July 14, 2018
Morning prayers in the House of Deputies
House of Deputies Chaplain Lester Mackenzie, priest-in-charge of St. Mary's Church, Laguna Beach -- visible on the big screen -- leads the house through prayers before they begin a legislative session. Mackenzie, who grew up in South Africa, made use of his drumming and vocal skills, engaging the deputies in an African call-and-response that meant "I see you." "I see you too." (At one point in a session, President Gay Jennings belatedly saw a deputy at a microphone, and apologized for almost passing him over. "I see you," she said. "I see you too," the deputy replied.)
Convention concludes as both
houses complete all resolutions, approve carefully crafted
compromise on marriage equality

Everyone seemed a bit astonished when the House of Deputies concluded its business before lunch on July 13, and the House of Bishops' afternoon session lasted only about 20 minutes. Deputies and bishops proceeded with dispatch through their remaining resolutions, may of which were courtesies, including thanks to members of the staff, the volunteers, the Diocese of Texas for its hospitality and more.

Early in its Friday morning session the House of Deputies approved the final version of Resolution B012, which will allow all Episcopalians to be married by their own priests in their own congregations by making provisions in dioceses where bishops do not support the marriage of same-sex couples.

The Rev. Susan Russell, Los Angeles deputy and longtime leader in the effort for full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church, described the “long and winding road” that the Episcopal Church had traveled to get to this point. She said she supported B012 “recognizing that this is a hard-won compromise but one which I believe will lead us forward into that work as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.” (An ENS article on the vote is here.)

Perhaps the most contentious issue at the triennial meeting was the Episcopal Church's response to Israel and Palestine. The House of Deputies generally favored actions critical of Israel's relationship to the Palestinians; the bishops were more cautious. Of the 15 resolutions submitted on Israel-Palestine going into General Convention, only six passed both houses, though the successful resolutions still touch on a range of issues, including the plight of Palestinian children, the status of Jerusalem, the disproportionate use of lethal force on both sides, and ways the Episcopal Church can press for peace through its investment decisions. (An ENS article, from which some of the above reporting is drawn, is here.)

The convention also approved Resolution A065, which provides for the development of a new version of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, which will incorporate A Great Cloud of Witnesses, itself a revision of Holy Women, Holy Men, which in turn was a revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. (Got that?)

Lesser Feasts and Fasts is a collection of proper collects, lessons and psalms for the Eucharist on each of the weekdays of Lent, weekdays of Easter season and each of the lesser feasts of the church year. It is used in addition to the major feasts and saints included in the Book of Common Prayer.

The convention took special care to make sure that commemorations were made permanent for Justice Thurgood Marshall, faithful Episcopalian and first African American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court; the Rev. Pauli Murray, the first African American woman ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church; and the Rev. Li-Tim Oi, the first woman to be ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion (in 1944, more than 30 years before women's ordination was approved in The Episcopal Church.)

A number of other topics, including the "Me Too" movement, evangelism, racial reconciliation, and various actions on church governance were also considered. See below for articles on these resolutions; the texts may be read in full in the "Virtual Binder," the online resource that was used by bishops and deputies throughout the convention. It may be found here.

Most of the resources listed below under "Keeping up with General Convention" will continue to be available online for viewing or reading on demand.

Photo / Susan Russell

I am grateful to many people for supplying information and photos for these reports. Chief among my sources are the deputies of the Diocese of Los Angeles, who answered questions, texted info and snapped photos on the floor during sessions. Bishop John Harvey Taylor is a sterling reporter and photographer, and contributed many images as well as insight. Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce's Facebook posts were full of interesting information and pictures. Bob Williams, diocesan canon for Common Life, and the Rev. Canon Joanna Satorius, canon for Formation and Transition Ministry, also contributed to these pages.

Thanks also to the intrepid writers and editors of Episcopal News Service, led by Managing Editor Lynette Wilson and the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, senior writer and editor. They are champions all. Many other members of the press corps - many of them fellow members of Episcopal Communicators, our professional organization - were generous in sharing photos and information.

Thanks to our readers for taking this journey with The Episcopal News..

Leaving y'all in Austin. See you back in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Janet Kawamoto
The Episcopal News
Stories from Episcopal News Service
ENS has a team of reporters covering every aspect of General Convention. Following are links to some of their articles: more are here. (Click on the headlines to read the articles.)

Deputies dotted the last i and crossed the last t on July 13 with a historic resolution giving all Episcopalians the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches.

The 79th General Convention wrapped up its consideration of resolutions relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on July 13, with mixed results due largely to the House of Bishops’ unwillingness to take many of the bolder steps urged by the House of Deputies.

It was a long and winding road, but the 79th General Convention has committed to revising “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” and the entire sanctoral calendar with the adoption of resolution A065.

It never inspired the fiery passion of the debates on marriage or Israel-Palestine. It never threatened to upset the Episcopal Church’s status quo like the debates on prayer book revision.

Three 20th century figures are now a permanent part of the Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints. Thurgood Marshall on May 17, Pauli Murray on July 2 and Florence Li Tim-Oi on Jan. 24 “are already very widely commemorated within the Episcopal Church,” the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music told the 79th General Convention in proposing the three’s permanence.

The 79th General Convention House of Deputies called for a task force to assist the presiding bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development in its work to assist dioceses in the discernment, nomination, search, election and transition processes for bishops.

The voices and stories of women played a significant role in the workings of the 79th General Convention, from a liturgy where bishops offered laments and confession for the church’s role in sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, to Resolution D087 that allows deputies to bring infant children on the floor of the House of Deputies to feed them.

Efforts that began in 2015 with action by General Convention, when racial reconciliation was identified as a priority of the Episcopal Church, is bearing fruit in work done during the 79th General Convention.

On July 11, the evening of the so-called “after-dark legislative sessions,” the House of Bishops voted on Resolution A218, which called for the 79th General Convention to approve a working version of the Book of Occasional Services 2018, containing specific services that have been updated by the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music during this past triennium, and tweaked by the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music at this convention.

Over the next three years, dioceses will have an opportunity to review the province they are currently in and explore whether they wish to become affiliated with a different province.

Much happens each day during General Convention. To complement its primary coverage, Episcopal News Service has collected some additional news items from July 13.

The 79th General Convention took steps during its triennium meeting to provide support for clergy and lay leadership development in small congregations.

The bird has been the word for 10 days here and, as the 79th General Convention prepares to fly the coop, its human avatars can now be revealed, ending countless days of speculation.
Keeping up with General Convention

This is communication central for the convention. It includes links to livestream and on-demand video of various events, including worship and the July 7 revival.

Daily broadcasts in English and Spanish, anchored by the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija.

News, commentary features and Twitter.

News of the Episcopal Church Women meeting concurrently with General Convention.

For true church nerds: this is the information used by bishops and deputies as they go about their work at the convention, including texts and progress of all resolutions. It is updated regularly.

You can follow social media updates from General Convention by following and posting with the hashtag #GC79 and, for the July 12 evening session, #gc79afterdark.