I expect this convention to get more media attention than most. The election of a new Presiding Bishop will get some headlines. And because we will be meeting as or soon after the Supreme Court issues a decision on same sex marriage cases, the report on the Task Force on the Study of Marriage will draw the press.
A draft convention schedule is posted here – GC2015ScheduleDraft. Expect this to change! For now, note that the PB election is scheduled for Saturday, June 27 at 11:15. The House of Bishops will meet in closed session at Cathedral Church of St. Mark. Once they reach a decision, a message will be sent to the House of Deputies for their confirmation.
Other key things to watch:
1. A lot of new leadership in the House of Deputies this year. Gay Jennings was elected President of the House of Deputies in 2012. Byron Rushing was elected Vice-President in 2012. Michael Barlowe was appointed Executive Officer in 2013 when Gregory Straub retired. This is the first General Convention for all of them in their new roles. President Jennings proposed some new rules for the HOD which are intended to streamline the process – fewer committees, a consent calendar, more authority for the Committee on Dispatch to prioritize conversations they deem important. All of this sounds helpful to me. Let’s see if the House approves.
2. Response to the Task Force on Reimagining the Episcopal Church. This group was convened by General Convention in 2012 to rethink how we do church. They are bringing a number of resolutions which will be discussed in committee and legislative sessions.(Their website is here). Several other groups have also proposed resolutions on structure. A joint session to discuss structure is on Friday, June 26 at 11:15.
3. Proposed resolutions from the Task Force on the Study of Marriage. This group was also convened by GC 2012, in part in response to a request by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. SCLM had been charged with developing liturgical rites for blessing the lifelong covenant relationships of same sex couples. These rites were approved for provisional use in 2012. However, SCLM reported on the need for further theological reflection on the nature and definition of Christian marriage. TFSM did this work over the past three years. Their public website is here. They bring three main proposals. One is to continue their work over the next three years. Another is to authorize an updated form of the liturgical resources for blessing same sex relationships that were authorized for trial use last time. A third proposal, and this is likely to spark the most conversation, is to amend the marriage canons. I’ll write more about this in a later post, but for now I highly commend Scott Gunn’s post here. These matters will be discussed in various legislative committees. A schedule for discussions will be posted once convention begins.
These are the things I’m watching at the moment. However, I’m prepared for the Spirit to surprise us. In 2012, I did not go into Convention expecting conversations about structure to lead to a task force on reimagining the church. And I did not expect conversations about open communion to draw so much interest and attention. I’m sure this General Convention will be similar.
Open our eyes, O Lord, to see your hand at work in the world around us.