By Katy Dickinson, June 19, 2015

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The first General Convention of the Episcopal Church was held in 1785, 230 years ago. The 78th GC will start next week in Salt Lake City. I was elected in 2014 to join the GC Deputation from the Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR). Despite being a lifelong Episcopalian, I have never been to General Convention (GC) before: I am looking forward to going!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am an annual delegate and roadie for the ECR diocesan convention, usually held in Salinas, California. Last year, I felt called to volunteer two weeks of my time to attend the 78th GC.   Since 2010 when I started four years of Education for Ministry (EfM) studies, I have become more aware of the larger church outside of my own diocese. I want see how GC works, connect with like-minded folks in my church outside of Central California, and contribute my understanding and experience to the GC discussions as I can.

Most of the discussions this past year among the ECR Deputation members have been about the serious issues to be considered by this legislative body that meets every three years, especially:

  • Restructuring Church governance to enhance mission and ministry (TREC)
  • Marriage equality
  • Care of creation and social justice
  • Election of the next Presiding Bishop to a 9 year term

We have diligently studied and summarized the reports of the 22 Legislative Committees (I wrote the summary on “Social Justice and International Policy”):

01 – Dispatch of Business 02 – Certification of Minutes 03 – Rules of Order 04 – Constitution and Canons
05 – Governance and Structure 06 – World Mission 07 – Social Justice and International Policy 08 – Social Justice and United States Policy
09 – Congregational Vitality 10 – Evangelism and Communications 11 – Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music 12 – Formation & Education for Ministry
13 – Church Pension Fund 14 – Stewardship and Development 15 – Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations 16 – Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation
17 – Privilege and Courtesy 18 – Credentials 19 – Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop 20 – Special Legislative Committee on Marriage
21 – Program, Budget and Finance 22 – Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse . .

However, from the number of invitations I have gotten in recent months to dinners and receptions, I have learned that GC is not just a legislative body, it is also a meeting place for far flung associations, schools, and church interest groups to connect with alumni, supporters, and potential participants. So far, I have accepted invitations to attend our own ECR diocesan dinner, the University of the South dinner, and the reception for Education for Ministry (for which I am an Accredited Mentor). I am sure I will participate in other events as well.

In addition to invitations from organizations to which I have a direct connection, I have received a wide variety of emails about GC events and upcoming discussions.  Here are two – one serious and one humorous – that caught my eye:

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Any convention that can accommodate both the Lent Madness sillies as well as serious theological lobbyists is going to be very interesting indeed.