General Convention: Day 8

As General Convention draws nearer to a close, the lines at the coffee carts grow longer during breaks. Day 8, July 2, was the second-to-last day of the convention, and both houses were very active. The morning began in the House of Bishops by continuing to modify Title IV of the canons, which deal with clergy discipline — particularly how to balance pastoral responses to the mandatory report requirements of Title IV. There were not concerns about mandatory reporting of abuse inasmuch as other, sometimes vague, infractions (such as violating the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer). 

The House of Bishops also took up (and rejected) D016 Being Socially Responsible Investors In Palestine and Israel. D016 was an omnibus resolution that intended to cover a number of issues and actions in related to Israel/Palestine. The bishops are concerned with any resolution or direction that points to divestment because that the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem — who is a Palestinian Christian — opposes it. 

The House of Deputies was the house for first action (after committee) for a number of significant resolutions that came before the convention on July 2. The House of Deputies adopted D011 Eliminate Provinces, which actually convenes a taskforce to study the elimination provinces without eliminating them at the current General Convention. In resolution A183 the House of Deputies has commended Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, which has already been studied in some Diocese of California congregations, for study by the whole Church over the next three years. The deputies also adopted a resolution about dismantling the school to prison pipeline.

Resolutions in the House of Deputies that generated a good bit of debate — for and against — were D037 Amending Names in Church Records, Registries, and Certificates and D021 Reevaluate the Denominational Health Plan Mandate, both of which were amended on the floor of convention. D037 was amended to include consulting with church historians and archivists about modifying historical documents. D021 was modified to give congregations and dioceses the options to leave the denominational health plan. The biggest arguments for this change are that the Affordable Care Act and healthcare exchanges have impacted pricing comparison. The arguments against rest largely on the need to have a large pool (specifically the whole of the denomination) for the plan to stay active. The House of Bishops will be acting on this resolution on July 3.

In the late afternoon House of Deputies also concurred with a resolution from the House of Bishops to revise the Book of Common Prayer (specifically Holy Week) to bring reading options in line with the Revised Common Lectionary, which the General Convention adopted in 2009. The House of Deputies also concurred with the House of Bishops’ resolution to begin planning for Prayer Book revision, although some deputies were concerned that the resolution was not clear enough my only inviting a plan. Others had concerns for the turmoil a new Prayer Book would bring to the Church.

Although planning to be dismissed around 7 p.m. (an extension from the expected and hoped for 6:15 p.m. adjournment), the House of Deputies stayed in session until around 7:30 p.m., though the House of Bishops concluded its work around 6:30 p.m. Worship for Friday, July 3, began at 8:30 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m., so the houses of convention will have very long, and hopefully productive, days.

Watch Pacific Church News Online for a wrap up of the ninth legislative day after it has closed, and follow the final conversations about convention on Twitter with the hashtag #gc78. Pacific Church News online, after the convention has closed, will offer a summary of the major (and minor) actions the General Convention took, so check back often, and keep an eye on DioBytes