General Convention: Day 1

The 78th General Convention began on Thursday, June 25, with an opening Eucharist at which Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached and presided. Grace Aheron, a former Episcopal Service Corps intern with the Diocese of California, read the second lesson, which was from the Acts of the Apostles. The Convention Eucharist observed the Nativity of John the Baptist. The video of her sermon is here, and the text of it is here.

Although the convention officially opened with Eucharist, legislative hearings — and the start of business for deputies — had started at 7:30 a.m. Following the Eucharist committee work resumed. Committees are charged with distilling resolutions submitted to them and passing them (or not) on to the full Houses of Bishops or Deputies as well as perfecting them and choosing the best language for a final resolution.

The Diocese of California’s deputies serve on eight different committees:

The Rev. Vanessa Glass, Committee 20 — Marriage
The Rev. Eric Metoyer, Committee 1 — Dispatch of Business
The Rev. Richard Helmer — Review of Resolutions
The Rev. Paul Fromberg — 11, Prayerbook, Liturgy, and Music
Sarah Lawton — 8, Social Justice and US Policy
Warren Wong — 5, Governance and Structure
Carolyn Gaines — 19, Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop
Rod Dugliss — 12, Formation and Education

After their hearings, deputies had an hour for lunch, and then more time for hearings before the first full legislative session. The biggest order of business for the House of Deputies was adopting entirely new rules of order. Vice President of the House of Deputies, Byron Rushing who oversaw the task force for rewriting the rules said that the main goals were to use the active voice, simplify language, and make time for more fair and rigorous debate.

Although the topic is arguably quite dry, there was a bit of humor in the House of Deputies. After a proposed amendment completely banning applause in the House of Deputies failed, the House of Deputies erupted in light applause, if only because they could. The President of the House of Deputies promptly reminded them that the current rules were still in effect.

After the legislative session that both adopted the new rules of order and approved a resolution to send a letter of condolences to Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, deputies adjourned for an hour break, presumably for dinner. After the break committee hearings resumed until 9 p.m.

At the end of the legislative session two bishops and two deputies were available for a press briefing. A new deputy from Arizona, Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas — who is also an Official Youth Presence alumna — said that although it’s her first time as a deputy she’s not that much surprised by General Convention; she’s been here and done it before. The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, bishop of Eastern Michigan, said that the highlight of his day wasn’t in rules of order or the legislative process, but on the margins, where he encountered old friends and colleagues. He noted that General Convention is a legislative body, but is also a family gathering.

The daily press briefing closing the day is available for live streaming on the General Convention Media HUB. Sessions of the Houses of Bishops and Deputies are available for live stream there, and live conversation about the events is happening through them on Twitter using the hashtag #gc78.