The Rev Pierce Klemmt writes: I read a lot of material about the universe I work in. I’ve always got my eye out for good stories, uncommon results, and surprises. I keep my eyes on feedback, reports, trends, and vital statistics. One of the things I really like learning about is churches that do extraordinary things. Incidentally, under that category, our church stands out. I do not know of another congregation in this country that has the privilege of sending two of its own members to General Convention. This is unheard of and speaks volumes about the level of leadership here at Christ Church within the greater Episcopal Church.

Cindi Bartol and Russ Randle have been elected by your Diocese once again to attend General Convention. They are in their own right magnificent servants of this congregation, our city, and the nation. In addition, both of them have been involved in our overseas missions. Last Sunday, they presented the opportunities and challenges that are ahead of us this summer and I’ve asked them for a summary so that all of you can see and hear what our two deputies will be encountering in Indianapolis in July. When you see them around the churchyard, please thank them for their significant gifts of time and talent, for taking more than a week out of their lives to serve the church, and for empowering our national body to be an even more potent witness for the ministry of Jesus Christ in our nation. Here they describe their ministry as deputies to our national legislative church body.

 

General Convention, the governing body of The Episcopal Church in the United States and in 16 dioceses in other countries, will meet July 5-12 in Indianapolis. It will be voting on many important issues in the life of our church – and the Anglican Communion.

General Convention meets every three years. It is a two-chambered legislative body: the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. All decisions need approval in the same form by both houses during the eight days gathering. Each diocese is represented by its bishops in the House of Bishops and by its elected lay and clergy deputies in the House of Deputies. Each diocese is entitled to four lay and four clergy deputies. Virginia, with about 80,000 baptized members, sends the same size deputation as Fond Du Lac, which has less than 2,000 members.

The House of Deputies has more than 800 voting members working on a very tight schedule, which makes floor debate brief. This year nearly 300 resolutions have been filed for action. Most of the re-drafting and debate takes place in 24 legislative committees. We are part of Virginia’s lay deputies who also include Joseph Royster (Meade Memorial, Alexandria), and J.P. Causey (St. John’s, West Point). Clergy deputies are the Rev. Dr. Hilary Smith (St. Paul’s on the Hill, Winchester), the Rev. Dr. Robert Prichard (Virginia Theological Seminary faculty), the Rev. Lynn Washington (St. Peter’s, Richmond), and the Rev. Jim Papile (St. Anne’s, Reston).

Deputies, elected at the previous year’s Diocesan Council, differ from delegates. They are to vote their conscience for the good of the whole church, not to represent a parochial or diocesan instruction, vote or consensus on any issue.

Among Convention issues this year: deciding whether un-baptized people should be allowed to receive communion routinely (currently they are not), confirm (or not) bishops recently elected by eight dioceses (including Virginia), and possibly make large changes in our church’s operating structure.

Key controversies at Convention include:

  • Declining revenue and harsh cuts at the national level
  • Changes in church structure intended to focus more resources on mission
  • Rejection or approval of the Anglican Covenant
  • Possible adoption of trial liturgies to bless same gender unions 

Please pray for wisdom at Convention and for unity in our church and with all Christians as deputies prepare ourselves. In particular, please pray for Virginia’s bishops and deputies, including our Bishop Suffragan-elect, the Rev. Canon Susan Goff, whose election must be approved by Convention before her July 28 consecration.

By Cindi Bartol and Russ Randle
General Convention Deputies