What is General Convention?

General Convention is the highest governing body of The Episcopal Church, meeting every three years and made up of the Church’s bishops and elected lay and clergy deputies from each diocese.

The 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is July 5 – 13, in downtown Austin, Texas at the Austin Convention Center.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is the bicameral (two-chambered) governing body of our church. It comprises the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies. The news site for the House of Deputies is houseofdeputies.org.

The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) triennial meeting convenes in the same location July 5 – 11. The General Convention website has attendee information, calendars and schedules.

How does General Convention work?

A good overview is in this this illustrated 20-page PDF booklet created in 2015.

Our bishops and deputies pray, worship, and take counsel together through a legislative process. The legislative process begins when resolutions are proposed by authorized committees, commissions, and task forces that meet between sessions of General Convention, and also by deputies, bishops, dioceses and provinces of our church.

View this infographic about resolutions as a PDF.

What types of legislation is there, and how do people track it?

Legislation falls into some general categories, often lumped by the types of committees and task forces that work on them throughout the year:

  • Liturgy & Music (Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal revisions, musical resources, regularization, gendered language, marriage task force, trial use liturgies, translations for Chinese and Spanish use)
  • Evangelism (bi-vocational clergy, formation, small church leadership, mission strategy, racial reconciliation, useful metrics)
  • Care of Creation (climate change, environmental justice, water, energy policy)
  • International issues (Haiti, Cuba, Palestine/Israel, refugees and migration, nationalism)
  • Social justice (gender wage equity, transgender dignity, racial justice, immigration, voting rights, DACA/Dreamers, deportations, sanctuary cities, addictions)
  • Church governance and structure (provinces, interim bodies strategy, funding, Constitution and Canons, Title IV- Safeguarding, Church Pension Fund, stewardship).

That’s a lot of legislation to track! Starting in 2015, the bishops and deputies transitioned from paper Blue Book binders to a Virtual Binder utilizing an iPad Tablet.

Diocese of Newark deputies, from left, the Rev. Joseph Harmon and the Rev. John Mennell show off the loaner iPads assigned to all deputies and bishops for the Salt Lake City meeting of General Convention in 2015. They contain a “Virtual Binder,” which electronically replaces most of convention’s until then-traditional paper systems. Photo: Nina Nicholson/Diocese of Newark

This Virtual Binder is also available online for anyone to see, with legislation updated in real time as it moves through legislative committees and through the floors of House of Deputies and House of Bishops.

You can see exactly what the bishops and deputies are seeing on their iPads. The Virtual Binder is also accessible through your browser or through a mobile app.

The General Convention mobile app runs on EventMobi. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Through your browser on any device, navigate to eventmobi.com/79gc/, or install the EventMobi app and enter code 79gc when prompted.