“Great to see you! Love ya! Gotta go!”

As deputies, bishops, and guests continued to pour into Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center all day Tuesday, happy encounters of old friends were happening all over the place as people rushed from registration to the exhibit hall to committee meetings to after-hours events.

Someone joked that “Great to see you! Love ya! Gotta go!” should be the motto of General Convention. If friends were lucky, they were able to make a quick plan to meet later. Otherwise, they lived in hope of finding time to catch up.

While the numbers of days that General Convention lasts have shrunk, the amount of work has not. So days begin before 7 pm and end well after 10 pm. People learn to pace themselves early on.

Continue reading “Great to see you! Love ya! Gotta go!”

Convention wrap-up: Re-envisioning church for the 21st century

By Matthew Davies | July 12, 2012

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] General Convention has called on the Episcopal Church to re-imagine its structure, taken historic steps towards full inclusion, endorsed positive investment in the Palestinian Territories, and reaffirmed its commitment to building Anglican Communion relationships while saying it is unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant.

Based on the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, the budget for the Episcopal Church in the 2013-2015 triennium was adopted unanimously by the 77th General Convention July 11.

The budget, available here, is balanced at $111,516,032, compared to $111,808,350 for the current triennium, and comes with a small surplus of $30,000.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and outgoing President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson addressed the media at a closing news conference July 12.

At this convention, “you have seen the Episcopal Church not only of the future, but of today, in the presence of young adults, a more significant number than we’ve seen in a long time, people of many nations and tribes and language traditions,” said Jefferts Schori, noting that more than 40 international guests attended convention. “The Episcopal Church is healthy, it’s becoming healthier, and it’s poised for an even more significant impact on the world around us. There’s no stopping us. Watch out world. We’re coming.”

Anderson, who now steps down as House of Deputies president, said it has been a great convention and that the deputies, 44 percent of whom were new, were extremely well prepared.

General Convention, which met July 5-12 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, is composed of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, which includes clergy and laity.

Structural reform

Of the almost 400 resolutions submitted to General Convention more than 90 related to structural reform. Most of those resolutions were similar in nature and it was the work of the structure committee at convention to consider the legislation and make its recommendations to the house.

Applause and cheers erupted July 11 as Resolution C095, which calls for creation of a task force to re-imagine the workings of the Episcopal Church in the 21st century, sailed unanimously through the House of Bishops. A day earlier, deputies also had passed the resolution unanimously.

The legislation creates a special task force of up to 24 people who will gather ideas in the next two years from all levels of the church about possible reforms to its structures, governance and administration. Its work will culminate in a special gathering of people from every diocese to hear what recommendations the task force plans to make to the 78th General Convention. Its final report is due by November 2014.

Full story.

Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer for the Episcopal Church, praised the work of both the structure committee and convention.

“My hope has always been that we would begin to have a conversation and the church embraced that. The conversation became a movement of hope for the future of the church.”

He added that the people of Episcopal Church have realized – and the institutional is getting it – “that we are standing on the brink of an unprecedented moment; have seen it as opportunity rather than threat.”

Full story.

The spending portion of the budget for the next triennium is allocated according to the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, and the categories of administration and governance. The five marks are:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

The budget assumes $73.5 million in commitments from the church’s dioceses, nearly $4 million less than that in the current triennium. That total is based on keeping at 19 percent the amount that the church asks dioceses to contribute annually to the church-wide budget.

Same-gender blessings

In a historic move, convention authorized provisional use of a rite for blessing same-gender unions. “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” rite will be available for use starting Dec. 2 (the first Sunday of Advent), but clergy will need the permission of their bishop under the terms of the resolution.

The resolution calls on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music “to conduct a review process over the next triennium, making clear that this is a work in progress,” the Rev. Ruth Meyers, deputy of the Diocese of Chicago, told the deputies. She chaired the conventionPrayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committee’s subcommittee on blessings and the SCLM.

The resolution directs the SCLM to include “diverse theological perspectives in the further development of the theological resource” and to invite responses from throughout the church as well as from the Anglican Communion and the church’s ecumenical partners.

The resolution states that, under existing canons, clergy can decline to preside at a blessing liturgy and says that no one “should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities” for objecting to or supporting the 77th General Convention’s action on blessings.

Full story.

Gender identity, expression

Two resolutions passed by convention offer support for the transgender community by adding gender expression and identity to two canons that prevent discrimination. One makes clear that the ordination discernment process is open to them, and another guarantees their equal place in the life, worship and governance of the church.

Full story.

Following action on same-gender blessings and transgender rights, the majority of the Diocese of South Carolina’s deputies left the General Convention July 11 because, in the words of its remaining clergy deputy, the gathering had passed resolutions that violate the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.

However, that deputy, the Very Rev. John B. Burwell, told Episcopal News Service, “We are not leaving the Episcopal Church.”

Positive investment

Convention overwhelmingly supported a resolution on positive investment in the Palestinian Territories. But the bishops agreed to postpone indefinitely a conversation on corporate engagement.

Resolution B019 affirms positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories. It also calls on the church to support “the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East,” and produce an annotated bibliography of resources.

Resolution C060, which called on the church to engage “in corporate social responsibility by more vigorous and public corporate engagement with companies in the church’s investment portfolio that contribute to the infrastructure of the Occupation,” was tabled after Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania called for the conversation to be postponed indefinitely. The deputies had passed that resolution on July 9, but it would have required the bishops’ consent.

Full story.

Anglican Covenant, Continuing Indaba

Convention also affirmed its commitment to building relationships across the Anglican Communion, especially through the Continuing Indaba program, and to decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant.

After considering eight resolutions, the General Convention’s committee on world mission recommended adoption of two resolutions on Anglican Communion relationships and theAnglican Covenant, a document that initially had been intended as a way to bind Anglicans globally across cultural and theological differences.

Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, chair of the World Mission Committee, told ENS following the vote that the resolutions are “a genuine pastoral response because we are not of one mind, and to push a decision at this time would cause hurt and alienation in our church on both sides and instead we chose to stay in the conversation.”

Full story.

The Rev. Gay Jennings of Ohio was elected to serve as the next president of the House of Deputies and Byron Rushing of Massachusetts as the next vice president. Each will serve a three-year term beginning at the end of General Convention.

Other legislation that convention passed includes:

Resolution A019, re-affirming advocacy support for peace in Sudan. (Full story)

Release of Cuban prisoners
Resolution A021 (http://www.generalconvention.org/gc/resolutions?by=number&id=a021), calling for the release of all in Cuban prisons for religious activities or peaceful advocacy of political change in the Republic of Cuba; and to support advocacy efforts for the humane treatment and pastoral care of four Cuban nationals convicted of spying for the government of the Republic of Cuba, who are serving prison sentences in United States.

Resolution A036, which commends the 11-year relationship of full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and asks the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee to address areas where Episcopal and Lutheran practices differ, especially around the matter of who can preside at Holy Communion and the role of deacons.

Studying marriage
Resolution A050, authorizing a task force to study marriage. It calls for creation of a 12-member task force to study marriage, including needs for pastoral responses by clergy for same-sex couples in states where civil marriage is legal, as well as issues “raised by changing societal and cultural norms and legal structures.”

Prayer Book
Resolution A059, revising the Holy Week readings in the Prayer Book to correspond with those in the Revised Common Lectionary;

Poverty and justice
Resolution A135, a compilation of several other resolutions that responds to issues of poverty and injustice. It commits the church over the next three years to “teaching, preaching, organizing, advocating, and building mutually transformative relationships with those who are poor to focus our hearts and the mission of our congregations and dioceses on reducing poverty and increasing economic and racial justice.” It also calls for every meeting that takes place in the church to include time for prayer and reflection “on how our work engages issues of poverty and economic and racial justice networks” in order to “cultivate mindfulness about poverty in our communities and world.” Full story.

Monitoring women, other underrepresented groups
Resolution A144, requiring the tracking of the ratio of women to men in bishop election processes, along with racial and ethnic minorities, and encouraging dioceses to strive for greater diversity in candidates.

Support for Gaza hospital
Resolution B017, calling on the church to support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza with fundraising and advocacy after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency cut its financial aid, slashing the hospital’s budget nearly in half.

Reconciliation or dissolution of an Episcopal relationship
Resolution B021, which amends the canons to provide a mechanism for addressing disagreement in the pastoral relationship between a diocese and its bishop.

Denominational Health Plan
Resolution B026, to give dioceses and parishes an additional three years to meet the requirement that they provide parity in health insurance cost-sharing between lay and clergy employees. That deadline now is extended until Dec. 31, 2015. Dioceses and parishes still must offer health insurance to employees through the Church Medical Trust by the end of 2012. It also calls the Medical Trust to continue to explore “more equitable sharing of health care premium costs.”

Access to Holy Baptism, Holy Communion
Resolution C029, affirming the Episcopal Church’s teaching that Baptism is the norm for those who wish to receive Holy Communion.

Relocating Episcopal Church Center
Resolution D016, to approve a move away from, but did not authorize the sale of, the Episcopal Church Center headquarters at 815 Second Avenue in New York. (Full story)

Establish development office
Resolution D025, establishing a Development Office for the Episcopal Church to solicit major gifts and other resources.

Pilot Student Loan Program
Resolution D049, which calls for creating a pilot student loan fund for seminarians who agree to exercise three years of ministry in under-served areas of the Episcopal Church.

Dialogue with Mormon Church
Resolution D081, directing the Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations to initiate dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the Mormon Church “for the interreligious purposes of friendship, goodwill, mutual understanding” and in anticipation of the 78th General Convention to be held in Salt Lake City in 2015.

For a full list of resolutions acted on at the 77th General Convention, click here.

– Matthew Davies is editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.

A wonderful General Convention and a misleading WSJ opinion piece

Your bishop and deputies from the Diocese of Fort Worth have just returned home from a wonderful General Convention, filled with a new sense of working together and enthusiastic about a restructuring effort aimed at creating a more efficient church intentionally focused on ministry. A time will be scheduled soon to present to the diocese a formal summary of our impressions and the actions taken at General Convention.

Several follow-up articles and videos about the Fort Worth experience of General Convention will be presented on this blog. We also will share the many reports forthcoming about General Convention from many points of view from around the church. Sadly, an opinion piece published yesterday (Friday) in the Wall Street Journal was wildly inaccurate and misleading.

Responses followed swiftly from Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona; Scott Gunn, deputy from Rhode Island; and George Conger, senior correspondent at the Church of England newspaper (which not an official publication of the Church of England).

We urge you to read the responses.

And here’s one from Taylor Burton-Edwards, a Methodist who is married to an Episcopal priest. Interesting perspective.



Updating General Convention on the run

It has been an exhaustingly busy General Convention for me. As chair of the Legislative Committee on Communications for the House of Deputies, I had to not only chair the meetings, but schedule hearings on every resolution that came to us,  sign every piece of paper related to the committee in person at the House of Deputies secretariat, and make sure I tracked each piece of legislation as it wound its way through signoffs by Program. Budget and Finance as well as by Canons and onto the floor of the House of Deputies, where I would report on each piece prior to the House voting on it.

The Communication Committee. My co-chair, Bishop Jim Waggoner, is next to me in the purple — but you probably guessed that.
Here I am, shown on the big screen in front of the House of Deputies.Makes me look a little like Big Sister, doesn’t it?

My co-chair, Jim Waggoner, the bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, was doing the same thing in the House of Bishops.

All this wouldn’t have been so tiring except that the distances between the various hotels where committee meetings and hearings were held and the Convention Center where the House of Deputies met and where other offices were were sometimes a half mile apart — and I have a broken toe.

Yes, a man dropped his computer case on my foot in Baggage Claim as we were both picking up our luggage upon arrival in Indianapolis. I taped the toe to the toes next to it, and have been limping my way through General Convention — as has Barbara Caum, the committee secretary. She dropped a knife on her foot and has five stitches in her foot. We made a fine pair, I tell you.

The deputation has worked well together, monitoring several committees and pooling the information at deputation meetings in the bishop’s suite.

Bob Hicks talks with David Madison, Fred Barber and ClayOla Gitane.

Kathleen Wells in the deputation chair. Next to her, Bob Hick looks over some of the reams of paper we deal with daily. Ley alternate Lisa Neilson is next to Bob. Clergy Alternates ClayOla Gitane and Jim Reynolds are at the table behind Kathleen.
Jim Reynolds was one of the many deputies and alternates using Ipads, tablets, and smart phones to keep track of legislation.
Deputation Chair Kathleen Wells

On Monday Former HOD Chaplain Frank Wade did a lovely tribute to Pamela Chinnis, the first female president of the House of Deputies. As photos of Dr. Chinnis flashed onto the big screen, Wade read excerpts of her memoir.

The Exhibit Hall was abuzz with booths offering books, jewelry, clothing, vestments — it is a veritable bazaar of wonderful things, including lunch time talks by people such at Bishops Gene Robinson and Steve Charleston.

Gene Robinson speaking in Exhibit Hall.
Steve Charleston visits with a visitor to the booth where he was signing books.
The books booths are the most tempting.
Some booths were for organizations, others offered art and/or clothing.
You could also watch artists at work. This calligrapher created pieces to order.
And there were clothes.
Service dog Kimo was by far the cutest thing in the entire Exhibit Hall.
Lots of liturgical items.
Booth for the Archives of The Episcopal Church.
Courtland Moore visiting General Convention Exhibit Hall.

And often you round a corner in the Exhibit Hall and run into an old friend from home!

We elected Gay Jennings as the new President of the House of Deputies on the first ballot. Gay will be a good and steady leader, just as has Bonnie Anderson.

Gay Jennings addresses the House of Deputies after her election as president.
The bishops came to the House of Deputies for a joint session on the budget.
The gallery of the House of Deputies was standing room only for the debate on approving trial liturgies for same sex blessings.

Interest was high and the gallery was packed as the House of Deputies debated a resolution on the trial use of same sex blessing. After a very respectful debate, the measure passed by a healthy margin. The entire Fort Worth deputation voted yes.



A countervailing voice

This is a thoughtful response to the prevailing sentiment expressed at the hearings at the Committee on Structure about restructuring the church. At the hearing almost everyone who spoke called for a special convention or a special commission to consider restructuring the church around proposals that call for shrinking the House of  Deputies and making General Convention smaller.

Thomas Jackson offers another view, one hardly heard at the hearing:

Please feel free to offer comments to this or any other post.

The first legislative day

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

We are in Indianapolis, after all, and yesterday, Secretary Gregory Straub celebrated that fact with one of his more, hmmmm, striking sports coats.

Today the House of Deputies organized itself and opened for business. On this, our first legislative day, we met for an hour in the morning to elect a vice president — The Very Rev. Scott Kirby of Eau Claire — and other officers necessary for the running of a meeting the size of the House of Deputies. We then notified the House of Bishops that we had done so, and they did the same to us.

We then adjourned for worship, which meant 800 deputies, nearly 100 bishops, ECW delegates and God only knows how many alternates, volunteers, spouses, and guests began moving from the Convention to the third floor of the JW Marriott (the hotel where the Fort Worth deputation is staying). It was a tsunami of Episcopalians flowing across the skybridges and up the escalators in such numbers that alarms began going off on the moving stairs.

The worship space is a large hotel ballroom, with all that implies about bland decor, but the Indianapolis diocesan altar guild had tried try to turn it into sacred space.

But it was the music and the comforting familiar words of worship that did their usual job of  bringing this already-tired, somewhat heat-frazzled mass of Episcopalians into the quiet calm place where holiness lives.

The sound of a thousand-plus Episcopalians singing in harmony, accompanied by organ, horns and choir was enough to stop hotel employees in their tracks, pulling groups of them to gather outside to listen.

The ancient dance of Communion was well choreographed, with ushers moving enormously long lines of people to the several stations for bread and wine, feeding all in a remarkably small period of time. Through it all, the sound of trumpets and a euphonium soared overhead, the sound moving through the room along with the people.

And then we were blessed and sent out to do the work we are given to do, refreshed in soul if not in body.

So it was off to committee meetings, then a lunch on the run, more committee meetings, and then back into legislative session. The HOD moved swiftly and efficiently through several resolutions, among other things hearing from several members of the Official Youth Presence about restoring funding for the Episcopal Youth Event.

I was asked to take part in the Daily News Briefing with clerical deputy Ruth Myers from the Diocese of Chicago and Bishop Edward Little of the Diocese of Northern Indiana. We each briefly addressed the media and then took questions. It was pretty low-key, given that Convention has barely started.

But stay tuned. Things will be revving up soon.

Diocese of Fort Worth Deputation

FW deputies and alternates and staff
The Diocese of Fort Worth’s deputation and alternates along with Demi Prentiss, ministry developer and administrator. L-R – Victoria Prescott, David Madison, Fred Barber, Demi Prentiss, Bob Hicks, Brent Walker (rear), Katie Sherrod, (front), Susan Slaughter, Norm Snyder and Kathleen Wells. Not pictured are Amy Haynie, ClayOla Gitane, Jim Reynolds, Lisa Neilson, and Bishop Wallis Ohl.   Also not pictured are the Episcopal Church Women delegates to the Triennial — Sandy Shockley, Lynne Minor, Jackie Meeks and Cynthia Hill.



Diocese of Fort Worth Goes to General Convention

It happens every three years. It’s a combination of family reunion, tent revival, legislation session, county fair, liturgical fashion show, and giant sing-along. It’s General Convention and the bishop and deputies from the Diocese of Fort Worth will be there. What’s more, the whole diocese is invited to come along — well, at least virtually.

The 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is July 5 through July 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana. General Convention is the governing body of our church.

Registration begins Wednesday, July 4, and legislative committees begin their work that morning. The first legislative session is at 8 a.m. Thursday, July 5.

Several people from the Diocese of Fort Worth will be attending General Convention. Below you will find who they are, what they will be doing, and how you can stay connected to them and to the news from Indianapolis.


The Fort Worth deputation is led by Bishop Wallis Ohl. Lay deputies are Deputation Chair Kathleen Wells (Trinity FW), Victoria Prescott (ECPC), Katie Sherrod (St. Lukes’s FW) and Bob Hicks (St. Christopher FW). Clerical deputies are David Madison (All Saints, FW), Susan Slaughter (St. Luke’s, FW), Fred Barber (retired) and Amy Heynie (St. Martin, Keller).  First lay alternate is Lisa Neilson (St. Martin, Keller) and fIrst clerical alternate is ClayOla Gitane (ECPC).

Delegates to the Triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church Women are Sandy Shockley, Jackie Meeks, Lynne Minor and Cynthia Hill.

Ministry Developer and Administrative Officer Demi Prentiss also is attending. Lay alternates Norm Snyder (Good Shepherd, Granbury) and Brent Walker (St. Stephen’s, Wichita Falls) are paying their own way to attend.


Bishop Ohl will be attending legislative sessions of the House of Bishop. The Deputies will attend legislative sessions in the House of Deputies.(The two houses will meet in joint session on the July 10 for the presentation of the budget). The ECW delegates will be attending daily sessions of the Triennial. During the Sunday, July 8, worship service, they will participate in the UTO Ingathering.

Much of the business of General Convention in done in legislative committees and our deputation will be playing a role in several of them. Bishop Ohl is vice chair of the Constitution Committee, and Chancellor Kathleen Wells is a member of that committee. Deputy Katie Sherrod is the chair of the Communication Committee, and Deputy David Madison is on the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget & Finance.

Every resolution submitted to Convention is referred to one of the several committees or commissions. An open hearing is held on every resolution, and members of the Fort Worth deputation will be monitoring as many of the committees as they can and reporting back to the whole deputation each day.

Eucharist will be celebrated everyday day at 8:30 am Central, except the final day (July 12) when it will be celebrated at 10:30 am Central. Each day, Eucharist and the sermons will center on an important figure from Holy Women Holy Men, a listing of saints who are commemorated in the calendar of the Episcopal Church.

General Convention worship services will be featured live on the Media Hub athttp://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/gc2012/

There are many other events held in conjunction  with General Convention — seminaries have banquets, various church-related organizations have events (films, tributes, dinners, breakfasts, etc) and various ministries have gatherings. The Exhibits Hall is enormous and is always filled with interesting and enticing goods and information.


Diocesan website: Episcopaldiocesefortworth. org – This will be the place where you can get connected to everything else we will be doing, or you can go directly to any of the other places we will be posting content. See below.

General Convention blog: FortWorth.GoesTo.EpiscopalGeneralConvention.org This will be our primary publishing vehicle while in Indy. You can visit it, or subscribe to it to receive updates. Feel free to ask questions and add comments.

Social media: Follow breaking news and engage in the conversation on

Facebook (www.facebook.com/DioFW),

Twitter (twitter.com/DioFW or follow hashtag #GC77)

Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/blog/diofw general for diocese or http://diofw-gc2012.tumblr.com/  for diocese at General Convention)

YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/DioFortWorth)

Pinterest (pinterest.com/diofw/episcopal-general-convention-2012/)

We also will be posting content on a site set up by the Diocese of Maine that will feature 3-minute video updates — http://indy300.net/

The Media Hub presented by the Office of Communication of The Episcopal Church. Will include Episcopal News Service reports, videos, blogging, Twitter feeds, photo galleries, live webcasting, legislation tracking and commentary. The Media Hub will be available July 1 at   http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/gc2012/  

Policy wonks can see every resolution filed at Scott Gunn’s blog Seven Whole Days

http://www.sevenwholedays.org/2012/06/22/resolutions2012/ Scott will be blogging daily during convention.

The General Convention website http://www.generalconvention.org/ run by the General Convention Office, provides no subscription content, but you can get information on legislative committees, download the Blue Book and schedules, and track the progress of resolutions as they move through committees and onto the floor of the House of Bishops or House of Deputies. Tracking will become available July 5, the first legislative day.