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General Convention Begins in a Month

General Convention Begins in a Month

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church begins its triennial meeting in Austin, Texas on July 3, 2018. This is the 79th General Convention and the second to be held in Texas. 

The 1955 General Convention was slated to be held in Houston, Texas but was moved to Honolulu, Hawaii because of discriminatory public accommodation laws in Texas. The 1970 General Convention was held in Houston and the Diocese of Texas will again host the triennial meeting forty-eight years later.

The selection of Austin as the site for the 2018 General Convention intersected with secular politics in Texas in the summer of 2017. On July 20, 2017, the Texas Tribune reported:

“As the Texas Senate prepares to consider legislation to restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans in legislative overtime, the national Episcopal Church is renewing its opposition to such proposals.

Citing the ’emotional and spiritual damage that discrimination does to transgender people,’ top leaders of the national church — Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies — in a letter to House Speaker Joe Straus urged the speaker to remain “steadfast” in his opposition to any bathroom bill. 

‘As the presiding officers of the Episcopal Church, we are firmly opposed to ‘bathroom bills’ and particularly reject the idea that women and children are protected by them,’ the two high officials wrote. ‘As clergy who remember racist Jim Crow bathroom laws that purported to protect white people, we know the kind of hatred and fear that discriminatory laws can perpetuate.'”

The Texas Tribune article quotes Curry and Jennings further:

“Because we are currently scheduled to hold our triennial General Convention — a nine-day event that includes as many as 10,000 people — in Austin in July 2018, we are paying especially close attention to the news emerging from your special session.”

During that special legislative session in 2017, Speaker Straus (Republican – Bexar County), did not permit the “bathroom bill” to come before the floor of the state legislature and the legislation was effectively killed. 

A number of resources are available to the public in preparation for this General Convention. The Blue Book contains all the reports to General Convention from its various committees, commissions, and interim governing bodies.

The schedule of the triennial meeting has also been published. Highlighting the nine-day meeting is the worship service on Saturday, July 7 at the Palmer Center on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake in Austin featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as the preacher.

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