Over the next 10 or so days, I will be in Austin, Texas for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. You might be asking “What on EARTH is that?”. Great question! This little blog post is here to briefly explain what it is, why its important and define some terms and vocabulary.
What is it?: The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is the legislative body of the Episcopal Church. It meets every three years to pray, worship together and make decisions on behalf of the whole of the church. Lay and clergy elected representatives from each Diocese are sent and gather as the House of Deputies (kind of like the House of Representatives), and then the Bishops gather as the House of Bishops (sort of like the Senate). It is a bicameral legislature that should remind you of the general set up of the United States Legislative branch! Fun Fact: It is the largest legislative body in the world when it gathers!
Why is this important?: Other than being REALLY EXCITING that the church takes the time to be together every three years, The General Convention is the Church’s highest temporal authority. This is where and how we make important and effective decisions. The legislative process of General Convention is an expression of The Episcopal Church’s belief that, under God, the Church is ordered and governed by its people: laity, deacons, priests, and bishops.
What is a Deputy?: A deputy is a layperson or clergy (Deacon or Preist) who was elected by their home Diocese to represent and make decisions on behalf of the whole. I am one of these.
Who is Josh attending with?: I am attending The General Convention as deputized by my home Diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. There are 4 deputies, and 3 alternates (fill-ins, if we cant make it to a voting session for some reason), and our Bishop!
What is going to be discussed at this year’s Convention?: There are a LOT of things we will discuss, debate and vote on. This includes the budget for the next three years (triennium) and other practical organizational matters. Some areas of my personal interest (in no particular order) include:
- Addressing The Book of Common Prayer and liturgies (Revision or major adjustments or complete overhaul)
- An Ecumenical agreement between The Episcopal Church and United Methodist Church
- Mission church plant initiatives
- Various Liturgy and Music things
- The possible unification of the two Houses (Deputies and Bishops)
- The option of changing the catechism to gender-neutral langue in our marriage teaching to include same-sex couples (and associated things)
- Things I am forgetting right now, but will care more about once I am there
What should I expect?: I will be posting pictures and updates on my Facebook and Instagram. I am told General Convention is not just all legislative but a lot of fun! I expect to explore Austin’s nightlife and FOOD. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!
I will also be vlogging the whole time, so please be on the lookout for a video every 2-3 days! This is my first time attempting such a thing, bear with me!
I am so glad you made it all the way through to the bottom of this post! I hope this will clear up some things as I adventure to and in Austin, Texas doing the work of the church, and hopefully empowering the disciple-building efforts of the church today and tomorrow!
On the Mission,