B011 Inclusive Language Policies for Episcopal Seminaries and Formation Programs

Original version

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That all theological seminaries affiliated with the Episcopal Church and all training programs and schools of formation sponsored or operated by one or more dioceses for the education and formation of persons for ordination be encouraged and requested to adopt policies calling for the use of bias-free and inclusive language for both God and humanity in all digital, written and oral communications, including lectures, discussions, papers, announcements, sermons, public notices and publications; and be it further

Resolved, That all theological seminaries affiliated with the Episcopal Church and all training programs and schools of formation sponsored or operated by one or more dioceses for the education and formation of persons for ordination be encouraged to provide opportunities to explore the theological foundations for the use of bias-free and inclusive language for God and humanity; and be it further

Resolved, That each such theological seminary, training program, and school of formation provide a copy of its inclusive language policy to the Secretary of the General Convention by October 1, 2019 and that the Secretary report on the policies received and not received to the Executive Council, to any appropriate interim body, and to the 80th General Convention.

Explanation

Language matters, especially for Episcopalians who believe that the words we use to pray shape our beliefs about God and humankind, and who promise in baptism to “Respect the dignity of every human person.” Our seminaries and schools of formation, whether for those seeking to expand their ministries as lay people or for those seeking ordination have the opportunity and the responsibility to teach about the ways language can be used to marginalize people. This resolution asks seminaries and schools of formation to both explore and teach the theological foundations for the use of gender-inclusive language as well as to model that usage with policies that require the use of inclusive language when referring to God or humans. Many but not all of our seminaries already have such policies. Such theological reflection and language policies will equip our lay and ordained leaders to encourage inclusive language through out our church and make The Episcopal Church a more welcoming place for all people.

From the Society of Biblical Literature Handbook of Style, second edition (2014), section 4.3.1: “The generic use of masculine nouns and pronouns is increasingly unacceptable in current English usage. Historians must obviously be sensitive to the requirements of their sources, but in many cases the assignment of gender to God is best avoided.”


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