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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Observations of a New Deputy

Having closely followed the ins and outs of General Convention since 2003, and having closely followed the ruminations of many Deputies on their blogs, I thought I knew just about everything to expect of a new Deputy.  A few things have surprised me.

I am surprised by the sheer amount of work it takes to prepare for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Some I anticipated; some I did not.  This spring -- as it does each triennium --the Episcopal Church published what they call “the Blue Book.”  It is the cumulative report of all the commissions, committees, agencies, and boards of the Episcopal Church.  Each group’s report reflects its work over the past three years and proposes resolutions and budget requests that will come before the General Convention next month. The book runs to more than 800 pages, and all Deputies are expected to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the content of all those reports.

The Deputies of the Diocese of Missouri begin meeting monthly (or more often) very early.  We began meeting in the fall of 2011.  Each month we have met to discuss the issues coming before General Convention, to get better acquainted, and to discuss various logistics.  With Convention looming, we meeting even more often. We must meet beforehand, because things will be very hectic once we arrive at the General Convention in Indianapolis.  As you can see from the GC schedule (posted here), the days from July 4 through July 12 are chock-full, with sessions running over 12 hours per day.   We will meet together in legislative sessions every day.  In addition, there are a plethora of legislative hearings running from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Various Deputies will be assigned to attend those hearings. 

The Diocese of Missouri maintains a suite throughout General Convention.  It is equipped with all we need in a mobile office (computer, printer/copier/scanner, Internet access) as well as snacks so we can save on meal expenses.  Every night, there is a meeting of all people from the Diocese of Missouri who are at Convention.  This includes Bishop Wayne Smith, all the Deputies, the people attending the ECW [Episcopal Church Women] triennial gathering from Missouri, and any visitors and volunteers from our Diocese.   We all meet nightly to share information and concerns about matters coming before the General Convention. If you plan to visit Convention, be sure the office knows, so we can include you in those meetings. 

I knew to expect all that, to some degree. What has surprised me in the past week is the amount of postal mail coming to my home.  Apparently, the home addresses of all Deputies are public knowledge.  I have begun receiving a great deal of mail. Primarily these are invitations to events during General Convention. But a significant portion of my mail has been “advocacy materials” from groups concerned about resolutions that will come to Convention. Of course, I try to read them all thoughtfully and prayerfully.

Even before arriving in Indianapolis for the General Convention, I have learned a great deal.  I am stimulated by my work alongside the veteran Deputies. I am in awe as I learn of all the work that is happening throughout The Episcopal Church. Most importantly, I take seriously my charge to listen to the Holy Spirit as we meet and act together in the legislative sessions of the General Convention. 

I hope you will all keep us in your prayers throughout General Convention, and I hope more of you might consider standing for election as Deputies to the 2015 General Convention. 

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