A letter to The Episcopal Church from the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies outlines a revised, shorter, General Convention in the light of an upsurge in COVID-19 cases.
May 17, 2022
Dear Friends in Christ:
Last week, as COVID-19 rates continued rising across the United States, we appointed the Presiding Officers’ General Convention Design Group to plan a shorter, smaller, safer General Convention to take place in Baltimore in July. We appointed House of Deputies Parliamentarian Bryan Krislock and House of Bishops Parliamentarian Sean Rowe to co-chair the group.
The design group met for the first time today and plans to meet again during the weeks of May 23 and May 30. It plans to finish its work by May 31. During the first week of June, both the Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements and the Executive Council will meet, which will make it possible for us to formalize the new plan for General Convention.
Today, the Design Group made several recommendations to us that we have accepted. While these plans will not be official until the first week in June, we have every confidence that our colleagues in leadership will receive them well.
Here are the recommendations:
- The dates of the 80th General Convention will be July 8-11. Travel days for all but those coming from the greatest distances will be July 7 and 12. Registration will be available on July 7.
- The only attendees at the 80th General Convention will be bishops, deputies, essential staff and volunteers, and a limited media presence. There will be no exhibit hall. Visitors will be accommodated only in extraordinary circumstances, such as companions for people with disabilities.
- We will ask each diocese to consider sending just one clergy alternate deputy and one lay alternate deputy, and to consider asking inactive bishops and other alternate deputies to stay home.
- We will ask all church-affiliated organizations to refrain from holding events and receptions in Baltimore during July 8-11.
Next week, we plan to share with you the Design Group’s recommendations about COVID-19 precautions and care for those who become infected at General Convention; and during the week of May 30, we plan to share recommendations about the legislative process we will use at this shortened General Convention.
Like many of you, we continue to grieve our inability to gather as a whole church this summer. But even since last week, when we first made the decision to reduce the scale of the meeting, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the United States have continued to rise steeply. Although we regret that need to make this decision, we are confident that we have chosen the right path. We realize that this smaller, shorter convention is a particular blow to our generous hosts in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, who had planned so long and well for this gathering. We are especially grateful to Bishop Eugene Sutton and all the people of that diocese for their gracious flexibility.
We give thanks for those who are working tirelessly to make this General Convention safer for everyone who will attend and everyone who will receive us in Baltimore. As the United States marks the grim milestone of one million deaths from COVID-19, we ask you to pray for all those whose lives have been lost and all those whose lives will never be the same.
The Most Rev. Michael Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies