General Convention 2022
The Covid-abbreviated, Covid-shrunken, and Covid-delayed 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church—the Church’s ultimate decision-making body—gathered in early July in Baltimore.
Before the pandemic intervened, it was to have been held a year earlier, over two entire weeks, and with a total of 10,000 attending in one capacity or another. This year, the whole thing was over within four days between July 8 and July 11, and the numbers attending were greatly reduced, with all but active bishops, deputies, two alternates, and essential staff and volunteers being politely but firmly asked to stay home. No visitors visited, no exhibitors exhibited, no affiliated events took place, and there was no public worship. The originally-expected 10,000 were reduced to 1,200, all of whom were asked to test themselves for Covid each morning before venturing forth from their hotel rooms (only a handful tested positive).
Because of the abbreviated schedule, legislative committee work, rather than taking place at the Convention itself, was carried out online and in public via livestream in the months leading up to the physical gathering in early July. The general consensus appears to be that this was a good thing. Online committee meetings meant that anyone interested in the work of a committee could easily follow it online. Some also felt that the shorter future Conventions that they might enable would allow a wider range of lay people—including those who cannot afford to take two weeks to attend—to put themselves forward for consideration as delegates.
Proposed Changes in What “The Book of Common Prayer” Will Mean
Currently, Article X of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church allows General Convention to revise all or some of the existing Book of Common Prayer but does not provide for the addition of new liturgies that are not already in the current book.
This year, General Convention took the first step towards changing this, so that (if the resolution in question, A059, is duly passed on a second reading at the 81st General Convention in 2024) the Book of Common Prayer will in future be “understood to be those liturgical forms and other texts authorized by the General Convention.” The effect of this would be that General Convention would in future be able to authorize entirely new liturgies (such as same-sex marriage rites), whether or not they are changing or replacing existing ones, as part of the Book of Common Prayer so that they “shall be in use in all the Dioceses of this Church.” Two members of our diocese, the Rt. Rev. Mary D. Glasspool (Bishop Assistant) and the Rev. Matthew H. Mead (rector of the Parish of Christ the Redeemer, Pelham) served on the Task Force on Liturgical & Prayer Book Revision, which proposed this resolution.
Diocese of Puerto Rico Transfers to Province II
General Convention approved the transfer of the Diocese of Puerto Rico from Province IX to Province II, in which it joins the dioceses in New York and New Jersey, the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, and the Dioceses of Cuba, Haiti, and the Virgin Islands.
“We in Province II are happy to welcome Puerto Rico, and we hope that this General Convention will adopt this resolution,” New York deputy Yvonne O’Neal said. She called Puerto Rico a “dynamic, missionary and evangelizing diocese.”
Training Modules on Slavery and Reparations to Be Created
Convention approved a resolution proposed by the Diocese of New York calling for the creation of “training modules on the topic of slavery and reparations, for use by the whole Church in the training of children and adults as they are prepared for the sacrament of Confirmation” and allocating up to $35,000 to do so.
Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice to Be Established Addressing Systemic Racism in the Church
The Convention passed “A Resolution Extending and Furthering the Beloved Community” (Resolution A125) to establish a church-wide coalition for racial equity and justice to coordinate work in support of “racial justice and equity and the dismantling of white supremacyinside and outside the Church.
Facing Up to the Episcopal Church’s Complicity in Indigenous Boarding Schools
General Convention set aside $2.5 million over the next two years (Resolution A127) to investigate the Episcopal Church’s complicity in the disgraced federal Indigenous boarding school system, in which over a period of 150 years native American children were actively and passively mistreated on a heinous scale.
Reaffirmation of Commitment to Reproductive Rights
Convention passed Resolution D083 “affirming that all Episcopalians should be able to access abortion services and birth control with no restriction on movement, autonomy, type, or timing.”
For Episcopal News Service reporting of General Convention, please visit https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/tag/general-convention-2022/.
For video from General Convention, please visit the General Convention media hub at https://media.episcopalchurch.org/video/.
For a list of all 431 resolutions brought before General Convention, and their status, please see the General Convention Virtual Binder at https://www.vbinder.net/resolutions .