General Convention Update

The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church took place in Austin earlier this month. Every three years, representatives from around the Episcopal Church gather for what might be considered a big “family” reunion. And whenever our Episcopal family gets together, lots of healthy debate takes place, all focused on how we can best follow the Way of Jesus.

I had the pleasure of spending a day at the convention hall to see old friends and to make new ones. Saint Michael was also well represented, especially because we co-sponsored a series of keynote conversations about how the Church can continue to grow into the future.

In addition to making you aware of the convention, I wanted to share a few notes that have come out of decisions made there. First, and perhaps most personal to us, was the decision to formally bring the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba back into The Episcopal Church. Saint Michael has had a long relationship with the Diocese of Cuba, nurtured by its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio. It was a special treat to host Bishop Griselda on Sunday, July 15, here at Saint Michael, the first Sunday since Cuba’s return to The Episcopal Church!

The convention also considered how we might use the Book of Common Prayer in the future. As you might know, prayer book revisions have happened through the years, most recently in 1979, a revision of the prayer book approved in 1928. This year’s convention voted to adopt a plan for liturgical and prayer book revision that would not necessarily result in a fully updated book, but would allow for churches around the country to evolve their prayers as they feel is necessary within their particular contexts, all under the direction of the national Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision.

Finally, and perhaps most notably, General Convention passed a resolution giving all Episcopalians the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches, including same-sex couples. This allows clergy within a particular parish the option to marry any couples who fall under their pastoral care. Our bishop, the Rt. Rev. George R. Sumner, has required that any parish in our diocese seeking to marry same-sex couples request pastoral oversight from a different bishop, meaning that the designated bishop would become the bishop of that parish. This option would effectively separate those Episcopal parishes from the rest of the parishes in this diocese.

Saint Michael has and continues to be a church that welcomes all people seeking to follow the Way of Jesus, treating all people with dignity and love. Decisions like these are never easy and will require proper discernment from our leadership and faithful parishioners. Your Saint Michael vestry will work to respond faithfully to opportunities granted us from General Convention, and we will welcome your thoughtful engagement (we will inform you of that process in the fall).

It is my sincere hope that we will continue to confidently respond to the movement of the Spirit to love God with all our heart, our soul, our strength, and our mind, and to love every single one of our neighbors as ourselves. To God be the glory!

The Reverend Dr. Christopher D. Girata