Thursday, July 12, 2012

Convention Wrap-Up

As workstations get packed up, signs get taken down, and the occasional Bishop or Deputy grabs a cab for an early flight, I present a wrap-up of various General Convention Items.

"I move the previous question." Photo by Jim Steadman
Some updates on issues blogged about a few days ago, plus a few other items that have come before Convention.

  • The House of Bishops also unanimously passed the resolution creating a Task Force to look at re-structuring the church. 
  • Both Houses passed the budget.
  • The House of Deputies passed a resolution saying the baptism was the normative sacrament to allow access to communion, but allowing an opening for pastoral response to what is being called “open communion” for the unbaptized.  The Bishops deleted the pastoral response provision and the revised resolution was sent back to the House of Deputies, which passed it.  Therefore the Episcopal Church continues to understand that baptism comes before communion, although a number of churches will probably continue to welcome all to an “open communion” and no one will check (or be expected to check) baptismal certificates at the altar rail.
  • No changes were made to the canons regarding mandatory participation in the church’s health plan.  Bishops were given until 2015 to work pastorally with congregations that did not sign up their clergy and lay staff by 2013.
  • A variety of liturgical resolutions passed.  One resolution allowed the continued use of the 1979 BCP lectionary.  A resource called “Daily Prayer for All Seasons” was approved, as was a service at the loss of a beloved animal.  The House of Bishops debate on the latter liturgy was characterized by one observer as an attempt to determine which Bishop loved their dog most. (In other House of Bishops news, five Bishops name Mark sang the five “Marks” of mission together for their colleagues.)  The resolution to authorize the Common English Bible was sent back to committee.  Holy Women, Holy Men continues in trial use for another three years.
  • We passed a resolution encouraging parishes and diocesan workplaces to declare themselves “Gun Free Zones.”  While the resolution may be helpful in times of parish conflict, it should be noted that impatient congregants with firearms do help keep sermon times down.
  • Many resolutions were also passed advocating any number of good things to happen in the areas of international affairs, the elimination of poverty, uplifting the needy, environmental conservation, and social justice.  To summarize them: love God and love our neighbors, even when it requires sacrifices on our part.  (Interestingly, a resolution against fracking failed in the House of Deputies after being passed by the Bishops.)
  • A clean-up of various constitutional and canonical language was enacted by some resolutions.  Those who follow such matters closely probably already know that they can see all convention resolutions at the General Convention website here.
Canonical Expert Reid keeps us in line.  (Steadman photo)

Vice-President of the House of Deputies
Deputy Byron Rushing was elected Vice-President of the House of Deputies from among a slate of five strong candidates.  Byron is a long-time deputy whose day job is majority whip of the Massachusetts state house. 

Official Youth Presence

The House of Deputies includes the Official Youth Presence, given seat and voice on the floor.  They spoke eloquently and passionately on a number of legislative issues on the floor and in committee, and many were lectors during our worship services.  At one point, Bishop Sean Rowe, who can be found on the dias in the House of Bishops as a parliamentarian, was referred to as the Bishops’ Official Youth Presence.  

Good times at the dias. (Steadman photo)
Serving at Worship
Kaycee Reib (Steadman photo)
As part of our daily worship, deputies and guests are invited to serve as Eucharistic Ministers.  A couple dozen ministers are necessary to ensure an efficient and orderly communion for the large numbers at Convention worship.  At the closing Eucharist, our Diocesan Canon Martha Ishman and I were privileged to serve, as were Northwestern Pennsylvania deputies Kaycee Reib, Holly Davis and Jim Steadman at earlier services.

Deputation Dinner
The last (un)official act of convention is our deputation dinner tonight following adjournment.  UPDATE: Thank you, Bishop Sean, for a great dinner and a wonderful evening.  We echo Vanessa's Facebook Post: Just had what was perhaps the best meal of my entire life with the super awesome deputation of NWPA!!

Acts 8
Thursday evening a number of people gathered again to pray, participate in Bible study around Acts 8, and finish the sentence, "I hope that the Church will..."  We also brainstormed ways to keep in touch, to pray together for the revitalization of the church, and to work for on-going transformation at the individual, parish and church-wide level.  Follow the Facebook page Acts8Moment to stay in touch with what happens in the future.

Special Thanks
Throughout Convention, Vanessa Butler and Carly Rowe have offered a gracious hospitality suite to our deputation.  Beginning with coffee and breakfast early in the morning before committee meetings and continuing with snacks after the legislative session, their hard work has allowed our deputation opportunities to relax and connect.  They also saved us the time and money required to have breakfast in a hotel restaurant.  A big THANK YOU to both of them (and to Joann Piatko) for their hard work!  

And now we are adjourned until 2015...


  1. A update on the Deputation Dinner and a correction on the fate of the Common English Bible resolution has been made.

  2. Fr. Shawn ClerkinJuly 13, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    I hear both the gentle breeze and strong force of the Spirit moving in convention! I hope we all have an opportunity to experience our democratic church in action as deputies at convention. Thank you for your (entertainingly) edited reflection!