General Convention is a little like that great old musical Brigadoon where a village emerges from the mists in Scotland every 100 years and then disappears again until the next time – only instead of a village it’s a Convention and it emerges every three years in various locations around the country: this year in Austin, Texas.
Officially the General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church that meets every three years as a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Deputies (think House of Representatives) and the House of Bishops (think Senate) composed of deputies and bishops from each diocese.
This will be my 10th General Convention … the first was 1991 in Phoenix. I went as a visitor for three days and was hooked by a ten day event with liturgy, legislation and shopping all under one roof! Since then I’ve served as journalist, activist and now am honored to serve as one of four clergy deputies representing the Diocese of Los Angeles in a deputation chaired by All Saints own Jim White.
General Convention reminds us that we’re all in this together – that we are part of a wider church that together makes a common witness to the world. Local is essential, and – as Episcopalians – we are part of something bigger. Decisions made in Austin will have an impact on the way The Episcopal Church – our Church — engages the world.
On Sunday, July 1st Jim and I will offer a presentation in the Rector’s Forum at 10:15 a.m. looking at the role of General Convention in general and what’s coming up in Austin in specific.
There are a lot of issues that GC addresses, including: Who are we as Episcopalians? What do we care about? What should we be doing, and how, when, and with whom? For example:
• We’re going to revise the Prayer Book sometime. Not yet. This GC will consider resolutions for how we’ll go about that work. Two very different approaches are offered
• What about making marriage rites equally available to all couples in all dioceses? Creating liturgies for racial reconciliation? Adding care for creation to the baptismal covenant?
• What should the Church’s investment portfolio include – and exclude?
• Should we set up a Task Force on the Theology of Money or any of the other proposed task forces?
• How should we build capacity for Becoming the Beloved Community? And how can the Church continue to advocate for Immigration Reform and stand with those on the margins and at our borders?
• What kind of support, including funding, will there be for ethnic ministries? Youth ministry? Young adult ministry?
• How can we address the opioid epidemic?
• What will the Church have to say about Israel/Palestine and discerning a faithful response to the ongoing challenges in the Middle East?
All of this happens through a systematic legislative process that begins with legislative committee meetings and hearings on July 3 and continues with nine days of legislative sessions (July 5-14) and under the umbrella of daily Eucharist and frequent prayer.
Other All Saintsers who will be in Austin include our parish deacon Charleen Crean (in her role as Archdeacon for the Diocese of Los Angeles), Rick Felton (Executive Director of the Episcopal Network for Stewardship) and Mel Soriano (completing his term as Communication Director for Integrity.)
So join us on Sunday, July 1st in the Forum beginning at 10:15 a.m. with your questions and concerns.
Check out the GC79 Media Hub which will be live streaming various events and legislative sessions from Austin. And do keep the work of General Convention in your prayers as we come together to continue to call the Episcopal Church to be a beacon of love, justice and compassion in a world in desperate need of all of the above.
All Saints Church is located at 132 N Euclid Ave, in Pasadena. For more information call (626) 583-2741 or visit http://allsaints-pas.org/.