Churchwide Leadership by Angela Williamson

This morning I heard a good sermon by Addie Tyler, a young woman from our diocese, who will leave shortly for the Seminary of the Southwest, one of our Episcopal seminaries along with Sewanee (my alma mater being an EFM graduate), General, and several others. She said, “We cannot do our work as Christians without rest.”

Confession: I had to rest and catch up with my personal life after General Convention. Starting back with my work can begin by writing this piece. Dean Candler’s “Offering and Letting Go” is his reflection on his committee’s work, and now I offer mine hoping that it will give you more insight into how General Convention committees work and in particular some of the work of my committee, Churchwide Leadership.

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Churchwide Leadership studied, heard testimonies, and discussed proposed resolutions that were assigned to it by the House of Deputies (HOD) leadership. 

Two of those resolutions I considered especially important. One was on paying the president of the HOD. That work has evolved from a volunteer position into a full-time job. The other resolution was about significantly improving the vetting process for nominees to the episcopate. Both, by passing the HOD and the House of Bishops (HOB) in the exact form, are now General Convention 2018 passed resolutions that the Episcopal Church via its elected Executive Council and our church headquarters will be executed. Now the president of the HOD will be paid, and there will be a more thorough vetting process of nominees in episcopate election processes.

During debate on the HOD floor, I rose to speak in favor of the vetting resolution. During other debates, Atlanta lay deputies Bruce Garner spoke on resolutions affecting the LGBT community and Beth King spoke on dismantling racism resolutions. Dean Candler as chair of the Special Legislative Committee presented resolutions on a number of topics including prayer book revision.   

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the HOD, assigned 58% of deputies to committees and The Most Rev. Michael Curry, our presiding bishop, made the bishop assignments. They also appointed committee chairs. Churchwide Leadership’s were Polly Getz of the Diocese of San Diego and the Right Rev. Chilton Knudson of the Diocese of Maryland. Churchwide Leadership had five bishop members, and the HOD members consisted of 10 lay and 11 cleric deputies. 
 
The system of having joint House of Deputies and House of Bishops committees works well. It is efficient, purposeful, interesting and helpful to hear the different perspectives of lay people, priests, and bishops, especially since we were from 25 different dioceses.  

All resolution topics are important to our life together in the Episcopal Church.  A subject that I am particularly interested in is theological education and how seminarians pay to matriculate during those years of study. From Dr. Courtney Cowart, the executive director of the Society for the Increase in Ministry, is this quote: “It is thrilling news that a resolution passed on setting up the structure for the denomination as a whole to create a strategy for funding theological education which we have needed for a long time.”  
 
Yes, General Convention is work that at times is hard and emotional.  Worship is spirit filled and often. Most of the time it is respectful and can be joyous! I was blessed in being given the opportunity to be part of it.


May you be blessed too in your work. 

Angela Williamson