General Convention

#GC79 - Reflections by Ted Kimball

Written by Ted Kimball, Member of Grace Episcopal, Fort Wayne
July 13, 2018

Hey! How many committees are there at the General Convention?

Well, officially there are 26 committees. However, in reality there are 30. You see, there are four committees that have two owners, one is the HoD (House of Deputies) and the other is the HoB (House of Bishops). Since the committees are the same function, they both have the same number.  These four committees are: 01 – Rules of Order; 22 – Dispatch of Business; 23 – Certification of Minutes; 24 – Privilege and Courtesy. The full list is shown below.

01 - Rules of Order/HOB  
01 - Rules of Order/HOD
02 - Constitution and Canons
03 - Safeguarding and Title IV
04 - Governance and Structure
05 - World Mission
06 - The Episcopal Church in Cuba
07 - Social Justice and International Policy
08 - Social Justice and United States Policy
09 - Racial Justice and Reconciliation
10 - Congregational and Diocesan Vitality
11 - Evangelism and Church Planting
12 - Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music
13 - Committee to Receive the Report of Resolution A169
14 - Christian Formation and Discipleship
15 - Ministry
16 - Churchwide Leadership
17 - Church Pension Fund
18 - Stewardship & Socially Responsible Investing
19 - Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations
20 - Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation
21 – Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance
22 - Dispatch of Business/HOB
22 - Dispatch of Business/HOD
23 - Certification of Minutes/HOB
23 - Certification of Minutes/HOD
24 - Privilege and Courtesy/HOB
24 - Privilege and Courtesy/HOD
25 - Credentials
26 - House of Deputies Resolution Review Committee

I am a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F). The PB&F committee consists of 27 members. There is one Bishop and two Deputies (either clerical or lay) from each of the nine Provinces.  The Chair, Vice-Chair work very closely with the Executive Council, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and the Finance for Ministry (FFM) lead.  The Executive Council has the duty to carry out programs and policies adopted by General Convention and to oversee the ministry and mission of the Episcopal Church.

In October of the year prior to the General Convention, the PB&F committee meets with CFO, FFM, and key personnel from the TEC offices to review the draft budget for the next triennium. This meeting allows the PB&F to review the draft budget and understand its content (operating costs, program costs, etc.).  Then the following February a second meeting takes place. At this meeting, the PB&F take ownership of the draft budget. This is the starting point for the General Convention.

The PB&F meetings start two days before the legislative meetings begin (day 1 of the GC).  Money values requested in resolutions are evaluated and placed in the appropriate sections of the budget.  The is then reviewed to determine total expenses vs. total income.  At this GC, we had a deficit of approximately $15M.

The PB&F team, working in three subcommittees, analyzed the data and formulated ways to balance the overall budget.  This effort required a lot of time and effort.  The team worked very well together, always keeping the mission of the church in mind. Part of the process included hearings where deputies, bishops, and other people could tell of their specific needs for funding of projects. I was impressed with how well our hearing sessions were received. Our leaders explained we were there to “listen to your inputs and not engage in conversation”.  If conversation was necessary, the team was available after the hearings.

The budget was submitted on the 6th legislative day for translation and placement in the legislature calendar.  It was presented in a Joint Session on the 7th legislative day. It was approved without amendments in the House of Deputies on the 8th legislative day.

It takes a lot of work to get from the draft to the final balanced budget. Everyone doesn’t get everything they wanted. We kept the Jesus Movement and the mission needs in the forefront of our efforts.  I found myself rewarded by being able to work with the very talented people on the PB&S team.  Our Vice-Chair (Rt. Rev Stephen Lane) summed it up very nicely by stating: “My profound thanks for your work with the budget. We worked well together, and I think the proof of our work is the positive manner in which it was received by the church.”

#GC79 - Reflections by Bishop Ed Little

Written by Bishop Ed Little, retired Bishop of Northern Indiana
July 12, 2018

            St. Paul calls the church “the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).  I experience that biblical truth in a profound way at General Convention.  It is an enormous gathering:  nearly 900 deputies, about 120 bishops, and thousands of visitors, exhibitors, ecumenical and Anglican Communion guests, and media personnel.  Convention can be an overwhelming experience.  And yet . . . one of the great joys of General Convention is the opportunity to re-connect with friends and colleagues from around the country and around the world.  Over the course of nearly two weeks in Austin, I’ve been blessed to see so many beloved brothers and sisters who’ve touched me over the years – former parishioners, colleagues with whom I’ve served in many capacities, Facebook friends “materializing” for the first time.  Although this is my tenth General Convention, I never fail to be filled with gratitude for the people who have enriched my life, encouraged my walk with Jesus, and shown me what it means to be a disciple.  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has been a special gift throughout Convention, as he has challenged us to turn our hearts to Jesus and follow wherever Jesus leads.

            General Convention, of course, is not simply a huge family gathering.  It is a legislative body, making decisions for the future of the church.  But by definition, resolutions produce “winners” and “losers,” people who agree with what’s been decided (or rejected) and people who don’t.  There was a difference at this Convention.  Two particularly controversial topics dominated the conversation in the run-up to Convention – Prayer Book revision and same-sex marriage.  On both topics, however, what emerged was (for lack of a better phrase) a godly compromise.  Leaders across the spectrum carefully listened to one another, sought common ground, and looked for ways of crafting responses that make all of us “stretch” and that allow room for everyone.  I am enormously encouraged.   St. Paul tells his friends in Corinth, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21).  In other words, we need each other.  We are incomplete without each other.  And so, often in painful ways, we are called to reach out to one another across the differences that can so easily separate us into spiritual silos.  The 79th General Convention broke down barriers and built bridges.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

#GC79 - The Last Official Day of Convention (7/13)

It's the last day of convention!  We are all giddy to have our work complete, at least this phase of work.  We are all thrilled to return to our homes, to return to you ... our Northern Indiana families.  We thank you for your prayers and support.  We look forward to sharing our stories with you. 

AND, we look forward to not having this schedule rule our day!

2018-07-13 Schedule.jpg

For a bit of fun, check out our pigeon video.  Deputies Matthew, Brian, and Susan (with one other volunteer) were honored to entertain the House of Deputies for a few moments today.  Enjoy.

Friday's reflection from (Deputation Co-Chair) - Dean Brian Grantz

Good Morning, Team EDNIN!

On this last day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the clergy chair of our deputation has this to say: Perhaps when scheduling future General Conventions, organizers should take the Office readings appointed for the proposed dates into account. Ending on Friday the 13th with Jesus speaking of the desecrating sacrilege is a bit troubling.

In all we do, in every action and intention of our work in Convention and everywhere else in our lives, it is not necessary that we ascend into heaven to conjure Christ back among us by some perfectly worded resolution or lofty speech. Neither is it required of us to descend into the abyss to un-"earth" Jesus, repenting of our complicity in making God's incarnation necessary. No. The Word is much closer than that; on our lips and in our hearts. I read once that the sacred name of God in Hebrew (YHWH) is onomatopoeia - a word derived from the sound it makes. The sacred name of God is the sound of our breathing - breathing in, then breathing out. Genesis speaks of the ruah Elohim, the breath of God, that animated humanity when God formed us from the dust of the earth. God is as close to us and as vital to our being in every second as the air we breath.

What is required of us is faith. Faith in something as simple as our next breath, and faith in something as profound as the assurance that when we at last draw our last breath, God is, and all shall be well. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Everyone. Todas.

Thank you for your good work these two weeks. Thank you for investing yourselves in this process, in our Church, and in one another. Thank you for the witness of the faith that lives in you in so many ways.

I sign off with the words of Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows from our closing Eucharist: "Now Jesus Movement, move..."

#GC79 - Reflections by Matthew Cowden

Written by the Rev. Matthew Cowden, Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels
July 11, 2018 - Feast of St. Benedict

BCP, Budget, Benedict and Cuba

The Holy Spirit is in this. Today we authorized the beginning of a slow, intentional and locally focused process to begin adapting and experimenting with liturgies that form our common prayer. Yes, we have begun the process of revision of The Book of Common Prayer. Again I say, it will be a very slow and deeply intentional process, likely lasting ten to fifteen years. By that time it may or may not even be a book, per se, but an authorized resource. Or the BCP might be one that contains the core of our common life together. In any case, the resolution we passed in both houses creates a task force of 30 for overseeing a slow and careful process for preserving the best that has formed us, the historic rites of the Church AND for expanding to include an authentic, prayerful, outward and visible liturgy of the inward and spiritual realities revealed to us in our common life in Christ.

We also viewed a presentation on the budget of the whole church, which includes all our missions, governance, operational costs, salaries, ministries for evangelism, reconciliation and the renewed ministry of creation care. Although the budget is presented for a three year cycle (because that’s how often this legislative body meets), the annual cost for running the entire operations of the Episcopal Church is close to $45 million dollars a year. Just under half this amount is spent in supporting the mission within the Episcopal Church, and beyond, as well as the programs that lead us in the work of justice and reconciliation.

Day 7, Wednesday, was July 11, the Feast of St Benedict. The evening worship was punctuated by deep monastic silence and contemplation. The opening “hymn” was a music staff with no notes on it, just a long rest sign. And so we did.

We also rejoiced as we completed the process of voting to accept the Diocese of Cuba back into the Episcopal Church. We separated in 1966 when maintaining an official relationship with this Church put Cubans in danger of imprisonment or death. The House of Deputies voted a strong “Si!” of unanimous support. It was quite moving as they literally took their seats among us and were given seat and voice to join our deliberations.

photo credit:  Cynthia Black as shared in the House of Deputies News article  ¡Cuba Sí!

photo credit:  Cynthia Black as shared in the House of Deputies News article ¡Cuba Sí!

And what deliberations they have been. I confess, I’ve had my doubts about the legislative process that the Episcopal Church uses to make decisions on theology, worship and our common life together. It might seem odd that Robert’s Rules of Order is what we use to discern how the Holy Spirit is speaking through us. But it does work.  Perhaps it is part of our Anglican DNA that allows us to use our legislative process with some Godly intention. The word “parliament” has, as its root, the word parlay, to speak/dialogue/listen. Doing parlay in parliament is how we speak and listen to one another. This is certainly how we arrived at today’s decision to say 'yes' to BCP revision and to welcome Cuba back into our portion of the body of Christ. This actually works, and the Holy Spirit is in it.

One final word, we are starting to get weary as individuals and as a deputation. The days have been long for all of us and the need for our attention to many details of legislation or process has been intense. We eat plenty of chocolate covered espresso beans to help us stay alert (thanks to a nearby Trader Joe’s).  The restaurants are good in downtown Austin near the convention center but I think we’d be glad to have time to actually linger to enjoy a meal instead of having to rush to get back to a meeting or be too tired to linger at the end of the day. Just a couple more long days and we’ll be home. Thank you for your love and support. Keep those “likes” and “tweets” coming for your deputation from Northern Indiana.  We covet your prayers.