Weekend Update from General Convention

Despite being only two days, the weekend portion of General Convention was quite busy. On Saturday, both houses of convention engaged very serious topics, from the election of a Presiding Bishop to passing a broad sweeping resolution on racism. After the morning Eucharist (sermon available here) the House of Bishops adjourned to St. Mark’s Cathedral to elect a Presiding Bishop.

The election occurred after only one ballot, and Michael Curry, bishop of North Carolina, was elected as the next Presiding Bishop. Hailey McKeefry Delmas, an alternate deputy from the Diocese of California, blogged about Bishop Curry’s election here. Although given the option to break for lunch, the House of Deputies elected to wait until the Committee on Confirming the Presiding Bishop made its recommendation on the election of Bishop Curry. After the committee’s report to the House of Deputies, Bishop Curry’s election was consented to with an overwhelming majority.

In the afternoon the House of Bishops engaged a lengthy discussion of the role of lay people in the distribution of the Eucharist. The Living Church has a summary of debate here. Before discussing and passing the resolution on racism, the House of Deputies discussed a resolution about alcoholism and substance abuse for those discerning Holy Orders. 

The evening ended for many people at a special reception hosted by Episcopal Relief and Development, which is celebrating 75 years of ministry. 

Sunday, June 28 was a full day before noon. Early in the morning The Episcopal Church Women coordinated a 5k for homeless youth. A little later, Bishops United Against Gun Violence coordinated a march called Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence. Hundreds of Episcopalians gathered to pray, sing, and repent. Those participating in the event heard speakers — two of whom are former police officers, two of whom were victims of gun violence — call for finding common ground “not to take away guns, but to have sane gun laws that cut down on deaths as the result of guns,” one of the former police officers said. The Episcopal Café has a rundown of the various stories about the event. The Diocese of California’s photos of the walk are available on Facebook

Before the Sunday Eucharist, clergy women from throughout the Church gathered to discuss how to organize for stronger ordained women’s leadership — at large congregations, as cathedral deans, and in the House of Bishops. The Rev. Canon Stefani Schatz, canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of California, was one of the organizers of this event. More information about this group and event are forthcoming. Convention attendees have been asked to wear purple scarves to support this work, and the Diocese of California has been collecting photos of them. The album is on Facebook.

At the Sunday Eucharist, the United Thank Offering conducted its triennial ingathering. Millions of dollars were raised by the UTO in the last three years. The Presiding Bishop preached an inspiring, passionate sermon on the healing of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with an issue of blood. The video of her sermon (essential for her intonation and jokes) is available here, and the text is available here.

After Eucharist, deputies and bishops had roughly two hours to eat lunch and rest before going into lengthy legislative sessions. In the House of Deputies, the first order of business was elections to various offices, however there were technical issues that suspended the voting. In the interim the House of Deputies discussed — at length — the potential sites for the 80th General Convention in 2018 — and whether dioceses that do not pay their full asking to The Episcopal Church should be eligible to host. 

The House of Bishops met for private conversation for the first few hours of the afternoon session and then discussed investments in fossil fuels, particularly for the Church Pension Fund. After concluding discussion on that resolution (with amendments) the House of Bishops was meant to break into table conversations about liturgies about same-sex marriage, however, provincial caucuses were starting to meet.

Sunday night also saw the celebration of California Night, wherein deputies, visitors, and anyone else from the Diocese of California gathered for a communal meal. It was a time to socialize, check in on how the convention was going, and learn what others have been doing — if one hadn’t seen them working in action.

There are five days left in General Convention, and as committee work moves to a close, more pieces of legislation will be acted on by one or both houses of the convention. Information about legislation can be found at www.generalconvention.org. As debate moves forward in both houses, the Twitter hashtag #gc78 is an outstanding resource for tracking conversation. Watch Pacific Church News Online and the Diocese of California’s Facebook Page for regular updates, too!