BY MARY FRANCES SCHJONBERG
[Episcopal News Service – Baltimore, Maryland] The 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is one for the history books, and not just for the decisions made but also for how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way the church conducted its business.
The July 8-11 gathering – postponed a year because of COVID-19 and shortened from eight days – conducted what Presiding Bishop Michael Curry had referred to during the planning process as “matters essential for the governance and good order of the church.” Still, 412 resolutions were filed for consideration.
Legislative committees acted online most of the resolutions before gathering in Baltimore. That cleared the way for the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to devote the in-person gathering only to legislative floor sessions. They passed most of the resolutions in batches through consent calendars. Bishops and deputies had floor debates only on more controversial measures or on actions that they wanted to raise to greater prominence.
Among those essential actions, the bishops and deputies passed a $100.5 million budget for the next biennium (the 81st General Convention is scheduled for the summer of 2024), approved the first reading of a constitutional change to clearly define the Book of Common Prayer, continued the church’s commitment to reckoning with it history of racism, elected Julia Ayala Harris to succeed the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings as House of Deputies president and the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton as vice president, and agreed to the reunification of two dioceses in Texas.
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