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August 5, 2018: Highlights of the 2018 General Convention

by Heidi Rasciner

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention is a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Deputies, with more than 800 members (up to four clergy and four lay deputies elected by each Diocese), and the House of Bishops, with over 300 active and retired bishops. It meets once every three years, and has the authority to adopt legislation; amend the Book of Common Prayer and authorize other liturgical texts; amend the Constitution and Canons of the Church; adopt a triennial budget; and elect candidates to offices, boards and other committees. To get an idea of the scope of its work, take a look at the “Blue Book,” over 1,000 pages of collected reports and proposed legislation.

The 2018 Convention took place last month in Austin, Texas, and was packed with activity, including committee meetings and hearings, legislative sessions, and regular worship services. There was a huge exhibit hall offering food, church supplies, religious publications, fair trade items, and information about Episcopal seminaries and organizations. There were also opportunities for mission, ministry and fellowship; special events this year included an event sponsored by Bishops Against Gun Violence, and Prayers for Justice, Witness, and Presence at the Hutto Immigration Detainment Facility just outside Austin. I wasn’t there this year, but have attended past Conventions as a volunteer, and followed this one via news updates from Episcopal News Service and social media updates from friends and family who were there.

Some of the resolutions approved this year will:

  • Authorize full access to trial-use marriage rites for same-sex couples, even in a Diocese where the Bishop “does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples”;
  • Authorize a new plan for liturgical and prayer book revision, including the creation of new liturgical texts, translations, and electronic formats, while continuing the use of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (an alternate plan would have had a revised prayer book ready for trial use in 2024);
  • Readmit the Episcopal Church of Cuba as a Diocese, and call on congregations to consider ways we can be in partnership with the Diocese of Cuba (we have already begun this at All Souls; contact Wynsor Taylor if you’re interested in taking part);
  • Create a Task Force on the Theology of Social Justice Advocacy as Christian Justice; and
  • Organize a Beloved Community Summit: Igniting the Church to be Bold Agents for Racial Healing, Racial Justice, and Reconciliation, which will bring together leaders working on these issues and likely take place next year.

For all the details on these and more, check out https://www.generalconvention.org.  

Last Published: August 2, 2018 10:12 AM
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