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  • Writer's pictureRev. CJ Meaders

Taking Care of Business: On the Floor at Gen Con

Three full days of Gen Con and we are in the groove. Some of us start early with registration and credentials, opening at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. our time), and some have Legislative Committee meetings starting at the same time. The rest of us start with morning worship at 9, and then we make our way to the floor of the House of Deputies. 

Houses United

The morning session have been “Joint Sessions” with both Houses in attendance, which means we all get to hang out together, deputies and Bishops. These sessions include presentations from ministries like Episcopal Relief and Development, nominating committees, and Episcopal Church Women.

On Sunday morning during our Joint Session, we heard opening remarks from the President of the House of Deputies and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. These remarks reported on the short two years since the last Gen Con in Baltimore, and they looked forward to the next full triennia ahead of us. You can read my blog on Bishop Curry's inspiring remarks here.

During Monday morning's Joint Session, we heard a presentation from the Joint Budget Committee, which presented the budget of The Episcopal Church for the next triennia and fielded many question on how the budget reflects the mission and priorities of the church. The debate on the budget highlight the priorities of the house with deputies advocating for more funding for our shared ministries like Creation Care, Beloved Community, and more. With 800 eyes on the same document, there were also some clerical errors found.

On Tuesday morning, we heard a presentation from the Joint Nominating Committee for the Presiding Bishop. That presentation included information about the search process and the formal introduction of each candidate to the floor. The candidates for the next PB include: THE RT. REV. J. SCOTT BARKER, Diocese of Nebraska, Province VI; THE RT. REV. DANIEL G. P. GUTIÉRREZ, Diocese of Pennsylvania, Province III; THE RT. REV. SEAN ROWE

Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, Province III, Diocese of Western New York, Province II; THE RT. REV. ROBERT WRIGHT Diocese of Atlanta, Province IV; THE RT. REV. DEDE DUNCAN-PROBE, Diocese of Central New York, Province II. The vote for PB will take place in the House of Bishops Wednesday, June 26.

The Nitty Gritty

The afternoons have been given to Legislative Sessions. During this time, we take on the calendar of resolutions introduce to Gen Con. These sessions include, in the House of Deputies includes 415 clergy deputies, 415 lay deputies representing 109 diocese of the Episcopal Church.

The first legislative session occurred after Sunday afternoon. During that session, the main goal was to set up work together. The majority of resolutions came from the committee on Rules of Order. Much of our time was spent debating on how to debate, but the resolution that took most of our time regarded the Consent Calendar

The Consent Calendar contains resolutions which have been referred to Gen Con with a specific action (adopt, amend, withdraw, etc.) and allows for a batch of resolutions to be adopted by the house all in one. The benefit of the Consent Calendar is manage our time effectively and quickly move through those resolutions to which the gathered body is likely to consent. The challenge of the Consent Calendar is the opposite, discerning what needs time on the floor. The resolution that took the most time in our first session addressed just that, getting things off the Consent Calendar. The House rejected resolution A151 change the way resolutions can be removed from the calendar. During our first session, we also adopted two resolutions from the committee on Social Justice and US policy: one supporting clean water in Hawaii and one identifying gun violence as a public health crisis (a matter just addressed by the US Surgeon General). 

Stanchions decorated by each diocese

On the second day of legislations, we took another bite out of our Legislative Calendar. It was a lesson in a patience as we learned how long it can take for a resolution to be fully debated and amended multiple times. In the end, our session went past the scheduled time, and but we were able to adopt a host of resolutions including one on Mental Health Awareness which would create a Mental Health Sunday for optional observance each year. In addition, a resolution to reduce the amount each diocese gives to the national church failed because the house could not reconcile the potential loss of funding for ministry initiatives in the national church with the potential opportunity to free up more money for each diocese.  

The definite highlight of the third day of legislation was the incorporation of the Navajoland as a missionary diocese of the Episcopal church. The House heard testimonials from deputies from the newly formed diocese, telling the story of their unique blend of their indigenous tradition with that of the Episcopal church. The House also re-elected Julia Ayala Harris as it's president, and some of the resolutions adopted on the third day included: Title IV changes to the disciplinary canons of the church, cautioning censorship, and options for the site of the 83rd Gen Con.

Before I go, I want to make sure everyone has the ability to access any resolutions and the actions taken on it by this Gen Con. That information can be found in the Daily Journal of the virtual binder.

Thanks for reading, y’all!


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