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Debriefing General Convention

Debriefing General Convention

There is a great deal of misinformation circulating about what the Episcopal Church did at its just completed General Convention. Maybe the editors and the community here at Episcopal Cafe can help set a few records straight for our readers. Or maybe we can point you at someone who can. If you’ve got questions about what the convention did or didn’t do, pose them in the comments, and we will do our best to answer them.

You will find numerous answers at the General Convention website, although the convention office is still in the process of creating a list of which resolutions passed, and in what form. (Update per Christopher Barajas.)

A few preemptive points:

The convention did not pass legislation calling for the sale of the Church Center at 815 Second Avenue. The House of Deputies passed such legislation, but the House of Bishops did not. The bishops instead called for the church to move into new headquarters, and the deputies concurred. Note that there is no deadline for this move.

The convention did not pass legislation banning guns from Episcopal churches. The convention may have passed legislation that “requests” that Episcopal facilities “declare” themselves either Gun Free Zones, or violence free zones, but our collective memory isn’t clear on whether both the Houses of Deputies and Bishops passed the same language.

The convention did not pass legislation advancing the cause of those who favor permitting people to receive Communion before they are baptized. The House of Deputies passed a resolution containing one resolve recognizing the need for “pastoral sensitivity” in this matter. The House of Bishops struck that clause. The Deputies then approved the bishops’ version of the legislation, which, in effect, reaffirms the ecclesial status quo.

Who wants to ask questions, offer information, or rewrite the paragraph just above this one which is correct on the big question of whether we moved toward Communion without Baptism, but may be lacking in nuance.


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Chris H.

If you spend every weekend in a uniform which requires a gun, it still ends up to the same thing, really. He and the other airmen,border patrol, and lawmen in a uniform which requires a weapon can’t attend without breaking the rules. Provided there is an exemption, some will take it and some will say they don’t feel comfortable breaking the rules, exemption or not.

In the end I guess it really depends on which language was in the passed resolution and each individual’s reaction.

The church may lose a few members, it might even gain a few.

Chris Harwood

Ann Fontaine

When a gun is your identity — as in “they don’t want my gun so they don’t want me” – there is serious projection going on.

Chris H.

Assuming the resolution passed makes it clear that the church government as a whole does not want people with guns present. The deputy knows this and even if a special exemption were put in place, he knows that by being there in uniform he is disobeying the wishes of the church leaders. People join or leave churches, organizations and all kinds of things because of “climate and atmosphere” as unofficial/unspoken rules are sometimes called here. So why would it surprise you that the deputy, knowing the church doesn’t want guns, feels it doesn’t want him and therefore leaves to find a warmer climate?

Chris Harwood

John B. Chilton

Thank you all for taking the time to help me better understand the language and process.

It’s good, too, to be reminded that wading through the resolutions isn’t the last way the church presents what happened. I look forward to the summary of action to be posted, and appreciate that this summary of action cannot be produced overnight.

The Summary of Action from the 76th General Convention (2009) can be found here

along with much more from the 76th.

AND it contains this:

Each Resolution has received one of these designations:

• Concurred: The Resolution was adopted by both Houses and has become an Act of Convention.

• Concurred, No Funding: The Resolution was concurred, but the requested funding was not included in the adopted budget for the triennium.

• Adopted through the Budget: The Resolution was partially or fully funded in the adopted budget (D067) for the triennium.

• Adopted by the House of Bishops or the House of Deputies: The Resolution did not require joint action.

• Consent to the Election of a Bishop: The Resolution received consent from a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and was adopted by the House of Deputies.

• Referred to a CCAB: The Resolution has been referred to a Committee, Commission, Agency or Board (CCAB) of General Convention to study and review before the next General Convention.

• Discharged: One of the Houses voted to discontinue any further consideration of the Resolution by a legislative committee.

• Rejected: One of the Houses voted on the Resolution and it did not prevail.

• Not Completed: The Resolution was acted upon by at least one House, but it did not complete the entire legislative process before Convention adjourned. The Resolution did not become an Act of Convention and is considered rejected, although convention gave me authority to refer these Resolutions to the Executive Council or to a CCAB.

• No Action: A legislative committee did not report the Resolution to the floor of either House.

AND I should hasten to add that the summary does not claim to be the final word. That’s left to the Journal (for the 76th GC you’ll find its Journal at the link above). Here’s the way summary puts it: (again this is from 2009, put it tells you the process) “The summary will give you a sense of what we accomplished. … We are preparing the Journal of the 76th General Convention as well as the updated Constitution and Canons. These will be the final and official documents of the General Convention. Currently, the final language, as well as the final status of each Resolution, is being reviewed by the General Convention Office and the Archives of The Episcopal Church.”

Ann Fontaine

Read Donald Schell’s essay on Daily Episcopalian about Guns.

What I saw transpire on this legislation is that it came up in the House of Deputies and was amended to encourage violence free zones in churches – I am not sure it got back to the House of Bishops for agreement so may have died. The idea of discussing violence in American culture and our responses to violence as a church would be one way to move the conversation.

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