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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The 77th General Convention: Summary

Following legislation through General Convention can be a daunting task.  Many times, it really is like watching paint dry (or, grass grow, or sausage being made - pick the metaphor of your choice), but if you blink, you could miss something - an amendment that refers something back to one House, the amendment of which gets amended and bounced back again.

It's tough to be a General Convention Geek but somebody's gotta do it. 

I'm still tracking a few resolutions, some of which were combined with other resolutions and took on a different number, but so far, these are the ones I'm sure of.  You can find them here.
  • General Convention approved the $111,516,032 budget for 2013-2015. The budget is based on the Five Marks of Mission.
  • The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings of Ohio was elected President of the House of Deputies. Byron Rushing of Massachusetts was elected Vice President of the House of Deputies. 
  • Anglican Covenant: General Convention affirmed the commitment to building relationships across the Anglican Communion, especially through the Continuing Indaba program, but declined to take a position on the Anglican Covenant.
  • Eight bishops received approvals to their consent process: Atlanta, New Hampshire, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, Texas (Suffragan), Virginia (Suffragan), Western Louisiana, and Western Massachusetts. Related, General Convention approved a change in rules so elections held close to General Convention no longer need to go to General Convention for the consent process.
  • Israel-Palestine: General Convention supported a resolution on positive investment in the Palestinian territories. Bishops agreed to postpone indefinitely the conversation on corporate engagement.
  • Bishops rejected several resolutions attempting to postpone implementation of the Episcopal Church Medical Trust.
  • Executive Council elections: The House of Deputies elected seven lay and two clergy members: Lay members elected for six-year terms are: Joseph S. Ferrell of North Carolina, Anita P. George of Mississippi, Fredrica Harris Thompsett of Massachusetts, Karen Ann Longenecker of the Rio Grande, Nancy Wonderlich Koonce of Idaho, and John Johnson of Washington (DC). Lay person, Elizabeth L. Anderson, of Connecticut was elected for three years. Clergy members elected for six-year terms were the Rev. Susan B. Snook of Arizona and the Rev. James B. Simons of Pittsburgh. The House of Bishops elected David Bailey of Navajoland and Clifton Daniel of East Carolina to serve on Executive Council.
  • A030: establishes how clergy who want to leave the Episcopal Church for another part of the Anglican Communion can do so without renouncing their Holy Orders
  • A033 and C049 enact a series of revisions to Title IV, the clergy discipline canons, to fix some errors while maintaining the underlying principles of the canons
  • A036: commends the 11-year relationship of full communion with the ELCA and asks the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee to address areas where Episcopal and Lutheran practices differ, especially who can preside at Holy Communion and the role of deacons.
  • A049: a denominational response to same-sex blessings. The approved liturgy is for provisional use. The diocesan bishop has to grant approval for use in his/her diocese even in those states where same-sex marriage has been legislated. It is effective first Sunday in Advent 2012 (December 2).
  • A050: authorizes a task force to study marriage.
  • A054: new rites and prayers for pastoral responses to people caring for animals, including the death of a pet
  • A102, the first reading of an amendment to the constitution that would help dioceses that want to merge with another diocese or divide itself into two dioceses to do so without requiring sitting bishops in all dioceses involved.
  • A122: Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church should study the current budgeting process and matters of financial oversight and make recommendations to next General Convention
  • A144:  requiring the tracking of the ratio of women to men in bishop election processes, along with racial and ethnic minorities, and encouraging dioceses to strive for greater diversity in candidates.
  • A158: clarifies the status in the Episcopal Church of pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who had been ordained by other pastors and not by bishops.
  • A167: creation of an “HIV Welcoming Parish Initiative” to help congregations to become more engaged with people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • B009: with the bishop’s permission, use the lectionary in the BCP rather than the Revised Common Lectionary
  • B019: affirms positive investment in the Palestinian Territories. It also calls on the church to support “the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East,”
  • B021: amends the canons to provide a mechanism for addressing disagreements in the pastoral relationship between a diocese and its bishop;
  • B023: solidarity with the poor and indigenous people who bear great burdens because of climate change, with special mention to the Inupiaqs of Kivalina, Alaska
  • B026: gives dioceses and parishes an additional three years to provide parity in health insurance cost-sharing between lay and clergy employees. That deadline now is extended until Dec. 31, 2015.
  • B028: urges Congress to modernize the nation’s refugee resettlement program
  • C029:  baptism as the normative entrance into Holy Communion
  • C095 Church structure: a special task force of up to 24 to meet in the next two years from all levels of the church on reforms to structure, governance and administration. There will be a special gathering from every diocese to hear what recommendations the task force plans to make to the 78th General Convention. The final report is due by November 2014.
  • D016 - Selling “815”:  The House of Bishops approved a move away from, but did not authorize the sale of, the Episcopal Church Center headquarters.
  • D018: calls on Congress to repeal federal laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, that discriminate against same-gender couples who are legally married in the states where that is permitted;
  • D019: Transgender: Support for the transgender community by adding gender expression and identity to two canons that prevent discrimination: the ordination discernment process is open; and guarantees equal place in the life, worship and governance of the church.
  • D022: a church-wide response to bullying
  • D023: affirms that all Episcopalians are called to be evangelists to help grow the church
  • D025: establishes a Development Office to solicit major gifts and other resources
  • D049: creates a pilot student loan fund for seminarians who agree to three years in under-served areas of the Episcopal Church.
  • D055: urges the government to enact stricter controls on the use of carbon-based fuels
  • D059: urges a halt to the Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s practice of detaining people suspected of being in the country illegally without filing any charges against them.
  • D066:  develops a network of retired Episcopal executives to assist dioceses and parishes, modeled on SCORE
  • D067: urges passage by Congress of the DREAM Act
  • D069: a “social media challenge” calling upon every congregation to use social media in its current and future forms
  • D081: directs the Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations to initiate dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the Mormon Church in anticipation of General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City.
Re-imaging the Church: The Triennial Integrity Eucharist
That, of course, is just the legislation. It does not include all the other activities of General Convention - like The Caucus Breakfast, the Integrity Eucharist, the Lament of the Doctrine of Discovery, the ACTS 8 "Dream Sessions", the TransEpiscopal Eucharist, the Provincial Dinners, the Seminary Receptions, The Episcopal Church Women activities, the various legislative committee meetings and hearings, and the impromptu caucuses that were held by various dioceses and/or groups present and, oh yes, the Booths.

Oh, and the two "extra-curricula" baptisms that took place - one outside the fountain between the Hyatt and the Westin on July 7th and one during the TransEpiscopal Eucharist on July 10th. 

The Executive Council will keep a watchful eye over many of these resolutions - especially the Budget - until we gather again in 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah for the 78th General Convention.

You don't have to be crazy to be an Episcopalian, but it does help.


Marthe G. Walsh said...

Ah,what a relief ... I always thought being crazy was required.
And dear Elizabeth - we haven't met, but only read one of your homilies delivered at St.John's Bowdoin St. (wild air, it was) and sent you a poem in thanks for your words ... may have to write an epic in thanks for your blog.

Catherine said...

Elizabeth+, thank you SO much for this summary.

We are discussing GC at the Adult Forum this Sunday...thanks to you, I have my proverbial ducks in a row...blessings to you and yours.

Rev. Ken Howard said...

Do you know what happened with Resolution A073 - Mission Interprise Zones? (the whole story, I mean, not just the vote)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hi, Marthe - Thank you. I do remember the poem and that sermon. I look forward to meeting you one day.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Catherine - happy to help

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Ken, Alas, I do not. Sorry.

Meg McCann said...

Also, A052 passed, adding 7 commemorations to the church calendar, including:
July 1: Pauli Murray (first African American woman ordained in The Episcopal Church)
July 29: First ordination of women to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church
August 17: Manteo and Virginia Dare (first Anglican baptisms in the New World)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Almost but not quite, Meg. It's still a "trial" use. If it's accepted in 2015, it will also need to be approved in 2018.

The church moves Very Sloooooowly.

Jane Ellen+ said...

Many thanks, Elizabeth. Like Catherine, I'm prepping for a discussion of GC as part of our Adult Forum on Sunday. Your list provides a great starting point for showing how much work y'all got done in between all those "lavish parties."