1. A Change in generations
From Gay Jennings – “But what I am proudest of are the people I have had the opportunity to call into leadership. There has been a generational change in our church. The houses of General Convention are more racially diverse than they have ever been. A new generation of young leaders is on the rise in our legislative committees, thanks, in part, I would like to think, to the creation of additional leadership positions which I filled exclusively with younger deputies. At this convention we are focusing special attention on the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church, which was composed almost entirely of millennial leaders.”
2. Videos from the Episcopal Church – the GC Show. Here is an example
Looking at Congregational Vitality in a different way – “that goes beyond average Sunday attendance, and really in terms of how lives are being transformed and how we can walk in God’s footsteps out in our community.
Another example from NC
3. Navigating the changes during the Pandemic
Six resolutions came about to help The Episcopal Church adapt to changes in society and find new ways of supporting the church’s mission and ministry, from experimenting with creative uses of technology to rethinking how congregations report membership and financial data.
“Little did we know when we began this work that a global pandemic would place the church in the midst of the greatest adaptive challenge of our lifetimes,” the Rev. Chris Rankin-Williams, chair of the committee, told deputies …“The pace of congregational decline across the country has been accelerated by the pandemic, and there is great uncertainty about the future and financial viability of many of our churches
“We are truly navigating off the map. With the depth of challenges, the solution is not clear,” he said. The resolutions the committee proposed were intended “to position the church to address adaptive challenges and evaluate the experiments that are necessary to create our future.”
- A097 calls for an evaluation of the 80th General Convention’s use of technology to hold all of its legislative hearings and meetings online, possibly offering a model for future church governance meetings.
- A098 creates a task force to study how communication and collaborative tools can enhance the work of the church’s interim bodies.
- A099 relates to the church’s capacity to collect and study data on its adaptive efforts. The resolution specifically cites the need to fund “significant professional research expertise and capacity.” This is the only resolution of the six that wasn’t adopted, as the House of Deputies instead voted to refer the proposal back to an interim body to study further, for consideration at the 81st General Convention in 2024.
- A132 creates a task force to study “indicators of 21st century congregational vitality and how The Episcopal Church can collect data that measures those indicators.”
- A155 creates a task force to revise the financial page of the parochial report, filed every year by dioceses and congregations. Updating the parochial report form to better summarize congregational life was a top priority of the Committee on the State of the Church.
- A156 creates a task force to consider ways The Episcopal Church can re-evaluate how it counts membership to better align with how people today connect with the church including “a wide range of cultural and regional contexts.”
4. Bishop Curry
Preaching on the Book of Isaiah and its descriptions of the Babylonian exile, Curry compared that age of disorientation and turmoil to the past few years in the United States and the unprecedented disruption they have wrought
As a response to that , the Church was preparing evangelistic campaign reaching into the secular, non-Christian culture of America. “It was an attempt to take the way of love that we’ve been living with and working at and share this with the wider culture beyond the red doors of the church, to share something of the reality of this Jesus and his way of love, to share something of the reality of the possibilities that his way of love opens for all of God’s children
‘But as we were getting ready to do this, someone stopped us and asked, “Have we asked people in the society, who do you say Jesus is?” Maybe have we asked ourselves that? Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that may be one of the most important questions even for the Christian. Who is Jesus Christ for you today? So we contracted with the Ipsos group, a global marketing group that does this kind of research. We partnered with them, and they conducted a poll of the American population. It was a comprehensive poll, which actually gave us a snapshot into the American population across all races, ethnic groups, all religious groups, all political groups, across geographical territories.
Eighty-four percent of the American population says that Jesus is an important spiritual figure worth listening to. Eighty-four percent across all groups
Then we asked them, “What about Christians? What about the church?” Well, they answered. Among non-Christians in particular, those who are not Christian, 50% associated Christians with the word hypocrisy; 49% with the word judgmental; 46% with self-righteousness; and 32% with arrogance. And then, nearly half of non-Christians in America—hear this—nearly half of non-Christians in America believe that racism is prevalent among Christians in the church.
Remember, 84% of the people surveyed across the board find Jesus attractive, something about him compelling. Eighty-four percent. The problem is there’s a gap between Jesus and his followers. Are you with me? And it’s that gap that’s the problem. It’s that gap that undermines our efforts to commend this Jesus and his way of love to a wider culture, to those who don’t have a religious background. Walking the way of unselfish, sacrificial love as Jesus taught us, closes the gap. Following the way of this Jesus, until his footprints and our footprints become indistinguishable, begins to close the gap
The study will be used to inform an upcoming social media evangelism campaign designed to bring Jesus’ message into secular American society – “to share this with the wider culture beyond the red doors of the church,” he said.
5. Stats! Stats! Stats!
Two women will lead the House of Deputies for the first time in history
Julia Ayala Harris is the youngest person to be elected president of the House of Deputies. She is also the first Latina to be elected to that post.
The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton of Olympia is the first ordained woman and the first Indigenous woman to be elected vice president of the House of Deputies.
The Hon. Byron Rushing of Massachusetts is the longest-serving deputy — serving in 16 conventions since 1973. At this convention he concludes serving as vice president of the House of Deputies.
The senior bishop here is Arthur Williams, Diocese of Ohio, who was consecrated bishop suffragan 35 years ago on October 11, 1986.
In the House of Bishops, there are 122 bishops and four bishops-elect. Of them, 38 are first-time bishops at a General Convention and 34 are women. Three of the four bishops-elect are women