Debriefing General Convention

by

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

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.

Dislike (0)
29 Responses to "Debriefing General Convention"
  1. The GC website lists concurrence on the amended form of D016, and IIRC ["if I recall correctly", ed.] the Deputies did approve that changed language...:

    Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That it is the will of this Convention to move the Church Center headquarters away from the Church Center building at 815 2nd Avenue, New York City.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  2. (Whinging follows.)

    I, for one, need an Idiot's Guide to the language.

    1. What's the difference between "accept" and "concur".

    2. What's the difference between "reject" and "not concur".

    Is someone willing to give a mini-civics lesson the paths that resolutions follow at General Convention. I have the feeling of being excluded from understanding what happened because I don't exactly know what "the House of ___ concurring" means as in concurring with who? With whom is plain enough, I suppose, and required in a parliamentary sense I presume. But the language does stand in the way of your average Joe understanding what his GC did.

    For example, is there any reason they begin in one house and not the other? What happens after a house passes a resolution -- it moves to the other house (right?) but will that house necessarily get to it? And how do we know the state of those resolutions still up in the air at the close of General Convention? How do I determine which ones passed at least one house, which passed both houses but in different forms, etc.

    Is it fair to say that there is still some dust to settle? Or is it accurate, instead, to say the link Jim gave to the GC website is final and not subject to further revision (barring errors that might be discovered)?

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  3. John, I can help with some of that. Each legislative committee has a "house of initial action," meaning the house its legislation goes to first. There are probably, in some cases, good reasons that a certain committee reports out first to Bishops rather than Deputies, but I don't know what those are, and to some extent, I think they just divide things up to keep legislation flowing.

    You "concur' if the other house has already passed the legislation. It may be that you "approve" if you are the initial house, but I am not sure about that. Likewise, it may be that you "reject" if you get the legislation first, but vote "not [to] concur" if the legislation passed the house of initial action, but you still don't care for it.

    What confuses me is whether, the word that follows the phrase "action is to" on this page http://www.generalconvention.org/gc/resolutions indicates in every case the action that was actually taken, or whether it sometimes describes the action that was recommended by the committee that brought the legislation to the floor the final time.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  4. A ha! Word comes from Christopher Barajas via Twitter that the status of resolutions on the General Convention website is not final. Thanks, Christopher.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  5. I'd also like to know if there is any follow up to the resolutions that passed. I recently took a course by Jay Johnson at CDSP on Same Sex Blessings. I am wondering if there will be follow up at the diocesan level as to how this is working out at the parish level. Is it being accepted or not? Is it being put into place or not? So is there a committee that follows up on these types of things?

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  6. Carole, I am pretty sure that while in some cases there are reasons for assigning the work of some legislative committees to the House of Bishops and others to the House of Deputies, in general, it is just important to spread the work around. You can't put one house in the position of having to wait on the other for every single resolution.

    Also, I believe this balances power as well as promoting efficiency. Getting first crack at a piece is legislation is usually---if not always--considered advantageous .

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  7. Does anyone know if the GOEs were funded? As a COM person, it's important to me. Thanks

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  8. I know that ministry legislation always goes to Bishops first -

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  9. Most committees meet as cognate committees - Bishops and Deputies together - for hearings and discussion - so there is not much advantage -- sometimes the bishops want to hear what the deputies do before they take a crack at it. The resolutions are perfected in committee with both having input. The committees vote separately so that they are ready as soon as the other house acts. Of course then they go to the originating House for more debate and possible amendments. Then have to come back to the other house committee. It used to be the committees of each House met separately - so took much longer.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  10. Jesse, I think it means that both houses agreed to discharge the resolution--to take no action. I don't remember the debate, but once the major structure resolution passed, many resolutions became somewhat superfluous. I don't know if this was one of them.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  11. Jesse, "Concur - discharge" means that one of the Houses has voted to "discharge" legislation ... get rid of it - and the other agrees to that decision.

    Discharges happen when, for instance, the Committee on Structure had 45 resolutions that called for restructuring the Church, almost all of them exactly the same (from Bishop Sauls' proposal). All of those resolutions were discharged because C095 was sent through as a "substitute" resolution, because the original C095 was nowhere to be seen anymore.

    Make sense?

    Lauren R. Stanley

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  12. What Lauren says -- the reason they hang on to resolutions until it has been settled is that the non-originating house can take up legislation after a certain number of days has passed. It was how B033 got into the mix after we had said no to it 3 times. The substance has to be enough different though or the house has to agree to take it up.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  13. Thanks, this is helpful. Does anyone remember what happened to A148 on studying theological education? That was a concur - discharge one. Did it get swept up in the restructuring resolution?

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  14. A148 indeed was discharged. It might have been swept into something on education, but not necessarily restructuring. Although that doesn't mean it can't come up with the Task Force. I'll see if I can figure out what Education Committee did with it.

    Lauren R. Stanley

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  15. So if the GC website says "concur" on D 003, regarding weapons free zones, it passed, correct?

    So our deputy will probably "accept" this decision and switch churches when he's working, if not permanently. Just because the ban isn't mandatory, doesn't mean those it affects won't consider themselves unwelcome.

    Chris Harwood

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  16. Chris, we are trying to figure out whether the resolution passed in the form you see on the website. If it did, as you see, it "requests" something of individual congregations and work places, which can either accede to that request or not. If the deputy's congregation makes use of the flexibility that the resolution provides, I am not sure why he would consider himself unwelcome.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  17. Jim and Chris H: As I also noted at the earlier reference to D003, I am mistaken. The amendment was moved, but when I check my notes it appears that in fact the amendment failed (probably because this was a concurrence with the House of Bishops, and any amendment would have meant that nothing was passed - no time for it to return to Bishops). In Bishops the words "calls for" were changed to "requests;" but not the change I had focused on. I apologize.

    Marshall Scott

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  18. Certain categories of resolutions always start in one House and not another. For example, the Budget and related funding issues always start in Deputies. Ministry and liturgical issues always start in Bishops. Otherwise, they start wherever the Presiding Officers (Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies) agree they should start.

    Also, re:Discharge. There are two other common reasons that matters are recommended for Discharge. They are that the matter was addressed in an action in a previous Convention; or that it was addressed in another action in the current convention. So, for example, a number of matters were discharged after they had been functionally addressed when the Budget was passed.

    Marshall Scott

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  19. Chris: I would suggest the Vestry of your congregation take up the issue of guns in church, possibly even having a congregational conversation with your friend as one of the presenters, and specifically exempt law enforcement personnel from any firearms ban.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  20. 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.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  21. 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

    http://www.generalconvention.org/gc/gc2009

    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."

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  22. 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

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  23. 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.

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)
  24. 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

    Like (0)
    Dislike (0)