From The Rector…
The 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church was filled with prayer, work, and even a little play time. Though much shorter than a typical General Convention (GC)—which lasts about twelve days—and a little less than desirable as we did not have the opportunity to engage in the networking and relationship building that comes with convention, it was still an inspired and Spirit filled endeavor that found its heartbeat in the stories of Episcopalians across a broad spectrum of what it means to be the church.
We began each morning with prayer—either in the form of Eucharistic Prayer or Morning Prayer. Due to Covid restrictions we were not able to worship with our bishops, so we worshiped as a House of Deputies. I will admit, worship felt somewhat lessened by this necessity though, as we only had 24 Covid cases reported over the course of convention, I think the extra precautions served us well. Our worship not only set the tone for each day, it filled us with a sense of hope and purpose—defining our work and the work of the church in redemptive and meaningful ways. We heard from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings, the Right Reverend Eugene Sutton, bishop of Maryland, and the President-Elect Julia Harris speak to the many positive and life-giving initiatives of the church as well as a rallying call to realize the hopes and dreams of our indigenous brothers and sisters and all those who live on the margin of society. If there was any particular “theme” of the convention, it was the call to remember those who are the “least” among us.
Our work reflected that as well. Though condensed to only four days, we did a marathon of work in that time frame. After adopting our special rules of order, the first piece of legislation that the deputies dealt with was A226, Honoring St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the Victims of June 16, 2022. The resolution was a prayer and call to the church to lament—in sorrow and in joy—the actions of that evening. The entire deputation of Alabama stood on the platform to propose and speak to the resolution. You can find that here. After lunch, the Alabama deputation was invited to the House of Bishops were we again stood upon the platform as Bishop G spoke to the resolution and its intent as well as our future in standing against gun violence. Both houses stood in solidarity with us—a powerful and moving moment in the church. It seems that Alabama set the tone of the convention, as the deputies heard witness after witness testify to the pain and the hope of their own experience as persons of color, as indigenous persons, as LGBTQI persons, and as women who’s reproductive rights and health concerns feel threatened. It was a powerful convention.
We celebrated a little as well. The Diocese of North Texas was reunited with the Diocese of Texas after many years in which they have fought to hold their properties and other Episcopal appropriations following the split in 2008. We elected two women of color as President and Vice President of the House of Deputies—a first. We endorsed the work of young people in convention and throughout the church—including and empowering them as members of the present church. We passed a budget focused on the continuation of our work as an inclusive and loving denomination for all people. Finally, we were welcomed by the Diocese of Kentucky with a rousing cry for volunteers at our 2024 convention which will be held in Louisville (and treated with a few Jack Daniel miniatures).
We played a little too; checking out the sites of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, eating lots of crab at great restaurants, even going to Camden Yards to take in a baseball game. The Alabama deputation networked—strengthening friendships of old and making a few new ones as time allowed—in fulfillment of the call as the mission of the church, partnering with God and one another to build the peaceable kingdom.
In all the 80th General Convention informed the church, offered her purpose and direction, and challenged us to be the living, loving people of God we are called to be. It was an honor and a joy to get to represent this diocese—especially since I am a “church nerd.”
Light and Life,