Tag Archives: General Convention

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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Day 2, Episcopal General Convention

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry GC79 worship 5 July 2018, Austin TX

This was the first 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).  After a brief meeting of the House of Deputies, today opened with an inspiring worship service, featuring a rousing sermon by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on The Way of Love.  I was able to get a picture of Bishop Michael dancing with the moms and little kids in the Children’s Area up front.

There was some fun at the start of the day when the House of Deputies sent its opening greetings to the House of Bishops – and to Bishop Michael – by way of about twenty Delegates named Michael, wearing caps that said “Michael”. The greeting committee spontaneously serenaded the bishops with the song “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.”  The House of Bishops sent their own greetings to the House of Deputies through a male and a female bishop solemnly wearing sparkly plastic tiaras above their purple shirts and white collars.

I made several tours of the GC79 Exhibit Area, to talk with University of the South – Education for Ministry staff at their booth, visit the Episcopal Shoppe bookstore (where I purchased the book Living Into God’s Dream for signing by author Professor Catherine Meeks), and shop with several of the vendors selling African and other crafts.

Before the late afternoon legislative session, I was able to attend a fascinating panel featuring the Rev. Ruth Casipit Paguio and the Rev. Robin Denney on “Race in the Communion: Formation and Intentional Discipleship” – and got to sit in the audience with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves.  The most important resolution considered (and approved) today by the House of Deputies was B014 Director’s Fees for the President of the House of Deputies.

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

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry with kids at GC79 worship, 5 July 2018, Austin TX

Episcopal Diocese El Camino Real GC79 Delegation with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, 4 July 2018, Austin TX

Rev. Nancy Frausto Handing out The Way of Love for Presiding Bishop Curry GC79, 5 July 2018, Austin TX

GC79 exhibit vendor AfricanEverything.com 5 July 2018 Austin TX

Professor Catherine Meeks signing book GC79, 5 July 2018, Austin TX

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Rev. Ruth Casipit Paguio, Robin Denney at GC79, 5 July 2018, Austin TX

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Episcopal General Convention, Austin Texas, Day 1

Diocese of El Camino Real sign, Episcopal General Convention, House of Deputies, 4 July 2018

I arrived late last night in Austin, Texas, for the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.  General Convention is the main governing and legislative body of the Episcopal Church and meets every three years.  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California). Our Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves is in the House of Bishops (of which she is a Vice President) and we are in the House of Deputies.  This is the second time I have participated in General Convention – and I will again be blogging about the event.

I am not assigned to any committees, so I plan to attend as many Social Justice resolution hearings as I can.  For United States policy, I am particularly interested in the resolutions on mass incarceration and immigration. For Social Justice and International Policy, I want to sit in on the hearings about Israel and Palestine.  I am also showing interested groups the first half of the “Transforming Literature of the Bible” course materials I have edited and am already using at Elmwood Jail.  In addition, I looking forward to meeting with the Education for Ministry staff who are here in the Exhibit Hall with the University of the South – School of Theology.

According to the Episcopal News Service, the big topics for discussion at this General Convention are:

  1. Marriage Equality
  2. Revising the Book of Common Prayer
  3. The Episcopal Church and the #MeToo movement (for which we had a moving Bishops Listening service tonight)
  4. A salary for the president of the House of Deputies
  5. Following up on the church’s three priorities: evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice and care of creation
  6. Formulating the 2019-2021 triennial budget
  7. Middle East peace

In many ways, General Convention is like a family reunion every three years.  We get to talk with folks with whom we have a great deal in common but do not see very often.  Today, I already met briefly with the Rev. Canon Eric Law (Kaleidoscope Institute, Los Angeles), some of whose work I am using at Elmwood Jail. We had a rousing welcome (“not a sermon”) by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry who received two standing ovations.  I will be here until 13th July.

Today is not only American Independence Day but also my 18th wedding anniversary with John Plocher – happy day, love!

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

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves poster at Episcopal General Convention 4 July 2018

Katy Dickinson and Rev. Canon Eric Law Kaleidoscope 4 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention 4 July 2018

Transforming Literature of the Bible - Old Testament June 2018

4th of July Independence Day flowers at Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church Saratoga California 2018

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Images Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Israel, Palestine at Episcopal General Convention


I wrote on 25 June about attending two Social Justice and International Policy legislative committee meetings (morning and afternoon) where it was standing room only at the 78th Episcopal General Convention (GC) in Salt Lake City. On 3 July, I wrote that the House of Deputies discussed Israel-Palestine restorative justice. The topic of Israel-Palestine was one of the most controversial discussed at GC, after church structure, and marriage.  What I did not write is that B013 Peacemaking Through Political Action was the only resolution that was voted on twice by the House of Deputies.

B013 came out of Committee 7 – Social Justice and International Policy – after six hours of public testimony by witnesses. My own witness was one of those quoted in “Money and the Holy Land: Committee Hears Testimony” in the “House of Deputies News” on 26 June.  There was a followup article: “How best to invest in the Holy Land: Deputies debate divestment” on 27 June.The two sides of the question on whether the Episcopal Church should divest from Israel were: Stay at table, engage to make change vs. Divest, do not profit by occupation. Seven different resolutions on this topic were considered but only B013 made it out of committee, through the House of Bishops, to the House of Deputies.

After B013 was passed by the House of Bishops, the resolution was sent to the House of Deputies on 3 July for concurrence.  I was glad to be sitting with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) in the House of Deputies (rather than in the Alternates section) at the time that vote came up on the legislative calendar.  I was one of the 83% who voted for concurrence with B013.  That afternoon, there was a motion to reconsider B013.  There was a brief discussion (my favorite comment was: “It is not a good idea to negotiate peace in the Holy Land on the floor of the House of Deputies”), then 62% of the House of Deputies voted against reconsidering B013.

My two favorite sections of B013 are:

…Resolved, That the General Convention encourage The Episcopal Church to (1) embrace the principles of restorative justice in its advocacy and engagement for the just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and (2) engage and support the voices of both Israelis and Palestinians—especially those who are themselves victims of violence and injustice—who seek peace with justice through nonviolent and restorative responses to the conflict; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention support existing efforts toward restorative justice by urging the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society [the full name of The Episcopal Church] to identify and find creative ways to commend, support, and elevate the work of local peace-building and economic development initiatives, including those of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East and grassroots organizations jointly led by Israelis and Palestinians…







Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Lovely 15th Anniversary Train Ride: Amtrak (Salt Lake City – Emeryville)


John Plocher and I were married 15 years ago on 4 July 2000, so on our way back from two weeks at the Episcopal General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, we took the train. Amtrak’s California Zephyr goes across vast lovely spaces on its way west. John booked a Superliner Bedroom for our 15 hour trip. Of course, the train was running hours late (don’t get me started on why America’s basic infrastructure is so poorly supported) but we had planned for that. We boarded in Salt Lake City just as the day dawned and got into Emeryville, California, long after sunset. We saw plains and mountains, farms and ranches, towns and cities. Other trains passed us and we even went slowly through the vast Union Pacific Roseville Yard, so John got his fill of trains for once. It was a glorious day.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

“America the Beautiful” 1910 by Katharine Lee Bates































Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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11th Day: General Convention – Wrap Up!


Today, the Episcopal General Convention (GC) finished its last legislative day.  The Deputations from the Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) and the other 109 dioceses represented in the House of Deputies (HoD) are going home today and tomorrow.  After an extraordinary morning worship service featuring an inspiring sermon by Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry (“God loves you just as you are but he does not intend to leave you that way.” “Love God, Love your neighbor, Change the world!”), plus Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori reading a message from President Obama of congratulations to Bishop Curry, we started a final forced march through fifty remaining resolutions. We discussed topics ranging from General Theological Seminary reinvigoration and accountability, to Israel-Palestine restorative justice, to revising the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal, to clarifying canons on clergy transfer.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings (President of the HofD) wielded parliamentary procedure masterfully to keep us moving along.  However, as the day ground on, HofD and its President got silly sometimes. At 1:10 pm after she called upon a Deputy who plaintively asked “When are we going to have lunch?”, the President replied: “The Chair calls upon Pizza Hut”.  Later in the afternoon, a large committee got up and sang an original hymn in honor of the HofD Virtual Binder, in full harmony, to the tune of St. Patrick’s Breastplate.

Our deadline was not only the close of business for our own house but also for the House of Bishops (HofB), since some resolutions had to be passed by the HofD in time for the HofB to consider them as well.  As has been true for this entire General Convention, the very many resolutions of thanks and courtesy got in the way of legislative business.  Eventually, we were able to vote on some of the highly-linked resolutions in batches of five or more rather than one at a time.

The Deputies were communicating with each other and the world through social media during the entire GC. HofD President calls the House of Deputies “The House of Twitter” in truth: Topsy says there were 54,459 tweets to #gc78 in past 30 days. One tweet was of great interest to ECR since it announced that our own Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves will be one of two Vice Presidents to the House of Bishops under the new Presiding Bishop. Most of us are going home planning to speak with many groups about what happened and why. General Convention 79 will be held in Austin, Texas, in 2018.









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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson


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10th Day General Convention: Budget, Structure, Conservation, and Courtesy


The General Convention (GC) finished its second-to-last legislative day – one more day in the House of Deputies  (HoD) for the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR).  We start every day at the GC here in Salt Lake City with worship, and every day there is a focus for our celebration. The biographies provided have been inspiring! Today, we heard about the Rev. Charles Barnes, an American who spoke against the murder of over 20,000 Haitians by the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. During the sermon, we heard part of the poem “Parsley” by Rita Dove – because in 1937 the Haitians who could not say “parsley” in Spanish were killed. Others honored during GC workshop have included: the Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano (Nebraska), James Weldon Johnson (Florida), the Rev. Cornelius Hill (Oneida, Wisconsin), and Isabel Florence Hapgood (Massachusetts, Russia).

Today was a forced march through the budget, plus structure, stewardship/conservation, courtesy and other legislative resolutions, ably managed by Rev. Gay Clark Jennings (President of the HofD).  She started off with a charming variation on Mr. Roger’s saying: “It’s a great day in the Kingdom!”  Her humor, grace, and world-class management skills kept us going until 7:30 pm tonight after many had started in committee meetings at 7:30 am. Some resolutions were for HofD to concur with the House of Bishops (HofB) and others have been passed back to the HofB for consideration. The closest vote of the day was a remarkable 50.73% against and 49.27% for.

We sidled up to the very controversial subject of bringing HofD and HofB into a unicameral model in D008 Amend Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution – sent to the HofB for consideration today:

Sec. 1. There shall be a General Convention of this Church, consisting of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, which Houses will sit, debate, and vote separately, unless otherwise provided for by this Constitution or the Canons. The Houses by majority vote of each House may call for the Houses to sit, debate, and vote, or any combination thereof, together. The General Convention may by Canon establish procedures for such sessions. In all deliberations freedom of debate shall be allowed. Either House may originate and propose legislation, and all acts of the Convention shall be adopted and be authenticated by both Houses.

There were also many many resolutions of courtesy to thank everyone: those who run our worship services, the secretariat and leadership of HofD, the people and Diocese of Utah, the Official Youth Presence, HofD Chaplain, etc.  While they do add significantly to the time and work of our day, I acknowledge that resolutions of courtesy serve two clear purposes:

  • Community building and acknowledgement
  • Allowing HofD to stand up from time to time to offer ovations and applause

At the end of today’s legislative session, the Deputation from Honduras asked to read a communique from a group of bishops setting forth their dissent to the marriage equality resolutions known as A036 and A054. The HofD President allowed them the full time for a translated Point of Personal Privilege. Unfortunately, they spent half their time reading the names and titles and locations of the signatories so it did not make much sense as presented.

We finished our day with an ECR Deputation dinner with our Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, including giving her an early surprise birthday dessert!

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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