Often, much of the attention at General Conventions of the Episcopal Church focuses on the critical issues that are discussed and voted upon on the floor of the convention. However, even more work is done in behind the scenes by talented committees who review legislation and make edits and recommendations, combining similar resolutions and deciding how to move things forward. Much of their work, especially this year in our shortened convention time, go to the consent calendar, which allows dozens and even hundreds of resolutions to be passed with a single vote. Unfortunately, unless you really dig, you probably won’t get to hear about them. It’s time to change that.
Yesterday, during Day 2 of the 80th General Convention in Baltimore, we focused much of our time elections. We now have a new President of the House—who will lead the work of the convention in the coming years. We elected a new board for the Church Pension Fund, Executive Council Members, and more.
Quietly in the background on these past few days, though, we did important work in terms of interfaith dialogue, liturgy, LGBTQ inclusion, social justice and more. Many of these consent calendar items were written or reviewed by members of the deputation of the Diocese of California who in some way impacted through writing, editing or speaking to 250 of the more than 400 pieces of legislation considered at this convention.
The DIoCal Deputation put forward a resolution that will require that all deputations undertake anti-racism and racial reconciliation training prior to each General Convention. In addition, our deputation with Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge shone a light on the realities of transgender people in our church. One piece of legislation directs the church center to develop, in multiple languages, resources that help us welcome and support people and communities of diverse genders. We also adopted language to affirm non-binary people as well as binary transgender and cisgender people are included in “gender identity and expression,” and that the Canons of the Episcopal Church apply to everyone.
At this convention, we have also done excellent work on increasing communication and communication through the other branches of the Jesus movement. As of this convention, we are now in full communion with the Church of Sweden that will pave the way to shared work in the world. We are also working toward similar understanding with the United Methodist Church.
Anyone planning liturgy for their parish or community will be glad to hear that we have agreed that www.episcopalcommonprayer.org is the official website that contains all the authorized liturgies in digital and printed forms. We also are working to address the way we use language in liturgy. As part of that effort we adopted The Guidelines for Expansive and Inclusive Language that provides explicit advice and direction on how to apply the principles of language that ensures that the broadest possible number of people are included. We will also work on address antisemitic, anti-jewish or supersessionist interpretations of our lectionary. Our Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will also develop a liturgy to respond pastorally to the mass shootings that are plaguing our world.
The work of the convention extends itself into our world. In fact, in the consent calendar GC80 affirmed that “social justice advocacy is a primary ministry of the Church.” The list of secular issues further addressed in our consent calendar included medical debt, mass incarceration, climate change, health equity and public health, immigration, free speech, military assistance and the war in the Ukraine.
If you want to read more about any of the resolutions that were discussed, you can find detailed information here.