2020 September E-News
Update on the 80th General Convention

The ongoing pandemic has led to rapid changes in every aspect of ministry and church life. With this in mind, church leadership is diligently exploring all possibilities regarding the 80th General Convention (June 30--July 9, 2021). Every decision regarding the General Convention must be made with due care for the health of each member of the beloved community, our hosting community and diocese, and in conjunction with local and national public health mandates. Discussions have been complicated by the fact that many of our service providers (including hotel and facilities staff) have been furloughed or have lost their positions during this pandemic. We expect that an announcement about the 80th General Convention will be made this autumn.
Behind the Software of the General Convention
The General Convention Office uses several custom-built applications for our work. Many people know the groups module of the Extranet, which is used by Interim Bodies and Legislative Committees. But they may not be aware that the Extranet has much more than the group messaging and file sharing functions! It also contains contact management, group management, meeting management, bishop elections, deputy certification, and web file storage; and it is our primary database for storing a variety of data which we use daily. In addition, we have Legislative software, which includes the processing system and the virtual binder; we have software for housing, registration and onsite meetings at the General Convention; and we have two new systems launched this year: the Blue Book software, and the Executive Council legislation software. All of these are maintained by a terrific third-party team of developers and software engineers who have worked with the GCO for years. In addition, run by a different technical team, we have custom software used for the Parochial reports and the work to deal with that data; and we use commercial software alongside all our custom software. 

Software is a dynamic thing. No software is ever finished. Instead it requires regular monitoring and maintenance, security patches, and full upgrades. Our developer team also does the regular maintenance and upgrades required for our custom software. In fact, we have another behind-the-scenes upgrade coming up in October of 2020. Fortunately, our software team members are based all over the world, which makes it possible for them to do upgrades in what would be the middle of the night for us. Our custom systems will be down Saturday night October 17th through Sunday morning October 18th. This will include the Extranet and the Blue Book systems, which are used by many interim body members. This is for an upgrade of the underlying Ruby on Rails software. Our software developers have been working since early September to ensure this upgrade goes smoothly with minimal interruption. 

As you can see, the GCO is a very high-tech office. We are grateful that we have these tools. We have a good return on investment with our software, which enables us to do a great many things we could not do otherwise. The next time you login to the Extranet, view information on our website at https://generalconvention.org, look at the Virtual Binder online at https://vbinder.net, or access one of our online PDF publications at https://www.generalconvention.org/publications, remember that none of this would be possible without the custom software we run, and the work and attention applied to maintain and improve those systems. 
Blue Book Report Deadline and Resources
The deadline for Blue Book reports is December 1, 2020. Each interim body's blue book coordinator will receive separate email updates with additional resources for writing and submitting reports. These resources can also be found here.

We have a new application which should make the submission of Blue Book reports much simpler, and is now available here: https://blue-book.generalconvention.org/ To access the application, log in using the same credentials you use to access the Extranet. All reports must be submitted in the app. If you experience any difficulties, or simply have questions about the process, contact bluebook@episcopalchurch.org
Background Checks for Nominees

Joint Rule VII.21 requires background checks for all nominees to Executive Council and Church Pension Fund, as well as Secretary and Treasurer of General Convention and President and Vice President of the House of Deputies. The General Convention office is working with provinces and with the Joint Standing Committee on Nominations to facilitate these background checks.


Translation and Interpretation

A reminder to all Interim Bodies that translation and interpretation services are available for any member who needs them. We are blessed with a wonderful group of interpreters and translators who understand the traditions, policies, and specialized vocabulary of our Church. These are talented individuals who are geographically spread out and who work for a variety of other entities. In order to ensure that we are able to have someone from this group available to an Interim Body when needed, please provide as much advanced notice (at least a week for a video call) as possible. Thank you!
Interim Bodies Updates and Meeting Minutes

Even in the midst of these challenging times, Interim Bodies have been hard at work!
 
You can keep up to date with the work of all Interim Bodies on the General Convention website: https://extranet.generalconvention.org/governing_and_interim_bodies/interim_bodies.
 
Meeting minutes are public documents and posted on the “Minutes” tab under each Interim Body. These records are regularly updated by GCO staff, but they are only as good as what we receive from the secretaries of each committee. If you serve on an Interim Body, please check the page for your committee to ensure that our records are up to date. 
 
Minutes help communicate all the good work that is happening to the wider Church. They are also an important part of the official records of the work between General Conventions and are preserved each triennium in the Archives of The Episcopal Church (https://www.episcopalarchives.org/). 
The General Convention Office Staff

Want to receive GCO E-News?
Join the email list!