July 9, 2018
Rallies against gun violence, immigrant detention draw hundreds

Officially, Sunday was a light day at General Convention -- no committee meetings, and only one legislative session -- but a large number of convention participants and local Episcopalians used their free time to turn out for a rally against gun violence and a trip to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, where many migrant women are being held. There the group protested current immigration policies that separate families and incarcerate immigrants and those seeking asylum.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence leads rally
The anti-gun violence rally, held in a park next to the convention center, featured comments from several members of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, which was formed about the time of the 2015 General Convention; Bishop John Harvey Taylor of Los Angeles joined shortly after his consecration on July 8, 2017.

Other speakers included Philip and April Schentrup, Episcopalians whose daughter Carmen was one of 17 students and educators killed at the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Philip Schentrup -- pictured above with his wife and their son, Robert, and daughter, Evelyn -- spoke of his anger, despair and challenged faith after his daughter's death. At last, he said, he had "a moment of inspired reflection"; a conviction that Carmen's death was not the will of God.

"Evil and violence happen in this world because we allow it, not because God allows it,” he said. “We suffer violence because we collectively allow it. God is waiting for us to choose to make the world he wants.”

Also among the speakers was Abigail Zimmerman (pictured above left), a ninth-grader and Episcopalian from Waco, Texas -- introduced by her bishop as "the prophet Abigail" -- who co-led a school walkout March 14 in response to the Parkland massacre. Young people, she said, have “grown up as shooting after shootings after shooting have plagued our country and we have had enough gun violence.

She drew cheers from the rally as she concluded, "“I encourage all of you to make change happen,” she said. “Educate yourself, your friends. Vote. Join organizations devoted to common sense gun legislation. Write letters. Do whatever you can to make a difference. Change must happen and it must happen now.”

An ENS account of the rally (from which portions of this report are adapted) is here.

Photo at top / Mel Soriano
'Prayer of Vision, Witness and Justice' supports rights of immigrants

Immediately after the anti-gun violence rally, bishops, deputies and many others -- an estimated 1,000 people -- boarded buses and cars for the 45-minute trip to the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, where they sang, prayed and witnessed in a demonstration against immigration policies that separate families and criminalize refugees and migrants.

Most of the Los Angeles deputation attended the "Prayer of Vision, Witness and Justice" event, including Bishop Taylor. Steven Bruce attended on behalf of his wife, Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce, who was representing the diocese at an event at the Seminary of the Southwest.

"We do not come in hatred," Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told the gathering.

“Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor,” Curry said, ticking off a list of neighbors that included liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, Independent, the neighbor one likes and the neighbor one doesn’t like, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Palestinian, Israeli, refugee, immigrant and prison guards. 

“Love your neighbor,” Curry shouted.

"Yes!" responded the crowd.

Organizers included the Rev. Winnie Varghese, director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street, and the Megan Castellan, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ithaca, New York, with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit organization that opposes the for-profit prison system, mass incarceration and deportation and criminalization of immigrants.

Deputy Kathryn Nishibayashi of the Diocese of Los Angeles noted that some of the demonstrators could see a white square moving up and down in one of the narrow windows in the prison-like center, a signal from one of the incarcerated women. "She could hear us. It was powerful," Nishibayashi wrote in a Facebook post.

According to a tweet from Grassroots Leadership, "A woman called from Hutto after today's prayer and told us they were glued to the windows until the last bus left the detention center. Women inside were crying, saying they knew they weren't alone after seeing so many people there."

Among the musicians leading songs at the event were two Diocese of Los Angeles priests: the Rev. Canon Eric Law, founder of the Kaleidoscope Institute, on guitar and vocals, and the Rev. Lester Mackenzie -- who also led songs at the anti-gun violence rally -- on drum.

An ENS story about the event is here. Photo at top / Joanna Satorius
Bishop Bruce reelected
to board of trustees of
Church Pension Fund

Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce of the Diocese of Los Angeles has been elected to a second term as a trustee of the Church Pension Fund, "a financial services organization that serves the Episcopal Church. CPF and its affiliated companies, collectively the Church Pension Group (CPG), provide retirement, health, life insurance, and related benefits for its clergy and lay employees. CPG also serves the Episcopal Church by providing property and casualty insurance as well as book and music publishing, including the official worship materials of the Episcopal Church." In other words, serving as a trustee is a vital job that affects just about everyone in the Episcopal Church. Congratulations to Bishop Bruce!

About that tiara ...
On the subject of our esteemed bishop suffragan, we have one more pièce de tiara: As The Episcopal News mentioned on July 6, on the first official day of the convention, the House of Deputies sent several of its members -- all of them named Michael -- to announce to the House of Bishops and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, that they were organized and ready for business. The bishops, when their turn came, borrowed two tiaras from Bishop Bruce (who has several), crowned two of their own, and sent them to the House of Deputies. One of the two, Bishop Audrey Scanlan of Central Pennsylvania, wrote on her Facebook page, “I only got to wear that tiara for five minutes while carrying a message from the House of Bishops over to the House of Deputies; the tiara belongs to Her Majesty, Princess-of-all -that-she surveys-from-her-seat-on-the-dais, House of Bishops Secretary Diane Jardine Bruce. She was kind enough to lend it to me for a brief moment.”
Photo / Stephen Bruce
L.A. girls join GFS presence at General Convention
At the Girls Friendly Society booth in the General Convention exhibit hall, Deacon Jamie Hammons visits with GFS members Mikayla Houston and Cat Sopko of the Diocese of New Jersey, and Alee Winley and Mikaela Sesler of the Diocese of Los Angeles. The girls have carried on a lively presence at the convention, staffing the booth, doing service projects, visiting local congregations, and assisting at the ECW Triennial. The Los Angeles contingent, which also includes Tessia Winley, is led by GFS-LA president Margaret Nolde. Photo / Margaret Nolde
Diocese of Los Angeles expats and friends
Plenty of people around the convention have ties to the Diocese of Los Angeles, although many minister in other places.
The Rev. Marilyn Mason and the Rev. Liz Habecker, both of whom served for many years in the Diocese of Los Angeles, attended the July 7 revival service. They are in Austin as delegates to the ECW Triennial from the Diocese of Rhode Island, where they are sort-of retired. Habecker is priest-in-charge of Christ Church, Cumberland because, she told a local newspaper, she's "not very good at retirement."
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.)

A thousand Episcopalians, at least two for every one female incarcerated at the Hutto Detention Center in rural Texas, stood under the blistering sun July 8 in public witness to the actions of the U.S. government in its enforcement of immigration policies that have separated families over the last couple of months and have led to roundups of migrants and deportations.

The House of Bishops on July 8 adopted a covenant that commits them to seek changes in their dioceses to combat abuse, harassment and exploitation. “The church as both community of faith and workplace is not immune to abuse, harassment and exploitation of people of varying gender, racial and cultural identities,” the bishops say in the document, which applies only to bishops, entitled “A Working Covenant for the Practice of Equity and Justice for All in The Episcopal Church.”

The triennial UTO Ingathering ceremony held at the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Austin, TX, took place on July 6. It brought in $3,738,989.47. UTO funds are granted on an annual basis to support mission across the worldwide Episcopal Church. 

The text of Andrés Gonzélez-Bonillas’ sermon from the General Convention Eucharist on July 8, 2018.

The House of Deputies reelected the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings July 8 to her third and final three-year term. Jennings faced no opposition in the election and was elected 786-26. Vice President Byron Rushing chaired the vote and the house rose to its feet in applause.

Much happens each day during General Convention. To complement Episcopal News Service’s primary coverage, we have collected some additional news items from July 8.

On the gentle slopes of Brush Square Park in downtown Austin and under the canopy of live oak trees, hundreds gathered on July 8 to hear gut-wrenching testimony from Philip and April Schentrup, Episcopalians whose daughter Carmen was one of 17 students and educators killed by a gunman at Parkland, Florida’s, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

It arrived early to the 79th General Convention and soon was swooping through the House of Deputies and strutting through the neighboring Exhibit Hall. At times it is an elegant trickster; at others it is a small scavenger. It’s the General Convention Pigeon.
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. ENS is maintaining a feed that pulls in Tweets and Instagram photos: visit ENS here for daily reports.