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75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church

Daily Reports

News and pictures from General Convention
and the Episcopal Church Women's Triennial

Day 2 Wednesday, June 14

The Feast of Basil the Great

Canon Charles Hough preached at a morning Eucharist service for over 200 people. He urged those present to follow the example of the friends of the paralytic in the second chapter of the Gospel of Mark, bringing the Church to the feet of Jesus to be healed.

Columbus' two morning newspapers took due note of the presence in their midst of the world's largest convention. The Dispatch ran a large picture on the front page. In the Post, however, the story that ran above the fold, with the lede sentence "They came to be inspired," was not about the Episcopal Church. Instead it was the beginning of a report on a Democratic Party fundraiser, with keynote speaker Sen. Barak Obama.


House of Deputies

The chief business of the morning in the House of Deputies was the election of a new president of the House. The Very Rev. George Werner, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, who is serving his second General Convention as President, was not selected as a deputy from his diocese and therefore is not eligible for re-election.

AndersonA single name was put into nomination, and Bonnie Anderson of the Diocese of Michigan was elected, in the tradition of the House, by the submission of a single vote representing all those present. At the podium to receive congratulations, she was greeted by the present and retired bishops of Michigan. She was then escorted to the House of Bishops to be introduced there.

In the afternoon, the deputies attempted to elect 12 members of the board of the Church Pension Fund from a slate of 25 candidates. After considerable pointing and clicking with their keypads, it was determined that more than 10 percent of the electronic ballots had been spoiled, and the election was invalid. A paper ballot will be taken.


House of Bishops

In contrast to the frustration in the House of Deputies, the afternoon session of the House of Bishops completed three elections, heard from a guest speaker, and dealt swiftly with two dozen resolutions, most having to do with changes to the church calendar and Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Among the names being proposed for addition to the calendar are Joan of Arc, Thurgood Marshall, the martyrs of Sudan, and Bertha & Ethelbert. During discussion of a proposed collect on space exploration, Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island rose to comment that she found the proposed collects under consideration at this Convention "weak" and "bland … as a body [of work]," particularly in their trinitarian doctrine, and she hoped that more work would be done before they receive final approval.

In the afternoon's balloting, Bishops Alvarez and Bruno were elected to serve on the church's Executive Council, which represents General Convention when the full body is out of session. Bishop William Gregg was elected to the Board of Examining Chaplains, and Bishops Council and Curry were elected to the Board of General Theological Seminary in New York.

The bishops paused in the legislative process at 5 p.m. to hear from the director of Forward Movement publications. The program, he said, is financially self-sufficient, with the four editions of Forward Day by Day totalling over 350,000 in circulation, and an endowment fund that has been doubled in recent years.


Hot Ticket

queueThe interest of most convention-goers focused Wednesday on an evening hearing of the Special Committee established to respond to the Windsor Report. Five tickets were allotted to each diocese; all other seating was first-come, first-served. Some 1,500 seats were set up to accommodate the crowd, which waited patiently in a serpentine line till the doors of the meeting room opened. Two deputies from Fort Worth signed a list of those hoping to address the Commission. The hearing was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

During its noontime briefing, the American Anglican Council released a letter from the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, England. Bishop Wright is a leading theologian and a member of the Lambeth Commission, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to write the Windsor Report. By dinnertime the statement was the mos popular reading at the Convention, though it has no official status.

The letter says in part “the only way forward which will command assent from the Communion and enable us to proceed together is to be careful and exact about what precisely Windsor said and meant. That is the aim of the present paper.”

Further on Bishop Wright continues, “This, with real sadness, is my basic conclusion: that unless the relevant Resolutions are amended so that they clearly state what Windsor clearly requested, the rest of the Communion is bound to conclude that ECUSA has specifically chosen not to comply with Windsor.

    Highlights of the testimony will follow.
Day 1 Tuesday, June 13
June 14
June 15
June 16
June 17
June 18
June 19
June 20
June 21

Legislative sessions begin

The two Houses of General Convention were gaveled to order Tuesday morning. Most deputations (including that of the Diocese of Fort Worth) consist of four clerical and four lay deputies. Members of the House of Deputies are seated in rows (right), much like a political convention. In all, 827 deputies representing 111 dioceses were registered for the convention. Most of the early business consisted of greetings and introductions. The flags over the dais represent the countries with Anglican dioceses that make up the Episcopal Church.

House of Deputies

Vote of no confidence in the Cucumber Sandwich

keypadMany of the decisions made by the House of Deputies are reached by simple voice vote, but some elections require balloting. In that case, deputies must take up their electronic keypads and, pointing them toward the front of the room, key in their votes – much like using the TV remote control to change channels.

In the opening session this morning, deputies were asked to test their wireless keypads by taking a simple up-or-down vote on Resolution D-333: That the cucumber sandwich be named the Official Food of the Episcopal Church. With 400 votes needed to pass, the traditional tea sandwich, immortalized in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, was endorsed by only 335 deputies, while some 58 percent of the body disapproved of the selection. It was difficult to know whether this reflected disdain for the refreshment itself, which has little nutritional value, or a more general disapproval of the formulary of an "official food" of the Church. Perhaps the sandwich would have received more support had the vote been taken closer to lunchtime.



Days can be long at General Convention. Committee hearings begin as early as 7 a.m. Morning worship is scheduled at 9:30, and the morning plenary sessions of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies begin at 10:45. These are adjourned around 12:30 p.m. Committee meetings and hearings resume at 2 p.m. and end around 4, so that members can return to their houses for the afternoon plenaries at 4:15. Many committees schedule evening sessions beginning at 7 p.m. The Diocese of Fort Worth deputation also meets with Bishop Iker around 6 p.m. for Evening Prayer.

Special Committee Hearing on the Windsor Report


Two main items of business for this General Convention are the election of the next Presiding Bishop, which will take place Sunday, June 18, at Columbus' Trinity Episcopal Church; and a response to the Windsor Report. Both matters are being watched closely by the other provinces of the Anglican Communion.

The Windsor Report response is expected by the end of the week. The Convention's Special Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, which is drafting the response, held an open hearing Tuesday afternoon, with about 300 people in attendance. Among them was Canon Kenneth Kearon (left), Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, who was invited to the microphone and spoke briefly to encourage the committee, emphasizing the ideas of "trust," and "respect" as the committee considered resolution A0159: "Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion," one of several resolutions under its oversight. Kearon is attending General Convention as an observer.


    ECW Opening Plenary – Living in the Light

The Episcopal Church Women's Triennial meeting began Tuesday with a procession and a new song – a setting of the verses from 1 John that contain the Triennial theme: Living in the Light. As each woman entered the meeting room, she was given a small rock. Later, the women recited the words of the confession, then filed to the back of the hall to drop their rocks into a fountain as they sang the hopeful words of God's promise to Ezekiel: “I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” One woman from each able lit a taper from a Paschal candle and carried it back to her table as a reminder of the Triennial theme.


Mary Sue Coffman and Doris Gregory
are representing the Diocese of
Fort Worth ECW at this Triennial.


The Archbishop of York addresses the House of Deputies

The business of the afternoon plenary was interrupted at about 5 p.m. by the introduction of the Most Rev. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, who greeted the House warmly, bringing a sense of the interest that the entire Anglican Communion has in this General Convention. The Archbishop described how he was baptized on the day he was born, out of fears that he would not survive even 24 hours. Looking back, he views his infant baptism as a hopeful sign that began his life as a Christian. Extending that thought to the body seated before him, he said, “Please allow yourselves the possibility of believing what others think about you.”

Then the Archbishop read a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Acknowledging that “this General Convention takes place in a climate of intense and perhaps rather oppressive attention worldwide,” he said that the bishops of the Church of England had pledged themselves to pray “deeply and constantly” throughout the 10-day meeting. “We cannot survive as a Communion of churches without some common convictions about what it is to live and to make decisions as the Body of Christ; Windsor is not the end of the story, but it sets out a positive picture of what that might imply as together we serve the mission of God.”

Archbishop Sentamu closed his remarks with a blessing in the name of the Saviour who "calls us to be his friends and friends of one another.”

The full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement is online at the Anglican Communion Web site.