by David Romanik
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church will meet in Baltimore, Maryland from July 8th to 11th this year. General Convention is the governing body of the Episcopal Church. It generally meets every three years (last year’s scheduled gathering was postponed because of the pandemic) and is organized into two houses: the House of Bishops (which theoretically consists of all bishops in the Episcopal Church) and the House of Deputies (laypeople and clergy elected from each diocese of the Episcopal Church).
General Convention deals with church governance, including the election of officers, the approval of bishop elections, and the revision of canons; church finances, including setting the budget for the Episcopal Church; and the setting of missional priorities, which often includes the establishment of grants and spotlighting exciting and innovative ministries throughout the church. On occasion, the Convention also discusses and responds to various social issues.
One could make the argument that General Convention is antiquated, a product of a time when communication was more difficult and the Episcopal Church had a different position in society. There are certainly ways that Convention can be streamlined in order to more accurately reflect what the Church looks like today. At the same time, General Convention is one of the few times when representatives from the entire Episcopal Church gather together. Indeed, it is a reminder that the Episcopal Church is a truly international organization, one that includes members in the United States, Haiti, Cuba, Taiwan, Europe, and other locations. Despite the differences in our backgrounds, we affirm that we are all one in Christ. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate or necessary message at this time in the life of the world.
In 2019, I was elected as the third clergy alternate to General Convention from the Diocese of Northwest Texas. By a process of attrition (mostly because several of my colleagues have taken positions in other dioceses), I became a deputy, which means I will be joining the deputation from Northwest Texas in Baltimore this summer. My plan is to offer Compline on Facebook Live each night I am in Baltimore. Before the service I will offer some impressions on the events of the day. I hope you’ll tune in, and I hope you will keep the Episcopal Church in your prayers as we gather for General Convention in July.