Next week the gavels will sound in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops to open General Convention 2018 in Austin, Texas. For the 79th time, we begin the process we are directed to do by our Constitution and Canons. We will carry out the business of The Episcopal Church. When the gavels sound to end the Convention on July 13, The Episcopal Church will have spoken and provided our position on a variety of topics from the somewhat mundane to the almost sublime.
Over the course of the General Convention we will pass a budget for the next three years. That budget will show where our priorities are in carrying out our work as part of The Jesus Movement. We will show where our hearts are with where we will spend our money.
During the General Convention we will process various resolutions, over 200 at last count with more to come. (Just for your information, my first convention in 1991 had over 800 resolutions on which to act. We have learned greater restraint since then!) Each resolution will be given an open hearing before the committee to which it is assigned. The committee will then vote and send it to the houses of Convention in the original form or as amended. The first house will act on the resolution and if passed it will go to the other house. If both agree on the exact same wording it will become the policy or the voice of The Episcopal Church.
The resolutions that are closest to my heart are those that concern how we treat each other as children of God, as members of this church. That includes those that address Israeli-Palestinian relationships. It also includes those that continue to address the perplexing and bedeviling issue of racism that still permeates our church and our society. The ugly head of racism has raised itself to a higher profile over the last few years.
And of course we will consider resolutions that would at long last make all the sacraments available to all of our people. Will we leave Austin with the ability to get married in our church no matter in which diocese we live? Will those who live in the eight dioceses where bishops refuse to allow same-sex marriages to take place finally be able to get married in the parishes where they worship and serve God? Will those who live in various parishes in other dioceses where rectors also refuse to allow same-sex marriages be able to be treated as full members of their parishes as well? I pray to God we will at last be able to insure that all are treated equally in The Episcopal Church when it comes to marriage.
You can follow the activities of General Convention by going to www.generalconvention.org. There you will find all you ever wanted to know and maybe more than you wanted to know! You can follow Integrity at General Convention by going to http://www.integrityusa.org/general-convention-resources.
I continue to wonder if we will we have the moral courage to speak up and speak out on behalf of all who are marginalized and oppressed for whatever reason? Will we have the strength of conviction to take actions to change our ways? Will we make an effort to respect the dignity of every human being regardless of how that human being should be respected?
Like most legislative processes, a resolution begins one way and may come out looking completely different. We can still contact our deputies to General Convention and influence the outcome. We can contact our bishop(s). We can remind them of our common vow to respect the dignity of every human being whether it is about marriage equality or refugee treatment or racism or any of the myriad of ways we can think of to mistreat each other. We can let them hear our stories about how not having our dignity respected looks like in this our household of faith.
Please continue to pray daily for the General Convention of our church and all who make
decisions that affect us.
Before General Convention begins, we have a way to demonstrate our respect for every human being through participating in a “Families Belong Together” rally on Saturday June 30. Here's the link to find an event near you. I hope you will attend.