The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South


General Convention 2012, July 11

Bishops with a Sewanee relationship pose for a picture during the House of Bishops open session.

"The times, they are a changing."

Who could have predicted that the hot topic of the 77th General Convention would be the restructuring of the Church? To everyone’s amazement yesterday, the House of Deputies unanimously passed a far-reaching resolution to reimagine the Church. When the deputies called out their “yes” votes, the was an audible gasp that no one voiced a “nay" vote. Not a single deputy! When the house realized the magnitude of their vote, they broke into spontaneous applause. This resolution marks a major change in the future direction of the Episcopal Church. Read more about this resolution.

The Rev. Kammy Young, Director of Field Education, wrote this for her home diocese. “The Holy Spirit is at work in the world and the church, even now, I promise! I saw it, I felt it, I shared in it listening to the silence of no opposition to the proposal of the Committee on Structure's plans for reimaging God's church.  As Debby Melynk sat beside us, after working so hard with so many others to catch the movement of the Spirit in that resolution, I knew I was witnessing a holy awe on her face and hearing the angels sing along with the songs of praise from the peoples of 112 dioceses from all over the world..."

The general mood at the convention remains positive and conciliatory, despite the fact that some deputations are at odds on several of the resolutions being debated. Several bishops are thinking creatively and sharing their ideas for how to restructure the general conventions as well as the Church. With all of this positive and productive discussion, one has great hopes to the vitality of the Church for years to come.

Today holds many more opportunities in the two houses to experience this awe of the Spirit!

Legislative Recaps

Speaking of change, the House of Deputies passed a resolution to generate a shared vision of theological education and formation for ordained ministry and to explore and develop exemplary models for forming candidates and assessing their competency and proficiency for ordination. I am not sure what will become of this resolution as it moves to the House of Bishops today, but it was encouraging to see so many paying attention to the issue of theological education.

In a vote by orders, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops to pass Resolution A049, which authorizes provisional use of the rite “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” starting Dec. 2 (the first Sunday of Advent). Clergy will need the permission of their bishop under the terms of the resolution. Read more.

The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance July 10 proposed a budget for the Episcopal Church in the 2013-2015 triennium that its chair called “a good budget for the church.” The 2013-2015 triennial budget is balanced at $111,516,032, compared to $111,808,350 for current triennium and comes with a very small surplus of $30,000. The proposed budget is available here.

The House of Bishops concurred with the deputies July 10 to affirm their commitment to building relationships across the Anglican Communion, especially through the Continuing Indaba program, and to decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant. Read more.

Gay Jennings Elected President of the House of Deputies

The Rev. Gay Jennings left the staff of CREDO, a wellness program of the Church Pension Fund, in June, 2012. She just completed a six-year term on the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council and is co-chair of the General Convention’s Committee on Structure. She also is the clergy member of the Episcopal Church’s delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion’s main policy-making body, which next meets this fall in Auckland, New Zealand. The election for Vice-President will take place tomorrow, July 11, and by decree must be a lay deputy.

“I am honored to have been chosen by my colleagues, grateful to all across the church that have expressed confidence in me,” stated Jennings at the press conference following her election.

Jennings continued, “This is my eighth time as a deputy to General Convention. I stood for president to work with Church leaders to change the business of the church. To remain relevant we have to move into that future together. I will do my best to foster leadership of young people, the marginalized, and people of color. I will work in collaboration with Presiding Bishop and other bishops to bring wholeness, reconciliation, and justice to the benefit of the church.”

Jennings articulated her vision for future: Foster and develop young leaders, restructure of the church, improve relationships between two houses, continue to hold up the ministry of the laity as well as the ordained clergy deputies, and work on several social justice issues, particularly children at risk.