I’ve not been to Episcopal General Convention before, but I went as a guest Thursday through Saturday.
It’s eye opening.
Now, I’m not a complete noob to this churchwide convention. In my role on the Diocese of Fort Worth communications team, I published information for our deputies in 2012 and 2015. I watched the live stream, I read and tracked important legislation so I could publish about it on Facebook & Twitter, and I voiced what mattered for our diocese and our people.
But I have to say this from my three in-person days at this Convention – our deputation is crazy busy! Legislative committees meet at 7:30 am, after lunch, and again at 7:30 pm to deal with the important resolutions they want to put before the Convention. There are morning and afternoon legislative sessions in the House of Deputies and House of Bishops, and our people are tracking discussion about and progress of each resolution in each house. Our deputies are discussing the “big picture” of resolutions as well as the small details.
The work of committee meetings and hearings
I want to say more on committee work and committee meetings and committee hearings. We have many members of our deputation who are serving on committees:
- Katie Sherrod is the chair of the deputation and serves on the Committee on Churchwide Leadership
- Kathleen Wells and Janet Waggoner are serving on the House of Deputies Resolution Review Committee
- Katheen is also serving on the Constitution and Canons committee
- Aidan Wright is assistant secretary to the committee working with the Episcopal Church in Cuba
- Marti Fagley is serving on the Credentials Committee
- Carlye Hughes is the Secretary for the Racial Justice and Reconciliation committee
- Tracie Middleton is serving on the committee for the Certification of Minutes
- Janet Waggoner is also serving on the House of Deputies Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation
- Bishop Mayer serves on the Christian Formation Committee
And our deputies and alternates who aren’t on committees are constantly working to gain insight from other committees where we have no diocesan representatives. They are attending open committee meetings and tracking resolutions and reporting back to the deputation on what’s happening and the details of how it unfolded in committee. Plus, if they want to speak in open committee meetings, they must arrive 30 minutes before the start to sign up to speak publicly; this speaking cuts into lunch or dinner time. You’d think that lunch and dinner would be a respite, and it can be, yet luncheons and dinners and gatherings with partner organizations are added into individual agendas. Folks are always rushing to whatever’s next.
Oh, and don’t dismiss the preparation it takes to to speak convincingly to the public!
When we next elect deputies to General Convention…
Some people may have the incorrect perspective that General Convention is like a conference with an education and social focus; it barely has those things squeezed in.
General Convention is the diverse Church at large, with individuals doing hard work at a quick pace in long meetings. It takes preparation. It takes grace to listen and speak when viewpoints differ drastically. It takes guts to speak and act to give voice to what our changing church can become when others around you don’t share a similar vision of that future. So, we need to continue to elect deputies who are willing to do this hard work. We elected a great bunch to serve in 2018: