by Helen King Spence, alternate lay deputy
General Convention Day 1 is in the books. The oddest part about this day was the fact that I saw VERY few Bishops – mostly because they were in their own space doing their own thing. The House of Deputies began at 8:30 with a Eucharist which included memorials of individuals who had served in our house and have died since the last convention, or not previously been memorialized. The best part of the Eucharist was the sermon, pre-recorded for both houses, by our Presiding Bishop, Michael B. Curry. That will have to be a post all to itself.
We began to get down to the business of the day, only to find that when you have 800 registered deputies and about 75 alternates all trying to get on the same network at the same time …. things don’t go as well as they might have. But we dealt with the appointments to various positions, elected the Secretary of the House, who was later elected as the Secretary of the Convention. We established rules for this most unusual time together and finished the morning sharing a time of loss and a time of love with our siblings in the Diocese of Alabama, scene of a church shooting on June 16th.
After lunch, we regathered, and this time I was on the floor, filling in for one of the deputies who had a conflict. We finally finished the electronic orientations – and it all worked pretty well. We then got down to the business of the afternoon. We dealt with the consent calendar. There were requests to remove 9 resolutions from the calendar for floor discussion and debate. All but one was defeated. In the end the Consent Calendar dispatched close to 120 resolutions. We moved on to two resolutions dealing with racial justice, which prompted some powerful and moving testimony with regard to extending our efforts to become more of a Beloved Community, and to begin to deal with the institution’s culpability in the boarding schools which housed, and were often the burial grounds, for Indigenous children. There were very few dry eyes in the House. There is much to learn – and much to answer for.
This took us to dinner – where our deputation again ate together. This gave us a chance to discuss some of the resolutions we still had to deal with, doing away with our nightly Zoom meeting (which would be happening right now). We worked to comment and vote on 12 different resolutions dealing with language and how we use it, best practices for hiring, dealing with the stain of slavery which is a sad part of our institutional heritage, continuing good work being done by various task forces and thanking our hosts in the Diocese of Maryland, the city of Baltimore and those who are working to keep our meetings on track. We also approved moving the Diocese of Puerto Rico from one province to another. We had begun working on the final resolution of the night, and ended up tabling it, so that we could discuss another pertinent resolution prior to taking a vote on the one before us.
I am now officially tired – and we have lots more to do tomorrow. But it was a blessing to be doing holy work, hearing holy words and being with so many friends.
Good night, y’all. More tomorrow!