Day 9, General Convention

Alternates and Deputies in GC79 House of Deputies at border wall between house floor and side gallery on 12 July 2018

This was the eighth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

Today was a hard march through dozens of complex resolutions.  Everyone is very tired.  Some of the major resolutions passed today include:

Sometimes the House of Deputies took refuge in silly songs and pigeon jokes but mostly we stuck seriously to business.  The House of Bishops ended today’s session early because the Deputies had not finished enough to pass along.  Both houses meet again starting at 8 am tomorrow for the final legislative day.

Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows (of Indianapolis) gave an inspiring sermon at the closing worship service, ending with “You know what to do.  You have got this.  Now go!”  The El Camino Real Deputation met after the service to eat a pecan pie given to Bishop Mary by the Bishop of Texas.  It was delicious! Bishop DeeDee Duncan-Probe (of Central New York) stopped by to greet Bishop Mary, as well as El Camino Real former-Chancellor Nancy Cohen, and me – she knows Nancy and me from when we were at All Saints’ – Palo Alto together.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Pigeon comedy GC79 on 12 July 2018

House of Bishops GC79 on 12 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation GC79 worshiping on 12 2018

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry ending worship service GC79 on 12 July 2018

Bishops Mary Gray-Reeves ⁦of El Camino Real and DeeDee Duncan-Probe of Central New York GC79 on 12 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation GC79 with pie on 12 2018

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Day 8, General Convention

Cuba Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio welcomed to House of Deputies, GC79, on 11 July 2018

This was the seventh legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

Today, the GC79 legislative calendar was so full that we had to add an after-dinner session.  Very long day!  Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio was welcomed with a sustained standing ovation and joyous singing to the House of Deputies after the enthusiastic passage of a historic resolution welcoming the church of Cuba as a diocese of the Episcopal Church.  We considered the budget for the first time in a joint session of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops.  The House of Bishops rejected the Isreal-Palestine resolution but passed a “Marriage Rites for the Whole Church” resolution with a small amendment.

Marriage Rites now return to the House of Deputies for a final vote.  The House of Deputies today agreed on a plan for liturgical and Prayer Book revision plus a great many less-controversial resolutions (including one welcoming nursing mother Deputies).  We are proud of El Camino Real Deputy Jeff Diehl who appeared briefly on the House of Deputies big platform as Co-Chair of the Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation committee today.

Deputies in wheelchairs and Deputies who find it hard to hear spoke passionately in support of a resolution to “Establish an Advisory Council on Disability and Deaf Access” – which was passed.  Deputy Sarah Watkins of Texas said “nothing about us without us.”  She and Deputy Charis and others made the point that there had been nine such resolutions passed in General Convention since 1985 but little effective change has been made – perhaps because few who are themselves impaired have been represented in the groups making the decisions.  There have been signers for the deaf at House of Deputy and House of Bishop sessions and worship services but not at most other meetings.  There was an interesting moment during Tuesday evening’s worship service when flute player Dakota Wind from Standing Rock spoke silently in Lakota signs with the GC79 deaf interpreter on the stage.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Tim Gee, Katy Dickinson, gc79 on 11 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves GC79 on 11 July 2018

Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio and colleagues from the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba GC79 on 12 July 2018

GC79 House of Deputies and House of Bishops consider budget on 11 July 2018

GC79 House of Bishops on 11 July 2018

Jeff Diehl on House of Deputies podium GC79 on 11 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves GC79 on 11 July 2018

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Day 7, General Convention

GC79 House of Deputies sign 10 July 2018

This was the sixth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

Today very early, I switched badges back with Celeste Ventura (so I became an Alternate again and she has her Delegate badge) and then in the afternoon switched badges with Tim Gee (so he became an Alternate and I became a Delegate).  Tim and I will switch back early tomorrow. There are only two short windows of time each day when such switches can be made.

The morning joint session between the House of Deputies and House of Bishops was a TEConversation on the care of creation, with interesting speakers and music and discussion. The El Camino Real Deputation met again on the Alternates side of the curtain so that all could participate. Particularly notable among the presenters was Bernadette Demientieff of the Gwich’in Nation, Fort Yukon, Alaska, who said: “Our children deserve to see creation as it was in the beginning, not just when we are done with it.”

After several failed attempts to make progress, a whole set of elections had to be postponed to tomorrow so that the Virtual Binder could be updated.  This was apparently not because of iPad software or hardware problems (of which there have been few) but because the candidate biographies were not submitted in time.  The Virtual Binder system has drastically reduced the amount of paper used by GC79 – a very welcome change!

While the House of Deputies was passing important resolutions on inclusive language and support for transgender/non-binary church members, the House of Bishops made history by approving reunification with the Church of Cuba and seating Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio of Cuba.  She was welcomed by our Bishop Mary (and became the 8th diocesan female Bishop).

For dinner, I attended the University of the South barbecue and had a very interesting discussion with the most senior Education for Ministry online mentor.   She and I plan to keep in touch about our work with EfM!

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves GC79 on 10 July 2018

GC79 coffee line in Austin 10 July 2018

Bernadette Demientieff of Gwich’in Nation, Fort Yukon, Alaska, GC79 on 10 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese El Camino Real House of Deputies GC79 on 10 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese El Camino Real House of Deputies GC79 on 10 July 2018

Fredrica Harris Thompsett GC79 on 10 July 2018

GC79 iPad Virtual Binder with Flat Jesus 11 July 2018

Bishop Marc Andrus Evening worship service GC79, on 10 July 2018

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Day 6, General Convention

Worship with House of Deputies Chaplain, Father Mackenzie, GC79 on 9 July 2018

This was the fifth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).  Pigeon jokes continued (Twitter @gc79pigeon) and most of the House of Deputies wore purple scarves to honor Women Bishops.

Among many smaller decisions, two of the big GC79 topics were discussed today: B012 – “Marriage Rites for the Whole Church”  and D019 – “Ending Church Complicity in the Occupation”. The Rev. Lester V. Mackenzie, House of Deputies Chaplain, opened the afternoon legislative session with a shoulder-to-shoulder prayer. The discussion process is complex and time consuming and requires much checking of parliamentary procedure. The capable President of the House of DeputiesRev. Gay Clark Jennings, keeps us to time and in order with humor and charm.

Deputy Celeste Ventura allowed me to substitute for her in the House of Deputies in the afternoon.  Since I have lived and worked in Israel, and because of my many years of work with the TechWomen of the Middle East, I have been particularly interested in the many resolutions on Israel and Palestine and was glad to be able to testify and vote.  Both the Marriage Rites and Israel-Palestine resolutions were approved – and will move to the House of Bishops next.

Our Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves presided in English and Spanish over the evening worship service which, as usual, offered excellent music and a peaceful interlude in a busy day.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Purple scarf to support Women Bishops at General Convention GC79 on 9 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention pigeon under table GC79 on 9 July 2018

Katy Dickinson and Celeste Ventura, General Convention gc79 on 9 July 2018

Kathryn Nishibayashi and Katy Dickinson at General Convention gc79 on 9 July 2018

Rev. Rob Keim and Katy Dickinson, House of Deputies, General Convention, GC79 on 9 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation in House of Deputies GC79 on 9 July 2018

Katy Dickinson speaking on Israel-Palestine resolution GC79 on 9 July 2018

General Convention voting device GC79 on 9 July 2018

Charis Hill light up wheels Episcopal General Convention GC97 on 9 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation in worship GC79 on 9 July 2018

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves presiding over Episcopal General Convention GC79 worship 9 July 2018

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Day 5, General Convention

Bishop Michael Curry with Episcopal General Convention at Hutto Detention Center outside Austin TX 8 July 2018

This was the fourth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

This morning started with witness and protest against gun violence (at Brush Square Park in downtown Austin) and for immigration reform (outside the Hutto Detention Facility in rural Texas). More than 1,000 Episcopalians were transported for 40 minutes in 19 buses to the town of Taylor outside of Austin.  We stood in the hot sun to sing to and pray for hundreds of detained women immigrants.  We sang “Here I am, Lord” and “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace” and other hymns in English and Spanish, followed by inspiring preaching and prayers.  Most of the Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation participated.

Some in the crowd could hear the women inside the detention center pounding the walls to communicate.  After we returned to Austin, a Tweet was posted by @Grassroots_News:

“A woman called from Hutto after today’s prayer and told us they were glued to the windows until the last bus left the detention center. Women inside were crying, saying they knew they weren’t alone after seeing so many people there. Thank you”

In the afternoon GC79 legislative session of the House of Deputies, we voted for candidates for a variety of GC offices, then started the discussion of B012 – Marriage Rites for the Whole Church. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings (who was re-elected today as President of the House of Deputies for the third and final time) told the clergy and lay Deputies from 110 diocese that although there were 443 resolutions, 417 of them are incomplete. So, the work load ahead is not as dire as we feared.  A regular source of comments and entertainment has been provided by the House of Deputies pigeons who have their own Twitter site: @gc79pigeon

We ended a long day with dinner for the Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation and friends at the Moonshine Grill.  The GC79 discussion on Marriage Rites continues tomorrow morning.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.
Episcopal General Convention at Hutto Detention Center outside Austin TX 8 July 2018

Dr. Joshua D. Booher, Katy Dickinson, Karen Meridith of Education for Ministry EfM at GC79 on 8 July 2018

Katy Dickinson GC79 badge 8 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention House of Deputies pigeon 8 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Delegation GC79 Dinner 8 July 2018

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Day 4, General Convention

Rev. Irene Tanabe of Hawaii speaking for immigration reform GC79, 7 July 2018

This was the third legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

I started today at a hearing of immigration and refugee issues before the Committees on Social Justice Policy.  Particularly moving were the stories of the Rev. Nancy Frausto of California on behalf of the Dreamers and of the Rev. Irene Tanabe of Hawaii who said “Let it never happen again” speaking against the path America is on toward another system like the Japanese American Internment 1942-1946.  During the morning legislative session, the House of Deputies and House of Bishops met in joint session for a discussion of evangelism.

During the afternoon legislative session, A068 (the resolution to revise the 1979 Book of Common Prayer or BCP) was passed by the House of Deputies after long and passionate discussion.  48 speakers were carried over from the long discussion queue of yesterday.  The BCP revision will take about ten years and will be published in English, Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole.  This still needs to be passed by the House of Bishops.

Since 1549, the BCP has been a venerable, remarkable, and elegant source for liturgy, process and prayer. It is also a book I use many times each week during my classes in Elmwood jail.  Jail is an environment thick with distrust for authority and with conspiracy theories. Being able to hand each inmate-student the main source for our church’s liturgy, process and prayer and to tell them that they now have the same material as everyone else is powerful.  The simple transparency and trust inherent in the BCP is inspiring.

In the late afternoon, GC79 moved from the Austin Convention Center to the Palmer Events Center for a Revival.  This featured exhilarating music and a rousing sermon by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. At one point, a blue haired Latina singer was dancing with the stage full of bishops. The Revival was followed by a barbecue.  There was such a crowd at the dinner that some of us got little to eat but the conversations were worth it.

My Austin Hilton hotel room lights seem to be possessed. They turn off and on at random. Sometimes in the middle of the night I will wake up because all the lights have suddenly switched on.  In the last four days, I have had the hotel technical staff look at the problem three times.  I do hope it is now fixed!

These blog posts and other GC79 news are now posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website. Thanks, Elrond!

Rev. Nancy Frausto speaking for immigration reform GC79, 7 July 2018

House of Deputies vote to revise Book of Common Prayer, GC79 on 7 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention revival band and singers 7 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention Revival, GC79 on 7 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention Revival, GC79 on 7 July 2018

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Day 3, Episcopal General Convention

Episcopal Diocese El Camino Real Delegation GC79 discussion 6 July 2018

This was the second legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).  Early this morning, I gave testimony at a hearing for resolution D027 “Pursuing Justice for Gaza” before the Committee on Social Justice and International Policy. Episcopal Church News published an article quoting me this afternoon: “Israel-Palestine resolutions spark impassioned testimony under expedited process for review”.

After the hearings, the House of Deputies held a joint morning session with the House of Bishops discussing racial reconciliation. This featured inspiring presenters, including a hip hop poet. Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves lead the El Camino Real Deputies to the section of the hall where the Alternate Deputies sit so the whole Delegation could discuss together – since Alternates are not allowed to come onto the House floor unless we are formally substituting for a Deputy. The Alternates gallery applauded her!  After the discussion, we took a photo of the whole El Camino Delegation.

This afternoon, the House of Deputies began its discussion on whether the revise the Book of Common Prayer – a subject of much passionate and prayerful consideration.  The final vote was put off until tomorrow morning to allow for additional discussion.  After the worship service, most of our Delegation ended the day with a (late) birthday party for Bishop Mary – including spouses and kids of some of the Delegates.

The Austin weather continues to be very hot and humid – going outside feels like having a soggy warm blanket dropped on you.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Barbara Miller GC79 Committee hearing 6 July 2018

Katy Dickinson giving testimony on Social Justice - International Policy, General Convention, 6 July 2018

Maurice Dyer and Katy Dickinson GC79 6 July 2018

Diocese of El Camino Real Delegation, Episcopal General Convention, 6 July 2018

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Canon Stephanie Spellers, and El Camino Real Delegation GC79 on 6 July 2018

stairs Diocese of El Camino Real Delegation, Episcopal General Convention, 6 July 2018

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