Baltimore Hosts General Convention, 1808

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

Meeting from May 17-26, 1808, twenty-seven clerical and lay deputies, representing seven states, convened at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore for the seventh General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Only two bishops attended: William White of Pennsylvania, who was the Presiding Bishop, and Thomas Claggett of Maryland. Bishop Benjamin Moore of New York, The Rt. Rev. Samuel Jarvis of Connecticut (who had also failed to attend the 1799 Convention) and Bishop James Madison of Virginia did not attend and the other dioceses – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and South Carolina were without bishops.

Since there were only two bishops comprising the House of Bishops, the Rev. Joseph Bend, rector of St. Paul’s Parish, offered the bishops St. Paul’s rectory as “the place of meeting during the sitting of the Convention”. Each day, the bishops met at the rectory and worshipped with the clerical and lay deputies at the parish church; evening services were held at St. Peter’s Church since St. Paul’s was “not fitted for service by candle-light”. The Rt. Rev. Samuel Parker of Massachusetts had been scheduled to preach at the opening service, but, having died only three months after his consecration in 1804, Bishop White agreed to take his place as preacher.





The Convention passed legislation adding thirty hymns to those contained in the Prayer Book, as well as legislation mandating that “Ministers of this Church ought not to perform the funeral service in the case of any person who shall give or accept a challenge to a duel”, which was passed four years after the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was buried at Trinity Church, Wall Street, and the funeral was conducted by Bishop Benjamin Moore of New York, who served as rector of Trinity, as well as being bishop. A resolution that clergy could not unite in matrimony any divorced person, unless the divorce was on account of adultery was also passed. The House of Bishops sent a note of thanks to the Rev. Dr. Bend, “for the accommodations which they have received in the use of his parlour, and in other attentions, during the Session of the Convention.”

General Convention would not meet in Baltimore again until 1871, then again in 1892.

General Convention wrap-up and ongoing ministry

For a summary wrap-up of General Convention, please read the article on Episcopal News Service highlighting the big headlines. We will continue to follow the legislation of General Convention with stories on the Diocese of Maryland’s response to actions taken at General Convention and how we, as a Community of Love, are following the mission and ministry set forth by our wider Church in the local communities in our diocese.

Highlights from your Maryland deputation, fun moments and other important events not to be missed

As the House of Bishops branch of our church government unanimously voted on July 10 to formally welcome Cuba back into The Episcopal Church after a separation in 1966, there were explosions of clapping, shouting and joy. Bishop Chilton Knudsen explains why in this video, which has reached 2,000 views on Facebook. The Rev. Dina van Klaveren of St. Andrew’s, Glenwood and head of our diocesan deputation to General Convention, served on the legislative committee that addressed this resolution at GC79. Read more in The Rev. Dina van Klaveren shares testimony on Cuba and learn more about the issue from the Living Church.

Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio of Cuba with The Rev. Dina van Klaveren at the 79th General Convention

One of the most moving and powerful events the deputation experienced at General Convention was a prayer vigil held at the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas on Sunday, July 8. Bishop Michael Curry gave a rousing speech, surrounded by Episcopalians who were there to let the refugee women being detained in the facility that they were not alone. Many described seeing the women’s faces in the windows of the center. The women were able to communicate that they felt loved. For more on the event, see coverage by the Austin NBC Affiliate of the the Bishops United Against Gun Violence Rally, held earlier that morning in Brush Square across from the Austin Convention Center, and on the detention center vigil. See pictures shared by The Rev. Ramelle McCall of Holy Trinity, Baltimore. Last week, the diocesan Latino Ministries Committee met to discuss way in which we can carry on the legislative work centered on immigration and refugee issues done at General Convention in our diocese. Be on the lookout in upcoming posts and news for events, training and advocacy opportunities.


Bishop Sutton hands out orange ribbons from our own Diocesan Convention to honor those who have died as a result of gun violence. Photo credit ~Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.


Outside the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. One of the most moving moments for many who participated was seeing a white flag being held out through one of the slitted windows. Photo credit ~The Rev. Ramelle McCall

Our deputies and bishops chaired and served on numerous legislative committees. They actively engaged in testimony and leadership within the larger Church. The Rev. Jason Poling of St. Hilda’s, Catonsville traveled to Austin for a few days to testify about Israel and Palestine. See Jason’s message +HERE. The Rev. Ramelle McCall testified on resolution A029 – Commend the Evangelism Charter for the Church to All Episcopalians. See his testimony on the floor of the House of Deputies branch of church government +HERE. Ramelle also offered his thoughts on why being at General Convention is important to his work and to the work of the diocese in a video +HERE. He serves as Urban Missioner for the Diocese of Maryland, practicing ongoing community building. The Rev. Scott Slater testified in a hearing on resolution A147Pilot Board for Episcopal Transitions, and The Rev. Dina van Klaveren testified in support of improved and more thorough background checks for candidates for election of bishops in the Episcopal Church. The measure on background checks passed the House of Deputies unanimously, Deputy Mark Garcia reported.

Mark served on legislative committee 12 – Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music as a dispatch liaison. The committee dealt with prayer book revision, as well as revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts and the Book of Occasional Services. See more on the prayer book revision in this story by Episcopal News Service, House of Bishops proposes expanded path for prayer book revision (ENS).


Lisa Marie and James Ryder, co-executive directors of the Claggett Center, show off the Claggett banner with Bill Slocumb, executive director of Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers (ECCC) at General Convention. Photo credit ~Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Our new co-executive directors of the Claggett Center, James and Lisa Marie Ryder, along with Baby Fletcher, came out in full force to promote and support Claggett’s presence at General Convention. The Claggett labyrinth was featured on the banner for the Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers booth at GC79 and Claggett had its own day of promotion in the booth July 7. July 9 was “camp day” at General Convention. The Maryland crew wore their Claggett shirts and lanyards and came out in full force to support our camp and conference center. For more about how Claggett was featured at General Convention, read The garden of the Diocese, the Claggett Center, featured at General Convention.

The days of hard work, serious prayer and action and long hours of legislation at General Convention were interspersed with moments of pure joy, fun and celebration. The Episcopal Church put on a revival at the Palmer Events Center in Austin on Saturday, July 7. Bishop Curry’s “sermon” contained quite a few mentions of St. James, Baltimore, his former parish. You can check it out +HERE. Dinner followed at “Texas night,” a BBQ and live music event sponsored by The Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Be on the lookout for what Maryland will come up with for a Maryland-themed night when we host General Convention 80 in 2021!


A touching moment at the Revival when, to his surprise, Bishop Curry received a laying on of hands, symbolically by the 5,000 gathered, as well as prayers to grant him rest, strength, courage, love and revival on his continued journey as our presiding bishop. Photo credit ~Episcopal Diocese of Maryland


The Rev. Dina van Klaveren digs into her corn on the cob at “Texas Night.” Photo credit ~Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

On Tuesday, July 10, the Maryland crew hosted a luncheon for the bishop and deputation of Puerto Rico, with whom we have a companion diocese relationship. The two deputations and guests bonded and shared hopes and dreams for future exchange programs, including a youth trip next summer, as well as ongoing clergy and lay relationships and common ministry. A desire to learn more Spanish was a hope for many in the Maryland crowd. At the end of our time together, the whole group posed for a photo. The picture below (prepping for formal photo) says it all. Please keep the Diocese of Puerto Rico and the people of Puerto Rico in your prayers, especially as they continue to recover from Hurricane Maria. Bishop Sutton will be a guest at their diocesan convention in October of this year.

Great teamwork and uproarious laughter as Maryland and Puerto Rico construct the group photo pose! Bishop Sutton is doubled over. Photo credit ~Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

As mentioned above, General Convention 80 will take place in Baltimore in 2021! Many thanks to Caroline Bomgardner for her hard work at General Convention 79, learning what it takes to host the event. Did you know this event requires more than 1,000 volunteers? The Diocese of Texas and all of the volunteers who came in from around the Church did an amazing job. They were especially excited when the moment came to “pass the torch.” Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas took a hand-crafted torch from hard-working Texas volunteer Scott Madison. From there it was passed in a relay race to the sound of Chariots of Fire until it reached Bishop Sutton, who accepted it. Later the torch was passed through the House of Deputies to The Rev. Scott Slater, who accepted it on behalf of the diocese in that House, accompanied by a slide show of Orioles, crabs and more. Excitement about General Convention in Baltimore abounded.

Texas volunteer Scott Madison joyfully hands the torch to Caroline Bomgardner in the House of Bishops at GC79. GC80, here we come!

With all this action it’s hard to imagine there could be more. As one last salute to hosting General Convention in Baltimore, the Marylanders cooked up a surprise. In case you hadn’t heard, there was a certain pigeon who graced the hall of the House of Deputies throughout convention. By mid-convention he had his own Twitter (@gc79pigeon), and even Instagram, accounts. The General Convention Pigeon prompted the obtaining of pigeon hats and other shenanigans from various deputations. But we had them beat. No one can top the POEgeon and his dark priest from Baltimore!

The General Convention POEgeon. Imagine we’ll be seeing more of these in 2021!

Other highlights from Maryland include our Archdeacon Ruth Elder serving at the table at GC79, another General Convention under the belt for our longest serving and most experienced deputies, David Mallory and Alma Bell and the excellent impromptu host of our version of Inside General Convention, The Rev. Stewart Lucas of The Church of the Nativity and Holy Comforter. Our videos were a hit. Stewart did a great job connecting everyone at home to what was happening in Austin. Be sure to check out our Facebook page to view all of the videos.

The Rev. Ruth Elder serves at the table at a General Convention Eucharist. Photo credit ~Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

To view the worship services, Inside General Convention television show, sermons preached at General Convention Eucharists, Bishop Curry’s speeches and sermons and so much more, please visit the General Convention Media Hub of The Episcopal Church. To read stories about the Diocese of Maryland at #GC79, please visit our General Convention blog. Welcome home, Everyone. We’ll see you all in Baltimore in 2021! In the meantime, the work continues. #JesusMovement #EpiscopalEvangelism #CommunityofLove #EncounterEngage


Dispatch from Austin from The Rev. Dion Thompson

AUSTIN: Now comes the eighth legislative day, the penultimate day of the 79th General Convention. Resolutions are moving fast and furious between the two houses. Some make it through relatively unscathed. That was the case yesterday when the House of Deputies unanimously concurred with the decision by the House of Bishops to readmit Cuba into the Episcopal Church.

“Right now, I know that the Holy Spirit is moving through all of us,” the Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, bishop of Cuba, told the deputies. “I want to thank the Lord and the Trinity for this prophetic moment that we are experiencing.”

There were cheers and applause. “Welcome home,” said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies.

Plans to revise the Book of Common Prayer have traveled a much tougher legislative road. The resolution passed last week by the House of Deputies had a $2 million price tag and projections for a years-long process. It arrived yesterday from the House of Bishops as a proposal to create a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision comprising 10 lay people, 10 priests or deacons, and 10 bishops.

The multi-million-dollar budget was now $201,000 for the translation of liturgical materials with hopes that the Executive Council would find another $200,000 to begin the liturgical revision process. Such is politics. At this late date, with time winding down, the deputies passed the resolution without amendment.

Plenty of work remains. Today’s first order of business is the proposed $134 million budget for 2019-2021.

That’s all for now.

God’s peace,


David Mallery and Alma Bell are our senior deputies. This is their sixth General Convention as lay deputies for the Diocese of Maryland.

Action packed Day 6 for Maryland at General Convention

Tuesday, July 10, 2018, was a busy day for the Diocese of Maryland at General Convention, yet its description offers a taste of a typical day at the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. The morning kicked off at 7:30 AM with legislative committees and hearings. Both bishops, and most of the Maryland deputation, are serving on or chairing committees. At 10:30 AM, the third TEConversation of GC79, one on the care of creation, took place in the form of a joint session of both branches of Episcopal government, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.

At the lunch break, Bishop Sutton and the Maryland deputation gathered with the Bishop of Puerto Rico, the Rt. Rev. Rafael Morales, and the Puerto Rico deputation, for conversation, prayer, fellowship and breaking bread. Greetings were offered in English and Spanish and the discussion centered on relationship, how we can strengthen bonds with our companion diocese and how we can be of help as Puerto Rico continues to heal from the damage done by Hurricane Maria last Fall. Our friends from Puerto Rico told stories of homelessness, suicide, lack of electricity and even oil to run generators – things that are as much a reality today as they were the day the storm hit. The lunch was filled with warmth and kindness and Bishop Sutton looks forward to being with our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico at their diocesan convention in October. Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Maryland, Kate Riley, is excited about a youth mission trip to Puerto Rico next July.

Setting up a group photo always gets a good laugh. Fun and fellowship with Puerto Rico!


And now…the official photo!

In the afternoon legislative session, the Rev. Ramelle McCall of Holy Trinity, Baltimore, testified on the floor of the House of Deputies on Resolution A029, Commend the Evangelism Charter for the Church to All Episcopalians:

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 79th General Convention adopt the Evangelism Charter for the Episcopal Church as a framework for joining with our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in expanding the loving, liberating, and life-giving Good News of Jesus through evangelism of the church, by the church, and for the church; and be it further

Resolved, that the 79th General Convention urges dioceses and congregations to read and study its principles and integrate them into their life of faith as part of living into The Way of Love.

This resolution is on the calendar for the House of Deputies July 12.

Also in the afternoon, the House of Bishops voted unanimously to welcome Cuba back into the Episcopal Church after they were separated from us in 1966. Hear what Bishop Chilton had to say in the moment:

The House of Deputies voted the next morning to welcome Cuba and seat its bishop, the Right Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio. Our head of deputation, the Rev. Dina van Klaveren, served on the legislative committee that recommended Cuba be welcomed home. Read more about Cuba from the Episcopal News Service.

Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio with the Rev. Dina van Klaveren

Tuesday afternoon there was a Charles Cloughen sighting in the General Convention exhibit hall. Guess what he was doing? Why, signing his book, of course! Bishop Chilton paid him a visit and may have signed a book or two herself!

At the evening worship on Tuesday, our own Archdeacon Ruth Elder served at the table and read the prayers of the people. The worship at General Convention is filled with love, light and music!

Archdeacon Ruth Elder serves at the General Convention altar

Thank you for your continued prayers for our deputation, volunteers and staff. Pray also for all bishops and deputies, General Convention volunteers and staff, and the city of Austin. Legislation continues on Israel/Palestine, budget, prayer book revision and more. Look for news to come!

Bishop Whittingham in Europe 1834

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

Maryland’s fourth bishop, William R. Whittingham, became rector of St. Luke’s Church, New York City, on October 1, 1831, at the age of 26. He had married Hannah Harrison the previous year, and his son Edward was six months old when he moved into the rectory. The Whittingham’s first daughter Mary came along just a year later, and the new rector was busy editing six volumes of standard written works of Christianity, as well as his duties as rector. Unwell with lung and throat ailments which would dog him throughout his life, Whittingham took his wife and small children to Orange, New Jersey, Hannah’s home, to rest and recover in April of 1834. On son Edward’s third birthday, April 22, 1834, Whittingham’s little daughter Mary died, leaving Whittingham despondent and more ill. The Sunday after her burial, two members of St. Luke’s vestry approached their rector with news from his physician, saying that he must stop all work or die of consumption, the old term for tuberculosis. After consulting a specialist who diagnosed Whittingham with chronic bronchitis which would deteriorate into consumption if he did not stop all work immediately and take months in a warm, dry climate, Whittingham resigned St. Luke’s. The vestry generously promised him his full salary through July, and $400 annually for two years, as well as $500 for expenses for the journey. That day, Whittingham saw an advertisement for a vessel ready to sail for Gibraltar, contacted his brother-in-law John van Ingen to secure his services as assistant and companion, and made arrangements to leave immediately. The brig, “William Tell” left New York on May 31, with Whittingham and van Ingen aboard; they would not return for fifteen months.

While in Sicily, Whittingham received word that his wife had given birth to a daughter, whom they named Mary, in loving memory of their first dear girl, and his dark sadness began to abate. On his return to New York, he was no longer broken down by ill health, overwork and personal tragedy, but energized and ready to resume work. He became professor of ecclesiastical history at his alma mater, General Seminary, and four years later was elected Bishop of Maryland, where he would serve the next forty years.


Excerpt from a letter written June 27, 1834 by Captain James Riley of the William Tell

 “Mr. Whittingham had a tough spell of seasickness for nearly ten days which thoroughly emptied his stomach, he soon gained an appetite and his old disorders of soreness of the throat and pain in the side seemed very much to abate, while his general health improved most astonishingly. He is truly a man of great talents, fine education and liberal mind, cheerful in his temperament, unassuming, conciliatory, possessing of all the requisites of a great and good man, as the foundation was laid in common sense and a vigorous and powerful mind. Such a man would do honor to any situation and I look forward with an eye of faith when he will return to his home in health and fine spirits – and become an ornament to the profession he has chosen and be raised to the highest point of honor and usefulness by his merits, and that I may live to see him a bishop.”