Dean Penny’s Recap of General Convention

Dear St. Paul’s family,

Thank you for allowing me to serve the wider church by attending our General Convention in Austin as a diocesan deputy
earlier this month. I will be giving a forum on my experience on August 12, but I wanted to give you a flavor of General
Convention 79 (#GC79) right away.

The Episcopal Church holds its General Convention every three years. Each diocese (there are 111) sends four clergy and four
lay deputies, elected by the diocesan convention, plus at least one alternate from each order of ministry, plus at least one
bishop, so it’s a large-scale affair. We have a bicameral system, with the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops sitting
separately for all legislative business. All officers of each House are elected by the relevant House from among its members.

General Convention is a combination of education, legislation, and inspiration, with wonderful worship services every day, a
ton of resolutions (over 500) to consider, and opportunities to listen, learn, and discuss important issues. We had three joint
sessions where both houses came together to hear speakers on Racial Reconciliation, Evangelism, and Creation Care. The
Austin Convention Center is enormous: some people even used rented scooters to get from one end to the other. Many
smaller meetings took place in one of three hotels. I walked nearly 5 miles on the first day.

There are some 25 committees, which meet each day to hold hearings, deliberate, and massage resolutions into a form that
may be acceptable on the floor. A resolution must be approved by both houses to take effect. Committee members worked
incredibly hard, meeting at 7:30 am or even earlier before the legislative sessions got underway, while our deputation would
caucus each evening between 9 and 10 pm, so it made for very long days.

I will talk about some of the resolutions on August 12, but here I’ll just mention some events that have stayed with me: the
opening worship, where our Presiding Bishop exhorted us to adopt the Way of Love, employing seven spiritual practices; the
Listening Session, where bishops read the (anonymous) testimony of people who have experienced sexual abuse and
harassment in the church; the testimony of the family of Carmen Shentrup, who was murdered at Marjorie Stoneham Douglas
High School on Ash Wednesday; the rally and prayer meeting at Hutto Detention Center which holds some 500 women, many
separated from their children at the border; the joyful welcome of the Episcopal Church of Cuba back into The Episcopal
Church after 50 years in the wilderness; and the passing of resolutions broadening support for same-sex marriage and for
transgender and non-binary persons.

It was a prayerful and inspiring two weeks, and I am deeply grateful for all that our church does to share God’s love with the
world.

Your sister in Christ,
Penny

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