The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church convenes in Austin Texas, July 5th - 13th, 2018

Friday, July 13, 2018

Deputy Booker - Day Nine





After two weeks of hard work, the 79th General Convention is now concluded.   The legislative session for the House of Deputies ran from 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM, with votes on 29 pieces of legislation…our fastest pace yet.  There are several reasons that voting goes so quickly on the last day.  First, every piece of legislation has already been approved by the House of Bishops, so it probably makes some kind of sense.  Second, if we amend a Resolution and pass it, it then needs to go back to the House of Bishops.  If there isn’t time for that, the legislation goes bye-bye.  Finally, we’re all quite ready to go home.

We voted again on B012, the legislation expanding the availability of same-sex marriages in the church.  We already voted on that earlier, but the Bishops had adjusted it slightly, so we had to vote on it again.  (See the previous paragraph.)

We had a number of Resolutions relating to racism and to gender issues.  All passed.

We also had an additional 24 courtesy resolutions that are like “we want to thank the city of Austin for hosting us.”

It’ll take some time to sort out the importance of this General Convention.  Starting Prayer Book revision was probably the most important thing we agreed to, but that just initiates the process.  The real challenge comes with sifting through a mountain of heartfelt suggestions to create the new materials.   Somehow, I suspect something in this vein: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGsHq-mZI8U .

 

Prayers Against Gun Violence

On an average day in the United States, 96 people are killed by gun violence. 

Ninety-six people.  Dead.  Every day. Due to gun violence. 

Every morning approximately 15 minutes prior to the start of the Legislative Session, Bishops involved in the “Bishops United Against Gun Violence” have held a short prayer service for anyone choosing to participate. They hand out 96 crosses, representing each person that will be lost that day.

I attended that brief prayer service this morning, our last day of General Convention. I found it very moving, distressing, and sad. Suicide, urban shootings, police shootings, accidental shootings, and other situations - it brings tears to my eyes. 

We must work toward reducing and Stopping Gun Violence!  #witnessgc79

- Betty Bowersox

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Church in Cuba

One of the highlights of General Convention has been the re-admission of Cuba as a Diocese of The Episcopal Church.  Cuban priests have struggled bravely in a country that officially hated religion and their church flourished despite persecution.  As a consequence of Cuban law and of the country's poverty, they have no retirement funds.  The Episcopal Church is working with the Church Pension Fund to build them retirement accounts where none existed previously.  If you can, please go to www.gofundme.com/cuba-clergy-pension-fund and make a small donation to help build a nest egg for our brothers and sisters in the Cuban Episcopal Church.  I verified the campaign and everything donated will go to their account at the Church Pension Fund.


If you're curious, the Archives of The Episcopal Church has prepared a short document explaining our history with Cuba.  You can find it at: www.episcopalarchives.org/sites/default/files/research-reports/Church_in_Cuba_Report_11-24-15.pdf

Deputy Booker - Day Eight


We’re in the home stretch now…tomorrow is the final day of General Convention.  Predictably, the day was almost entirely taken up with legislation…seven hours and 45 minutes’ worth.

We did get a lot done.  We voted on 24 pieces of legislation and a bunch of amendments.  Doing a bit of math, that’s three votes each hour.  Legislation that’s already been approved by the House of Bishops comes to us for concurrence, meaning that we’re agreeing with them to approve it.  Recall, if you will, that every piece of legislation has to be approved by both houses in the same form.  Some pieces of legislation were being heard for the first time, so they will have to go to the Bishops tomorrow…or else fade into the legislative ether.

So…what did we vote on?

  1.  The triennial budget for The Episcopal Church.  Approved without (successful) amendment.
  2. Five Resolutions on Palestine and Israel.  Once you get past the rhetoric, they basically said Palestine=good, Israel=bad.
  3. Authorization of a consolidated calendar for the Saints.  If you’ve ever tried to sort out how many Saints we have, it’s tricky.  We have them in the Book of Common Prayer, and A Great Cloud of Witnesses and Lesser Feasts and Fasts and Holy Women, Holy Men, and…probably the Hymnal.  Maybe Enriching Our Worship?  It’s a mystery.  Anyhow, an attempt was made to track down all of the Saints and it isn’t pretty.  There are hopes to clean up the list by 2021.
  4. My Committee has a resolution discussing the work we’re doing with the United Methodist Church.  Hopefully a Full Communion document will be available for a vote in 2021.
  5. Alternate, expansive-language versions of some of our Eucharist services were approved for trial use.  Most of what they did was pretty much what most congregations do without official sanction.  Two changes were rolled back.  Many people wanted to fix a removal of mention of Israel in Eucharistic Prayer B, and that amendment passed.   There was also a pretty creepy edit which gave us “we are living members of the Body of your Child,” and that was also rolled back.
  6. We voted to become “a sanctuary church,” but we were informed that that means whatever we think it means.  That was included with three Resolutions about immigration.
     
    Once we wrapped up voting for the day, the Deputation and the Bishop had dinner together and then went to the final Eucharist of the General Convention.  Then we has a planning meeting to gird our loins for the final day.

Deputy Booker - Day Seven



When the calendar for General Convention is published, one day stands out because it’s the day when legislative meetings are scheduled to run late.  Really late.  Yesterday was that day.

Here what our schedule looked like:

7:30-10:00 Committee Meetings

10:30-1:00 Legislative Meeting

2:15-3:15 Joint Budget Meeting

3:45-5:00 Legislative Meeting

5:15-6:30 Eucharist

7:30-9:30 Legislative Meeting

So, the day was long.  Quite long.

I started the day by having breakfast with the Rev. Melanie Barbarito, who used to be our priest at St. Francis’ in Eureka.  One of the nice things about General Convention is that you run into people from all over the country who you don’t see that often. 

We started the legislative day by voting on a resolution to bring the Diocese of Cuba back into The Episcopal Church.  They were kicked out in 1966 and were excited to have the opportunity to return to the fold.  Once the vote was complete, their delegation was given seat and voice at General Convention.  It was a lovely moment and really the highlight of the day.

 https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/7-11_Cuba_lw-600x400.jpg

Other legislation of interest was approving $5 million for anti-racism grants (later reduced when he budget was resolved).  There was a Resolution passed to allow babies on the floor of the House of Deputies so that their parents can care for them. 

The small amount of levity in the meeting revolved around a pigeon who flies around the Austin Convention Center.  It has its own hashtag.  We also had a special hashtag for the evening called #GCAfterDark.  If you look it up, you can see some of the procedural frustrations that people had that evening.


 

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