General Convention (GC) is the governing body of The Episcopal Church, meeting once every three years. In 2018, GC is July 5-July 13 in Austin, Texas.
General Convention is the largest legislative body in North America. It is comprised of two houses, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The House of Bishops has upwards of 200 active and retired bishops. There are over 800 deputies, laypeople and clergy, who are elected and sent by 108 dioceses.
- Adopting legislation on issues important to the Church.
- Amending the Book of Common Prayer, the Constitution, and the Canons of the Church.
- Adopting a three-year budget for The Episcopal Church.
- Electing candidates to offices, boards and other committees.
- Creating space and time for worship, advocacy, continuing education and connecting.
For more on how GC does its work, see “Actions General Convention Can Take” below.
Facing General Convention 2018
Actions General Convention Can Take
Generally, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies can use one of four forms of legislative action in order to respond to a need or concern:
- Change “governing documents”: the Constitution, the Canons, Book of Common Prayer, Hymnal, and/or Rules of Order.
- Provide funding.
- Adopt a position on an external issue (e.g., denouncing ISIS or supporting raising the minimum wage).
- State the Episcopal Church’s position on an internal issue (e.g., the ordination LGBT clergy or recommending certain employment practices for the Church).
Deputies, Not Delegates
Deputies, unlike delegates, vote their conscience and cannot be instructed to vote a certain way. With roots in the civil rights movement, this practice was adopted to ensure that deputies can decide how to vote based on discussion at GC. That said, the diocese elects its deputies and, before taking any vote, deputies will consider what they believe is best for their diocese.
Click here for a list of Virginia’s deputation. The clerical order includes parish priests and a VTS professor. The lay order includes two lawyers, and finance and church professionals.
Follow Along During General Convention
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Banner photo credit: Celal Kamran