General Convention #78 in 2015:
a day-by-day recollection

Pre-convention Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday: media conference, legislative committee sessions

  • Presiding Bishop Katharine: We're an international church and we speak many different languages. We're increasingly focused outside ourselves...we're a people meant to participate in transforming this world to what God envisioned when he created us. We have work to do. We're grateful that you're here.
  • General Convention Secretary Michael Barlowe: This will be the most digitally oriented convention we've ever had. While not completely paperless, it will be very close. An IT consultant who worked with us on last convention exclaimed we've moved 3 decades in the past three years. We'll be more efficient, economical, and green, for the ministry which lies ahead for TEC. As of today we have nearly 4500 pre-registrations. Based on past experience we expect more than twice that number to be here for at least a day or part of convention.
  • President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings: We come together at a very tense time in our nation's history, when the deaths of black men and boys at the hands of police officers and the massacre of nine black Christians in Charlotte have electrified people of faith, and all people of good will. I believe that God is calling us to dismantle the systems of racism and privilege that are bound up in our nation and church's founding. General Convention is a place where Episcopalians have tha ability to procliam that Black Lives Matter, and take action for racial reconciliation.
  • ENS 6/23A guide to navigating the 78th General Convention's agenda
  • Deputy News 6/23: Presiding officers meet the media at opening news conference
  • Deputy News 6/23: Sounds of the Salt Palace

Wednesday: welcome to deputations and bishops together, historic presentation to both deputies and bishops by the four nominees for Presiding Bishop, multiple open and closed legislative committee sessions.

  • Members of the Missouri deputation on committees: 
    03-Rules of Order - Mark Sluss
    09-Congregational Vitality - Tamsen Whistler
    18-Credentials - Kathryn Dyer, who is the chair of this committee, and Jay Kloecker
    22-Alcohol & Other Drug Use - Doris Westfall
    Dan Appleyard is a Floor Legislative Assistant (on the platform)
    13-Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Church Music - Bishop Wayne is cognate chair. (Legislative committees have chairs from both HOB and HOD)
     
  • 9 AM presentation by the PB and PHOD to Deputies and Bishops in the HOD
    Bishop Katharine's opening remarks, PHOD Gay Jennings' opening remarks

    PB: We're learning from the margins and distant outposts.The work we begin and continue should keep us in mind of the larger community. We do not travel alone. May we go together.

    Meet and befriend the other. No matter who you are afraid of, we need each other. And we need to meet on the field of peace drawing the circle ever wider.

    Turn guns into swingsets, chains into park benches. Go out there and find God already at work. Jesus sends on the only journey truly worth our lives.

  • 1:30 pm presentations by the four nominees for presiding bishop included informal home-made videos of introduction, opening and closing statements, and a very complicated system of question topics and order of answering in each topic
     
  • Deputy Michael Booker 6/24: Day Zero, Virtual binder and the voting machine
  • Debbie Smith's blog 6/24: Countdown to General Convention
  • Link to the official PB nominees' bios and videos
  • Deputy News 6/24: Video of some deputies' reactions to the nominees
  • Deputy News 6/25: Episcopal Jeopardy (describing the PB nominees Q&A)
  • ENS 6/24: Historic session lets bishops, deputies meet presiding bishop nominees
  • ENS 6/24: In opening remarks, presiding officers urge church to take risks, soul search

    The distances between convention sessions, events, hotel are significant. Deputy Doris Westfall noted that she had walked close to 11 miles on Day 0.


Thursday, June 25

Opening of convention, Worship and eucharist, HOB and HOD sessions, legislative hearings and committee work, evening meetings of the Missouri deputation begin, day's agenda

  • 8 am: sessions begin in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops

    Dean Mike Kinman of Christ Church Cathedral arranged to have 250 signs saying "Black Lives Matter" printed and delievered to General Convention, given out at the Missouri deputation table and other locations at GC. Here is a video from the cathedral. In her post for Deputy News, Maybe Love Does Win, Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows wrote, "I've also watched deputies, bishops and visitors of every hue clamor for "Black Lives Matter" signs and buttons. My sense is that it isn't just the "cool" button to have at this convention but that there is a deeper conviction and belief in its truth. These signs and buttons were made possible thanks to the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, a white ally who is not even in attendance at this convention because he is at home doing the grass roots work needed to make things different for people of color."

  • 9:30 Worship, Bishop Katharine presiding and preaching
    PB: This convention is about road-building in the desert. That kind of work that has always required teams of people, usually poor, often enslaved, sometimes a chosen vocation. Building a road home into the kingdom of God requires solidarity with those who are dragooned into construction work without compensation for their labor as well as those who cannot find a road. It's one reason Jesus called himself a road warrior, with no place to lay his head. There are many roles –you can join the chain gang, the litter crew, the Good Samaritan posse...
    Sermon text, see above in Resources for links to the station of worship services with ASL
    Service leaflet with texts, translations, hymns and service music 
     
  • Deputy Michael Booker's Day one overview
    MB: In the evening there was a gathering of the Diocese of Missouri. When I was in Indianapolis three years ago, I always found that to be the highlight of the day. Anyone from the Diocese - or who had ever been a member of the Diocese - was welcome to share in food and drinks and conversation. 
     

 



Friday, June 26

Legistlative committees meetings, Worship, Joint session of HOB and HOD with the PB to discuss bishop election tomorrow and a conversation on restructure, meetings and hearings, HOB and HOD sessions, media conference, open hearings, United Thank Offering's 125th celebration and announcement of grants, day's agenda

  • 9:30 Worship 
    • honoring Isabel Hapgood, women poets and musicians
    • Presider: Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles 
    • Preacher: the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, sermon textDownload a service bulletin
    • Musicians: Theodicy Jazz Collective, www.theodicyjazz.com.
      Deputy Pat Glenn was able to video the procession out from just to the side of the musicians. It's a stunning recording of Theodicy's interpretation of Widor Toccata 
  • Just as debate in committees was beginning on the marriage resolutions to General Convention, news spread through the assembled of the ruling of the US Supreme Court making marriage between same- sex couples legal in all 50 states.  

    St. Mark's Cathedral in Salt Lake City, where tomorrow's vote by the sequestered bishops for a new PB will take place, was today open to all for tours.

  • 11:15 am: Joint Session of HOB and HOD

    Plan for tomorrow's election
    : bishops will leave worship for the cathedral to pray and discern their vote. They will send that vote back by person to the members of the HOD nominations committee who will discern if the HOD will vote to confirm, if yes then they will announce the name and votes received to the HOD and HOD will vote to confirm or not. If not, that message will be taken back to the bishops. If yes, the PB-elect and family and deputation will come to the platform and the bishops will join on the floor of the HOD. There were pleas for not releasing the information from the HOB before the announcement of the HOD committee to the deputies. (Almost all bishops complied.)

    A conversation then took place between bishops and deputies on using the Five Marks of Mission to shape a conversation about restructure. Each mark was introduced with a terrific short video. Link to the videos shown and discussion questions for each mark.

    Deputy Glenn: Today we  had a discussion on the structure of the church.  We were broken into small groups of about 6-10.  We were asked to look at the staff of the national Church and note where it is helpful to our individual churches and dioceses and also how it could better help.  We were asked to do that for the provincial structure and our diocesan structures also.  We had a lively discussion in our group which had delegates from North Dakota.

  • 4:30 pm HOB and HOD in session
    The HOD has worked on an overhaul of the rules of order this past triennium and in today's session goes through the new rules line by line, over 500 screen pages. The new rules are adopted and the HOD uses the new format, which most later agree are clearer and have saved time. 

    Hearings:
    Deputy Glenn: I presented this afternoon on a resolution that Teresa Danieley helped put together on parental leave.  It was interesting  - we had 10 individuals speak in favor of the resolution (one a guy!).  Many of the questions from the committee members led us to think they might amend to strengthen it.  We will see.

    Deputy Booker: In the evening I gave testimony about the Anglican Covenant in front of one of the committees.  I did this on behalf of Lisa Fox, who was unfortunately unable to attend General Convention; it was her proposal, and I hope that I did it justice in the two minutes I was given.

    Program, Budget & Finance committee begins open hearings as it continues work on the budget for the next triennium. 
 

Saturday, June 27

worship, election of the next presiding bishop, legislative sessions in both houses, committee meetings and hearings, House of Deputies celebrates its 230th anniversary, daily media conference and media conference with presiding bishop and presiding bishop-elect, day's agenda

 

  • Morning hearings

    Pat Glenn
    I sat in on the Liturgy, Prayer Book and Music Committee which is co-chaired by our Bishop Wayne.  The discussion was centered on the resolutions surrounding baptism and communion.  There is proposed new "creation" wording for inclusion in the baptism ritual and much discussion about "open" communion.  It was interesting to hear the thoughts of different individuals on what should happen.  Some were based on theological beliefs, some financial, some hospitality, and some were pragmatic.  All were important to hear as they represented the breath of our church across the nation.  Many were hoping that if there is work on a revision to the BCP that many of the issues could be examined at that time.
     
  • 9:30 am Worship (archived video)
    • honoring Native American Cornelius Hill;
    • Presider: Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota http://www.ndepiscopal.org/ (link is external)
    • Preacher: The Rev. Cathlena Plummer of Navajoland http://navajoland.org/
    • sermon text
  • 11:15 am Legislative session: HOD (archived video)

    About an hour after the bishops departed, word in the HOD was that bishop representatives were on the way to deliver word to the HOD committee. That meeting lasted some time, the wait was hard. There were one or two Twitter leaks, but no one knew for sure. Then word from the HOD committee to the deputies.

    Lisa Fox: Michael Curry is the Presiding Bishop–Elect, according to the report to our Deputies. The vote tally, on the first ballot, was: 
    • Bishop Michael Curry: 121
    • Bishop Dabney Smith: 21
    • Bishop Ian Douglas: 13
    • Bishop Tom Breidenthal: 19
    His election by the House of Bishops was confirmed by the House of Deputies by a vote of 800 to 12.

    Pat Glenn:  As we concluded the service the Bishops all left as a group to go to St. Mark's to elect the new Presiding Bishop. We on the other hand went into legislative session.  We ended up extending our session as the Bishops sent word that they had elected a PB.  This is a very formalized process - to say the very least.  There is a committee from the house of deputies that must confirm the House of Bishops action.  only then could the results be given and the Presiding Bishop elect announced.  It is a wonderful feeling to be a part of that process.  I hope every member has the chance to hear Bishop Curry speak at some time!  After much celebration we settled down to more legislative business.  

     
  • Afternoon session in both Houses (archived video), Media Conference with PB and PB-elect (archived video)
     
  • First media conference with PB-elect video on YouTube
    PB-elect: The church needs to be a reconciling voice and agent in the public square, seeking to be a conversation partner in the community, a positive and proactive voice in the public square....It's the voice of the Christian community in Charleston that really did change the narrative, to a narrative of forgiveness and trying to find a different way. Where is the positive way forward? I do believe, profoundly, Dr. King was right, we are put here to create the beloved community. We all come from the same source, we are the brothers and sisters of each other. The hard work is to figure out how we live as a beloved community, as the human family of God. That's where the church and people of faith can join hands.

    Question: What is significance in your being first African American bishop of this church, also, would you describe yourself as evangelical?
    PB-elect: We'll see what terms get used about me. I think the election of Bishop Katharine as first woman--I was there and I remember realizing it was an experience of the Holy Spirit-- for real. Today I had that same feeling. I think that it's a sign of our church growing more deeply in the spirit of God, in the movement of God's spirit in the world. It is that way in Pentecost, people whose lives are really living in the spirit of God's love, and when that happens we find ourselves growing more in the direction of God's dream. My election, Katharine's election, these are a sign of that same thing--that the church is willing to grow and be all that God dreams it to be.
    Question: But are you an evangelical?
    PB-elect: Michael Curry is a follower of Jesus.
     
  • In the Exhibit space, Episcopal Migration Ministries sponsored a tent from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), offering an experience of solidarity with refugees' journey as they seek asylum in a safer place, like the United States.

  • A New Presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church by Lisa Fox 
  • A New Presiding Bishop by Pat Glenn
  • Day Three by Michael Booker
     
  • ECW Triennial Today
  • ENS 6/27: North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry elected as 27th Presiding Bishop
  • Deputy News 6/27: Bishop Michael Curry will be the next presiding bishop
  • Video: Presiding Bishop-elect is introduced to the House of Deputies
  • ENS Video: Interview with Michael Curry about his vision for the church
  • ENS: 'Thankful, honored and blessed' Presiding Bishop-elect Curry addresses the media

Sunday, June 28

ECW 5K, Bishops against gun violence morning march, worship with the UTO in-gathering, legislative sessions, committee meetings and hearings, day's agenda

  • 9:30 Worship, UTO In-gathering
    • Presider and Preacher Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, sermon text 
    • Download a worship bulletin, hymns and service music included
    • Representatives from each diocese delivered parish ingatherings, by province. At Province V's turn, Peg Cooper introduced each diocesan representative including Jeanne King from Missouri
  • 2:15 Legislative sessions begin in both houses

    Deputy Booker: After that intense church service, the House of Deputies reconvened to discuss a resolution about mass incarceration left incomplete from yesterday.  We also had a disappointing series of events take place surrounding a resolution by Lisa Fox addressing the Anglican Covenant.  That question was removed from discussion by a parliamentary fiat which many of us found very disappointing.

    Deputy Mike Clark: It seems that technology has finally caught up with the communication needs of allowing fair and civil debate among 800 members of a legislative body – the House of Deputies. Gone are the days of bulky 3" 3-ring binders and hundreds of thousands of copies of resolutions -and corrections to those resolutions - to be filed and maintained by each deputy, serving as his or her own administrative assistant. At this convention, each member is issued an iPad with access to the session's resolutions loaded; amendments are added quickly and easily. Our election for trustees of the Clergy Pension Group as well as Executive Council went smoothly today; a process which took a fraction of the amount of time in past conventions. We are truly blessed by technology....so far.

    Deputy Booker: Probably the oddest thing, one I wouldn't have expected to become so contentions, was a list of Dioceses that would be considered for General Convention number 80, to be held (if my math is right) in 2021.  The Diocese of Missouri is on the current short list, so this is of a bit more than academic interest for us.  The list got messy when a Deputy (not one of ours) proposed a rule that only Dioceses which pay their full apportionment should be considered as hosts.  The Diocese of Missouri was spared public embarrassment by the fact that we do, in fact, pay our apportionment to The Episcopal Church. 
     
  • Deputy Lisa Fox joined in blog chat to give some insight on the legislative process. Up was A150, which calls for more training materials so that all dioceses and parishes have better info about clergy discipline and the Title IV canon. "This is an important debate. When we adopted the disciplinary canons there were not a lot of educational resources. This resolution proposes to create more training materials for congregations and dioceses." HoD concurred with HoB, so it passed. Another few resolutions, then A040. Lisa Fox: "A040 and D022 (which I wrote) gives a firm "no" to the Anglican Covenant." In a parliamentary move, committee chair Sally Johnson moved to end all consideration on A040. That motion passed and the resolution ended. "GC2012 adopted a resolution neither adopting nor rejecting the Covenant. A040 and D022 asked GC to take a firm stance." But that won't now happen. Extended discussion about the next resolution which nominated 5 potential sites for GC in 2021, St. Louis and the Diocese of Missouri being in that list. Deputies objected that not all the dioceses being considered were paying their full asking to the wider church. After removing those who didn't pay the full amount only two remained, Diocese of Missouri was one of the two. Clarification from the Canons informed that the resolution needed a minimum of 3 sites and so to resolution went forward. Lisa Fox: The amount of discussion was amazing. The resolution about where to hold the next GC is usually pro forma." Then came voting for elected spots on Executive Council. As we watched the HoD go into a fifth ballot, Lisa Fox said, "I've never seen an EC election take this long. It took  5 ballots to elect members of Executive Council.  That's rather remarkable."

  • Deputy from the Rio Grande offered a moment of levity with a new composed HoD song, We are voting, at convention, sung to the tune of Clementine. 
     
  • Sunday morning's ECW run by Jeanne King
  • Deputy Booker's overview of Sunday
  • Deputy Mike Clark's A View from the House of Deputies
  • Deputy Pat Glenn's Technology win 
     
  • Bishops against gun violence
  • ECW Triennial Today

Monday, June 29

GC is deep in legislative work now.


Deputy Booker:
We are definitely down to business.  It's Monday, and we have to wrap everything up by Friday. ...Just before General Convention I learned that there were a number of proposals concerning the calendar of "saints" in the church (I use the quotation marks because that's not actually how we define them, but it's a familiar shorthand.)  As I suspected, the topic produced a great deal of passionate discussion.  We have a calendar of commemorations in the Book of Common Prayer, and there is a supplemental text with the horrid name of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and you may know about the reference, Holy Women, Holy Men.  There's work under way to add yet another reference, A Great Cloud of Witnesses.   One of the points of disagreement was whether we should list non-Christian but inspirational figures or not. 
 
 
In today's HOB session: a recounting of Saturday's vote for Presiding Bishop, and what happened as the bishop representatives went to the HOD. Bp. Wayne Wright recounted walking to the HOD to talk with the committee about the bishops' vote. He got half way through the formal language before he started weeping. Most questions were about what it was like to be in that moment. Stories shared of singing Veni, Spiritu Sanctus before the vote. Of sharing with the HOD committee the same reading from the HOB chaplain before their vote. How they joined in silent prayer and were all weeping with joy. "This was a powerful and memorable experience for us that we were honored to share a reminder of the hope and the joythat all of us have for the Episcopal Church." Then the discussion and vote on the marriage resolutions began in the HOB. Both resolutions passed and were sent on to the HOD.
 
At the evening media conference the panelists included Dpts Lowell Grisham, Bonnie Perry and the bishops of San Diego and Arkansas. Question from George Conger about the roll call vote on the marriage resolutions and the 'estrangement' of the minority bishops. The bishops answered they wouldn't use the word estrangement, but that they are not in agreement on everything. "The character of our life together is to work through things. We all walked out of that room today to move forward as a church. We've spent a lot of time in conversation in the 3 yrs between convention, and we've worked hard on being a community that cars for each other."
 

Tuesday, June 30

  • 9:30   Community Eucharist 
  • 11am  Joint Session - Mission Conversation. 
  • 2 pm ECW Jazz Mass
  • 2:15 pm Legislative Sessions 
  • Daily briefing 

Michael Booker: We didn't vote on much during Day 6 of General Convention. It rather feels like we're just trying to build up some dramatic tension.We met in Joint Session (i.e., with the Bishops) in the morning to discuss the Five Marks of Mission. This then transitioned to some lovely "thank yous" for the outgoing Presiding Bishop. We had at one time the last PB, the current PB, and the PB-elect, all on stage together. Since our Deputation sits in the back this year, I'm hoping to find a good picture from the Episcopal News Service.

Mike Clark: At the beginning of the afternoon legislative session on Monday, June 29th, I was granted a Point of Personal Privilege. I wanted to explain to the nearly 800 members of the House of Deputies, why they saw so many signs attached to deputation markers around the floor of the House, bearing the message, "BLACK LIVES MATTER" . These signs were secured by and shipped to convention by the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Mike Kinman, to be offered for display by the deputation of the Diocese of Missouri. (Mike's full text is in his blog post.)

The bishops and deputies discussed restructuring the church through the lens of the five marks of mission. Each mini-discussion was introduced by a short video, and most of these are really worth watching and sending out over social media. Here's a blog post that includes both the videos and the questions that followed.

Before the joint discussion, the Governor of Utah visited and spoke to the combined houses. After the discussion on restructure, the current, most previous, and future presiding bishops spoke in a brief ceremony emcee'd by Ray Suarez. Shown were some videos on Katharine's episcopacy and they are now online. (See link to video playlist on the right hand column.)



In the Exhibit space: Haiti Murals Exhibit, the first-ever public display of  fragments of the historic murals from the wall of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port au Prince that were destroyed during the 2010 earthquake and presently are curated by the Smithsonian until such time as they are reconstituted in a rebuilt Cathedral.

Wednesday, July 1




Thursday, July 2

Friday, July 3

More Info

Resource Links

Glossary

  • GC=General Convention
  • HOB=House of Bishops
  • HOD=House of Deputies
  • PB=Presiding Bishop
  • PHOD=President of the House of Deputies
  • VPHOD=Vice President of the House of Deputies
  • ECW=Episcopal Church Women
  • UTO=United Thank Offering
  • AGCW=A Great Cloud of Witnesses
  • HWHM=Holy Women Holy Men
  • SLC=Salt Lake City
  • PB&F, PBnF=Program, Budget and Finance committee
  • CCAB=churchwide committee, commission agency or board

Videos of worship at GC





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