ads are, he said.

But others cautioned that even $1.5 million may be too little to support an
effective national campaign

The Lutherans and the Methodists each spend more than $10 million, said
the Rev. Peter K. Stimpson of New Jersey.

Multilingual publication

Another resolution on church communication addressed even more directly
church members plurality of languages as deputies voted that all official
documents, publications and digital publications of the national church be
issued in both Spanish and French by 2006 (C029). The materials include,
but are not limited to, Episcopal News Service press releases, the
presiding bishops monthly message, pastoral letters of the House of
Bishops, summary reports of the actions of General Convention, Executive
Council resolutions and actions, and other official church communication.
The resolution requests an allocation of $85,000 a year for the triennium
to support the translation.

An opening presentation delivered in Spanish illustrated the issue of
translation as only those in the hall who understood Spanish knew they had
been asked to stand up if they understood what had been said. A similar
exchange offered in French and English successfully moved an amendment of
the original resolution to include French.

Ethnic ministries, ministry development

Deputies also voted to retain the national church desks providing
Asiamerican, black, Hispanic and Native American ministries and voted that
those offices be given the budget and resources they need in order to
function as an integral part of the churchs work on evangelism (C015).
The resolution does not change the funding currently included in the
proposed budget for the offices.

Deputies also encouraged the national Congregational Development Unit to
work with the Office on Ministry Development to develop systems for
identifying, training and supporting persons skilled in planting new
churches, and to develop training and mentoring programs in church planting
for laypersons and congregations (A073).

Other actions

In an effort to improve the process of nominating, electing and
consecrating bishops, deputies approved a resolution that would charged the
Standing Commission on Ministry Development with preparing a report for the
next General Convention with recommendations of  ways for these processes
to model ministry for this present time (D007).

Deputy Louie Crew of Newark endorsed the move, saying it was not intended
to establish a centralized format, but to share ideas among dioceses. We
are using models of ministry that come out of a different era, he said.
This is a chance to look at models that reflect where we are now.

Deputies urged all parishes to schedule an annual day of prayer for all
people living with AIDS and support AIDS ministries locally as well as in
Africa and other areas of the world that are particularly affected by AIDS

Deputies reaffirmed the churchs historic commitment to eradicating racial
injustice in the church and society and voted to continue the anti-racism
program with funding and appropriate staffing (A010). The resolution also
recognizes the provincial network of anti-racism trainers as an important
resource and mandates that anyone seeking election or appointment to
standing commissions, other committees of Executive Council, related boards
and auxiliary organizations either have or agree to have anti-racism

Deputies confirmed the elections of the Rev. Canon Johncy Itty as bishop of
Oregon and the Rev. Steven A. Miller as bishop of Milwaukee. They also
greeted the Rev. George Councell, the new bishop-elect of New Jersey, and
Joe G. Burnett, bishop-elect of Nebraska, whose elections have been
confirmed by both the houses.

In other business, deputies:

discharged resolution A024 that would have directed bishops and deputies
to contact their senators in support of ratification of the United Nations
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
because the action was already taken at an earlier General Convention;

sent a resolution on convention planning (A143) back to the Committee on
Constitution and Canons for further deliberation;

recommitted resolution A147 on legislative committee membership back to
the Committee on Structure, saying it was not clear and did not seem ready
for action;

adopted a resolution to continue funding the positions of Provincial
Coordinator (A146);

authorized the continuation of the Executive Councils Standing Committee
on HIV/AIDS for the 2004-2006 triennium and continuing its work including a
focus on hearing about people with AIDS/HIV in the nation and world and
undertake a survey of HIV/AIDS ministries in the church.

The deputies also approved three resolutions, treated by consent as a
group. They:

approved discharge for other reasons of a resolution from the Committee
on Social and Urban Affairs that directs the Office of Government Relations
to work for legislation to eliminate or revise mandatory sentencing
guidelines to give federal judges more discretion in sentencing offenders
to overcome racially discriminatory impact of these guidelines (A127);

thanked Jubilee Ministry  for 21 years of ministry working with poor and
oppressed people to build a just society and affirmed that it continue to
be the heart of the mission of the church and that it be commended to the
church (A105);

approved a resolution recommending five sites under consideration for the
76th General Convention and that no less than three be selected in final
consideration. The sites are Salt Lake City, Utah; Reno, Nev.; Portland,
Ore.; Anaheim, Calif.; and Charlotte, N.C.

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