The 79th General Convention officially opened its business yesterday. There have been hours and hours of legislative committee meetings, hearings on various pre-filed resolutions, thorough orientation of both deputies and bishops. We have heard from our presiding officers and now the business of convention begins in earnest. Bishop Russell reflects on the morning's events in the video below.
The web address Bishop Russell discussed is:
We hope that you will explore this rule for yourselves as we grow together in Jesus Christ.
Though it was the first day, there were some significant pieces of legislation which passed in the House of Deputies. But first, some context:
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is organized very much like the Congress of these United States. We have a bi-cameral legislative body. The House of Deputies is populated by lay persons and clergy and the House of Bishops is populated by bishops, naturally. Each pre-filed resolution has a "House of Initial Action", meaning that one of the houses is designated to take it up first. If legislation passes in one house, it must be approved in the other house before it becomes an official act of the General Convention.
So, having said that, the House of Deputies took up two major pieces of legislation yesterday. The first of which was to adopt a form of compensation for the president of the House of Deputies. This office has not historically been a paid position, unlike most other positions of officers of the Episcopal Church. That fact has limited the potential candidates for that office to those who can afford to serve for 3 years without a salary in a very consuming call, be they independently secure or retired. Passing this legislation hopes to expand the role so that the position could be occupied by a priest or lay person who might not otherwise be able to do so. This awaits action by the House of Bishops.
Additionally, there was a vote to change the Constitution and Canons to create space for more joint sessions between the houses. This was approved by the General Convention in the previous meeting so if it passes the House of Bishops, it will become a part of our governance.
Today we will hear from the special committee which was created to study the revision of the Book of Common Prayer in the House of Deputies and a special order of business will be undertaken so that there can be adequate discussion of that work. Please keep us in your prayers as we engage in what is difficult and deeply felt deliberation. Grace and peace to you all,