In late June, four clergy deputies and four lay deputies (and one alternate for each) will travel with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, which runs from June 25 to July 3.

Held every three years, General Convention is a nine-day gathering of clergy and laity from across The Episcopal Church to deliberate resolutions that affect nearly all aspects of the life of the church and establish or reaffirm its position on a variety of social, environmental, and political topics.

The convention is a bicameral legislative assembly, composed of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. Lay and clergy representatives are called “deputies” rather than delegates because they do not represent a specific viewpoint on a given issue or set of issues. They are not required to vote according to the wishes of the diocesan conventions from which they were elected. “Alternates” to General Convention are available in case a deputy must be absent from the deliberations of the House of Deputies.

General Convention is a rigorous and sometimes exhausting experience. Think of cramming the entire congressional legislative year into two weeks and you get some idea of how busy participants and volunteers will be. Multiple meetings of legislative committees will consider dozens of resolutions per committee. We will elect 50 people to nine different positions, confirm House of Bishops elections of 17 people — including a new Presiding Bishop — and confirm 13 people appointed by the presiding officers. These positions range from Secretary of the House of Deputies to Trustees of General Seminary to Trustees of the Church Pension Fund, to representatives to Executive Council (the Board of Directors of the church corporation, similar to our Board of Trustees). These elections, resolutions and canonical changes will guide the church through the next three years and beyond.

The next several weeks will be busy as we read the various reports of the Commissions, Committees, Agencies, and Boards (CCABs) that can be found here and as we review the resolutions submitted (available here).

We will make presentations at the June deanery meetings to answer questions and get a sense of the priorities of our wider diocese. As first alternates, Katy Dickinson and I are the “communication team” that will be blogging, posting to Facebook, and Tweeting about our experiences. Stay tuned for more updates!

– The Rev. Tom Sramek, Good Samaritan Church