Being a first-year deputy at General Convention has its advantages and its disadvantages and the entire process can be pretty overwhelming. So, to get your “sea legs”, first-year deputies are usually not assigned to committees. The advantage is that your schedule is open and you can attend meetings that other delegates do not. At that end of the day at our deputation meetings, we report back to the rest of our diocesan delegation.
General Convention is a bicameral body, so the one body (in my case, the House of Deputies) can pass resolutions, but they only go into effect if the other body (the House of Bishops) passes exactly the same resolution. Today, I sat in on the hearings on the Committee on Ministry which our own Bishop Scanlan is the chair. This committee was working on two resolutions and receiving testimonies both for and against. One resolution was on the topic of amending the Canons concerning the admission of new dioceses into the Episcopal Church and seating of Bishops from those dioceses. The other concerned the issue of non-discrimination in the discernment process. With the Church looking to possibly admit the Diocese of Cuba back into the Episcopal Church, these were very timely issues. The rest of the day was comprised of two legislative sessions in the House of Deputies, where resolutions were presented and were either accepted or rejected, sometimes amended from the floor. I saw firsthand how the house functioned so well that the final vote on such controversial topics such as “Marriage Rites for the Whole Church” ended up being lopsided votes in favor. All the items from today will get sent to the House of Bishops for further review. So, even though it was passed by the House of Deputies, it is not guaranteed it will pass the other House. The Eucharist service this evening was amazing with music that almost brought one to tears. Having several thousand people sitting with you in church is pretty uplifting. Later in the day, I attended the reception for the dioceses in Province III. Province III Synod is comprised of all the dioceses in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. So, I met old friends from the surrounding dioceses and made new acquaintances.
Being a first-year deputy, I was only permitted to “observe” during the committee meeting, but I am a full deputy in the House of Deputies, I have full voice and vote in that chamber. I am learning the legislative process and networking and making new friends from around the wider Church.
I was excited to see the Church “pull together” to pass resolutions that were controversial when all sides compromised, something lacking in our national dialogue, in my humble opinion. The worship service in the evening was wonderful with great music, amazing preaching and a moving liturgy. I saw and felt the Holy Spirit move among people. When we work together, and dare I say, even “love” each other, the Holy Spirit moves and the same can happen in our own diocese. Spread out as we are, we can learn to love each other but, that takes time and the desire to develop relationships. So, we have no time to waste as we promote the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement.
Br. David Rutledge, St. James Episcopal Church, Lancaster
First-Year Deputy to General Convention