Friday, July 27, 2012

Summary of the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church

[An email from our Bishop, The Right Reverend Greg Rickel, addressed to the Diocese of Olympia:] 
Highlights and overview of the actions and activities of the 77th   General Convention of the  Episcopal Church, July 5- 12, 2012, Indianapolis, IN. 
Several of you have asked for a summary, or have even asked specific questions about the actions, of General Convention recently held in Indianapolis.  Below you will find the summary.  Of course, each deputy and bishop may have their own nuance on these but I do believe it to be a good, factual summary of what was finally passed.



*    We welcomed guests, visitors and ecumenical partners from throughout the Anglican Communion and the world.  The 10-day program in Indianapolis was attended by almost 850 deputies (lay and clergy) and 165 bishops, and viewed or read about online by more than 60,000 unique visitors, including videos played more than 44,000 times, via the Media Hub, Episcopal Church social media sites, Public Affairs page, and Episcopal News Service throughout the course of the convention.

*    General Convention addressed more than 450 resolutions on topics ranging from church structure and governance, to liturgies, social issues and approval of the Church budget for the next triennium, cast against the Five Marks of Mission (listed at the end). New leadership for the House of Deputies also was elected. 

*    Stories and video about General Convention can be found at and 

*    Highlights are summarized below and further information about specific resolutions can be found 

Church Structure

*    Church structure: a special task force of up to 24 representatives from all parts of the church will meet in the next two years to review reforms to structure, governance and administration. (C095) Overall, nearly 100 resolutions were presented to the Committee on Structure and, although most were similar, the Committee on Structure considered the many options offered in making the final recommendation. At this time, no decisions on changes have been made. There will be a special gathering from every diocese to hear what recommendations the task force plans to make to the 78th General Convention. The final report is due by November 2014.   

*    The numerous resolutions including asking the Standing Commission on the Structure of the Church to study the current budgeting process and matters of financial oversight (A122), and proposing an amendment to the constitution that would help dioceses that want to merge with another diocese or divide itself into two dioceses to do so without requiring sitting bishops in all dioceses involved (A102).  The House of Bishops approved a move away from, but did not authorize the sale of, the Episcopal Church Center headquarters (D016).

 Liturgy and Blessings

*    Much discussion was held, and significant national discussion ensued, on our denominational response to same-sex blessings (A049). The approved liturgy is for provisional use, meaning that the diocesan bishop has to grant approval for use in his/her diocese even in those states where same-sex marriage is legal.  The resolution is effective the first Sunday in Advent 2012 (December 2).

*    Baptism as the normative entrance into Holy Communion (C029).

*    With the bishop's permission, congregations may use the lectionary in the BCP rather than the Revised Common Lectionary (B009).

*    Other resolutions included authorizing a task force to study marriage (A050) and  new rites and prayers for pastoral responses to people caring for animals, including the death of a pet (A054). 

Budget, Pension and Development 

*    General Convention approved the $111,516,032 budget for 2013-2015. The budget is based on the Five Marks of Mission (see attached).and calls for a 19 percent asking each year of the Triennia. 

*    Bishops rejected several resolutions attempting to postpone implementation of the Episcopal Church Medical Trust. 

*    Dioceses and parishes will have an additional three years to provide parity in health insurance cost-sharing between lay and clergy employees. That deadline is extended until Dec. 31, 2015. (B026) 

*    Resolutions also passed to establish a Development Office to solicit major gifts and other resources (D025) and to create a pilot student loan fund for seminarians who agree to three years in under-served areas of the Episcopal Church (D049). 

Ecumenical Relations and Pastoral Topics 

*    Anglican Covenant: General Convention affirmed the commitment to building relationships across the Anglican Communion, especially through the Continuing Indaba program, but declined to take a position on the Anglican Covenant. 

*    The 11-year relationship of full communion with the ELCA was commended and asks the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee to address areas where Episcopal and Lutheran practices differ, especially who can preside at Holy Communion and the role of deacons (A036).  The status in the Episcopal Church of pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who had been ordained by other pastors and not by bishops also was clarified (A158).

*    The Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations was directed to initiate dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the Mormon Church in anticipation of General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City (D081).

*    Resolution A030 establishes how clergy who want to leave the Episcopal Church for another part of the Anglican Communion can do so without renouncing their Holy Orders.  Separately, canons were amended to provide a mechanism for addressing disagreements in the pastoral relationship between a diocese and its bishop (B021).

*    Several resolutions enact a series of revisions to Title IV, the clergy discipline canons, to fix some errors while maintaining the underlying principles of the canons (A033/C049).

*    A resolution was passed to develop a network of retired Episcopal executives to assist dioceses and parishes, modeled on SCORE (D066).

Government Legislation  

*    Israel-Palestine: General Convention supported a resolution on positive investment in the Palestinian territories. Bishops agreed to postpone indefinitely the conversation on corporate engagement. In addition, positive investment in the Palestinian Territories was affirmed and the church was called upon to support "the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East (B019)." 

*    The Convention urged Congress to modernize the nation's refugee resettlement program (B028). In addition, Congress was urged to halt to the Immigration and Custom Enforcement's practice of detaining people suspected of being in the country illegally without filing any charges against them (D059).  Also, Congress was urged to pass the DREAM Act (D067).

*    Congress also was called upon to repeal federal laws, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, that discriminate against same-gender couples who are legally married in the states where that is permitted (D018).

*    The U.S. government was asked to enact stricter controls on the use of carbon-based fuels (D055).

Evangelism and Mission

*    All Episcopalians are being called to be evangelists to help grow the church (D023) and a "social media challenge" calling upon every congregation to use social media in its current and future forms (D069).

*    An "HIV Welcoming Parish Initiative" effort was created to help congregations to become more engaged with people living with HIV/AIDS (A167).

*    A resolution confirmed solidarity with the poor and indigenous people who bear great burdens because of climate change, with special mention to the Inupiaqs of Kivalina, Alaska (B023). For more information on the Inupiaqs and Kivalina, visit

*    A churchwide response to bullying was passed (D022).
*    Support for the transgender community by adding gender expression and identity to two canons that prevent discrimination: the ordination discernment process is open; and guarantees equal place in the life, worship and governance of the church.

Additional details available at Episcopal News Service: 


*    The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings of Ohio was elected President of the House of Deputies. Byron Rushing of Massachusetts was elected Vice President of the House of Deputies. 

*    Executive Council elections: The House of Deputies elected seven lay and two clergy members: Lay members elected for six-year terms are: Joseph S. Ferrell of North Carolina, Anita P. George of Mississippi, Fredrica Harris Thompsett of Massachusetts, Karen Ann Longenecker of the Rio Grande, Nancy Wonderlich Koonce of Idaho, and John Johnson of Washington (DC). Lay person Elizabeth L. Anderson of Connecticut was elected for three years. Clergy members elected for six-year terms were the Rev. Susan B. Snook of Arizona and the Rev. James B. Simons of Pittsburgh.

*    Eight bishops received approvals to their consent process: Atlanta, New Hampshire, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, Texas (Suffragan), Virginia (Suffragan), Western Louisiana, and Western Massachusetts. Related, General Convention approved a change in rules so elections held close to General Convention no longer need to go to General Convention for the consent process.

Anglican Five Marks of Mission
*    To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
*    To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
*    To respond to human need by loving service
*    To seek to transform unjust structures of society
*    To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth  

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