Several key items were finished at General Convention (GC) today in both houses.
The main action really started with Eucharist. Worship has been very good at GC and today was no exception. The Presider was Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic and the preacher was The Rev Colin Mathewson from St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego. With Latin American music that had attendees dancing in the aisles before, during and after the service.
The first major piece of legislation taken up by the House of Deputies (HoD) was the budget. Yesterday there was a special joint session to present the budget and to answer questions. During that joint session there was a palpable sense of disappointment around PB&F’s reduction in funding for evangelism and church planting as presented. So it was not a surprise to see an amendment offered to restore some of that funding, which after some debate was passed handily (571 to 257). The amendment asked for an additional 1/2% draw on funds to add nearly $3 million. A second amendment was also offered to move $150,000 from the Development Office to fund work on Stewardship. The final vote on the budget was 799 to 24 in favor
The rest of the day was a full one, with amendments covering a range of issues, such as
The HoD agreed to a resolution that would allow for the altering of church records (ie; baptismal records) for Trans persons,
Approved the study of a Unicameral GC as well as a change to Canons to allow the Houses to sit in joint session to legislate
Asked the Church Medical Trust to reevaluate the church health insurance plan in light of the ACA and to investigate wide disparities in cost across the nation
Passed a resolution urging divestment from fossil fuels (though without any actual mandates, just suggestions)
And passed a resolution to begin the process of Prayer Book revision
It was a significant day in House of Bishops as well, but in a different manner.
The bishops also took up the budget. The first voices to speak up were critical of the amendments made in the HoD and sought to undo them. COO Stacy Sauls was amongst those expressing a desire to husband resources and not expend the additional monies for funding growth for the future. After some contentious debate (well, by the standards of the HoB’s anyway) other voices began to speak up in favor of taking bold, risky actions. Bp Doyle of Texas tood in favor, quoting former PB John Hines that we should be willing to give up all our treasure for Christ. In the end, the budget passed easily.
The bishops also spent a lot of time in reflection on yesterday’s actions in favor of marriage equality. A group of more conservative bishops, calling themselves the Communion Partners offered a minority report expressing their commitment to the Episcopal Church but also their commitment to maintain the moratoria of the Windsor Report.
This report prompted the issuance of a response, Communion Across Difference that expressed the love and appreciation of the House for the Communion Partner bishops and those who aligned with them; acknowledging the difficulty of holding the minority view.
Tomorrow is the closing day of General Convention, but there are still plenty of resolutions yet to be acted upon – stay tuned.