General Convention is Coming!

How General Convention works, and some idea of what to expect from the 79th Convention of The Episcopal Church

Curtis Hamilton Ten-minute read.   Resources

Deputies and Bishops from 17 countries will soon meet in Austin, Texas for the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. The General Convention is composed of over 800 deputies from the 109 dioceses and (potentially) 300 or more active and retired bishops of the Church. They will deliberate for nine legislative days from July 5-13, with some committees meeting as early as July 3.

How General Convention Works

Below is a brief summary of how General Convention makes its decisions.

  • The General Convention is a bicameral legislative body (that is to say that it is managed by two separate bodies). The House of Deputies and the House of Bishops meet separately.
  • Resolutions for discussion may be submitted from various groups throughout the Church (certain interim bodies, Bishops, Dioceses and Provinces, and Deputies).
  • Each resolution is assigned to a committee of the Convention. In committee hearings, testimony is heard, the resolution is debated and perfected, and a recommendation from the committee is forwarded to one of the houses (house of initial action).
  • In order for the resolution to become an Act of Convention, it must be approved by both houses in the exact same language before the General Convention adjourns.

Items to Come Before the Convention

The General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church. As such, it takes action on numerous topics.

  • Legislation of concern to the Church — This is a broad category. It encompasses policy issues such as human trafficking, care of creation, and many more. It also includes issues in our church life such as gender equity, sexual misconduct in the church, and more.
  • Amending the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), the Constitution, and the Canons of the Church.

These above, along with Acts of Convention, describe both how the Church works and what it believes. Convention also deals with the following:

  • Adopting a triennial budget for The Episcopal Church — A budget for the Church for the next three years will be adopted. There are lots of clichés that could be used here (things about rubber and roads or treasure and heart come to mind), but this document does show what our missional priorities are for the next three years.
  • Electing candidates to offices, boards and other committees — These offices include President and Vice President of the House of Deputies, members of the Executive Committee of the Church, board of directors of the Church Pension Fund, and other groups.

In my opinion, the following are issues of high importance that will come before the General Convention. (These are in no particular order.)

  • Editing/Revising of the BCP — This includes the possibility of including liturgies for marriage for same-sex couples in the current BCP and the possible adoption of a plan for a revision of the entire BCP.
  • A proposal to provide a salary for the President of the House of Deputies.
  • Updates to the Canons regarding sexual misconduct by clergy and lay employees and leaders.

West Missouri Deputation Members

These are the members of the deputation:
Lay Delegates — Mr. Curtis Hamilton (Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City), Dr. Linda Robertson (St. John’s, Springfield), Ms. Amanda Perschall (Trinity, Lebanon), and Ms. Liz Trader (St. John’s, Springfield).

Clergy Delegates — Fr. Marshall Scott (St. Luke’s Health System, Deputation Chair), Mtr. Anne Meredith Kyle (Calvary, Sedalia), Fr. Tim Coppinger (EChO Regional Ministry), and Fr. Jonathan Frazier (St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City).

Alternate Deputies attending — Mr. Channing Horner (St. Paul’s, Maryville), Ms. Christine Morrison (Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City), Fr. Stan Runnels (St. Paul’s, Kansas City), and Mtr. Megan Castellan (canonically resident in West Missouri).

Deputies and Alternates not attending — Ms. Carole Pryor (St. Philip’s, Joplin), Mr. Grafton Cook (St. Mary’s, Fayette), Fr. David Kendrick (St. John’s, Springfield), and Fr. Jose Palma (St. Nicholas’, Noel).

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to speak with any member of the deputation. You can email me (see below) and I will be glad to forward your question or comment (with your permission) to the rest of the deputation.

Ways to Follow General Convention

There are several ways you can follow General Convention here in West Missouri.

  • The General Convention website has a veritable treasure trove of information available. This includes the “Blue Book” reports from interim bodies that give background on some of the resolutions submitted. You can also find links to documents that explain how General Convention works.
  • You can find the resolutions submitted to the General Convention at vbinder.net. This site will also give you status updates of resolutions throughout the convention.
  • There will be choice of Livestreaming channels available including daily summaries and press conferences. Many will be in both English and Spanish. Check the various websites for details.

The members of the deputation look forward to serving you and the Church as a whole in this important work. We ask for your prayers as we prepare for and attend the General Convention in July.

Curtis Hamilton is a two-time deputy to the General Convention (2015, 2018). He has attended two other General Conventions (2003, 2012) as a visitor. He also serves as Secretary of the Diocese.

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Convention Digest

The 128th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri.

Curtis Hamilton Eight-minute read.   Resources

The 128th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The 128th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri met at the Adams Pointe Convention Center in Blue Springs on November 3-4, 2017. Below is a digest of events that took place and official actions of the convention.

Ordinations and Reception

The 128th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

At the Convention Eucharist, Mr. Larry Ehren (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City) and Ms. Karen Mann (St. Mary Magdalene, Belton) were ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons. The Rev. Jonathan Callison (St. Paul’s, Kansas City) was received into the Sacred Order of Presbyters.

2018 Plan for Ministry

The 2018 Plan for Ministry was adopted as presented. It is balanced and calls for just less than $1.9 million in both income and expenses. The income comes from diocesan assessments (67.29% of total income), investment income (27.32%), and other sources of income (5.06%). The investment income represents a draw of 5.0% from investments.

The Plan for Ministry as presented by the Diocesan Council called for the elimination of personnel costs from the Campus Ministries budget. An amendment was presented to restore this funding, but was defeated by the Convention.

Elections and Appointments

Counting the election votes at the 128th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The Convention elected the following persons to various governance and programmatic bodies of the diocese.

Diocesan Officers (serve until the next Diocesan Convention ends): Curtis Hamilton, Secretary (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City); Caleb Cordonnier, Treasurer (St. Paul’s, Kansas City); and David Powell, Chancellor (St. Paul’s, Kansas City).

Standing Committee (two-year terms): Mary Christiano (Christ Church, Springfield); Rob Walker (St. Peter and All Saints, Kansas City); Mtr. Anne Meredith Kyle (Calvary, Sedalia); and Fr. John Spicer (St. Andrew’s, Kansas City). After the Convention, the Standing Committee elected Fr. Jonathan Frazier (St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City) as President.

Diocesan Council (two-year terms): Walter George (Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City); Jillian Merrill (Trinity, Independence); Marsha Patterson (Christ Church, Springfield); Mickey Simnitt (Christ Church, Lexington); Mtr. Laura Hughes (St. George’s, Camdenton); and Fr. Ron Verhaeghe (St. Luke’s Health System). (Note: Bishop Field is also allowed by diocesan canons to appoint two laypersons to the Diocesan Council for two-year terms. As of the time of writing these appointments have not been made.)

Board of Examining Chaplains (three-year terms): Dr. William Stancil (Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City); Dean Peter DeVeau (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City); and Fr. Russell Johnson (Trinity, Independence).

Bishop Kemper School for Ministry Board of Directors (two-year terms): Pam Davis (Shepherd of the Hills, Branson) and Fr. Jonathan Frazier (St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City).

Disciplinary Board (two-year terms): Mark Galus (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City) and Fr. Stan Runnels (St. Paul’s, Kansas City).

Commission on the Ministry (three-year terms unless otherwise noted): Kathy Alexander (Christ Church, Springfield); Cossette Hardwick (Christ Church, St. Joseph) (Bishop’s Appointment); Karen Horny (St. John’s, Springfield); Fr. Joe Behen (Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City); (two-year unexpired term); Mtr. Ezgi Sarabay Perkins (St. Andrew’s, Kansas City); Dcn. Beck Schubert (Hospice Chaplain); and Fr. Galen Snodgrass (Good Shepherd, Kansas City) (Bishop’s Appointment).

Adopted Resolutions

Resolution #6, submitted by the Northwest-Metro Deanery, called for a reduction of the parochial financial assessment scale for 2019 to specific targets. The convention amended the resolution to call for a reduction in “a significant and meaningful way to allow congregations to direct more financial resources to mission and ministry at the local level.”

Resolution #7, submitted by the Committee on Dispatch of Business, changed the Order of Business in the Rules of Order of the Convention in accord with a motion from last year’s Convention.

Resolution #8, submitted by Mtr. Megan Castellan (St. Paul’s, Kansas City) and Mtr. Susan McCann (Grace, Liberty), called on the Convention to “affirm our support for all immigrants and refugees in the United States, especially those persons who are DACA recipients (commonly known as Dreamers)”. It also called for media outlets and elected state and federal elected officials to be made aware of the support of the Diocese for Dreamers. A motion to amend by removing language regarding support for all immigrants and refugees in the United States was defeated.

Resolution #9, submitted by the Commission on Ministry (COM), called on the COM to research and study the feasibility of implementing a diocese-wide curacy program. Language calling for a report back to next year’s convention was added by the Resolutions Committee before they recommended the resolution’s adoption.

Approved at first reading

Resolution #3, submitted by the Standing Committee, called for a change in the number of consecutive two-year terms a member can serve from two to three. This is a change in the Constitution of the diocese and must be approved by two consecutive conventions. In order to adopt this change, next year’s convention must approve the same change in a vote by orders and the bishop must assent to this change. Implementing changes to the diocesan canons are also required, but need action by only one convention to be adopted.

Referred Resolutions

Resolution #1, submitted by Fr. Steven Wilson (Grace, Carthage) and Dean David Kendrick (St. John’s, Springfield and Dean of the Southern Deanery), would have called for a change to the canonical definition of a parish. The Convention referred this resolution to the Diocesan Council for action by a committee to be formed to consider a rewriting of the diocesan constitution and canons.

Resolution #4, submitted by the diocesan Campus Ministry Commission, would have called for a change in the diocesan constitution to allow for representatives of campus ministries to elect up to four delegates to the diocesan convention. The Convention referred this resolution back to Campus Ministries for further study, working with the Diocesan Council.

Resolution #5, submitted by Dean Peter DeVeau (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City), Curtis Hamilton (Secretary of the Diocese), and the Northwest-Metro Deanery, would have called for the next convention to be approximately one-half day shorter, and held at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral. The Committee on Resolutions divided this into two resolutions (one regarding the location of the convention and one regarding its length) and the convention referred both resolutions to the Diocesan Council for further study.

Resolution not adopted

Resolution #2, proposed by Fr. Stan Runnels (St. Paul’s, Kansas City) and the Northwest-Metro Deanery, would have called for a termination of the lease of an apartment the diocese maintains in Springfield.

Bishop’s Shield

During the Convention, Bishop Field announced that a Bishop’s Shield would be awarded on Saturday evening at the Bishop’s Ball, hosted by the Diocesan Youth Commission. The Shield was awarded to Ms. Duchess Wall (St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City) for her decades-long work in youth ministry at the diocesan and local level.

Curtis Hamilton is the Diocesan Secretary and attends Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.