I have been attending General Convention since I was a very young adult. I have served in a variety of capacities from Youth Presence to Vice President of the House of Deputies, from chairing a legislative committee to working on the dispatch of business. Through it all I have found the relationships formed through General Convention to be deep, rich and diverse. And I have found the work rewarding, frustrating and even transformational at times.
In my early years my focus was on advocating for full access of young people, people of color, and women. As time went on my attention shifted to systemic change in an attempt to connect the work of the larger Church with the local context. And now as the Bishop for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, my focus has shifted yet again. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say it has refined all of my previous experience and focus into making the work of General Convention as relevant to our faith communities as possible.
Here are a few highlights:
Structure: A task force is being assembled to review and then make recommendations to the next General Convention. This is relevant for our faith communities because there is lots of conversation about the shift in focus to local context – something ECMN has already done and more support to do so may be coming.
Budget: ECMN’s apportionment to the Episcopal Church, which is $111 million plus budget, and based on the 5 Marks of Mission, for the next three years will be 19%. In the next triennium it will be reduced to 15%.
Liturgical Resources: There are now provisionally approved resources available for the blessing of same-gender relationships for those faith communities that request it.
Denominational Health Plan: After three years of hard work modifying the Episcopal Church Medical Trust this will now become mandatory for all faith communities with employees.
Here is the link if you want to dive in a little deeper: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/gc2012/.
Finally, I want to express my appreciation to all of our deputies from the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, including Emma Grundhauser (pictured above) who participated through the Official Youth Presence, for their unselfish willingness to use their gifts for ministry at General Convention. Long before Convention began, these folks committed countless hours to studying and preparing. And then once there most deputies easily put in 15 hours a day working on legislation.
It goes without saying the Episcopal Church in Minnesota was well represented.