GC80 Deputy Update: Michael Booker - July 11
THE 80th GENERAL CONVENTION of the EPISCOPAL CHURCH
July 11, 2022 – Day Four
by Deputy Michael Booker
A question is posed during the Passover Seder: “Why is this night different from all others?” With the final gavel brought down on the 80th General Convention, we might well ask, “Why was this convention different from all others?”
The short answer, of course, is COVID. The pandemic wildly transformed our usual every-three-year gathering.
2. Early Hearings. Legislative committees started work at the end of 2021, offering hearings and meetings online to shorten the time for convention.
3. Shortened Convention. Instead of ten days, this convention was compressed to eight, and then crushed to four days.
4. Long Days. General Convention is hard work, but this year we gathered for worship at 8:30, took two meal breaks, and didn’t adjourn until 9:30 in the evening.
5. Consent Calendar Chaos. We really had no choice but to expedite a lot of our work by placing resolutions on the consent calendar. We voted in a lump for items big and small, easy to understand and wholly bewildering. I think that every deputy, at one time or another, voted in favor of things they were iffy about because of the avalanche that was the consent calendar.
6. Ghost Town. Instead of 10,000 visitors to General Convention, we had about 1,500. There were no merchants purveying unique items. Many groups that would meet concurrently with General Convention cancelled their meetings. Visitors weren’t welcome and VIP guests, many from other denominations and faith traditions, were nowhere to be seen.
I don’t mean to be negative. We did what we had to do to support the work of the church. And there were moments of beauty and grace. Still, I feel that people serving as deputies to their first General Convention missed out on a lot of wonderful experiences. I’ve encouraged people to drop by General Convention as a visitor and see what it’s about; I did that in 2012 and had a fascinating time.
My hope and prayer is that 2024 will be much more normal.