Repeat after me: The Consent Calendar is your friend.
For those of you who are uninitiated to the workings of General Convention, each day, business comes to the Houses either on the Legislative Calendar or the Consent Calendar. The committee to which the resolution was referred at the beginning of General Convention for hearings, testimony, and deliberation recommends one of several actions on each resolution. They may ask the House of Initial Action (the first of our two Houses to consider a given matter) to adopt, adopt with amendment, adopt a substitute, take no further action, or reject a piece of legislation.
When the referring committee schedules matters for the dispatch of business, they may place those items either on the Legislative or on the Consent Calendars. The Consent Calendar addresses many resolutions at the same time. A yes vote to the Consent Calendar takes the recommended action and affirms it. Today, there were approximately 40 items on the Consent Calendar. One of the safeguards from legislation being covertly passed through by consent is that it only requires three of the almost 850 deputies present to remove it from the calendar so that it may be debated. There have been 501 resolutions proposed so far through the Convention. There are only two days left and we have addressed maybe 150. Over the next two days, we will take committee recommended action on MANY items through the use of the Consent Calendar.
There are, however, some items which cannot be addressed by consent. Changes to the Canons, changes to the Rules of Order for either House, and as I mentioned any small group of deputies may remove items from the Consent Calendar. One piece of business which cannot be addressed via consent is the budget. The budget for the Episcopal Church is shaped by the staff at the Church Center, by the presiding bishop, by the agreements and covenants we have with other organizations and by the General Convention. Today, the Joint Standing Committee on Program Budget and Finance presented its proposed budget to a joint session of both Houses. David Quittmeyer, whom you heard from earlier this week, serves on that committee this year as the president of the House of Deputies liaison. I have been observing their work since last Tuesday as a liaison to that committee for the Committee on the Dispatch of Business. Dispatch approves the calendars and tracks every piece of legislation coming through committees.
I do not generally care for working on budgets. I am loathe to tell those who want ministries funded that we do not have the funds for what they desire to do. I will even confess that when I realized that was my committee assignment, I was afraid I had done something for which I was doing penance. But the work of that committee, though stressful has been a great blessing. We do not all agree on where the priorities should be. But reframing the budget as an expression of our ministry through the Jesus Movement and the grace-filled way each member approached the budgeting process has made that work a joy. Difficult, painful at moments, but a witness to the power of mission to unite us.
Budgets aren't particularly inspiring. Looking at 600+ line items to allocate spending is not how most of us would spend our time, but the budget addresses our hopes for ministry as best it can. On Thursday morning, the General Convention will take up debate on the budget. I ask your prayers for us, that the grace we have known in framing it may continue as we weigh its merits and faults.
The video piece for today is the Rev. Ed Richards, the deacon to St. Thomas by the Sea in Laguna Beach, Florida. Ed has come to the last several General Conventions, investing his own funds to volunteer as a deacon for the worship and ministry of General Convention. His work is a gift to the church and I ask that you hold him up in your prayers as well. There is a little piece of the video that is a nod to an icon of pop culture, I hope it gives you a laugh and that Ed's words bless your soul.
Peace to you,