By Katy Dickinson, June 19, 2015
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:
Any convention that can accommodate both the Lent Madness sillies as well as serious theological lobbyists is going to be very interesting indeed.