General Convention Day Seven

Today is our last day, and I suspect we will go down to the wire with many more resolutions to finish up. This morning the Rt. Reverend Sean Rowe, our Presiding Bishop Elect, will preach the closing Eucharist, the celebrant will be Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. I am anxious to hear Bishop Rowe while it will be emotional as Bishop Curry presides over his last Eucharist at General Convention.

Yesterday we approved several trial liturgies, including expansive language changes for Eucharistic Prayer C and some alternate texts (badly needed) finally approved for Good Friday. We will have time over the next three years to use these trial liturgies and report back our experiences.

Once General Convention is over I will do a more detailed look at some of the resolutions approved, and some that were not. It’s been a long 8 days and I will be glad to be home tomorrow. Thanks for checking in!

General Convention Day Six – A new Presiding Bishop!

Wednesday’s highlight was of course the election of our new Presiding Bishop. The Right Reverend Sean Rowe, currently Bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Provincinal Bishop of the Diocese of Western New York. Bishop Rowe was elected by the House of Bishops, gathering in prayer at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Louisville, on the first ballot, receiving 89 votes, with 82 a majority needed to be elected.

Bishop Rowe, while only 49 years old, is the longest serving bishop in our House of Bishops, having been elected Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania when he was 32. He brings a unique skill set to the position and obviously is well respected in the HoB.

Following the election, the House of Deputies received the news and, as is canonically required, voted to confirm the election. Shortly after the confirmation, Bishop Rowe addressed the House of Deputies. I really loved his speech and his presence with us. I recommend you watch his speech at the link below and see why it got me excited about his upcoming 9 year tenure as our PB.

https://video.ibm.com/recorded/133745864?mc_cid=0d35080681&mc_eid=eb172c34af

Meanwhile the slog through legislation continued. We dealt with resolutions on Israel / Palestine, concurring with the Bishops on two resolutions and amending a third, which will require a conference committee from the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to attempt to craft a compromise resolution. Some of the deputies insisted we return the terms “apartheid” and “genocide” to the resolutions in regard to Israel’s actions in the Gaza conflict. The resolutions did attempt to balance critique of the October 7th attack by Hamas and the extreme nature of Israel’s response.

And for some of us, the issue was raised over what exactly we think General Convention passing such resolutions even means to the wider world, much less the church. I found myself wondering and praying how we can generate the same level of passion and energy around evangelism and church revitalization as we do over such political issues.

Lastly, we concurred with the House of Bishops on a very important change to our constitution as to how our Prayer Book can be modified in the future, while preserving our traditional ways of slow change to our liturgical life together. This resolution was a “Second reading” of the same resolution passed in 2022, a requirement for any changes to our constitution. The resolution allows the Book of Common Prayer to include all liturgical texts authorized by General Convention, not just those currently in the actual book, while preserving a careful process of making any changes or additions.

More Prayer Book related resolutions will be dealt with today. Unfortunately our very slow pace thus far will see quite a few resolutions remaining on a Consent Calendar, meaning if the entire Consent Calendar is approved by one vote, the house simply agrees with the recommendation of the respective legislative committees proposing the resolutions and their recommended action on them (adopt, adopt with amendment, reject, take no further action). There is no debate allowed, so careful review of each Consent Calendar is essential prior to the vote in case deputies feel strongly resolutions should be pulled off that calendar and added to the legislative calendar to be debated. As time winds down and the sheer volume of work left is apparent, resolutions we probably should spend time debating may end up on the consent calendar instead. All this, to me, is a factor of how we do our work which bothers many of us, we just have too many resolutions to deal with and I wish we had a way to pare down the volume ahead of convention. Efforts to do so over my 7 times serving at convention have made little progress in that effort. Keep praying y’all!

General Convention Day Five

June 25th was Episcopal Camp and Conference Day at General Convention, and our entire deputation was decked out in fancy Beckwith shirts to honor our camp and conference center. It was also my birthday, thanks to so many for the birthday well wishes!

The House held the election for the President of the House of Deputies, current president Julia Ayala Harris was reelected on the first ballot. This was a contentious election and our prayers are with all involved for reconciliation and a path forward together, as we all have much work to do for and with our beloved church.

Late in the day, we shared a very moving time as the Navajoland area mission was officially welcomed as a Missionary Diocese. This change is canonical, and allows the Navajoland to govern themselves as all dioceses do and elect their own bishop. The testimony of their deputation was quite wonderful and their excitement and pride in this new status was palpable.

Today the bishops will gather in Christ Cathedral (just a few blocks away) for the election of the next Presiding Bishop. Your prayers are appreciated. We expect to hear election results at our 11am legislative session, but it could take longer if there are multiple ballots. All five nominees seem well suited to serve as PB, may the Holy Spirit guide our bishops in this very important election.

General Convention Day Four

This morning we have another joint session with the Bishops joining us in the House of Deputies. We will hear about and from the nominees for the new Presiding Bishop. That election is tomorrow in the House of Bishops. The bishops will convene the election process in Christ Church Cathedral, which is very near to the convention center. Once they have selected the new PB (it takes a simple majority), the House of Deputies special committee on the election of the Presiding Bishop will receive the news and offer a resolution to our house to confirm the election. The new PB will then be introduced to the House of Deputies. The new PB will also preach at the closing Eucharist of General Convention. It’s pretty exciting and I am blessed to be present at GC for the last two PB elections in addition to this one.

For more information on the nominees, click on this article from Episcopal News Service: https://episcopalnewsservice.org/2024/06/21/5-presiding-bishop-nominees-participate-in-forum-ahead-of-house-of-bishops-june-26-election/

Today we will vote on the budget for the next 3 years, which was presented yesterday in a joint session. The budget process has been completely revamped and all seem to agree the new method is much better. We will also have a mix of other resolutions to deal with, including one which makes Navajoland a missionary diocese. This is a big deal for Navajoland, currently considered an “area mission”. With this change they will be able to elect their own bishop, along other things this status will bring.

I will have more to say on particular resolutions as some of the more “controversial” ones will be before our House soon. Now I am off to the convention center, this being the second time I’ve celebrated my birthday while at General Convention. It’s kind of how I roll, for years my birthday always took place at Camp Bratton-Green, the Episcopal camp in Mississippi where I served as a director of a 5th and 6th grade session for several years. I don’t eat birthday cake any more so maybe I will have some spaghetti tonight! Don’t tell Jennifer!

General Convention Day Three

We had our first two legislative sessions. It always seems we start slow, as deputies old and new get used to using the online voting systems, parliamentary procedures, and the nature of working within such a large house, over 820 deputies were present for the sessions.

The 1st session was occupied by the organization of the house, with various appointments by the President of the House of Deputies (PHOD) required to get us going. President Julia Ayala Harris was in the chair, of course. She faces opposition for reelection, stay tuned for more on that.

The 2nd session began with several resolutions having been removed from the Consent Calendar, another area newer deputies must get accustomed to. By default, almost all resolutions from the House of Deputies are placed on the Consent Calendar, this calendar is to be available to the deputies 24 hours before the session which deals with them. All resolutions on that calendar are approved or rejected in one vote, and it is designed to speed up our processes by approving legislation which generally requires no debate. There are mechanisms for pulling resolutions off Consent so they become part of the Legislative Calendar and will be debated by the entire HoD. And of course, all resolutions we approve must be approved or amended by the House of Bishops, and if amended the resolution returns to our house to approve or reject in that form.

The bulk of the 2nd session was a presentation of multiple changes to our Rules of Order, which govern how we do our work in legislative session and committee meetings. Some of the proposed changes were not approved by the House, which will impact our work going forward. Some of the changes I supported, a couple I did not, so I was pleased with the outcomes.

Today (Monday) we begin with Morning Prayer in the worship space, followed by a joint session where the Bishops join us for a presentation on the budget. This afternoon we will have our third legislative session, and this one should have several resolutions the house will spend time deliberating.

You can always read resolutions on the virtual binder, http:://Vbinder.net Please note resolutions can change from their submitted form and simply having a resolution filed does not at all mean GC will approve it. Post questions in the comments and I will try to respond as soon as possible. Your prayers as always are appreciated.

Itinerant: noun. a person who alternates between working and wandering.