By: Devon Anderson
Devon has served as a deputy to General Convention from ECMN since 2006. As she prepares for General Convention next week, here are a few of the things that are on her mind.
Q: What are you bringing from ECMN to General Convention?
A: I am so excited to be once again co-chairing Minnesota’s deputation to General Convention. What I am bringing from home to General Convention this time: MEMORIES and LESSONS LEARNED. When Minnesota hosted GC in 2003, I supervised the volunteers in the House of Deputies – my very first entree into that mysterious, dynamic world of General Convention. I was there when our (now) bishop, Brian Prior, was invited to serve as the chaplain to the House of Deputies and he used one of my (then very little) kid’s plastic baseball bats to make a point in one of his meditations. I was there the moment the House of Deputies voted to approve the election of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, changing our church forever.
In 2006, I was elected as an alternate deputy from ECMN and used the chance to work in the Secretariat — learning how General Convention works from the inside out.
In 2009, 2012, and 2015 General Convention grappled with huge and critical issues, like who can be ordained and who can receive the sacrament of marriage (answer: all the baptized). We jumped around, hooted and hollered, at the first U2charist and raised tons of money for the Millennium Development Goals. We struggled with our structure and worked to realign it with a call to effective mission engagement in the world. We produced new and vibrant liturgical resources. We considered a slate of rock star candidates for our next presiding bishop (produced by the Nominating Committee that Sally Johnson and I served on for three years) and elected the rocking-est of all rock stars, Michael Curry.
Along with memories, I bring with me some hard-earned lessons:
General Convention is a marathon and it’s easy to tire and polarize around issues.
I’m bringing my Centering Prayer practice with me to keep grounded, open, kind, and focused during the long days and sometimes tedious legislative sessions.
I’m bringing a criteria for my investment in any given issue: does it matter to the people I serve in my parish? does it help us follow Jesus? does it exact any justice for marginalized people?
I’m also bringing lots of coffee, a Bose speaker, and running clothes!
Q: What issues are being discussed?
A: As with any General Convention, by the deadline for submitting resolutions there will be about 300 resolutions in the hopper. Here are some of the “major” issues I will be tracking in particular in Austin (not listed in any intentional order):
1) Budget, budget, budget: how will we allocate our resources to exact the most good and the most missional effectiveness?
2) Book of Common Prayer: to revise or not to revise, that is the question!
3) Marriage Equality: regardless of what General Convention decides about the Book of Common Prayer revision, will we move toward making trial use marriage rites (there are four) permanent additions and revisions to the Book of Common Prayer?
4) Church Pension Group: socially-responsible investing, the efficacy of the denominational health care plan, and pension parity for lay people.
5) House of Bishops: how to provide the diocesan support and encouragement to consider women and people of color.
6) US policy: When General Convention passes resolutions it becomes the “official position” of The Episcopal Church. When General Convention passes resolutions concerning US or international policy, it equips The Episcopal Church’s Office of Governmental Relations on Capitol Hill to advocate in all levels of government on that particular policy. This summer we will consider immigration, gun control, #MeToo (gender equality), the opioid epidemic, transition to a just economy, solitary confinement and other forms of torture endured by the incarcerated, Israel-Palestine, among others.
Thankfully, we’ll get to hear from other deputies on this blog, and they will have the chance to highlight what they think are the “major” issues and what they will be tracking! The Presiding Bishop’s staff has identified racial reconciliation and care of creation as their top priorities.
Q: What are the people and organizations you’ll be meeting?
A: I am the only member of our deputation who is serving on a legislative committee, and in that capacity I will also chair Committee #7: Justice and US Policy. Most of my time will be consumed with my leadership team, committee members, and weaving our resolutions through General Convention. The major event for which I am responsible is a jumbo hearing to consider ALL resolutions coming to General Convention regarding immigration (refugees, DREAM Act, sanctuary movement, family separation, etc.).