July 7, 2018
This version of the July 7 edition corrects an error concerning Nancy Frausto's current parish. The News regrets the error.
The Diocese of Los Angeles in Austin
Part of the Los Angeles contingent at General Convention gathered on July 6 after the afternoon legislative session for a photos. Included are the two bishops, eight deputies, two alternate deputies, delegates to the ECW Triennial, and staff members, almost all of them clad in blue polo shirts embroidered with the Feeding Hungry Hearts logo that reflects Bishop John Taylor's theme for his episcopate.
L.A. priest Nancy Frausto addresses General Convention
joint session on racial reconciliation
The Rev. Nancy Frausto -- native of Zacatecas, Mexico, assistant priest at St. Luke's Church, Long Beach, and a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) beneficiary, addressed a joint session of General Convention on Racial Reconciliation July 6.

"Yes, I am a Dreamer," she said, as the audience cheered and applauded. " And what that means is that I crossed the border illegally. I ran through the darkness of the mountaintops. I hid from border patrol. It was terrifying. What kept us going was the idea of being united with my father. For my family to be together. "Imagine a seven-year-old girl hiding under the bushes, pulling in her leg so that the patrol car that was going by wouldn’t run over it.
" I remember every single moment of that night," Frausto continued. "Recently it has been coming up even more when I close my eyes, because I cannot imagine being that seven-year-old girl and being completely separated from my parents, put in cages, and then to have to go defend myself alone in a court. That is happening here, that is happening right now."

But the plight of refugee and immigrant children has wider implications, Frausto continued. The church must also care about missing indigenous girls, transgender women of color, and LGBTQ Ugandan refugees in Nairobi. "This is not just about dreamers," she said. "This is not just about DACA. This is not just about little kids in cages. This is about the fact that this society has been contaminated with apathy."

To reverse course, she said, the church must work toward being a beloved community, and to do that, it will have to work toward racial reconciliation. "To get there," she said, "you have to talk about truth.

It is about the entire system, she said. "If we truly care about the dreamers, then we must care about the parents – the original dreamers -- and the children in the camps today, and the black boys and girls in the neighborhoods, and all those who are marginalized.

Frausto invoked the biblical story of Jesus and Lazarus. "Jesus said to the people, 'Unbind him. Let him go,' she said. "Imagine us, as the body of Christ, unbinding this country, unbinding our church from the bondage of racism. Imagine us unbinding and letting life come forth. We have a lot of work to do. … We do need to love one another. As you leave General Convention make sure you do the work tell the truth and unbind this country.”

Frausto's presentation was preceded by talks from Arno Michaelis, a reformed former leader of a worldwide racist skinhead organization; Austin poet Charles Dawain Stephens, aka Chucky Black; and Catherine Meeks, director of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing, located in Atlanta, Georgia.

In a Facebook Live conversation sponsored by Episcopal Divinity School at Union, Dean Kelly Brown Douglas, the Rev. Canon Eric Law, and Bishop Jeff Fisher discussed the #GC79 joint session on racial reconciliation and where the church can go from here. Click here for video.

An ENS story about the joint session is here. Video of select portions of the presentations is here. Photo / Mary Frances Schjonberg, ENS
The listening session also involved table discussions reflecting on the major presentations. Here the Los Angeles deputation discusses the points made by the speakers. Photo / John Harvey Taylor
Around the convention
In the exhibit hall, Bishop John Harvey Taylor encountered a couple of Los Angeles clergy; the Rev. Canon Jamie Hammons, who is among a group of deacons serving at General Convention worship services; and the Rev. Ada Nagata, who is on assignment fostering Chinese ministries in the Diocese of New York. Photo / John Harvey Taylor
In addition to his duties as deputy and role as chaplain to the House of Deputies, the Rev. Lester Mackenzie was tapped July 6 as one of two presenters at the daily media briefing, along with Bishop Suffragan Gayle Harris of the Diocese of Massachusetts. Mackenzie said that he found the reconciliation session deeply moving. "What a holy moment when stories of pain and real experiences were brought to the light, brought out. What a holy moment to be in that space."
Clergy couple Nick Griffith and Yein Kim attend a Eucharist at General Convention. Griffith is rector of Christ Church, Redondo Beach. Kim is associate at St. Athanasius' Church in Echo Park, at the Cathedral Center. Photo / John Harvey Taylor
Ashley Graham-Wilcox, a former staff member at Camp Stevens, staffs the booth for Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers, for which she is now communication director.
Diocese of Los Angeles expats
Plenty of people around the convention have ties to the Diocese of Los Angeles, although many now minister in other places.
The Rev. Canon Gary Commins, former rector of St. Luke's Church, Long Beach, encounters Bishop Taylor at the convention. Commins now serves as priest-in-charge of Church of the Incarnation, Jersey City, in the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey. He spoke at a July 6 committee hearing on Episcopal Church reaction to the Israel-Palestine conflict, reflecting on the imbalance of power in that situation.
Former Diocese of Los Angeles treasurer the Rev. Kirby Smith, who also served at St. Luke's of-the-Mountains Church, La Crescenta, and his husband, vestment maker Cliff Chally, staff Chally's booth in the exhibit hall. Smith is now treasurer of the Diocese of San Diego. Chally continues to make elegant vestments for clergy and churches of many dioceses including Los Angeles.
See all those black dots? They're bats
Austin Bat Festival
Austin's South Congress Bridge crosses that portion of the Colorado River known locally as Lady Bird Lake. When Austin renovated the bridge in 1980, it wasn't planning to create an ideal habitat for bats, but when construction was finished, the creatures moved in, finding dark places to sleep during the day and emerging en masse every evening at dusk. From March through November, between 7 and 8 p.m., about one and a half million Mexico free-tailed bats make a long trail in the sky that continues for a quarter hour or so.

The nightly flight has become a major attraction for locals and tourists, who turn out by the hundreds every night to watch, standing on the bridge itself (below) or going out on the lake in a flotilla of boats, canoes and kayaks.

The bats aren't just putting on a show -- they're eating an estimated 20 - 30 thousand pounds of insects every night, including moths, crickets, grasshoppers and mosquitoes, all of which are plentiful in the area. More about the bats and their nightly flight is here.
Reporting and photos, except as noted, by Janet Kawamoto
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.)

One of the unique offerings at this triennium’s General Convention are TEConversations (The Episcopal Church Conversations), which are being held during three joint sessions of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies over the coming week. Each conversation offers multiple speakers, video presentations and engaging interludes around three priorities of this gathering: racial reconciliation, evangelism and care of creation. Speakers represent international leaders, well-known Episcopalians, and rising voices in the Church.

Dozens of people representing a broad range of interreligious voices testified July 6 at a joint hearing on resolutions related to Episcopal Church policy toward Israel and Palestine, a contentious issue at past General Conventions that this year was discussed openly and, for the most part, cordially.

The House of Bishops on July 6 agreed to a plan to pay the president of the House of Deputies for the work of the office. The bishops approved Resolution B014 on a voice vote with some voting no. There is no dollar figure attached to the resolution, which would pay the president director’s and officer’s fees “for specific services rendered in order to fulfill duties required by the church’s Constitution and Canons.”

Turns out there is no mechanism for the Episcopal Church to admit an existing diocese into its structure without making a change to its constitution: a change that requires approval by two successive conventions.

Diocese of Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen continued July 6 to call critical attention to what he said was a lack of complete access to translation and interpretation services during General Convention. His two points of personal privilege in the House of Bishops prompted Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to appoint a small committee to identify “specifically the issues and concerns that are being raised both short-term and long-term,” and how they can be addressed and by whom.

The United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church awarded 34 grants for a total of $1,257,778.17 for the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The announcement was made during the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, meeting July 5 – July 13 in Austin, TX (Diocese of Texas).

How does social justice fit into the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church? This the question a proposed resolution presented during the 79th General Convention would seek to understand. 

More than a half-dozen speakers appeared before the Ministry Committee on July 6 to voice their support for a resolution that would eventually lead to scholarship funding for individuals pursuing the ministry in order to serve small congregations as clergy and deacons.

Much happens each day during General Convention. To complement Episcopal News Service’s primary coverage, ENS has collected some additional news items from July 6.

A proposed resolution to increase the amount of data required on parochial reports faced skeptical legislative committee members on July 5 who expressed concerns that the changes might place too much additional burden on congregations.

An evening hearing July 5 on church planting, while primarily centered around a General Convention resolution with a multimillion-dollar price tag, addressed financials only in passing while generating more discussion on aspirations for evangelism and the future of the church.

The Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) held the first of two planned open hearings the evening of July 5 to hear from Episcopalians asking that the committee help fund their ministries.
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 the July 5 opening Eucharist, at which Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was celebrant and preacher.

Daily broadcasts in English and Spanish, anchored by the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija. The broadcast for July 4 features interviews with Presiding Bishop Curry and House of Deputies President Gay Jennings.

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. ENS is maintaining a feed that pulls in Tweets and Instagram photos: visit ENS here for daily reports.